Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Legend of La Befana

The Legend of La Befana

A Christmas tale from Italian Folklore retold by La

La Befana was an old woman who lived in a small village in Italy. She was known throughout the village for her wonderful baking and the cleanliness of her kitchen. She was often seen sweeping the area in front of her home. And many had heard her say that she was so busy baking and cleaning that she rarely had time to do anything else.

One winter day, while La Befana was sweeping in front of her home, three travelers stopped to ask her for a drink of water. They told La Befana that they were astrologers (they were often called the three wise men) who were following a star to the birth place of the Christ child. She kindly gave them water and then invited them to dinner.

After dinner the astrologers prepared to continue their journey and asked her if she would like to come with them to see the Christ child. La Befana shook her head saying that she could not possibly take the time needed for such a journey. She was secretly itching to get back to her cleaning and cooking. She stood at her door and watched them leave.

La Befana went back to her sweeping. But hours later she began to feel that she had made a mistake. Maybe she should have gone with the 3 astrologers to see the Christ child. La Befana decided to follow them.

She quickly grabbed a basket and filled it with baked goods of all kinds. She then put on her shawl and with her basket and broom hurried off into the night practically running to catch up with the wise men.

La Befana traveled through the night but never caught up with the wise men. It is said that she ran and ran until she and her broom were lifted up into the air!

Ever since that night, La Befana is believed to fly through the night or run over the roofs in Italy on Epiphany eve. She stops at the home of every child, leaving them treats in their stockings if they are good and a lump of coal if they are bad.

She hopes that one of the children she visits will be the christ child.

Copyright LLL, Storyteller/Storysinger
Story originally posted at TheStoriesLaTells.blogspot.com

The name Befana is said to be a mispronunciation of the Italian word epifania which stands for epiphany. La Befana still visits the children of Italy on the eve of January 6, Epiphany. She fills their stockings with candy or a lump of coal. It is also believed that she sweeps the floor before she leaves. Many households leave her a small glass of wine and a small plate of goodies.

Biscotti - twice-baked (biscottare means to bake twice) biscuits
Biscotti are a traditional italian sweet that La Befana might have baked.

The following is a very simple biscotti recipe that "cheats" just a little.

1 box dry cake mix (your choice of flavor)
1 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 stick melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla (or your preferred flavor)

¾ cup chopped nuts, dried fruit or chocolate pieces

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
Pour your cake mix and flour into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the eggs, butter and vanilla.
Mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in nuts or chocolate if desired.

This dough will be very stiff but will not stick to the bowl when properly mixed. The consistency will be like children’s play dough.

Divide dough into two halves.
Roll each half into a log, and place on a lined 11” x 15” x 1” baking pan.
Gently press the top of the cookie log into a rectangle, about 3 inches wide.
Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove cookie pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Do not turn the oven off.

Remove cookies from baking pan and cut into 1 inch piece logs.
You will be cutting this on the width.

Place cookies on their cut side on the lined baking pan.
Place pan back into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.
Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.

Biscotti are delicious dipped in hot chocolate or coffee.
Bon Appetit!!

Pssssssst!! Here are a few biscotti variations:

yellow cake mix - chopped red and green dried cherries - almond extract.

butter pecan cake mix - sliced pecans - maple extract.

golden cake mix - sliced dried apricots - toasted slivered almonds - almond extract.

vanilla cake mix - sliced dried cranberries - almond extract.

spice cake mix - walnuts - grated orange zest

spice cake mix - sliced crystalized ginger pieces.

chocolate cake mix - chocolate piece or chips, freeze first so they retain their shape during baking.

lemon cake mix - toasted slivered almonds.

german chocolate cake mix - chopped hazelnuts - semisweet chocolate - 1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon.

devil's food cake mix - white chocolate chips - chopped dried sweetened cherries - almond extract.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Sparrows Holiday

Mr. and Mrs. House Sparrow hopped round the garden looking for crumbs.

But alas! Nobody threw any crumbs for the sparrows that day:

At last Mr. Sparrow said:

"All the people must be away on holiday."

"Then why don't we go away on holiday?" chirped Mrs. Sparrow.

Mr. Sparrow cocked his head on one side.

"Yes, we will have a holiday. We will go into the country to visit our cousins, the Hedge Sparrows."

"Hurrah!" chirped all the little sparrows.

They flew over the houses and the chimneys, and soon they came to the fields, which were full of golden corn. There were lots of brown sparrows pecking the grain.

"These are our country cousins," said Mr. Sparrow.

"How do you do!" chirped the Hedge Sparrows. "We are very pleased to see you."

They all had such a happy time in the fields. There was plenty to eat, because the corn was ripe. Indeed, the little sparrows ate so much that they felt fast asleep among the corn.

Too soon it was time to go home. So they said "Goodbye" to their country cousins, and away they flew, over the fields and hedges, back to the houses and chimneys. But they did not forget the kindness of their country cousins. When winter came Mrs Sparrow said:

"We will invite our country cousins to spend Christmas with us. There will not be much to eat in their part of the world now."

So the Hedge Sparrows came to spend Christmas among the houses and chimneys.

And they all had a jolly time. There was plenty to eat, because in winter everyone puts out crumbs and titbits for the birds.

So in winter, when you throw out crumbs for the birds, do not forget to throw a little extra for the country cousins too.

Super Simple "Crumb" Cake

1 yellow cake mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup water
5 Tbsp. butter, softened to room temperature
For the Crumb Topping:
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup very soft butter (soften for 2 hours at room temperature)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, water and butter in a large mixing bowl.
Beat until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.

While cake is baking, make the crumb topping:
Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
Cut in butter until mixture becomes crumbly.

Sprinkle crumb topping over half-baked cake.
Return to oven to bake another 20-23 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Little Round Bun.....a Russian Folktale

Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman who were very poor and had nothing at all to their name. And they kept getting poorer and poorer till there was nothing left to eat in the house, not even bread, Said the old man:

"Do bake us a bun, old woman! If you scrape out the flour-box and sweep out the bin, you'll have enough flour."

So the old woman scraped out the flour-box and swept out the bin, she made some dough and she shaped a little round bun out of it. She then lit the oven, baked the bun and put it on the window sill to cool. But the bun jumped out of the window and onto the bench outside, and from the bench onto the ground, and away it rolled along the road!

On and on' it rolled, and it met a Rabbit coming toward it.

"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Rabbit.

"Don't do that, Fleet-Feet, let me sing you a song instead," said Little Round Bun.

"All right, let's hear it!"
"Here it is!

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"

And off it rolled and away. By and by it met a Wolf coming toward it.

"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Wolf.

"Don't do that, Brother Wolf, let me sing you a song instead."

"All right, let's hear it!"

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"

And away it rolled.

By and by it met a Bear coming toward it.

"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Bear.

"Don't do that, Brother Bear, I'll sing you a song instead!"
"All right, let's hear it!"

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"

And away it rolled and away!

By and by it met a Fox coming toward it.

"I'm going to eat you up, Little Round Bun!" called the Fox.

"Don't do that, Sister fox, I'll sing you a song instead."

"All right, let's hear it!"

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin
And baked in the oven
And cooled on the sill.
I ran away from Grandpa,
I ran away from Grandma,
And I'll run away from you, this minute I will!"

"Sing some more, please, don't stop!" the Fox said. "Hop onto my tongue, I can hear you better."

Little Round Bun jumped onto the Fox's tongue and began to sing:

"I was scraped from the flour-box
And swept from the bin-"

But before it could go on, the Fox opened her mouth and - snap! -she gobbled it up.

Simple Tea Cakes/Buns

4 eggs
1 cup butter flavored shortening
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 cups all-purpose flour

Cream together eggs, butter, sugar and baking powder.
Stir in the flour.
Dough will be stiff.

Shape in walnut sized balls and flatten with the bottom of a lightly floured glass.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 8 minutes.
If you brown them, you've overbaked them.
(This recipe can also be rolled out and cut with cookie cutters.)

Simple Cookie Frosting

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
assorted food colorings

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth.
Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy.
If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity.
Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

Frosting dries hard, smooth and shiny.

story and Nesting Doll picture found at Russian-Crafts.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Twelve Months...a Russian folktale (and two fab recipes)

The Twelve Months
THERE was once a widow who had two daughters, Helen, her own child by her dead husband, and Marouckla, his daughter by his first wife. She loved Helen, but hated the poor orphan because she was far prettier than her own daughter.

Marouckla did not think about her good looks, and could not understand why her stepmother should be angry at the sight of her. The hardest work fell to her share. She cleaned out the rooms, cooked, washed, sewed, spun, wove, brought in the hay, milked the cow, and all this without any help.

Helen, meanwhile, did nothing but dress herself in her best clothes and go to one amusement after another.

But Marouckla never complained. She bore the scoldings and bad temper of mother and sister with a smile on her lips, and the patience of a lamb. But this angelic behavior did not soften them. They became even more tyrannical and grumpy, for Marouckla grew daily more beautiful, while Helen's ugliness increased. So the stepmother determined to get rid of Marouckla, for she knew that while she remained, her own daughter would have no suitors. Hunger, every kind of privation, abuse, every means was used to make the girl's life miserable. But in spite of it all Marouckla grew ever sweeter and more charming.

One day in the middle of winter Helen wanted some wood-violets.

"Listen," cried she to Marouckla, "you must go up the mountain and find me violets. I want some to put in my gown. They must be fresh and sweet-scented-do you hear?"

"But, my dear sister, whoever heard of violets blooming in the snow?" said the poor orphan.

"You wretched creature! Do you dare to disobey me?" said Helen. "Not another word. Off with you! If you do not bring me some violets from the mountain forest I will kill you."

The stepmother also added her threats to those of Helen, and with vigorous blows they pushed Marouckla outside and shut the door upon her. The weeping girl made her way to the mountain. The snow lay deep, and there was no trace of any human being. Long she wandered hither and thither, and lost herself in the wood. She was hungry, and shivered with cold, and prayed to die.

Suddenly she saw a light in the distance, and climbed toward it till she reached the top of the mountain. Upon the highest peak burned a large fire, surrounded by twelve blocks of stone on which sat twelve strange beings. Of these the first three had white hair, three were not quite so old, three were young and handsome, and the rest still younger.

There they all sat silently looking at the fire. They were the Twelve Months of the Year. The great January was placed higher than the others. His hair and mustache were white as snow, and in his hand he held a wand. At first Marouckla was afraid, but after a while her courage returned, and drawing near, she said: --

"Men of God, may I warm myself at your fire? I am chilled by the winter cold."

The great January raised his head and answered:
"What brings thee here, my daughter? What dost thou seek?"

"I am looking for violets," replied the maiden.

"This is not the season for violets. Dost thou not see the snow everywhere?" said January.

"I know well, but my sister Helen and my stepmother have ordered me to bring them violets from your mountain. If I return without them they will kill me. I pray you, good shepherds, tell me where they may be found."

Here the great January arose and went over to the youngest of the Months, and, placing his wand in his hand, said: --

"Brother March, do thou take the highest place."

March obeyed, at the same time waving his wand over the fire. Immediately the flames rose toward the sky, the snow began to melt and the trees and shrubs to bud. The grass became green, and from between its blades peeped the pale primrose. It was spring, and the meadows were blue with violets.

"Gather them quickly, Marouckla," said March.

Joyfully she hastened to pick the flowers, and having soon a large bunch she thanked them and ran home. Helen and the stepmother were amazed at the sight of the flowers, the scent of which filled the house.

"Where did you find them?" asked Helen.

"Under the trees on the mountain-side," said Marouckla.

Helen kept the flowers for herself and her mother. She did not even thank her stepsister for the trouble she had taken. The next day she desired Marouckla to fetch her strawberries.

"Run," said she, "and fetch me strawberries from the mountain. They must be very sweet and ripe."

"But whoever heard of strawberries ripening in the snow?" exclaimed Marouckla.

"Hold your tongue, worm; don't answer me. If I don't have my strawberries I will kill you," said Helen.

Then the stepmother pushed Marouckla into the yard and bolted the door. The unhappy girl made her way toward the mountain and to the large fire round which sat the Twelve Months. The great January occupied the highest place.

"Men of God, may I warm myself at your fire? The winter cold chills me," said she, drawing near.

The great January raised his head and asked: "Why comest thou here? What dost thou seek?"

"I am looking for strawberries," said she.

"We are in the midst of winter," replied January, "strawberries do not grow in the snow."

"I know," said the girl sadly, "but my sister and stepmother have ordered me to bring them strawberries. If I do not they will kill me. Pray, good shepherds, tell me where to find them."

The great January arose, crossed over to the Month opposite him, and putting the wand in his hand, said: "Brother June, do thou take the highest place."

June obeyed, and as he waved his wand over the fire the flames leaped toward the sky. Instantly the snow melted, the earth was covered with verdure, trees were clothed with leaves, birds began to sing, and various flowers blossomed in the forest. It was summer. Under the bushes masses of star-shaped flowers changed into ripening strawberries, and instantly they covered the glade, making it look like a sea of blood.

"Gather them quickly, Marouckla," said June.

Joyfully she thanked the Months, and having filled her apron ran happily home.

Helen and her mother wondered at seeing the strawberries, which filled the house with their delicious fragrance.

"Wherever did you find them?" asked Helen crossly.

"Right up among the mountains. Those from under the beech trees are not bad," answered Marouckla.

Helen gave a few to her mother and ate the rest herself. Not one did she offer to her stepsister. Being tired of strawberries, on the third day she took a fancy for some fresh, red apples.

"Run, Marouckla," said she, "and fetch me fresh, red apples from the mountain."

"Apples in winter, sister? Why, the trees have neither leaves nor fruit!"

"Idle thing, go this minute," said Helen; "unless you bring back apples we will kill you."

As before, the stepmother seized her roughly and turned her out of the house. The poor girl went weeping up the mountain, across the deep snow, and on toward the fire round which were the Twelve Months. Motionless they sat there, and on the highest stone was the great January.

"Men of God, may I warm myself at your fire? The winter cold chills me," said she, drawing near.

The great January raised his head. "Why comest thou here? What does thou seek?" asked he.

"I am come to look for red apples," replied Marouckla.

"But this is winter, and not the season for red apples," observed the great January.

"I know," answered the girl, "but my sister and stepmother sent me to fetch red apples from the mountain. If I return without them they will kill me."

Thereupon the great January arose and went over to one of the elderly Months, to whom he handed the wand saying: --

"Brother September, do thou take the highest place."

September moved to the highest stone, and waved his wand over the fire. There was a flare of red flames, the snow disappeared, but the fading leaves which trembled on the trees were sent by a cold northeast wind in yellow masses to the glade. Only a few flowers of autumn were visible. At first Marouckla looked in vain for red apples. Then she espied a tree which grew at a great height, and from the branches of this hung the bright, red fruit. September ordered her to gather some quickly. The girl was delighted and shook the tree. First one apple fell, then another.

"That is enough," said September; "hurry home."

Thanking the Months she returned joyfully. Helen and the stepmother wondered at seeing the fruit.

"Where did you gather them?" asked the stepsister.

"There are more on the mountain-top," answered Marouckla.

"Then, why did you not bring more?" said Helen angrily. "You must have eaten them on your way back, you wicked girl."

"No, dear sister, I have not even tasted them," said Marouckla. "I shook the tree twice. One apple fell each time. Some shepherds would not allow me to shake it again, but told me to return home."

"Listen, mother," said Helen. "Give me my cloak. I will fetch some more apples myself. I shall be able to find the mountain and the tree. The shepherds may cry `Stop!' but I will not leave go till I have shaken down all the apples."

In spite of her mother's advice she wrapped herself in her pelisse, put on a warm hood, and took the road to the mountain. Snow covered everything. Helen lost herself and wandered hither and thither. After a while she saw a light above her, and, following in its direction, reached the mountain-top.

There was the flaming fire, the twelve blocks of stone, and the Twelve Months. At first she was frightened and hesitated; then she came nearer and warmed her hands. She did not ask permission, nor did she speak one polite word.

"What hath brought thee here? What dost thou seek?" said the great January severely.

"I am not obliged to tell you, old graybeard. What business is it of yours?" she replied disdainfully, turning her back on the fire and going toward the forest.

The great January frowned, and waved his wand over his head. Instantly the sky became covered with clouds, the fire went down, snow fell in large flakes, an icy wind howled round the mountain. Amid the fury of the storm Helen stumbled about. The pelisse failed to warm her benumbed limbs.

The mother kept on waiting for her. She looked from the window, she watched from the doorstep, but her daughter came not. The hours passed slowly, but Helen did not return.

"Can it be that the apples have charmed her from her home?" thought the mother. Then she clad herself in hood and pelisse, and went in search of her daughter. Snow fell in huge masses. It covered all things. For long she wandered hither and thither, the icy northeast wind whistled in the mountain, but no voice answered her cries.

Day after day Marouckla worked, and prayed, and waited, but neither stepmother nor sister returned. They had been frozen to death on the mountain.

The inheritance of a small house, a field, and a cow fell to Marouckla. In course of time an honest farmer came to share them with her, and their lives were happy and peaceful.

story & picture found at Russian-Crafts.com

I've included 2 recipes since both of them are really simple!

Russian Luscious Strawberry Treat
serves 2
A great recipe for using up leftover strawberries.

20 average-sized strawberries, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar (recommended but go according to your taste)

1) Mix all ingredients together well.
2) Wait a minute or so before serving so that the sour cream sauce will be slightly pinkish from the juice created by the strawberries and sugar.
3) Enjoy!
Note: This will NOT work with any other berry, so strawberries only!

Strawberry Shake Recipe
1 cup of Milk
1/2 cup of Strawberries (Fresh)
1 tbsp. Sugar
Cracked/crushed Ice (no specific amount, you have to "eyeball" it)

Mixing Instruction:
Mix all of the ingredients in blender until smooth.
Ice can be added gradually until you get the consistency you wish.
Pour into a tall glass.
Garnish with fresh strawberries.

The Three Cranberries......a Chippewa Fable

The Three Cranberries
A Chippewa Fable

Three cranberries were living in a lodge together.
One was green, one was white and one was red. They were sisters.
There was snow on the ground and the men had gone hunting.
The sisters felt afraid and began to say to each other, "What shall we do if the wolves come?"
"I", said the green one, "shall climb up a Shingoub(spruce) tree."
"I", said the white one, "shall hide myself in the kettle of boiled hominy."
"And I", said the red one, "shall conceal myself under the snow."
Presently the wolves came and each cranberry sister did as she had said.
But only one of the three had chosen wisely.
The wolves immediately ran to the kettle and ate up the corn and with it the white cranberry.
The red cranberry was trampled in the snow under the wolves feet.
But the green cranberry, who had climbed up the thick Shingoub(spruce) tree, escaped notice and was saved.

retold from Algic Researches: North American Indian Folktales and Legends by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Curtis M. Hinsley, first published in 1839

Once called bounceberries, because ripe ones bounce, cranberries are a staple at Thanksgiving, mainly due to the fact that they are harvested in the fall.
Because of their extreme tartness, cranberries are best combined with other fruits, or turned into cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

READY IN 1 Hr 25 Min
Original recipe yield 2 - 8x4 inch loaves

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup egg substitute
1 (16 ounce) can whole cranberry sauce
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spray two 8x4 inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and ground cloves in a large bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Mix the egg substitute, cranberry sauce, pureed pumpkin, vegetable oil and grated orange zest together.
Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.
Pour batter into the prepared pans. Sprinkle the top of each loaf with the chopped nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let loaves cool for 10 minutes then remove from pans.
Can be made even lower in fat by substituting 1/3 cup applesauce for the 1/3 cup vegetable oil.

Did You Know?
Cranberries help fight bacterial infections.
It takes 4,400 cranberries to make a gallon of juice.
Native Americans used cranberry juice as a natural dye for rugs.

more cranberry facts and recipes at Allrecipes.com

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Poems for kids and a delicious Pumpkin Apple Soup Recipe


T'was the night of Thanksgiving
But I just couldn't sleep.
I tried counting backwards.
I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned - the dark meat and white,
But I fought the temptation with all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation,
The thought of a snack became infatuation.

So I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door,
And gazed in the fridge, full of goodies galore,

I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,
Until all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.

I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky,
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.

But I managed to yell as I soured past the trees,
"Happy eating to all, pass the cranberries, please.

May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump.

May your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize,
May your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs."


THANKSGIVING by Jack Prelutsky

The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air.
It knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with a deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows.
It totally coated the floor.
There was turkey attached to the ceiling
where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance.
It smeared every saucer and bowl.
There wasn't a way I could stop it
that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.


"I ate too much turkey,
I ate too much corn,
I ate too much pudding and pie,
I'm stuffed up with muffins
and much too much stuffin',
I'm probably going to die.

I piled up my plate
and I ate and I ate,
but I wish I had known when to stop,
for I'm so crammed with yams,
sauces, gravies, and jams
that my buttons are starting to pop.

I'm full of tomatoes
and french fried potatoes,
my stomach is swollen and sore,
but there's still some dessert,
so I guess it won't hurt
if I eat just a little bit more."

Pumpkin Apple Soup
Recipe submitted by chef Richard Catania of The Award winning Hearth n' Kettle Restaurants of Plymouth, Ma. and Cape Cod.

1 lb. 5 oz. Pumpkin Puree
1/4 tsp. Clove
1/4 lb. Apple Sauce
1-1/4 lb. Butter
2-1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
3 qt. Chicken Stock
2-1/2 tsp. Ginger
1-1/2 cups Brown Sugar
2 qt. Light Cream (Hot)

Cook all ingredients until smooth and hot -- simmer 15 minutes. Finish with cream.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, Too!!......a poem and a recipe for Mulligan Stew

As I am sure I have mentioned before, or at least I should have, I love poems and poetry. And I have quite a few favorite poems and poets. One of my favorite writer's of children's poetry is Shel Silverstein.

Born Sheldon Alan Silverstein, September 25, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois, "Shel" Silverstein was an American poet, songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter and author of children's books. He wrote 3 books of poetry for children Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974), A Light in the Attic (1981)and Falling Up (1996).

Just an interesting aside, Shel Silverstein also wrote the music and the lyrics for the following songs: "A Boy Named Sue" that was performed by Johnny Cash, "The Unicorn" which is popular in Irish pubs all over the world, "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" a song performed by Dr. Hook.

The following poem can be found in his book "Where the Sidewalk Ends". "Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, Too" is a wonderful poem. It's fun to say, the children love the rhyme and the images that it creates. It is also a marvelous poem to act out. There are so many places for the children use their imagination.

If you have the time and the facilities, why not go a step further and have the kids make Mulligan Stew!(It's mentioned in the poem :)

Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too,
Went for a ride in a flying shoe,
"What fun!"
"It's time we flew!"
Said Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

Ickle was captain, Pickle was crew,
And Tickle served coffee and mulligan stew
As higher
And higher
And higher they flew,
Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too,
Over the sun and beyond the blue.
"Hold on!"
"Stay in!"
"I hope we do!"
Cried Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too
Never returned to the world they knew,
And nobody
knows what's
happened to
Dear Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too.

Written by Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

I know from experience that your average child will ask you what mulligan stew is as soon as you finish the poem, if not sooner. So here is your answer (just in case you did not know, I didn't.)

Mulligan stew is a kind of dish said to have been prepared by hobos in camps in the early 1900s. Usually, it includes meat, potatoes, vegetables, and whatever else can be found. The hobo who put it together was known as the "mulligan mixer". A stew is generally difined as being made, literally, of "whatever is on hand" including meat, potatoes and vegetables in any combination.

I have included 2 different stew recipes. Enjoy!

Campfire Mulligan Stew
Ingredients :
Method :
In small amount of hot fat in heavy frying pan, brown: 1 pound stew meat, cut in small pieces Add: 1 tsp. salt Stir in: 1 can condensed tomato soup 1 can water Cover tightly and let cook slowly until tender (about 1-1/2 hours). If fire gets too hot, take from heat occasionally to keep at a simmer. When the meat is tender, add: 3 carrots, cut in thick slices
3 potatoes, quartered
3 onions, halved Continue cooking slowly about 30 minutes. If there is not enough juice, add water during cooking. If too thin take off lid and cook sauce until thickened. 4 to 6 servings
Recipe from the Betty Crocker's Cook Book for Boys and Girls

Easy Crock Pot Beef Stew Recipe
- 4 each potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 each onion, chopped
- 1 pound carrots, sliced
- pound stew meat
- 1 can tomato soup
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 package stew seasoning

Cut the vegetables and meat into bite sized pieces. Mix the stew seasoning with the water. Place the meat on the bottom of the crock, cover with vegetables. Pour the soup and stew seasoning mixture over all. Cook in the crock pot on high for 6 hours or low 10 hours.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 or more hours
Servings: 6

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie .....starts with C!!!!

I looooove these songs!
Let's face it....I love most of ...okay all of the songs I sing.

This evening I decided I "needed" a cookie. Fortunately, I keep cookie dough around for just such an emergency. So I got out the pan and "made" a few chocolate chip cookies. Yummmmm!
Which is what got me thinking about cookie songs.

The first three songs I thought of were these..."C is for Cookie" (a classic)..."I'm A Little Cookie" (a sleeper song but a good one) and , well, the last song is more like a chant and it's a game...the ever popular "Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar".
At the end of this blog are some good cookie recipes for kids.

I'm a Little Cookie is a great song about differences and tolerance.
A version of this song can be heard on John McCutcheon's Mail Myself to You CD.
This is where I first heard it.


I'm a little cookie, yes I am
And I was made by the cookie man
And on my way from the cookie pan
A little piece broke off of me
A little piece broke off of me, uh-huh
A little piece broke off of me, uh-huh
But I can taste just as good, uh-huh
As a regular cookie can

I'm a little chocolate bar, I am
And I was made by the chocolate bar man
And on my way to the chocolate stand
I got a little bend in me
I got a little bend in me, uh-huh
I got a little bend in me, uh-huh
But I can taste just as good, uh-huh
As a regular chocolate bar can

I'm a little tootsie roll, yes I am
And I was made by the tootsie roll man
And on my way from the tootsie roll land
I got a little twist in me
I got a little twist in me, uh-huh
I got a little twist in me, uh-huh
But I can taste just as good, uh-huh
As a regular tootsie roll can

I'm a little gum drop, yes I am
And I was made by the gum drop man
On my way from the sugar can
I got a little dent in me
I got a little dent in me, uh-huh
I got a little dent in me, uh-huh
But I can taste just as good, uh-huh
As a regular gum drop can

Oh, I'm a little cookie, yes I am
And I was made by the cookie man
And on my way from the cookie pan
A little piece broke off of me
Now I ain't as round as I might be
But I taste good just wait and see
And I can love back twice as hard
As a regular cookie can

Words and Music by Larry Penn
(c) Larry Penn

And here is everyone's favorite cookie loving monster....

Who Stole the Cookies is a fun game and a marvelous song for helping kids learn to keep a steady beat.
Children pat a steady rhythm on their thighs while chanting the song.
Older child can do a pat...clap...pat...clap rhythm.
Have kids sit in a circle.
Begin the game by going in order around the circle.
Once the kids understand how the game works you can move into choosing students at random.

Accuser/Group: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?
(name of a child in the circle) stole the cookie from the cookie jar.
Accused: Who me?
Accuser/Group: Yes, you!
Accused: Not Me, Couldn't be!
Accuser/Group: Then who?

This can go on and on until the last person or a designated person (usually the teacher in the beginning) says Who me?...Kids: Yes You!....Teacher/Thief: Possibly! and then you bring out the cookie.

I could explain every step of teaching and playing the game but I found this lovely vid at my favorite place (YOUTUBE!!!) that does an excellent job of teaching the game. The words are a little different but it is basically the same game. YOu will note that the kids are older and that the use a pat/clap instead of a steady patting of the legs which works best with younger children.

Here are a few simple cookie recipes for kids. I found these at Easy Kids Recipies
But there are lots more on the net. Go explore!

Chocolate Cornflake Clusters

2 cups cornflakes, crushed
3/4 cups craisins
3/4 cups flaked almonds
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup sweetened, condensed milk
2 cups melted milk chocolate chips, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Mix together all ingredients except chocolate chips. Line a cookie sheet with foil and grease. Spoon onto cookie sheet about 1 tablespoon per cluster.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then spread the bottom of the clusters with the melted chocolate. Let the chocolate harden, then turn clusters over and drizzle more chocolate over the top.

Mrs. "You Know Who's" Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups flour
5 cups oatmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
24 ounce package chocolate chips
1 8 ounce Hershey chocolate bar, grated
3 cups chopped nuts

Cream together butter,sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and add to mixture. For oatmeal, put small amounts into blender until it turns to powder. Measure first, then blend. Add final ingredients and mix together.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets. Make golf-ball sized cookies and place them oncookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake at 375F degrees for 6 minutes.

Love, Laughter, Peace, Blessings and COOKIES!