How to make Christmas cookies: Sweet Crescents

Sweet Crescents - Clovice's favorite!

This recipe is my husband’s absolute favorite!

Sweet Crescents

(makes 64 small crescents)

First, make the dough. Cream together:

  • 1/2 pound softened unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese

Then, add and cream again:

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Next, add:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Mix until a ball of dough forms. Take dough ball and divide into 8 pieces. Take 8 pieces and form into a patty. Place dough patties on a plate and chill until firm.

How to shape the crescents:

You’ll need

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Stuffing: 1 cup of each (depending on your taste): chopped dates, raisins, chocolate chips, walnuts, sweetened coconut

Remove dough patty from refrigerator just before rolling. Soften for about 5 seconds in the microwave to make rolling easier.

Put a dusting of powdered sugar on your rolling surface. Place dough patty on top. Dust patty with more powdered sugar. Roll patty into a 10 inch circle. Divide circle into 8 slices. On the outside edge of each slice, add your stuffing choice. Roll the stuffing up into the dough by starting at the outside edge and rolling in towards the middle of the circle.

Place on lightly greased pan and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool on rack, then transfer to storage container. To serve, sift more powdered sugar on top and place powdered crescents on serving plate.

How to Make Italian Christmas Honey Cakes (Struffoli)

Christmas Honey Cakes (Struffoli)

Honey Cakes (sans honey) ready for shipment back East.

Christmas for my sister and I always began with my Aunt Pauline her family coming over to our house shortly after Thanksgiving for the two day process of making Italian Christmas Honey cakes, or Struffoli. I guess my Aunt Pauline came from a part of Italy that wasn’t satisfied with just a “ball” shape – we made festive shapes like Christmas Trees, a Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, and Christmas Wreaths.

I thought I’d post the recipe here so my sister could find it….not that she’d ever make these. Somehow, this part of our Christmas tradition got handed down to me.

You’ll note this is a written version of a recipe made from watching my mother, so all measures are approximate. (Mom, remember when we made these in Liberia during your visit to me while I was teaching at ELWA??!! Ahhhh, Christmas on the beach with Italian Honey Cakes! What a fine memory!)

Italian Christmas Honey Cakes
(yields 2 Family-sized Glad plastic container –13 cups – filled to the brim)

6 heaping c. flour
3 heaping t. baking powder
2 1/2 rounded t. salt (1t if using salted butter)
2 rounded T. sugar

Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in:

1 1/2 c. butter

Then, add

5 large eggs slightly beaten
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. milk

Knead dough for 15 minutes. Add milk and butter if too dry, and flour if too sticky. Dough should be smooth and not tear as you work it – like the consistency of pasta dough. Separate the dough into 4 loaves and place in an oiled bowl. Cover.

Now, some videos on how to shape the dough:
(Aubrey, the daughter of our friends Joe and Renee, did the camera work and appears as my helper!)

The Christmas Tree Shape

This is my favorite shape. Easy to make, and very impressive when you’ve got a forest of them on a gift plate.

The Baby Jesus Shape

OK, so you need to use your imagination a bit with this shape…

The Christmas Wreath Shape

I usually make only one wreath for each gift plate I give, as it takes a bunch of dough and is not as much fun to eat as the Christmas Tree shape.

And, now on to the frying.

I like to let my shapes sit overnight covered with a dishtowel (this helps them to not come “unglued” when frying.) Set your deep fat fryer at 375 degrees and fry shapes until they’re a rich, golden brown. (If you don’t have a deep fat fryer, use a heavy deep pot filled with 2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat until a 1″ cube of bread fries to golden brown in 60 seconds – that’s about 375 degrees. Be VERY careful when deep fat frying. Keep a fire extinguisher close by and NEVER overload the pot. I don’t add more than 12 trees to the pot at any one time. You’ll need to change the oil after about 3 batches, as it starts to foam up and is difficult to control. I find stirring the foam helps. Three quarts of oil will suffice for the amounts given in this recipe)

Drench your shapes in honey. You can also sprinkle with colored sprinkles or silver coated sugar balls. My sister and I called the silver balls “buckshot”, ’cause that’s what they looked like, and what they were like biting into. I don’t use the silver balls any more. Maybe you won’t want to use them, either….(they were pretty, though.)

This recipe also freezes well. Put your cooled, fried shapes on a baking tin and freeze. Then, place the frozen shapes in a plastic bag. They will keep this way for at least a month. To thaw, take them out of the bag and place on a plate or baking sheet. Drench with honey after they’re thawed.

Information Overload? Just Do What You’re Inclined To Do

Seth Godin posed this question in his blog today:

Redoubling to system failure

Every 18 months for the last decade, the world has doubled the data it pushes to you.

Twice as much email, twice as many friend requests, twice as many sites to check, twice as many devices.

When does your mind lose the ability to keep up? Then what happens? Is it already happening?

As his blog is not open to comment, I’ll respond here.

Thia actually happened to me about a year ago.  There was so much information coming to me and at me that my mind just GAVE UP. Before this break, the mental chatter went something like this:

“Gotta know this.” “Must reply to her today.” “OMG! I have 25 emails since 9am this morning, and it’s only 9:10!”

I came to the following realizations:

  • It’s impossible to keep everybody happy.
  • I cannot keep up with ANYTHING
  • I cannot control ANYTHING
  • I cannot know ANYTHING for certain.

So, I’ve decided that my best approach to the issue of information overload is as follows:

  • Be really clear what I want from life
  • Attend to each moment with a sense of openness, and let the moment decide what I do next
  • Trust in Life (God, the Universe, Allah, etc.) – what Life wants to happen through me is Life’s responsibility (not mine), and that whatever happens is part of the overall Plan.

What do I mean by “letting the moment decide what I do next”? It’s listening  – giving my full attention – to what is present in the moment. The action (or non-action, as the case may be) then presents itself and happens naturally: not from fear or desire, but out of a “rightness” or “correctness” that this is what I am to do (or not do) Now.

By living life from this perspective, I do not worry.  There is nothing to worry about, as ultimately I cannot Do anything to improve or screw up my situation. If I could Do something, I would be God. And I am not. I am only God living through this form called Carol.

I’ve been a whole bunch happier after this “mental breakdown”, and actually get more done with less stress than I did before (with NO guilt).

Free at last, free at last. Thank God, I’m free at last!

Why Wall Street Can’t Be Fixed.

I came across David Korten while viewing an ad in this month’s issue of UU World for the conference “Why Wall Street Can’t be Fixed and How to Replace It” (to be held April 3-5 2009 at the Rowe Conference Center (http://www.rowecenter.org)).

Dr. David C. Korten is an author and a leader in the global resistance against corporate globalization. He is probably best known as the author of the book When Corporations Rule the World. In this video, David explains how the US government was established to ensure the rights of the landed elite. The balance established after WW2 between business and the rising middle class was upset in the 70’s as the rich ruling class found power eroding. We see the effects of this today.

It is interesting to note David had not yet experienced the power of the internet in marshaling everyday people to elect a previously “unelectable” candidate (video created January 20, 2008).

This 11 minute video is a great view for anyone wanting to have a perspective on how we got to where we are (and how we may be able to get out of it).

more about “Why Wall Street Can’t Be Fixed.“, posted with vodpod

EarReverence at the City of Lights

Here’s a video of my a cappella vocal quartet recording our new CD at the City of Lights studio in Lakeport. The sound is unmixed and was recorded by the microphone on my camera.

I’m the one next to Bill Bordisso (the lead singer for this song). The song is “Come Go With Me.”  Here’s some trivia about the tune from Wikipedia:

Come Go with Me” is a song written by C. E. Quick. The song was originally recorded by the Del-Vikings in 1956. It became a big-seller on Dot Records in early-1957, reaching number four on the Billboard charts in the United States. The Del-Vikings’ recording was featured in the films “American Graffiti” and “Stand by Me“. The song was later covered by the American pop band The Beach Boys and was released on their 1978 album MIU Album. In January, 1982, the single became a top twenty hit, reaching number eighteen in the United States. In 2004 Rolling Stone ranked the doo wop-styled song #441 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Go to my youTube channel to see the other recordings I made during this session.

Final Laurie Update

Clovice actually spoke to Laurie today.  She is in some pain, as one would expect after a full hysterectomy. Some good news items:

  • The teaching hospital was so appalled with the treatment Laurie received at the emergency room she first went to they decided to waive ALL FEES – including post-op care. Yes, there is a God…
  • This teaching hospital is one of the finest in the world for the care she requires
  • The surgeon believes he got all the cancer
  • This type of cancer requires no further treatment past surgical removal – therefore, no chemo and no radiation

Evidently, there was a non-malignant tumor also present which they removed which was causing an infection in her uterus (the cause of her pain?). They removed the tumor and she’s on a course of antibiotics. Laurie will be monitored closely to make sure she’s cancer-free.

It’s great news Laurie has recieved such wonderful care at an affordable price. However, health care like this should be a right and not a privilege for every American.

Health Care Community Discussion

Here’s a link to our UU community’s discussion on health care as requested by Tom Daschle and the incoming Obama administration:

Healthy conversation


Archives

Welcome to my personal blog. You can visit my business website by clicking on my Gravatar or visiting http://c-cole-lewis.com

Carol Cole-Lewis's Facebook profile
View Carol Cole-Lewis's profile on LinkedIn

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.