Braille Monitor                                      December 2016

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Last December the Braille Monitor put out a call for holiday recipes on Nfbnet-members-list, and we received a delicious variety. This year, we thought we’d do something similar. But, instead of narrowing it down to holiday recipes, we thought we’d ask for party recipes. After the holidays come New Year’s and Super Bowl Saturday and any number of other occasions for large gatherings.

Rum Balls
by Tom Bickford

Tom BickfordTom Bickford is best known for the Federation songs which bear his name. He has been a member of the Federation for more than fifty years, regularly attends conventions, and is a retired employee of the National Library Service.

1 16-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate bits
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups finely-crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup finely-ground walnuts

Method: In a saucepan melt the chocolate bits over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, rum, and corn syrup. Fold in vanilla wafers and nuts. Shape the mixture into one-inch balls using two measuring teaspoons of mixture for each or one eating-sized teaspoon. Roll the balls in sugar. Store the balls in an airtight container for several days, two weeks minimum. Makes about four dozen balls.

One time I had dry crumbs left over, so I added a few drops of water to make them moist enough to stick together; one might substitute a few drops of rum. When doubling the recipe do them separately, not as one giant batch.

Buttermilk Biscuits
by Tom Bickford

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 pound margarine
3 5/8-ounce packages dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
8 to 9 cups flour
1 quart buttermilk

Method: Cream together sugar and margarine in a large bowl (I use a fork to do this). Sift together the first one or two cups of flour with the remaining dry ingredients. In the bowl you creamed the sugar and margarine, alternate adding and stirring in the flour and buttermilk. The final dough should be light and slightly moist. Cover the bowl so the dough will not dry out. Refrigerate the dough overnight. The dough will expand, so expect it to do so. You may, but you don’t have to, bake all the dough at the same time. I have stored unbaked dough for as much as two weeks. The flavor will intensify. Lightly grease muffin pan before filling cups about 3/4 full. Allow the dough to rise another hour in the pan in a warm place. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 min. Cooked biscuits can be stored frozen. Biscuits are best when fresh, warm, and buttered.

Pumpkin Bread
by Anna Freysz Cable

Anna Freysz Cable was a member of the Sligo Creek Chapter of the NFB of Maryland. She lived to be 108 years old. Her loving and cheerful spirit and her dedication to learning Braille and other blindness techniques after losing her sight in her sixties were an inspiration, and the NFB of Maryland named an award in her honor. She used this recipe for many bake sales over the years.

3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup orange juice
1 cup cooking oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 one-pound-can pumpkin
1 cup raisins lightly floured to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the pan
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Method: Mix sugar and salt in juice, stir to dissolve. Add cooking oil and eggs. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat dry mix into wet mix starting slowly. Beat in the pumpkin. Stir in raisins and nuts last. Grease and flour two loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and twenty minutes. Test with a toothpick. If toothpick comes out wet, try another ten minutes. When the toothpick comes out dry, remove to a rack for cooling. If loaves do not come out easily, run a knife around the pan to trim off any crust that may have stuck to the edge of the pan.

Note: You can use six mini loaf pans. Prepare batter and pans, using the same recipe. Bake at 350 degrees for fifty minutes. I put all six mini pans on a baking sheet to catch accidental spills.

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
by Megan Kindrick

Megan Kindrick is the granddaughter of Federationist Mary Kindrick. This recipe comes from Megan’s blog The Autistic Chef. Mary says, “Just as I advocate for the blind, she speaks for herself and others who are autistic. I am very proud of the hard work she has done to overcome her problems.”

1 12-ounce package ground sausage (I like the Jimmy Dean Sage)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
6 jalapeño peppers
6 slices of bacon, cut in half (I find Oscar Mayer thin-sliced bacon works best)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Method: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place ground sausage in a large skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain sausage and place in a medium bowl. Mix with the cream cheese and cheddar cheese and set aside.

Warning! Experience taught me that it is best to wear rubber gloves while preparing the jalapeño peppers. I did not do so the first time, and my hands burned for two days, despite repeatedly washing with soap and water. A plastic sandwich bag, used to hold the pepper, can be substituted for the gloves. Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. You can leave some of the seeds if you like it hotter. Stuff each jalapeño half with equal portions of the sausage and cheese mixture. Wrap with half slices of bacon. Secure bacon with toothpicks. It is best not to use colored toothpicks, as the dye will come off while cooking. Arrange wrapped jalapeños on wire rack that is placed on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for twenty-five minutes, or until the bacon is brown.

Sweet Potato Pie
by Rose Lee Meyer

Rose Lee Meyer is Federationist Mary Kindrick’s sister, and this recipe is a family favorite.

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (You may use canned sweet potatoes if you wish.)
1 unbaked deep-dish pie crust

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Method: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Blend sugar and spices in large mixing bowl and set aside. Beat eggs in medium mixing bowl. Add milk and vanilla. Combine with sugar mixture. Stir in potatoes, beat until smooth. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees, bake for 30 minutes. While the pie continues to bake, mix topping ingredients together. Spoon topping over pie; bake an additional ten to fifteen minutes.

Egg Casserole
by Mary Kindrick

12 to 16 slices of bread 
8 eggs (you can use Eggbeaters)
2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese
1 pound of Jimmy Dean pork sausage (cooked and drained), or you can use 2 cups of cubed ham
1/2 cup of melted butter

Method: Remove crust from bread and cut each slice in half (vertically). Cover bottom of a nine-by-thirteen-inch Pyrex dish with one layer of bread. Pour drained sausage (or ham) over bread, then cover with grated cheese, then cover with another layer of bread.          Beat eggs, salt, milk, and butter. Pour very slowly over entire casserole, being sure to get in between everything. Refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered, at 375 degrees for forty to fifty minutes, until golden brown.

I serve with a fruit salad, fruit juice, and maybe even some miniature muffins—sometimes I'll even fry bacon on the side. This is great for holiday weekends or family gatherings, as it can be prepared in advance.

Oatmeal Cookies
by Robert Jaquiss

Robert JaquissHe says about these cookies, “Because these cookies use raw sugar and whole wheat flour, I find they do not affect my blood sugar nearly as much as cookies made with refined sugar and bleached flour.”

1 cup butter (two sticks), softened
1 cup Sucanat (brand of raw sugar)
1 cup Sucanat with honey (3/4 cup of Sucanat mixed with 1/4 cup honey)
2 large or 3 small eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 and 1/2 cups rolled oats

Method: In a large bowl cream butter, Sucanat, and Sucanat with honey. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Sucanat is much coarser than sugar so make sure it is mixed. I melt the butter in a microwave for one minute; this makes the mixing easier. In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter and egg mixture. Stir in rolled oats and mix well. The dough is very stiff, so use a heavy-duty mixer. Scoop onto baking tray and bake for twelve minutes at 350 degrees. Yields two dozen cookies. Optionally, 1-1/2 cup raisins, semisweet chocolate chips, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or a combination may be added.

Note: When using raisins, I let them soak several hours before using them. Adding soaked raisins makes the dough sticky.

Gin and Tonic
by Scott LaBarre

Scott LaBarreWarning: This recipe may cause the preparer to become horizontal with or without company at an undesired point; cause the preparer to act inappropriately; perhaps cause the preparer to tell the truth about friends and family, or perhaps even say or do something witty. An unanticipated benefit may be that the preparer may think he/she is actually handsome/pretty, slender, and intelligent regardless of prevailing views and established fact. Note also that this recipe is best enjoyed on hot days, on a patio (friends and family present optional). This recipe can be prepared at any time of day because it is always 5:00 o’clock somewhere.

lime or lemon, sliced (optional)

Method: Take one glass (size at discretion of drinker). Pour in a big splash of gin (Tanqueray preferred). Add ice to preference. Add some tonic followed by another big splash of gin. Did I say another splash of gin? Place a slice of lime or lemon on rim of glass or into drink to preference. Repeat process until appropriately tuned. 

Mexican and (Puerto Rican) Wedding Cakes
by Eileen Rivera Ley

Eileen says about this recipe: My sister Millie and I have lots of siblings. Each Christmas our mom had us each pick a special "signature" cookie recipe to make with her. This way we had a lovely variety to enjoy. My brother Ed would make chocolate pinwheels, I made Walnut Diamonds, Sandra perfected Mexican wedding cakes, Millie baked peanut butter cookies, sweet Caroline decorated the cut out cookies and little Jorge specialized in chocolate chips. (Little Susie was off the hook.) Of course some traditions last a lifetime while others make way for new ones. These days all the Rivera kids always make these amazing Mexican Wedding Cakes during the holidays.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup roasted nuts (walnuts/pecans)

Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast nuts for four to seven minutes, tossing half way through. Cream butter and powdered sugar; add vanilla. In small bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to butter/sugar/vanilla mixture. Add fully cooled nuts (throw them in freezer for a while if needed). Roll the dough into 1-1/4 inch balls (smaller is prettier). Bake at 400 degrees for ten to twelve minutes or until light golden brown. When fully cooled, roll cookies in powdered sugar. We double the recipe and keep half in the fridge to bake as needed.

Eggnog Bread
by Shannon Cook

Shannon is a Columbia chapter member and NFB of South Carolina Board member.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp rum extract
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bread pan. Beat eggs. Add sugar, eggnog, butter, rum, and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour, baking powder, and nutmeg. Stir until just moistened. Pour into bread pan. Bake at 350 for forty-five minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for ten minutes before turning out of pan.

Buttery Toffee Cookies
by Michelle Clark

Michelle is the president of the National Harbor chapter of the NFB of Maryland.

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce package milk chocolate toffee bits

Method: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Stir in toffee bits. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake ten to twelve minutes or until lightly browned. Cool one minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack. Consider using parchment paper. Makes forty-eight cookies.

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
by Michelle Clark

Corned Beef:
3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
2 carrots, cut into two-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small head green cabbage, cored, roughly chopped
2 cups apple juice
1 cup water

1-1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, sliced in half
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method: Put the carrots and onions on the bottom of slow cooker, and put the corned beef on top. Arrange the chopped cabbage around the beef. Add the apple juice and one cup of water along with the contents of the spice packet. Cook on low for six to eight hours until the beef is tender. Remove the beef and vegetables to a platter and keep warm.

For the potatoes: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about twelve to fifteen minutes. Drain and return them to the pot. Add the butter, garlic, parsley, and salt, and pepper to taste. Gently combine so that all the potatoes are evenly coated. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with corn beef and vegetables from the slow cooker.

Bleu Cheese Dressing/Dip
by Amy Mason

Amy MasonAmy Mason hails from Nebraska and works at the Jernigan Institute in the National Braille and Technology Center.

1 16-ounce container of cottage cheese (2% fat or more gives the richest flavor)
1 4- to 6-ounce container of bleu cheese crumbles
Lemon juice
Minced garlic

Method: Place the cottage cheese, a small amount of milk, and half of the bleu cheese crumbles in a blender and blend until smooth. Mix in salt, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic to taste (start with half teaspoons of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and two to three cloves of garlic, or a teaspoon of the already minced stuff from the store.) Blend in more milk until the dressing reaches the desired consistency. Mix—don’t blend—in remaining bleu cheese crumbles, or serve with these sprinkled on top for a more festive appearance. For best results refrigerate for at least four hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

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