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Newsletter #90  - December 10 ,2004

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Hi there!

This will be the last Newsletter of 2004, so let me take this opportunity to wish you all the joy and magic of Christmas. May the special delights of the season be yours to share and enjoy. If you are going to be on the roads, please drive safely!

Well, we are well into the holidays and Christmas is just a few days away.  Shopping malls are hectic and we only go there if it is absolutely necessary. Luckily our Christmas shopping was done some time ago, one of the plus points of being retired!

The holiday season is when we usually overindulge come mealtime, then in January we all join the local gym to try and lose all the excess weight! Scroll down for some great Holiday eating tips!

As I mentioned in my last Newsletter I found the perfect place to spend Christmas, the town of North Pole in Alaska. However, we won't be going at Christmas time as most of the tourist attractions close down due to the snow, so we will be visiting at another time of year!

I have some more festive recipes if you scroll down the page. I have been receiving contributions for Christmas recipes from all over, unfortunately I have to cleanup my mailbox on a regular basis so I cannot remember where these recipes came from, but thanx anyway, much appreciated!

Gift idea - If you have not bought Christmas gifts yet, go to Netflorist and save yourself the fuss and bother of having to negotiate the holiday crowds and traffic.  Just order your gifts online and let Netflorist do the rest! If you are overseas and want to send a hamper or flowers to someone special in South Africa, Netflorist is the answer!

I plan to bring out an eBook on old time Home Remedies (Boererate) so if you have any for me, preferably in Afrikaans, I will be very grateful. Anyone sending me more than 10 will get a free copy of the book. Email me

I just love these Christmas stories that float around the Internet this time of year, to me this is what Christmas is all bout, enjoy the story. Its just one of the wonderful stories on my dear friend, Connie's website

I grew up believing that Christmas was a time when strange and wonderful things happened; when wise and royal visitors came riding, when at midnight in the barnyard, animals talked to one another, and in the light of a fabulous star, God came down to us as a baby. 
Christmas to me has always been a time of enchantment, and never more so than the year when my son Marty was eight. That was the year that my children and I moved into a cozy trailer home in a forested area just outside of Redmond, Washington. 

As the holidays approached, our spirits were light, unhampered even by the winter rains that swept down Puget Sound, dousing our home and making our floors muddy. Throughout that December, Marty had been the most spirited, and busiest of us all. He was my youngest; a cheerful boy, blond-haired and playful, with a quaint habit of looking up at you and cocking his head like a puppy when you talked to him. 
Actually, the reason for this was that Marty was deaf in his left ear, but it was a condition which he never complained about. 

For weeks, I had been watching Marty. I knew that something was going on with him that he was not telling me about. I saw how eagerly he made his bed, took out the trash, carefully set the table and helped Rick and Pam prepare dinner before I got home from work. I saw how he silently collected his tiny allowance and tucked it away, not spending a cent of it. I had no idea what all this quiet activity was about, but I suspected that somehow it something to do with Kenny. 

Kenny was Marty's friend, and ever since they found each other in the springtime, they were seldom apart. If you called to one, you got them both. Their world was in a meadow, a pasture broken by a small winding stream, where the boys caught frogs and snakes, where they searched for arrowheads or hidden treasure, or where they would spend an afternoon feeding squirrels peanuts. 

Times were hard for our little family, and we had scrimped and saved to get by. With my job as a meat wrapper and with a lot of ingenuity around the house, we were much better off than Kenny's family. They were desperately poor, and his mother struggled to feed and clothe her 
two children. They were a good, solid family. But Kenny's mom was a proud woman, very proud, and she had strict rules. 

How we worked, as we did each year, to make our home festive for the holiday! Ours was a handcrafted Christmas of gifts hidden away and ornaments strung about the place. Marty and Kenny would sometimes sit still at the table long enough to help make cornucopias or weave little baskets for the tree. But then, in a flash, one whispered to the other, and they would be out the door and sliding cautiously under the electric fence into the horse pasture that separated our home from 

One night, shortly before Christmas, when my hands were deep in Peppernoder dough, shaping tiny nut-like Danish cookies heavily spiced with cinnamon, Marty came to me and said in a tone mixed with pleasure and pride, "Mom, I've bought Kenny a Christmas present. Want to see 
it?" So that's what he's been up to, I said to myself. "It's something he's wanted for a long, long time, Mom." After wiping his hands on a dish towel carefully, he pulled from his pocket a small 
box. Lifting the lid, I gazed at the pocket compass that my son had been saving all those allowances to buy. A little compass to point an eight-year-old adventurer through the woods. 

"It's a lovely gift, Martin," I said, but even as I spoke, a disturbing thought came to mind: I knew how Kenny's mother felt about their poverty. They could barely afford to exchange gifts among 
themselves, and giving presents to others was out of the question. I was sure that Kenny's proud mother would not permit her son to receive something that he could not return in kind. Gently, carefully, I talked over the problem with Marty. He understood what I was saying. 

"I know, Mom, I know! But what if it was a secret? What if they never found out who gave it?" I didn't know how to answer him. I just didn't know. 

The day before Christmas was rainy and cold and gray. The three kids and I all but fell over one another as we elbowed our way about our little home, putting finishing touches on Christmas secrets and preparing for family and friends who would be dropping by. Night came. The rain continued. I looked out the window over the sink and felt an odd sadness. How mundane the rain seemed for a Christmas Eve! 
Would wise and royal men come riding on such a night? I doubted it. 
It seemed to me that strange and wonderful things happened only on clear nights, nights when one could at least see a star in the heavens. 

I turned from the window, and as I checked on the ham and bread warming in the oven, I saw Marty slip out the door. He wore his coat over his pajamas, and he clutched a tiny, colorfully wrapped box in his hand. Down through the soggy pasture he went, then a quick slide under the electric fence and across the yard to Kenny's house. Up the steps on tiptoe, shoes squishing, he opened the screen door just a crack; placed the gift on the doorstep, took a deep breath, and reached for the doorbell, and pressed on it hard. 

Quickly Marty turned, ran down the steps and across the yard in a wild effort to get away unnoticed. Then, suddenly, he banged into the electric fence. The shock sent him reeling. He lay stunned on the wet ground. His body quivered and he gasped for breath. Then slowly, weakly, confused and frightened, he began the grueling trip back home. 
"Marty," we cried as he stumbled through the door, "what happened?" 

His lower lip quivered, his eyes brimmed. "I forgot about the fence, and it knocked me down!" I hugged his muddy little body to me. He was still dazed and there was a red mark blistering on his face from his mouth to his ear. Quickly I treated the blister and, with a warm cup of cocoa, Marty's bright spirits returned. I tucked him into bed and just before he fell asleep, he looked up at me and said, "Mom, Kenny didn't see me. I'm sure he didn't see me." 

That Christmas Eve I went to bed unhappy and puzzled. It seemed such a cruel thing to happen to a little boy on the purest kind of Christmas mission -- doing what the Lord wants us to do -- giving to 
others -- and giving in secret at that. I did not sleep well that night. Somewhere deep inside I think I must have been feeling the disappointment that the night of Christmas had come and it had been 
just an ordinary, problem-filled night, no mysterious enchantment at all. However, I was wrong. 

By morning the rain had stopped and the sun shone. The streak on Marty's face was very red, but I could tell that the burn was not serious. We opened our presents, and soon, not unexpectedly, Kenny was knocking on the door, eager to show Marty his new compass and tell about the mystery of its arrival. It was plain that Kenny didn't suspect Marty at all, and while the two of them talked, Marty just smiled and smiled. Then I noticed that while the two boys were comparing their Christmases, nodding, gesturing and chattering away, Marty was not cocking his head. While Kenny was talking, Marty seemed to be listening with his deaf ear. 

Weeks later, a report came from the school nurse, verifying what Marty and I already knew. "Marty now has complete hearing in both ears." 
The mystery of how Marty regained his hearing, and still has it, remains just that -- a mystery. Doctors suspect, of course, that the shock from the electric fence was somehow responsible. Perhaps so. Whatever the reason, I just remained thankful to God for the good exchange of gifts made that night. 

So you see, strange and wonderful things still happen on the night of our Lord's birth. And one does not have to have a clear night either, to follow a fabulous star.


Search my website, type in any key word and if that word is on my site you will see it in the results, search for recipes, ingredients, place names etc



Holiday Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need
after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Have an amazing day!

Barclaycard is back in South Africa! get yours online now!

A blonde decides to go horseback riding, even though she has no previous lessons or experience. She manages to mount unassisted and the horse immediately jumps into motion. It gallops at a steady rhythmic pace, but the blonde begins to slip from the saddle. In terror she grabs the horse's mane but cannot seem to get a firm grip. She tries to throw her arms around the horse's neck, but she slides down the side of the horse anyway. The horse gallops along, impervious to its slipping rider. Finally she gives up her frail grasp and attempts to leap away from the horse and throw herself to safety. Unfortunately her foot has become entangled in the stirrup and now she is at the mercy of the horse's pounding hooves as her head is struck against the ground over and over. As her head is battered against the ground, she is mere moments away from unconsciousness when, to her great fortune, Shadrack, the Pick n Pay security guard sees her, leans over and unplugs the horse. 

Reduce your monthly short term insurance premium, click here for a free online quotation! And while you are busy, click here and apply online for your Barclaycard or Manchester United card!

The Herb Section -  Chervil

Chervil belongs to the carrot family, and is a versatile culinary herb with a delicate flavour. It has been used medicinally since the Roman times.
Chervil is a pretty, fernlike plant.
Chervil likes light shade and runs to seed when it is very hot. The soil should be light, cool and well-drained.
Seeds should be planted in spring and germinate quickly. Scatter the seeds into the soil and press then in lightly. If left to self seed, the plant will produce two crops a year.
Remove the leaves before flowering, when the plant is about 10cm tall, usually 6 - 8 weeks after sowing.
Chervil grows well under trees, which protect it from the harsh sun. Plant Chervil near radishes as they encourage it's growth.

Crushed chervil leaves rubbed on windowsills and counters help to keep flies at bay.

An infusion made from chervil leaves can be used as a mask to cleanse and condition the skin.

The leaf is full of vitamin C, carotene and certain minerals and can be eaten raw in salads etc.
An infusion of chervil leaves stimulates digestion and relieves disorders of the circulation, liver and catarrh.
Chervil is a blood cleanser and effective rheumatism and kidney treatment.

Chervil is one of the ingredients of fines herbes and is indispensable in gourmet cooking.
It can be used as a replacement for parsley.
Chervil leaf can be used in soups, salads, sauces, vegetables, fish, chicken and egg dishes.
It combines well with other herbs.  

Thanks to everyone who has mailed us fridge magnets depicting your State, City or Country.
If you collect fridge magnets, I will gladly swop with you!
 Please email me and we can make arrangements. Thanx a lot!

My website is interactive, there are a few pages you can contribute to:
Cocktails - I am now also collecting typically South African Cocktails, if you have any to contribute, please email me.

Elephant Stew - add your suggestion
Wacky Sarmies - add your fav sarmie (some great sarmie ideas here!)
Animal Facts - Some interesting stuff here
Discussion Forum - Add to a current discussion or start a new thread.


Why not post a message on the Discussion Forum. The topic can be food, wildlife, travel or photography related, or anything else of interest. Let's see if we can get some interesting discussions going


Free Message Forum from Bravenet Free Message Forums from Bravenet

Looking for a specific South African recipe? Email me and I will do my best to find it for you!


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Gifts, hampers and flowers

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When you have had a look at the recipes below, click here to visit the main recipe page on my site. 

Any comments, positive or otherwise on this Newsletter will be appreciated!

That's it for now,
Take care,

If you are ecer in the Ceres area why not take a break and enjoy a great cuppa coffee!...and send friends and family back home an email greeting!


The Recipes
See Links for Metric Converter

  Cinnamon Stars (Zimsterne)
Zimtsterne, Cinnamon Stars with Rum Glaze

 Bake well in advance to improve it's flavor, as it will keep for many weeks. Store in an air tight container and keep in a cool place.
200g finely ground Hazelnuts or Almonds
110g plain ( all-purpose ) flour, sifted
150g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons of cinnamon, sifted
1 tablespoon of dark rum
the grated rind of 1 lemon, unwaxed or organic

sift the flour, ground Hazelnuts or ground Almonds, cinnamon and baking powder together
add the sugar, egg, lemon peel, rum and cubed butter
mix the ingredients very quickly into a smooth dough
place into a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate over night
roll out on a floured board and cut into star shapes
place on greased baking tray
bake 10-12 minutes at 180C ( 350F/ Gas 4 )
leave to cool on wire rack
when the stars have cooled brush with Rum Glaze

Rum glaze:
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon of rum
2 tablespoons of hot water

Mix the ingredients into a thick and smooth paste and apply with a brush or knife
Turn this into a great gift by making them and wrapping them up in an appropriate box (handmade if you are feeling creative)

Cranberry Punch
This sparkling red punch is a good choice for a buffet at holiday time with a citrus bite. For a less sweet punch, substitute seltzer or club soda for the ginger ale.

2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup triple sec (optional)
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
4 cups ginger ale, chilled

In a large glass container, combine ingredients and chill thoroughly.
Just before serving, slowly stir in the ginger ale. Pour into a punch bowl or large jug and add ice cubes.

Christmas Stollen
This is a traditional German recipe and smells and looks just like Christmas Should. You can make it early because it actually tastes better after everything has had time to settle together. The distinctive oval shape of this traditional German Christmas cake is said to represent the Christ child wrapped in swaddling clothes.

3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4-ounce packet dry yeast
1/2 cup warm (105° to 115°F) milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted, plus 4 tablespoons, melted
2 tablespoons cognac
1 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1 1/2 cups raisins, chopped
1/3 cup mixed candied citrus peel
1 tablespoon grated zest of lemon
sifted confectioners sugar

Into a large bowl, sift 3 cups of flour with the salt. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in half the milk. Make a well in the center of the flour and salt mixture; then add the yeast and milk, sugar, 2 sticks of butter, and cognac. Mix well to combine, adding enough additional flour to form a smooth, elastic dough.

On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out and knead for 3 minutes. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning to coat well with oil. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for about 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough. Knead in the almonds, raisins, citrus peel, and zest. Allow the dough to rise once more until almost doubled in bulk.

Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a 10-inch round. Fold the round almost in half, flatten, and shape to form an oval. Place on a greased baking sheet, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the stollen with melted butter. Bake, brushing with butter every 10 minutes, for 45 to 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean when inserted.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. When cooled, wrap in several layers of foil and store in the refrigerator--the cake will keep for 3 to 4 weeks. To serve, slice thinly, wrap the slices in foil, and warm in a moderate oven for 15 minutes, or toast the slices. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.

Chocolate-Almond Bites

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
sifted confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet.
Onto a sheet of wax paper, sift the flour with the cocoa. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until pale and creamy. Beat in the flour mixture, then the almonds.

Shape heaped teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and arrange on baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until firm. Cool briefly on the sheet before removing to a rack.

While still slightly warm, dredge the biscuits with confectioners sugar. Store in an airtight container. They will keep for 5 days.

Apple-Onion Turkey Stuffing

5 tablespoons butter
1 cup onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Melt butter and sauté onion until translucent, about 5 minutes; add bread crumbs to onions, stirring to combine. Gently stir in apples and white wine; cook for 5 minutes longer. Stir in lemon juice, nutmeg and allspice; mix well.
Stuff into a turkey or bake at 350°F on a buttered and covered baking dish for 30 minutes.
Makes 8 servings.

Boiled Fruitcake

2 cups chopped dried mixed fruit
1 cup roughly chopped glace cherries
1/4 cup candied mixed citrus peel
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 2/3 cups sifted self-rising flour
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
Line one 8x3 inch round cake tin with parchment paper
In a medium saucepan, combine mixed fruit, cherries, citrus peel, walnuts, sugar, butter, milk, mixed spice, and baking soda. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Stir in flour and eggs. Pour into the prepared pan. Wrap outside of pan with brown paper or newspaper.
Bake at 160 degrees C for 40 minutes, then reduce temperature to 150 degrees C, and continue  baking cake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cake from oven, and allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack, remove paper, and cool completely. Cake can be stored for up to 6 months wrapped in foil and in an airtight tin.

Apple Pie Wedges

1 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup apple butter ( try your local Deli)
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (substitute with all-spice or a combination of cloves and nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and apple butter. Add flour, cinnamon, apple pie spice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until well blended.
Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 6-inch disc on waxed paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Invert one disc of dough into 9-inch round pie plate.
Press dough into plate with lightly floured hands, covering plate completely. Flute edges using the handle of a wooden spoon. Deeply score into 8 wedges. Prick surface using tines of fork.
Repeat steps with remaining disc of dough and another pie plate. Bake 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove to wire rack. Cool completely and cut into wedges.

Red Velvet Cake

• 1/2 c butter
• 2 whole eggs
• 2 TBSP (heaping) cocoa
• 2 1/4c of cake flour
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 TBSP white vinegar
• 1 1/2c sugar
• 2 ounces(1/4c) red food coloring
• 1 c buttermilk
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp baking soda

Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs. Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa and add to the creamed mixture. Add alternate buttermilk with flour and salt, then add the vanilla. Add soda to the vinegar. HOLD OVER THE BOWL, AS IT FOAMS! Then add the soda and vinegar to the mixture, blending instead of beating. Bake 25 to 30 mins. at 350 degrees in two 8-inch greased and floured round cake pans. Cool on racks. Using very sharp knife, or dental floss (yes, dental floss!) split each layer into 2 layers.

Frosting for Red Velvet Cake
• 3 TBSP flour
• 1c granulated sugar
• 1c butter
• 1c milk
• 1 tsp vanilla

Blend flour in a little of the cold milk and then add rest of milk and cook, stirring constantly. Cook flour and milk until very thick. Remove from heat, and cool. Cream sugar, butter and vanilla until very light and fluffy. Add to first mixture. It should have a light texture similar to whipped creme. Frost all four layers and sprinkle with coconut.




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