Home — Christmas in the Hudson Valley



oday in the Hudson Valley, it is possible to enjoy the pre-Santa Claus traditions of the Dutch who settled here. At colonial Philipsburg Manor, Upper Mills, in Westchester's Sleepy Hollow, St. Nick in his dramatic bishop's hat and snowy beard puts in an appearance, telling the story of his miracles and rewarding children for their good deeds throughout the year. In the stone manor house, tables are set for holiday feasting and a two-foot high molded St. Nicholas cookie is being carefully decorated.

Up river in Croton-on-Hudson, candlelight streams from the windows of the manor house of the prominent Van Cortlandt family. Here, where the Revolutionary War has just ended, Dutch traditions are becoming Anglicized, with fruits, holiday cakes and greenery placed about in preparation for an elegant holiday gathering. The entry hall sports an English "kissing bell" and a musical group performing classical favorites. As guests walk by lantern light to the Ferry House tavern, they are met by the comical "Lord of Misrule," who presides over raucous Twelfth Night celebrations under way, with fiddle music, dancing and toasting of the season.

Visitors to candlelight tours at Mr. Irving's home, Sunnyside at Tarrytown in Westchester County, will learn of his contributions to the American Christmas celebration. Guests are escorted down a lantern-lit path to the cottage, which is bedecked with holly and evergreens. In each room, lit only by candlelight, some of what the author had to say about Christmas is read aloud, while caroling can be heard in the parlor and around the bonfire outside.

One thing visitors will not see at Sunnyside is a Christmas tree. Mr. Irving liked to uphold the "old ways" in his home and, although bringing a living tree into the house was gaining in popularity in the 1840s and 1850s, there is no record that Irving ever did so. Queen Victoria made this Germanic custom fashionable by decorating an evergreen tree in Buckingham Palace for her German-born husband, Prince Albert, and the idea spread rapidly in this country later in the century.

In 1851, an enterprising man from Hunter, up in the Greene County Catskills, saw the growing demand for cut Christmas trees. He loaded up two wagons with balsam fir, hitched oxen to the wagons and hauled the trees to the town of Catskill, where they were loaded on a steamboat and shipped down the Hudson River to New York City. As the story is told in, Carr "rented space on the corner of Vesey and Greenwich Streets, where he sold his trees with a speed and at a price that amazed him. The Christmas tree business in New York had begun."

The custom of giving holiday greeting cards also got its start locally. A skilled wood engraver and lithographer named Richard H. Pease of Albany, created America's first Christmas card in 1851. The card depicts a family Christmas celebration and was meant, not to be mailed, but to be handed to business associates and friends as a commercial remembrance of the season.

Both trees and cards abound at Lyndhurst, a gothic revival mansion in Tarrytown, where the Victorian Era is in high gear around the 1890s. Here visitors for festive candlelight tours can see how the Dutch, German and English traditions had melded into an ornate Victorian celebration of the holiday. Doorways and halls are festooned with pine and laurel. Elaborately decorated trees stand in the parlor and the art room upstairs. And Santa Claus is much in evidence on painted decorations, handmade cards and wrapped packages.

Another turn-of-the-century celebration can be seen at Mills Mansion at Staatsburg in Dutchess County, where "A Gilded Age Christmas" features lavish Edwardian-style decorations. Similarly, Wilderstein at Rhinebeck, also in Dutchess County, will be decorated with displays to delight a child's fantasy, in a style compatible with the Queen Anne Victorian architecture of the house.

Exploring Christmas celebrations in the 20th century is done at other sites in Dutchess County: Springwood, the Hyde Park home of FDR, which is decorated to recreate a Roosevelt family Christmas, and Montgomery Place in Annandale-on-Hudson, where Christmas on the home front during World War II is brought to life. Visitors go back fifty years in time to relive and remember the 1940's through music, stories, radio broadcasts and the spirit of Christmas that was kept alive in spite of shortages and the painful sacrifices of war.

At the beginning of the 21st century, a strong antidote to the over-commercialization of Christmas is to experience the joys of the holiday as celebrated in times gone by. Those who do so, by visiting the Hudson Valley with family and friends over the holidays, will discover how deeply the American Christmas is rooted in this scenic part of the country.

Sorry, no java browser
 
Sorry, no java browser
 
Sorry, no java browser
 
Sorry, no java browser
 
Sorry, no java browser
 
Sorry, no java browser
  Why We Celebrate Christmas The Way We Do
 

The way we celebrate Christmas is a completely American invention, growing from the fertile ethnic customs of the Dutch, English and Germans, all of whom found refuge along the banks of the mighty Hudson River. Until the 19th century, the celebration of Christmas began with St. Nicholas' Eve on December 5 and continued until Twelfth Night on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. Twelfth Night was the focus of the holiday as the most important religious event of the season.

Over time, these traditions and customs merged, in the Hudson Valley, to form what we call our Christmas Traditions of today. St. Nicholas in his bishop robes giving rewards to well mannered children merged into Santa Claus who then took to the air behind a horse drawn wagon dropping presents down chimneys. Sugar Plums started dancing in children's heads and the little horses and wagon transformed into a magnificent sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer.

As Victorian England started yearning for a more festive holiday, the lore of the Hudson Valley transformed their notions of the holiday into the warmth of the hearth, good food, good friends and gay festivities. The feasts and celebrations of our valley created the background for the most famous Christmas story of them all.

It's a fascinating tale of imagination, desire for family warmth and the love of a poet for his children.

  How It All Got Started

As the Dutch came to America and established the colony of New Amsterdam, their children enjoyed the traditional visit of Saint Nicholas' on December 5. The date is a Catholic custom even after the Reformation. As England seized the colony and and it became New York, the kindly figure of Sinter Klaas (pronounced Santa Claus) soon aroused among the English children the desire of having such a heavenly visitor come to their homes, too.

The English settlers were happy to grant the wishes of their children. However, the figure of a Catholic saint and bishop was not acceptable in their eyes as many of them were Presbyterians or Puritans, to whom a bishop was repugnant. In addition, they did not celebrate the feasts of saints according to the ancient Catholic calendar.

This dilemma was solved by shifting the visit of the Dutch Santa Claus from December 5 to Christmas, and by completely replacing him with an entirely different character. Behind the name Santa Claus actually stands the figure of the pagan Germanic god Thor. Details of Thor from ancient German mythology show the origin of the modern Santa Claus tale.

Thor was the god of the peasants and the common people. He was represented as an elderly man, jovial and friendly, of heavy build, with a long white beard. His element was fire, his color red. The rumble and roar of thunder were said to be caused by the rolling of his chariot, for he alone among the gods never rode on horse­back but drove in a chariot drawn by two white goats (called Cracker and Gnasher). He was fighting the giants of ice and snow, and thus became the Yule-god and was said to live in the 'North­land' where he had his palace among the icebergs. He was considered as the cheerful and friendly god, never harming humans but rather helping and protecting them. The fireplace in every home was especially sacred to him, and he was said to come down through the chimney into his element, the fire.

Here, then, is the true origin of our "Santa Claus." It certainly was a stroke of genius that produced such a charming and attractive figure for pagan mythology. With the Christian saint whose name he still bears, however, this Santa Claus has really nothing to do.

In The Dutch Tradition

In the Dutch tradition St. Nicholas' Day is the center of revelry in the Christmas season. St. Nicholas arrives the last Saturday of November, stopping all activity as he proceeded atop a white horse dressed in traditional bishop's robes and accompanied by his servant, Black Peter. As he enters the town the local Mayor greets him and a great parade forms escorting him to the local palace. Here, all the children are waiting and must give an accounting of their behavior over the last year.

On December 5th, St. Nicholas' Eve, presents are exchange. The presents, disguised as much as possible to make the final discovery more delightful, are called "surprises." A small gift may be wrapped inside a huge box, or hidden inside a vegetable, or sunk in a pudding.

On Christmas itself, there are no presents, attending church in the morning and enjoying a big dinner in the afternoon being the focus of attention for the day. At home, the Christmas Tree is the center of celebrations which includes caroling and story-telling. On December 26, called "Second Christmas Day", everyone relaxes and eats more feasts. Horns are blown to both chase away evil spirits and to announce the birth of Christ.

In The German Tradition

In the German tradition preparations are made for weeks in advance of the great day. Advent wreaths, candles and decorations set the mood. December 6th, St. Nicholas's Day marks the beginning of the season. The evening before, on the 5th, all the children place their shoes outside and on the morning of the 6th they awaken to find that St. Nicholas has filled them with fruit, cookies and sweets.

The holiday festivities center on the Christmas Tree, always decorated with care by the Mother. No one is allowed into the principal room until she is finished and satisfied with her work. In Germany, it is the Christkind who brings the presents, accompanied by one of its many devilish companions, Knecht Rupprecht, Pelzmaertl, Ru-Klas. The highlight of the Christmas food is the cookies, dozens of different Cookies, shaped like figures of Christmas or stamped with familiar designs. Edible trees and tiny baked brown gnomes fill the warm kitchens for a week before the festivities. The 25th of December is Family Day, and the 26th is a day to visit all Friends.

In The English Tradition

In the English Tradition Father Christmas reigns in the place of Santa Claus or St. Nicholas. He wears long robes with sprigs of holly in his long white hair.

Leading up to the holiday, children send him letters to insure he has their desires correctly written down. The letters are not mailed, they are thrown into the fireplace. If they go up the chimney the wish is granted; if not, the wish isn't granted. On Christmas Eve stockings are hung by the chimney or the foot of the bed to receive small presents, opened first thing on Christmas Day.

The Christmas Tree occupies a central position of the holiday festivities. But unlike the other traditions, it has never replaced the combination of greenery & mistletoe, called the kissing bough. Through the season the Yule Log burns in the hearth and fragrances from savory and sweet foods fill the air.

In the countryside Christmas mummers perform plays and carol through the streets. The church bell is rung once for every year since Christ's birth with the last stroke timed exactly for midnight. The Christmas meal consists of roast turkey or beef and desserts are mincemeat pies and plum puddings.

  The Hudson Valley's Role in Developing Our Traditions
 
In the late 18th century celebration of the winter holidays had declined. The medieval Christmas traditions which combined the celebration of the birth of Christ with the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, a pagan celebration for the Roman god of agriculture, and the Germanic winter festival of Yule, had come under intense scrutiny by the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell in England and the Puritans in America.

It is here that our tale of the Hudson Valley and our traditions of Christmas converge. They connect in the person of Washington Irving.

  Mr. Knickerbocker Tells a Story (aka Washington Irving)
 

Hudson Valley resident and best-selling author Washington Irving wrote "The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon Gent", in which, among other stories, he relates a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house, Bracebridge. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In Irving's mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving's fictitious celebrants enjoyed "ancient customs," including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving's book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended—in fact, historians say that Irving's account actually "invented" tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

With the publication in 1808, just 20 years after the writing of the American Constitution, Irving created a new version of Old St. Nick. This one rode over the treetops in a horse-drawn wagon "dropping gifts down the chimneys of his favorites." Irving described Santa as a jolly Dutchman who smoked a long-stemmed clay pipe and wore baggy breeches and a broad-brimmed hat. Diedrich Knickerbocker's (Irving's) History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty also included the familiar phrase, "...laying a finger beside his nose...."

Irving expands our knowledge of St. Nicholas' holiday activities by saying, "At this early period was instituted that pious ceremony, still religiously observed in all our ancient families of the right breed, of hanging up a stocking in the chimney on St. Nicholas eve; which stocking is always found in the morning miraculously filled; for the good St. Nicholas has ever been a great giver of gifts, particularly to children."

Irving liked nothing better than attend a good party or tell a great story. Having done what he could to cement the Dutch tradition in the American consciousness, he then spent many years in England, where he was an honored guest at many of the great country houses. His tales of "Old Christmas", assembled from his previously written sketches published in other books, first published in 1820, are among the earliest popular accounts of 19th century English Christmas customs, many of which would soon be adopted in the United States.

Irving writes of mistletoe and evergreen wreaths, Christmas candles and the blazing Yule log, singing and dancing, carolers at the door and the preacher at the church, wine and wassail, and, of course, the festive Christmas dinner. His description of Old Christmas as he experienced it in "Merrie Olde England," helped to popularize these traditions in his native land.

To read the complete text of Washington Irving's "Old Christmas," just CLICK HERE.

  Christmas Gains in Favor
A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS
By Clement Clarke Moore,
first published in
Troy Sentinel, 12/23/1823

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

 

Irving, acknowledged as the "Father of the American Christmas," had neatly laid the ground work for a now-famous poem written by Clement Clark Moore called "A Visit From St. Nicholas." Most American children today can recite the poem in which St. Nicholas arrives by reindeer-drawn sleigh, rather than horse-drawn wagon, over the treetops, bringing gifts and laying his finger aside his nose.

Legend has it that Moore composed "A Visit from St. Nicholas" for his family on Christmas Eve of 1822, during a sleigh-ride. It is said he drew inspiration for the elfin, pot-bellied St. Nick in his poem from the roly-poly Dutchman who drove his sleigh that day. But from what is known of Clement Moore, it's more likely he drew his Santa Claus from Washington Irving's "Knickerbocker History."

Moore's verse gave an Arctic flavor to Santa's image when he substituted 8 tiny reindeer and a sleigh for Irving's horse and wagon. And he described Santa as "He had a broad face, and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly."

Moore was an academe and refused to have the poem published despite its enthusiastic reception by everyone who read it. His argument that it was beneath his dignity fell on deaf ears, because the following Christmas "A Visit from St. Nicholas" found its way after all into the mass media when a family member cunningly submitted it to a newspaper, the Troy Sentinal. Moore did not to acknowledge authorship of it until fifteen years later.

Moore's poem quickly became a phenomenon after it first appeared, anonymously, on Page 2 of the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel on Dec. 23, 1823. The newspaper reprinted it each Christmas for several years, and in about 1830 began printing it as an illustrated broadside, handed out by carriers delivering the Christmas edition.

Irving's Influence on Dickens

Dickens' memorable descriptions of the Christmas scene in both Pickwick and A Christmas Carol owe a great deal to Washington Irving. At a New York dinner, hosted by Irving, Dickens amusingly revealed his devotion to the great American author: "I say, gentlemen, I do not go to bed two nights out of seven without taking Washington Irving under my arm upstairs to bed with me". In the semi-feudal community of Dingley Dell in Pickwick Papers, Dickens's portrait of Mr. Wardle is designed after that of Irving's genial Squire Bracebridge from "Old Christmas". Irving's descriptions of the Bracebridge Hall Christmas celebrations, with their dancing, singing, games, tales, mistletoe and holly clearly helped to shape those seen in Dingley Dell, Mr. Fezziwig's ball, and at the home of Scrooge's nephew, Fred.

Dickens' cherished little Christmas story, the best loved and most read of all of his books, began life as the result of the author's desperate need of money. In the fall of 1843 Dickens and his wife Kate were expecting their fifth child. Requests for money from his family, a large mortgage on his Devonshire Terrace home, and lagging sales from the monthly installments of Martin Chuzzlewit, had left Dickens seriously short of cash.

As the idea for the story took shape and the writing began in earnest, Dickens became engrossed in the book. He wrote that as the tale unfolded he 'wept and laughed, and wept again' and that he 'walked about the black streets of London fifteen or twenty miles many a night when all sober folks had gone to bed'.

At odds with his publishers, Dickens paid for the production cost of the book himself and insisted on a lavish design that included a gold-stamped cover and four hand-colored etchings. He also set the price at 5 shillings so that the book would be affordable to nearly everyone.

The book was published during the week before Christmas 1843 and was an instant sensation but due to the high production costs, Dickens' earning from the sales were lower than expected. In addition to the disappointing profit from the book Dickens was enraged that the work was instantly the victim of pirated editions. Copyright laws in England were often loosely enforced and a complete lack of international copyright laws had been Dickens' theme during his trip to America the year before. He ended up spending more money fighting pirated editions of the book than he was making from the book itself.

Despite these early financial difficulties, Dickens' Christmas tale of human redemption has endured beyond even Dickens' own vivid imagination. It was a favorite during Dickens' public readings of his works late in his lifetime and is known today primarily due to the dozens of film versions and dramatizations which continue to be produced every year.

Dickens' description of the holiday as "a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys" is the very essence of Christmas today, not at the greedy commercialized level, but in people's hearts and homes.

Dickens' name had become so synonymous with Christmas that on hearing of his death in 1870 a little costermonger's girl in London asked, "Mr. Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?"

To read Charles Dickens' lecture version of his classic tale "A Christmas Carol", CLICK HERE.

 

  A Few Holiday Recipes
 
Holiday Wasail Gingerbread
1 gallon apple cider
1 large can pineapple juice (unsweetened)
3/4 cup tea (can use herb tea)

Place in a cheesecloth sack:
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
2 sticks cinnamon

This is great cooked in a crock pot. Let it simmer very slowly for 4 to 6 hours. You can add water if it evaporates too much. Your classroom will smell wonderful and the students will love it! Serves 20.

1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup melted margarine
½ cup evaporated milk
1 cup unsulfered molasses
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon lemon extract
4 cups stone-ground or unbleached flour, unsifted

Combine the sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Mix well. Add the melted margarine, evaporated milk and molasses. Add the extracts. Mix well. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. The dough should be stiff enough to handle without sticking to fingers. Knead the dough for a smoother texture. Add up to ½ cup additional flour if necessary to prevent sticking. When the dough is smooth, roll it out ¼ inch think on a floured surface and cut it into cookies. Bake on floured or greased cookie sheets in a preheated 375 F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The gingerbread is done when they spring back when touched.

Guinness Christmas Pudding Colonial Corn Pudding
This should be made around the first part of November. It really makes a difference in the aging of the pudding.

Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 cups soft breadcrumbs
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup of suet chopped up finely
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup candied cherries
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup mixed peel
3/4 cup Guinness- the Pub Draft one- stay away from the bottle
6 eggs room temp unhatched and beaten

Combine first 8 dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the fruits. Add the eggs with a happy wooden spoon and then the Guinness. Grease up two 7 inch pudding basins and load em up. Cover with foil and then the lid if it has one. Tie the foil down tight with string. Steam for 4-5 hours. After they are cooled,wrap them in Saran wrap and keep them hidden in a dry place. Steam the pudding for about 3 hours before you serve it with Irish Whiskey Butter: 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 oz butter creamed together, with 2-3 Tbs. Bushmills or Jameson's slowly added to taste. Keep the 'butter' refrigerated until use.
If you want to, you could pour a shot of Irish Whiskey on top of the steamed pudding and light it before you carry it to the table. Very cool.

4 eggs
6 tblsp melted butter
2 Tblsp flour
1 Tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 3/4 cups shoepeg corn (appx 12 oz can)
17 oz can of creamed corn
1 cup heavy cream
Heat oven to 325 degrees, grease 2 qt oven proof dish, Beat the eggs, sugar, salt, melted butter (cooled slightly), flour, pepper and nutmeg, then fold in the corn, creamed corn and whipping cream. Pour into prepared container and Bake in a 325 degree oven for one hour and 15 minutes or til knife comes out clean. Serve hot.
Epiphany Cake Christmas Candied Cranberries
This rich Christmas cake could once have been eaten on the Twelfth Night.

2 eggs
cup of sugar
cup of sour cream
teaspoon of vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon of lemon essence
round cake tin, 20 cm (8 inches) across and 8 cm (3 inch) deep
small china token, or dried bean
cake rack

For Icing
2 cups of sifted icing sugar mixture
tablespoon of butter
enough lime or lemon juice to moisten into a paste
crushed nuts or sprinkles to decorate

Beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the cream and beat, then essences.
Lightly fold in the sifted flour.
Spoon the batter into the well-buttered tin. You can also line it with buttered-paper.
Make sure you add the token.
Bake the cake at 170 celcius/ 325 farenheit for 35 minutes.
Don't open the door. Be patient.
Cool the cake in the tin and then turn it out on to a rack to cool properly.

Ice the top and sides of the cake after mixing all the ingredients for the icing to a spreading paste.
Decorate with a ring of crushed nuts and an inner circle of chocolate sprinkles. Maybe add a sugar mouse in the center, or garden flowers on the plate, and a ribbon.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cranberries

Select firm, red cranberries. Prick twice with needle. Boil sugar in water until it spins a thread. Put in cranberries and cook gently until syrup jellies when tested from the tip of a spoon. Remove berries one at a time and place on wax paper. Let stand until dry. Dip the berries in granulated sugar.

This makes approximately 25. They are decorative and can serve as an excellent garnish.

Nutmeg Rolls Colonial Cranberry Pie

1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Preparation:

Cream butter with vanilla, gradually beat in sugar, then blend in egg. Mix together with flour, nutmeg & salt. Add to butter mixture & mix well. Divide into 14 equal portions. On sugared board shape each piece in roll 12 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. Cut in 2 inch lengths and put on greased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 350 farneheit oven for 12 minutes. Cool on rack. Spread with frosting, sprinkle with nutmeg.

Glaze Ingredients

1/3 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp rum or rum extract
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons light cream


Glaze Preparation
Cream butter with vanilla. Add rum and blend in sugar and cream. Beat until smooth.

2 cans (1 pound each) whole cranberry sauce
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup applejack
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 cup chopped pecans
Rich Pastry (recipe follows)


1. Preheat the oven to hot (400).

2. Combine the cranberry sauce, raisins and applejack in a large saucepan; bring to boiling; simmer for 5 minutes.
Combine the flour, sugar and mace in a small bowl and stir into the cranberry mixture.
Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and cool completely; stir in the nuts.

3. Prepare the Rich Pastry and roll out half to a 13-inch round on a lightly floured pastry cloth or board.
Fit into a 10-inch pie plate.

4. Pour the cooled cranberry mixture over the pastry.

5. Roll out the remaining pastry into a 12x6 inch rectangle; cut the pastry into twelve 1/2-inch-wide strips.

6. To weave the lattice top: Lay half the pastry strips evenly on top of the cranberry filling.
Fold alternate strips halfway back; lay the first cross strip near the center of the pie.
Bring the folded strips back over it; continue, alternating folded-back strips each time a cross strip is added.

7. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch; turn under and flute.

8. Bake in the preheated hot oven (400) for 35 minutes, or until the filling bubbles up and the pastry turns golden brown.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

MAKES one 10-inch pie


MAKE AHEAD NOTE
Bake the pie a day ahead and store at room temperature.
Reheat in a slow oven (325) for 15 minutes.

Rich Pastry


(makes one 10-inch double crust)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup very cold water


Combine the flour and salt in a medium-size bowl.
Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.
Sprinkle the water over, one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until pastry holds together.
Wrap in wax paper.


ANOTHER WAY TO WEAVE A PASTRY LATTICE
Weave pastry strips on a sheet of wax paper.
Carefully invert the whole lattice over the filling, then peel off the wax paper.
Trim and crimp the edges.

Pumpkin Steamed Pudding Sugar Plums

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup instant mashed potato powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup pumpkin (from an about-1-pound can)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
packaged unseasoned bread crumbs
Rich Butterscotch Sauce (recipe follows)
Flaked coconut and chopped walnuts for garnish (optional)


1. Combine the flour, instant mashed potato powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Beat the butter or margarine with the brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed; beat in the eggs, vanilla and orange rind.

3. Add the dry ingredients, alternately with the orange juice, beating well after each addition.
Fold in the pumpkin and the walnuts with a rubber scraper.

4. Grease an 8-cup tube mold.
Sprinkle with the bread crumbs; tap out the excess.
Pour the batter into the prepared mold.
Cover with a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil and fasten with string to hold tightly.

5. Place on a rack or trivet in a kettle or steamer.
Pour in boiling water to half the depth of the pudding in the mold; cover the kettle tightly.

6. Steam for 2 hours, or until a long, thin skewer inserted near the center comes out clean.
(Keep the water boiling gently during the entire time, adding more boiling water, if needed)>

7. Cool the mold for 5 minutes.
Loosen the pudding around the edge with a knife; unmold onto a serving plate; cool slightly.
Spoon about 1/4 cup hot Rich Butterscotch Sauce over the pudding.
Top with flaked coconut and chopped walnuts, if you wish.
Cut in wedges and serve with the remaining sauce.

SERVES: 8


MAKE AHEAD NOTE
After unmolding the pudding, cool completely.
Wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil; label, date and freeze. To reheat, baked the thawed pudding in a preheated slow oven (300) for 20 to 30 minutes.


BAKER'S TIP:
Steamed puddings make wonderful gifts to give to special friends.
This recipe can be made in two 4-cup molds and steamed for 1 1/2 hours.

Rich Butterscotch Sauce


(makes 1 1/2 cups)
Combine 1 1/4 cups of firmly packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter or margarine in a small saucepan.
Heat to boiling, then cook for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat; stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Serve hot.

Colorful Sugarplums by the dozens made from a single batch of fondant, a variety of dried fruits, nuts and garnishes. The delicious fondant is quickly and easily prepared without cooking.

1 LB CONFECTIONERS' SUGAR

1/4 LB COLD BUTTER

2 TB HEAVY CREAM

1 tsp VANILLA OR 1/2 tsp ALMOND EXTRACT

PITTED READY-TO-EAT PRUNES

CANDIED CHERRIES

PITTED DATES

WALNUT OR PECAN HALVES

GRANULATED SUGAR FOR ROLLING CANDIED CHERRIES

SILVER DRAGEES FOR GARNISH

Pour the unsifted confectioners' sugar into a large bowl. Cut the butter from the stick into small slivers, dropping them into the sugar. Add the cream and vanilla or almond extract. Work with your fingertips until the mixture clings together somewhat.

Turn the mixture onto a sheet of waxed paper. Knead by pushing the mixture against the surface with the heel of your hand, lifting the edges of the waxed paper to add and incorporate any crumbs of dough. Continue kneading in this manner until the mixture is well blended, smooth, and creamy. Wrap in waxed paper and chill just long enough so that the fondant can be handled easily without sticking.

PRUNES - Split the tops of the prunes and spread slightly. Roll a small portion of the chilled fondant into a ball and press into the cavity. Garnish with a sliver of candied cherry.

CHERRIES - Cut a cross in the top of each cherry and spread slightly to form petals. Fill with a small ball of fondant and decorate the tops with a few silver dragees. (ED NOTE: Candied cherries can be used by splitting them in half and filling with a small ball of fondant. Using the red and green cherries made for fruitcakes works well, and you can make plums that are half red and half green if desired. Allow the fondant to show for more contrast).

DATES - Cut the dates partway through and press a small portion of fondant onto the cavities. Roll the filled dates in granulated sugar.

WALNUTS OR PECANS - Shape the fondant into small balls; place between two walnut or pecan halves; press together lightly.

Store one layer in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. The sugarplums will keep well up to two weeks.

EDITORS NOTE: For many years silver dragees were outlawed in the United States because they contained small amounts of mercury. They are again available in silver and gold through the Baker's Catalog, issued by King Arthur Flour Co.

Copyright ©1998-2004 by Hudson Valley Network, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

To review HV/Net's Privacy Statement, Click Here
To review HV/Net's General Liability Statement, Click Here

Powered by FoxWeb

Hudson Valley Network, Inc.
PO Box 67
Greenwood Lake, NY 10925
845.926.3429 - voice
845.926.5665 - fax



  www.hvnet.com