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Posts Tagged ‘baked goods’

saffronbuns1

Note: I had to repost this again today since yesterday’s post seemed to have gone corrupt. I blame the pranks of Lussi!

In Sweden, Dec. 13 marks St. Lucia Day, a day traditionally when the oldest daughter of the family wears a white robe, a red sash, and a wreath of lit candles on her head as she delivers coffee and saffron buns to the rest of the family still huddled in bed against the cold and dark morning.

St. Lucia is one of the very few saints honored by Lutheran Scandinavians (Swedes, Norwegians, Finns, and Danes) and in some parts of Italy. I’m not exactly clear who St. Lucia was, except that she did some self-sacrificing behavior for the good of others. The legends and stories differ depending on the region of the world.

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Since I’ve started this little food blog and especially since I started producing Stir It Up! on CSMonitor.com I find that a lot of people share their food-related thoughts with me and sometimes ask me questions. Sometimes I have an answer or an idea, and sometimes I do not. Here are for-real questions that I’ve received in the past two weeks:

“Do you know how to de-bone a duck?”

“I’m throwing an Inuit-themed dinner party for my wife’s birthday. Have you come across any good northern recipes that maybe Eskimos would serve?”

“I’m going to a Christmas cookie party that is actually quite competitive. Do you have any good ideas for what I could bring?”

The first two drew blank stares from me. For the third question I decided to fake it (I love a good challenge). “Sure,” I replied, “I think you should take snowman cupcakes.”

What? Where did that come from? I’ve never seen or made snowman cupcakes. (more…)

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These cookies are a riff on the recipe found inside the lid of the Quaker Oats canister. They use less butter and have some of the best flavors of Thanksgiving: cranberry, pumpkin, and cinnamon. I find them to be a great treat to make a day or two after the holiday meal as friends and family still linger on the sofa and the leftovers start to ebb. (more…)

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I have never made a homemade chicken potpie. Until now.

Woah. I feel like I just got let in on some secret toward finding eternal happiness. This is encouraging, particularly at this time of year when it is completely dark by 5 p.m.

Chicken potpie is one frozen food that I will admit to eating. Maybe it has some childhood nostalgia for me. My parents had busy careers and even though we enjoyed lots of home cooked meals, an upside down chicken potpie straight from the mini aluminum pie tray with a slosh of applesauce on the side was one of my favorite dinners. It was one of the first things I got to make as kid all by myself, which means, I got to poke fork holes into the top of the frozen pastry and slide it into the oven. By the time I finished watching an episode of “Laverne & Shirley,” my dinner was ready. (more…)

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This weekend felt like fall’s grand finale. The temperature dropped and dry leaves skittered through the air like colorful confetti. It was, in a word, magnificent.

There was this other event going on, too, called Halloween. But for me the real costume parade was happening overhead. (more…)

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I was settling sweetly into fall, having allowed those feelings of rush rush rush pass me by when I suddenly realized: My apples were going “off.” This means all those apples I had gathered from beneath the trees just a few weeks ago were beginning to look a little wrinkly and soft. Oops. So much for my reverie.

It’s good practice to buy fresh produce but that actually requires doing something with this produce. And I sometimes don’t follow through. (I am ashamed to admit to how many bell peppers I have tossed out recently.) I needed to snap awake before the apples were for naught. (more…)

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Banana Bread

For Mother’s Day I headed down to the Cape for a quick visit with Mom and the sea. I feel pretty fortunate that Mom relocated on the Cape a few years ago so I can zoom down for a few hours to escape the city and then zoom back up again.

The lilac bush behind her old Cape house was in full bloom, the first time I’ve seen it. Mom told me I should take back as many blossoms as I wanted. This is pure joy for me, being a city dweller. The lilac display in the arboretum is just a couple of blocks from my apartment and I can go sniff them anytime I want but to pick them would be criminal. So I settle for paying way too much for fresh, cut flowers at Whole Foods. Driving down to the Cape means I can have my pick of whatever Mom’s garden is offering.

I arrived with a hydrangea bush and a couple of paperbacks, good for beach reading. Mom has two great loves: Gardening and books. As long as her house has enough room for all of her books and as long as her back garden is big enough to dig around in, she is happy. If for any reason a Christmas or Mother’s Day goes by without a new book for Mom, we hear about it. “That was a lovely holiday,” she’ll say, “but I didn’t get any new books.” (more…)

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