Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cookbook Wednesday | An Old Fashioned Christmas

By the time you’re done reading today’s Cookbook Wednesday post, my Christmas cards and gifts should be on the way to their destinations; hopefully. I have no one to blame but myself. I’ve been a slacker lately. Well, kinda. Actually, I’ve been “playing” in the kitchen, trying to learn how to add some pizazz to this blog of mine for the new year (a new font would be nice) and just plain ol’ being lazy! It seems my sparks are flying in so many directions I can’t keep my mind on just one thing. This too shall pass:)

Let’s talk about An Old Fashioned Christmas published by the folks at Time-Life Books in 1997. I’m a huge fan of Time-Life Books and believe me when I tell you, this book does not disappoint. Just look at this Table of Contents.

Pretty impressive, don’t you think? This book has all a girl could ask for and then some. The tone of the book sings deck the halls with decorations, crafts and of course festive foods. I had a difficult time choosing what to highlight out of this wonderful book especially since Bellefonte, the first place I lived when I moved to Pennsylvania, just celebrated their 33rd Annual Victorian Christmas. I only live about 20 minutes away but I just didn’t make it this year. Harry’s wife Ruth told me it was an experience right out of Charles Dickens.

There are wonderful chapters on both Pennsylvania Celebrations and Victorian Celebrations in An Old Fashioned Christmas but, I’ll need to share them another time. Today I’d like to share a few pages in the book dedicated to Louis Prang, a German immigrant who came to America in 1850, who is often referred to as the “Father of the American Christmas Card.”

It’s widely accepted that the first Christmas card was printed in London in 1843, when Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a holiday card that he could send to his friends. But it was Boston-based printer Louis Prang who introduced the Christmas card to the American public…Prang published his first Christmas cards for the American market in 1875. Their popularity was immediate. By 1881, he was reportedly printing five million Christmas cards a year. Prang’s earliest cards were simple flower designs with the words “Merry Christmas.” Later cards often featured more traditional holiday motifs, some of which were adorned silk fringe, cords and tassels.(New York Historical Society)
Louis Prang, one of the founders of the Dixon Ticonderoga Company, was born in 1824 in Breslau, Silesia (present day Poland). He studied printing and dyeing techniques in Bohemia before immigrating to America in 1850. Prang developed a four-color printing process known as chromolithography in the 1860s. Prang's system was the first workable system to reproduce color in print. He used chromolithography to reproduce great works of art for classroom use. Prang set up a workshop in Boston, Massachusetts in 1860 and began to produce the first colored cards. Most of his business at first was to reproduce masterworks of art and maps for use in classrooms.
…It was the American public’s fascination with Civil War territory disputes, battles and troop movements coupled with the lack of newspapers’ ability to print photographic images which provided Prang with a unique opportunity to put his skills to use. He manufactured some of the first mass produced maps with red and blue lines, which illustrated troop movements and positions of opposing forces on the battlefields. It allowed those on the home-front to track troop advances and retreats through victories and defeats throughout the war…(Louis Prang, "Father of the American Christmas Card" Presented by the Sandusky Library, Sandusky, Ohio

Mr. Prang's greeting cards ranged in prices from 50 cents to $15 each (remember this was the 1800s). Here’s more of his story from the pages of An Old Fashioned Christmas.

It just wouldn’t be Cookbook Wednesday without a recipe now would it? There are oh so many recipes to choose from in the Holiday Baking section. I finally decided on this recipe for Sweet Potato Swirl Bread. It’s swirled with cocoa!

Doesn’t it look yummy?

If you would like to see more of Mr. Prang’s work, the Boston Public Library has over 1,400 pictures on their flickr pages. That’s where I found this cute little girl holding Holly dated between 1861-1897.

Next week will be the last week for Cookbook Wednesday for this year. I have joined the Linky website for future linky parties so be prepared for a few blog hops in the future:) If you would like to share a cookbook for Cookbook Wednesday, we would love to have you join us. Just grab the logo and enter below. Louise

1. Prang & Co's Art Publishing House in Roxbury, Mass in 1873
2. Printer Louis Prang Issued 'Checks’
3. A Prang Christmas Chromolithograph
4. World’s oldest mass-produced Christmas card in SMU collection

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls

Need I say more?
Marion has been such a good sport about the drastic change in menus around here, I wanted to surprise her with something I new she would really appreciate. For dinner I cooked up some lamb chops with roasted carrots and quinoa. (have you ever roasted carrots after steaming them? Oh so good:) I had my quinoa stuffed inside a roasted pepper with roasted carrots on top. It was good enough for me but poor Marion has really been missing lamb chops. She loves them!!!

I thought you “guys” deserved a wee bit of decadence too because you all have been so encouraging the last few months boosting my ego to stick with the new “changes.” And since so many of you are well aware of my “yeastaphobia,” I thought I would surprise you too!!! That’s right “kiddies” I baked Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls all by myself. When Marion asked me what smelled so good I told her it was a surprise and that I would “beat her with a wet noodle” if she even thought about snooping, lol… Now, don’t get too excited, I’m not real happy with the way they turned out. I think it may have started as early as the mixing of the dough. Here it is ready to rise.
I must confess, I’m not fond of Cinnamon Rolls of any kind. Surprised? Most people are. My daughter, Michele is a cinnamon roll lover from way back when. I probably should have sought out her advice from the get go but I didn’t. I did later. But, I think it may have been too late:) (stubborn:) I actually had fun rolling out the dough. It looked okay when I rolled it. As for the apples, I may have messed up with them too. Since I’ve been peeling and dicing more than my share of apples the last week or so, (yes, I baked another Apple Ugly Cake and yes, I did something wrong; AGAIN! Let’s not discuss it) I decided to “throw”the apples in the food processor and shred them. It worked alright but I may have gotten carried away. I tossed them into the brown sugar and pulverized walnuts and mixed it all up. Maybe I should have waited until the last minute because the apple sugar combo began to liquify immediately! I had to drain the apples before spreading them on the dough. A bit too thick I think?
I put them aside to rise while I tended to dinner. When I told Michele I was on the second rising, she was surprised. She said when she makes Cinnamon Rolls she only lets them rise after they have been filled and cut. I guess I should confess, the recipe called for quick rise yeast. Truth be told, I was surprised I had any kind of yeast in the fridge especially one that wasn’t expired. Michele thinks she may have put it in there when she was here. I think I may have bought it “in case.” Whatever the reason, it was still the wrong kind for this recipe. Michele suggested I just let the dough rise until it was double rather than the 10 minutes as stated in the recipe. I did. Here they are ready for the second rising.
The rolls took almost two hours to rise. I don’t know if that is good or bad. I do know, Marion was more than ready for dessert. I decided I should probably make the icing. Whoops, I guess I should have started that earlier. It took forever for the apple juice to boil down to 1/4 cup. When it did though, it did so rapidly. I almost burned it. However, it poured right into the cream cheese butter mixture and the aroma was incredible. Yes, I did take a teeny taste and it was awesome!!! I had my doubts:) Here they are iced and ready to serve to Marion.
I promised Marion I wouldn’t enlarge this picture of her and her cinnamon roll. She wouldn’t let me take any other picture of her but I know you guys miss her so I’ll keep it small as promised:) Here her lips are perched in the oooooooo postition, lol…
Another confession. Marion has been under a doctor’s care for the last couple of weeks. She was in the hospital a few days and was taken mega doses of antibodies. The doctors are blaming it on a flare up of Diverticulitis. (not to worry, she’s allowed to eat cinnamon rolls:) It’s good to have her home:) She’s going to love devouring these Cinnamon Rolls. I don’t even care if she just takes a bite of one a day, lol…
If you’re wondering what happen to the others, not to worry, I didn’t have one. I ran some across the street to Bill’s house. When it snowed the other night, I was soooooooo happy to come home to a plowed driveway!!! I did save one for you “guys” though. Maybe if you look closely, you can tell me what I did wrong. Whenever any of you “play” with yeast, your creations always look so heavenly:) However, one thing I’m sure of now after baking these cinnamon rolls, I will be baking with yeast again!!! Practice makes perfect:)
Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls
Here’s the recipe from Country Woman magazine. An issue Marion picked up at a yard sale, lol…
Apple Cider Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Just a reminder, there are only two weeks left of Cookbook Wednesday. (that’s the link to the how-to) I won’t be posting the linky on New Year’s Eve (can you believe it, 2015 is around the corner!) So, that leaves us this week and the next. I’m going to attempt to sign up for the pay version of Linky on Monday. I think it has worked out just fine and it’s about time I pay for it. It has be very useful getting to know it for free. I think the list of current linky parties that are going on each week is a big plus. It’s fun to see what other Linky Parties are happening. If you haven’t checked out the Linky List Directory, I suggest you do. It’s amazing what kind of parties are going on and they aren’t only about food!!! There are crafts, kids activities, photography and even something called a Reindeer Round Up! Of course, our Cookbook Wednesday is on the list too:) I’ll let you know how I do signing up for the pay version on Wednesday. I hope you will be able to join us:) Have a wonderful day everyone, “See” you then, Louise:)

P.S. Tomorrow is National Cupcake Day!