Auntie Paul’s Rum Balls

img_6128We grew up in a large house built in the early years of the 20th century. It stood on the corner lot, anchoring our neighbourhood. There seemed to be kids in every second house, parents with good friendships built during their time there, and we were all well known to each other. We’d play Kick-the-Can through the summer evenings using a four-block area, and we’d make wild sled courses in the wonderful occasions of snow, down through 35th Avenue.

Through these years the Scotens, our neighbours from two doors down, would come over for lunch on Christmas day. I’m sure all of us children had been up for hours by this point in the day. Between their family of 8 and ours of 6, it made for a house full, slightly chaotic with a large dog thrown in for measure. Lunch was made up of simple sandwiches and treats. And every year, Mrs. Scoten, known much more familiarly as Auntie Paul (Pauline), would bring Cheesy Pleasies, and Rumballs; one extremely savory, and the other sweet. For us the Rumballs were probably our first taste of alcohol, and feeling very grown up, we’d savor them. Their rich chocolatiness filled with cherries and nuts was very much our Christmas treat. When I’d moved away from home, and was going to do my own family Christmas, I remember writing to Auntie Paul and asking for the recipe. She passed away this year, well into her nineties; I know she’d be so pleased to have me share her recipe.

As you’ll see this is a very simple recipe with broad measurements for several of the ingredients. I usually use all the smaller amounts listed, but have been know to fill them chock full of cherries and nuts on occasion, and you’ll need the larger amount of sour cream to help bind them together if you decide to go this route. Continue reading

Candied Orange Peel

IMG_8849A simple little winter treat, to make use of the wonderful oranges available this time of year. Use to garnish desserts, or to serve alone, as a little something at the end of a special meal. There are a few steps to this, but none of them difficult. The first time I ever made these was after a cousin, wearing a headband and groovy bellbottoms, had come to visit, and had a bag of these yummy morsels in her pack to share. Continue reading

Cranberry Orange Sauce

IMG_8621From the time we were first married, and living in a 40’ trailer on our 50-acre piece of raw land, our family has gathered at our table for holiday repasts. We would move the table so that it ran from the tiny trailer kitchen through the living area. The trailer was just 9’ wide, so it was all about the table!

We’d cook the turkey in the tiny, but wonderful oven, heating the whole of the trailer in the process, while pots simmered on the cooktop. Even though our space was so tiny, it was so much fun.

We moved into our freshly built new house in early October one year. I was so excited to hold our first Thanksgiving here. With room to spare, we invited a tableful of guests, still needing to extend the table into the living room. A bigger table but extended all the same. Counting noses for this Thanksgiving, we’ll also need to add another table. Always I am thankful for those who share our table with us.

Here’s the recipe for the cranberry sauce that I’ve been making most of my life, and has been at most of these events. Continue reading

Poultry Gravy (do ahead, or for when you just want some)

IMG_8597Sometimes it’s just way easier to do something ahead of time.

Every “gather-round-the-table” celebration is more enjoyable if the tasks are shared between several, and it isn’t all done “just before”. When a turkey is pulled from the oven, and set to rest on its cutting board, there are usually other pots simmering, and people talking & visiting. So here’s a tip.

Make your gravy ahead of time. Any juices from your bird can be set in the fridge for the next day or two, making it easy to remove any fat. Then the juices can be frozen, ready for the next time you want gravy. The only downside to this is that you need to have kept those juices for that time.

Here’s a do-ahead gravy that is started from scratch, using some bits of poultry like wings, neck, or even chopped up legs. You can make as much as you want on a day that you pick.

For this year’s Thanksgiving feast, the turkey, stuffing, and three side dishes will be brought by others, leaving me to do a couple of pies, cranberry sauce, potatoes & gravy. As ours truly is the “home-that-gathers”, I am looking forward to the happy chatter and laughter that I am so very thankful for.IMG_8594

Continue reading