Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve Greetings

This will be an unforgettable Christmas, largely because the world is being ravaged by a pandemic that has disrupted lives, careers, businesses and so many familiar things. At a time of year that is usually joyful, hundreds of thousands of families instead mourn the loss of loved ones and many more than hundreds of thousands are gravely worried both about their future health and about their future, period. Will they continue to have a roof over their heads, will they have enough to eat, will they have health care when they need it and, if they do, will the bills from it swamp them?  Will their children be able to cover the year's learning when doing it from home and, if they return to school, will they become victims of the virus? I have no answers, but I sincerely wish everyone a peaceful Christmas...that they can put aside their worries even a little bit for the day and that the love that is at the center of Christmas celebrations can give solace to those who have already lost so much.

This will be a year to remember for many, Sweetie and I included, because the usual gathering together of family and friends over the holidays won't take place. We are hoping that our small effort, combined with many, many others, will flatten the curve enough that the medical system will get a breather, especially here in California where cases are rising at an unprecedented rate. Most traditions will have to wait until next year, including our Boxing Day Party. 2021 has a lot of expectations riding on it already!

Still, we are blessed. We are healthy at the moment, don't have the worries about jobs, homes, food, schooling and income that are stressing so many out. We have Pi dog to give us unconditional love and lots of attention. Dogs are amazing that way...great companions. We have wonderful neighbors and kind friends. 

We also have cookies. Usually I bake and bake and give lots of cookie plates away to neighbors, friends, the firemen, and library workers, to name a few, but this year I only bake three kinds and not a lot of any of them. There is controversy about sharing home baked goods, so it's safer to give commercial ones.  

I guess the ones I did bake are favorites...the Santa's Whiskers shortbread my daughter loves (she received the lion's share of them in a tin that was mailed with the rest of the gifts weeks ago), the saucepan fruit bars that I tweaked this year with fruitcake mix, and the Viennese Linzer bars made this year with farm made raspberry jam. Since the shortbread and Linzer bars are made just as the recipe calls for, I won't include the recipes in this post, just the links. 

But I will give you the Fruit Bars for Christmas recipe. You may even want to bake this one. It's mixed by hand in a saucepan and baked in a simple brownie pan. It's really delicious, too, besides being easy. Don't skip the glaze on top. The sweetness and then sharp lemon make a nice contrast to the soft cookie and fruit and the modulated spices. Great with a cup of tea. Think I'll go have some!

Wishing you, dear reader, and all you love, a most Happy Christmas, even if just for the day. XO, Elle

Fruit Bars For Christmas

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick) (I used margarine)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs (or use egg substitute)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon EACH cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used soy creamer soured with 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
1 cup candied fruit cake mix (a diced mixture of red and green cherries, citron, pineapple, orange and lemon peel)
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup raisins

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add sugar and the eggs, beaten, stir well to blend.
3) Add sifted dry ingredients and buttermilk. Mix well.
4) Stir in fruit cake mix, currants and raisins. Mix well.
5) Spread in greased pan 15” x 10” x 1 “ or a 13"x9" brownie pan for thicker bars
6) Bake about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Brush with glaze of a mixture of 1 cup confectioners sugar, 4 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon rind.
7) Cool in pan. Cut into 2” x 1” bars. Makes about 45.

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