Christmas Prayers from the past

December 19, 2011

We have just recently re-discovered these three little prayer books in a box of books in the attic.

The one on the left is missing the first few pages so we don’t have a copyright date, but it definitely appears to be the oldest.  It is obviously a book of prayers for children.  But I find it surprising that the language definitely isn’t changed much if at all to make it easier for children to read.  That makes me think that it really wasn’t meant to be read by children, but read to children so that they could memorize the prayers.

Its prayers are all short and include these two pages of Christmas prayers.

The red book was given to an unknown  couple on their 50th wedding anniversary in approximately 1951. (That’s our guess because that is the copyright year.)

It is my favorite.  It has prayers for every instance imaginable.

It includes this Christmas prayer that I think is lovely and we will probably use on Christmas day.

The blue book was a gift to Hubby from the Pastor when he was confirmed in 1959.  I know that Hubby and his family dearly loved Pastor L, but its prayers tend to be long and kind of dry.  I wonder if a simpler version might have had a better chance of actually being used by eighth graders!

We have started using prayers from the middle book during our bible studies.  The wording used is so elegant and conveys the thoughts in such beautiful ways. They are a pleasure to read, pray and think on.

I think “Anna B.” who signed her name and wrote her congratulations in that little red book of prayers to give to a couple celebrating a long marriage, would probably be happy to know that it is being used all these years later.

What a special little treasure of books we’ve found.  And especially in regard to the red book, we are using it regularly right now.  And even though Hubby and I weren’t the ones who received it originally, it has definitely turned into a gift for us.

Bark, Bark, Bacon

December 12, 2011

Occasionally I see a recipe that makes me think, “Who would have ever thought of that?”  But now that I watch “Chopped”  on the Food Network I understand how inventive professional cooks can be, so I’m not as surprised at unusual combinations in food.

But, having said that, I was still surprised and intrigued by a recipe in the newspaper last week that was a chocolate bark with bacon in it.  So I made some of it to take to a party on Saturday night and it was a big hit!

Well, because I enjoy taking something that “is a big hit” to a party, I’m going to make it again for a party this coming Friday night.

Here is the recipe and a picture (with my comments in blue).  In case you want to be a “hit” too!

Caramel Bacon Peanut Bark

12 oz. maple or brown sugar bacon

2 12-oz. packages milk chocolate bits

1 1/2 C. chopped peanuts, salted or not (I used lightly salted)

1 10-oz. bag soft candy caramels (I used caramel bits made specifically to melt.)

large flake sea salt (I just used the sea salt I had on hand.  I have no idea if it’s “large flake” or not, but it does look flakey.)

Line a baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper.

(Before you do this first step, let me tell you that I instead did the bacon in the microwave because I knew it would get uniformly done.) Heat a large saute pan over medium high.  Working in batches add the bacon and cook until very crisp, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Drain bacon on paper towels.  Set aside to cool completely. When cooled, crumble the bacon into small pieces.

Place the chocolate bits in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds, or until melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet, then tap it on the counter to settle the chocolate into an even, smooth puddle.

Immediately sprinkle the chopped peanuts and crumbled bacon evenly over the chocolate.  (I gently pressed them down into the chocolate to ensure they stayed put after it hardened.) Allow the chocolate to fully harden, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile place the caramels in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds, or until melted and smooth.  Drizzle the caramel over the bark, then sprinkle lightly with the sea salt.  Allow to cool and harden, then break into pieces.

Next time I will mic both the chocolate and the caramel just a little longer so that they spread thinner.  And this first time I made this just a couple hours before the party and it tasted very salty.  But when we ate a few leftover pieces the next day, it didn’t taste as salty. So I’ll make it a day ahead from now on.

No one is more surprised than me that this may become a recipe we make every year!

Meat Market Mentors

December 6, 2011

There is a family who have had a meat market in town for several generations.  At one time I think there were four brothers working in the business and now their off-spring run several locations.

When Hubby and I were first married, we lived in an apartment in a big old house just a few blocks from the brothers butcher shop.  Neither one of us had learned to cook at home, making any meal we cooked now that we were married a real adventure!

So we started going to this butcher shop regularly to buy meat … because when we bought a cut of meat the brother who was waiting on us would then tell us how to cook it … perfect!  Although unfortunately, their instructions sometimes didn’t all get remembered when we were actually doing the cooking.

After the first time we bought steaks from them, when we went back the next time they asked us how we enjoyed the steaks.  We told them they were really good, but it was so smoky in our apartment that it took away from the fun of eating them.  Too bad we had apparently missed the part of their instructions about leaving the oven door ajar when broiling!  We are so lucky we didn’t have a fire.  I don’t remember them laughing at us while we were there, but I’m guessing they did after we left.

Our relationship with these butchers continued for the two years that we lived in the near-by apartment.  But after we moved to a house and had a family, and our favorite butcher shop was on the other side of town,  it was just easier to buy our meat at the grocery store.  And I had learned enough about how to cook the different cuts that I didn’t need the detailed instructions the brothers had provided any more.

Well, over the years I’ve become a pretty good cook, and Hubby can put out a meal too, if he has to.  But something has happened recently that made me remember the early days of our marriage and the tutelage of the brothers at the butcher shop.

If we are both in town on Christmas Day, we have a tradition with our friends Candy and John to get together for a meal.  Last year they had us to their home and Candy made a fantastic prime rib, something I had never cooked.  It was wonderful.

So, they are coming here this year, and I told Candy I’d like to try my hand at the prime rib she did last year.  And you know where she directed me?  To the butcher shop of the brothers who taught Hubby and me how to cook meat 46 years ago!  She said they make it so easy — it comes already rubbed with spices and they give you a printed set of instructions on exactly how to cook it.

I look forward to having a perfectly cooked prime rib on Christmas Day because I know from long-ago experience, that family of butchers are very good at instructing those who buy their meat on how to cook it.

I do have to wonder though if the brothers first thought about giving people written instructions after their experience with the newlyweds who didn’t remember to leave the oven door open when broiling and could have burned the building down!