Braille Monitor                         December 2020

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Recipes this month were provided by previous contributors throughout the early 2000’s December issues, with a special current Christmas dinner recipe from Marc Maurer.

Cheesy Potato Casserole (2001)

by Neita Ghrigsby

8 to 10 good-sized potatoes (either white or red will do fine)
3-4 strips of crisp fried bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 roll Kraft garlic cheese
1 roll Kraft jalapeño cheese
1 jar Cheez Whiz (if you like things really hot, use the jalapeño Cheez Whiz)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 stick oleo
salt and pepper to taste

Method: Peel and cut potatoes into good-sized chunks. Wash and drain. Place them in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil on the stove and cook covered until almost tender. While they are cooking, melt 1/2 stick of oleo in a small skillet, add finely chopped onion and bell pepper. Sauté until tender. In another pan mix milk, Cheez Whiz, and the rolls of garlic and jalapeño cheese cut into small pieces. Cook over low heat to melt cheeses, stirring constantly to keep mixture from sticking. Add the oleo, onion, and bell pepper mixture and stir together. After potatoes are cooked, drain completely and spread them into a buttered thirteen-by-nine Pyrex or other baking dish. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over potatoes. Then spread with cheese mixture. Bake uncovered in a 350-degree oven for twenty to thirty minutes or until the potatoes are completely tender and mixture is bubbly.

Frozen Oreo Delight (2002)

by Ryan Osentowski

1 package Oreo cookies, crushed
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 small jar crunchy peanut butter
1 8-ounce container of Cool Whip
1 jar hot fudge sauce

Method: In large bowl soften ice cream and stir in peanut butter, then fold in Cool Whip. Set aside 2/3 cup crushed Oreos and spread the remaining cookie crumbs over bottom of 9-by-13-inch pan. Pour ice cream mixture over crushed cookies. Top mixture with remaining crushed cookies. Place in freezer for two to three hours, until set. To serve, remove from freezer and cut into squares. Top with warmed hot fudge sauce. You'll be happy for a week.

Christmas Sweet Potato Casserole (2003)

by Cary Supalo

1 can sweet potatoes, undrained
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a two-quart baking dish. Place the sweet potatoes and their liquid in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for fifteen minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat, drain, and mash. In a medium bowl, mix the mashed potatoes, white sugar, eggs, 1/3 cup butter, milk, and vanilla extract. Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish. In a separate bowl mix brown sugar, chopped pecans, flour, and 1/3 cup melted butter and sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture. Bake for thirty-five minutes in a preheated oven or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Just-Another-Taste Casserole (2005)

by Betty McNally

The story behind this one is that it was created during a blizzard in Western Massachusetts. Our friend's mother, who was with us, kept saying "just another taste" as she took another spoonful until the bowl was empty. Thus the name.

3 cups sliced potatoes
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup sliced onion
1 pound ground meat
1 4-ounce can mushroom stems and pieces
1 10-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 8-ounce container sour cream

Method: The day before you plan to serve, bring potatoes, carrots, and onions to a boil and cook for about ten minutes. Drain and place in a 2-quart casserole. Brown ground meat and spoon over vegetables. In drippings, sauté drained mushrooms. Stir in can of soup. Blend in sour cream. Pour mushroom mixture over meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, place casserole in preheated 350-degree oven for about an hour. Serve immediately. Serves six to eight.

Wassail (1998)

by Priscilla A. Ferris

4 cups water
2 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
6 allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon chopped ginger root (ground ginger may be
substituted if necessary).
1 6-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate
2 6-ounce cans frozen orange juice concentrate
2 quarts apple cider

Method: In a large pan combine and boil the water and sugar for five minutes. Tie together in a small clean cloth cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger, and add to the sugar syrup. Add the frozen lemonade concentrate, orange juice concentrate, and apple cider. Simmer covered to blend flavors. Remove bag of spices. Serve hot. Yields eighteen six-ounce servings.

Christmas Dinner

by Marc Maurer

Christmas Dinner is always a big deal in the Maurer household. The Maurers get together for Christmas every year unless unforeseen natural disasters or other large-scale disruptions of humanity prevent it. Imagination can change the menu for the dinner, but tradition is also part of it.

In Charles Dickens’ memorable book, A Christmas Carol, the Cratchit family had goose. When Scrooge recovered from his encounters with the spirits, he sent a prize turkey to the Cratchits. This has made me believe that goose was fair for the poor and turkey was available to the wealthy. Nonetheless, I almost always cook a goose.

Goose is a bird that contains a lot of fat. The old recipe books say that goose would be put in a 450-degree oven for half an hour to render out the fat. After this half an hour the temperature may be reduced to 350 to let the goose cook. I have tried this method of cooking a goose, and I don’t like it. I have tried to add things to the goose to change the product of this cooking method, such as champagne and cream, but I still don’t like the result. My experience tells me that rendering the fat from the goose makes it tough.

I much prefer to cook a goose low and slow. I thaw the bird, remove the neck and the giblets, salt and pepper the bird inside and out, stuff it, and cook it in a slow oven 300 to 325 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes for each pound of bird. A little water in the bottom of the roasting pan will help to keep the bird from sticking to the pan. However, you don’t need much grease because the bird has a lot of it. I like a bird that weighs from twelve to fifteen pounds.

The stuffing is a modified version of Yankee dressing. I begin with a bag of seasoned croutons, seasoned with sage and sometimes other spices. With this in a large bowl, I pour over the croutons broth that I have made from cooking the giblets and neck in about a quart of water. I cut the meat from the neck into small pieces and cut up the giblets to add to the dressing as well. Because the other Maurers are not fond of goose liver, I leave that out. Sometimes I put the goose liver into my pan to roast in the oven. I like goose liver very much, and this gives me a snack to have before dinner. I chop about a cup of celery and a cup of onion to add to the mixture. The croutons should absorb all the liquid and make a soft consistent result. I do not add all of the liquid at the same time because the dressing should not be sloppy. If after pouring all of the liquid into the dressing it is still not a consistent product, I add a can of cream of mushroom soup to give it enough liquid. This depends a lot on the amount of broth created in the cooking of the giblets. Then I add a chopped tart apple and about a dozen prunes cut in half. Finally, a little salt and a little pepper. I stuff this in the bird before baking it. Often dressing is left to roast in the oven. Placing this in a greased baking dish and baking it for half an hour to 45 minutes will finish it. This is the meat dish.

Of course, a festive dinner needs nice warm bread, cranberries of some kind, a potato or two, and a vegetable—at least one. Then, there is dessert.

Most of these are fairly straightforward, but I have come to know about creamed spinach, and it has come to be a favorite. The very best is made with fresh spinach, but it takes a great deal of it. I put it into a frying pan and it almost disappears. Consequently, it is possible also to make it with frozen spinach. I would never use canned spinach—Popeye notwithstanding. About twenty ounces of frozen spinach will do or about a half a bushel (or as much as you can possibly get into the pot) of fresh spinach. Add olive oil to the bottom of the pan before the spinach is inserted. If you’re using a large pan, 3/4 of a cup of milk, light cream, or coconut milk will do. Otherwise, add half a cup. Sauté the spinach with a little chopped onion (about half of one) for five minutes and then add salt, pepper, and a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg for a large pot or 1/4 teaspoon for a small one. Sauté for another three or four minutes stirring occasionally, and you’re done.

Dianna Maurer is a great fan of good food. She liked to cook very much with her grandma, who always thought a recipe was better with butter and sugar. She has persuaded me that among the best desserts of Christmas is a linzer torte bar. We have cooked it together from time to time, and here is the recipe she recommends. May your dinner be festive and joyful!

Linzer Torte Bar

1 and 1/2 cups walnuts or slivered blanched almonds
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1 cup apricot or raspberry preserves
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Method: Preheat oven to 350. Line a nine-inch pan with aluminum foil. Butter foil.
In blender or food processor, coarsely chop the nuts. Add the three tablespoons granulated sugar and process finely. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the butter, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat until fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, add the nut and flour mixtures, and mix until just blended.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Top with preserves. Refrigerate for twenty minutes. Bake until the preserves begin to bubble and the crust is just firm to the touch, about forty minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, and dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

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