Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas is Baa-aack!!! by Margaret Ullrich

Back in 2004 I wrote this for the CKUW radio show ‘2000 & Counting’.  
Christmas stress and chores haven’t changed.  Darn!!

     Whenever I wonder if God is a man or a woman - which I admit isn't often - all I have to do is remember the ho-ho-ho good time women have during the holidays.

     Yep.. God is a man.
He sits there and just expects holidays to happen.  They happened last year, right?  No problem.  He just sat and wallah!  Christmas.

     Okay, ladies, we know it takes more than sitting.  Remember that cheery little commercial in which we heard Nat King Cole singing about Mrs. Santa Claus?  We saw a woman frantically throwing toys into a cart with one hand, keeping a toddler from jumping out of the cart with another hand and clutching a preschooler with another hand.  Of course she had three hands.  She was a Mom. 

     Admit it.  We don't have holidays because we like them.  They're part of our culture, our tradition, our civilization.  Yeah.  So's cleaning the toilet.  There are books with sentimental nonsense, like:
    Evenings when blustery winds howled were cozy times, perfect for sorting recipes.  The children were helping Mama at the oak table chopping fruit and raisins.  Papa was happily crushing nuts and fresh spices in the grinder. 

     Yeah.  Those people had cabin fever.  Sorting recipes?  Didn't they have any favourites?  Children chopping raisins?  Sure.  Yank a gameboy out of a kid's hands, give him a big sharp knife and you'll both end up on the 6 o'clock news.  Papa crushing his nuts in a what?  I don't think so. 

     Remember how we thought technology would make life easier?  How we'd have four day work weeks and loads of leisure?  Uh huh.  Technology means that even if you're in a public washroom, you - and a dozen other women who had to answer nature's call - can't escape your cellphone playing Up a Lazy River.  Work is feast or famine - either you've nailed three part time jobs into a raft which you hope will carry you to your golden years when your ship will come in (if the pension plan doesn't go belly up) or you've been downsized.  Again. 

     And now the holidays are back.

     Okay, grab a pen and paper, sit down and think this through.  Why are you doing this?  Some say Jesus is the reason for the season.  Okay, that's a start.  If He's the only reason you're doing The Season it should be a lot less hectic.  Remember God became human.  Humans can't become God.  So get rid of the crap that’s crept into the creche.

    What's important to you and your family?  Not to the neighbours, not to Granny and definitely not to the stores.  If you want to create pleasant memories set your own priorities.  Don't let urgent things like making fancy decorations keep you from important things like spending time together.  If anyone tries to talk you into doing something a little extra, just say no.  
     Back to those memoirs.  Maybe chopping and crushing was their idea of a crackerjack good time.  But if your kids are going to make a beeline for the Oreoes, why stay up till midnight making sugar cookies in strange shapes that can't be dunked into a glass of milk?  I know.  It's tradition.  So, delegate.  Bang open some tubes of cookie dough and let the kids get creative while you take pictures.  They'll actually eat those cookies.

     Invited someone who thinks store bought food is just not fit for the holidays?  Stock up now, destroy the wrappings, toss your cookies into bread bags and freeze them.  Remember how in the 60s we distressed furniture?  When it's 'show time' pop the cookies into the oven for nice burnt edges.  Muck up the cake's icing so it'll look like you really tried.  The snob will respect your efforts and eat, none the wiser.  Just make things look like they weren't made by a professional.

    Speaking of professional, avoid The Stewart.  If you must watch Martha, remember: It's TV.  She's paid to be a pain.  You've seen blooper shows.  Trust me.  Martha bloopers.  She bakes 20 cakes and shows the best one.  Look at the credits.  She has an army doing the work.  She isn't trying to make all this crap when she's bone tired after putting in a 12 hour day and everyone's asleep.  When you watch one of those autopsy shows like CSI do you get an urge to carve up a cadaver, too?  

     Do you have a friend who's another Martha?  Whoopee for her.  Like Mama done told you, if your friend jumped off a bridge would you do it, too?  There has to be something your friend hates to do.  Now's a good time to swap your expertise for hers.  Yes, you are good at something.  She bakes, you wrap.  See?    
     Ever feel that if you don't do everything the family's been doing since the Dark Ages, the holidays will be ruined forever, it will be all your fault and the family will never recover?  According to Doctor Bush, a psychologist, Guilt feelings are a messy mixture of insecurity, self-doubt, self-condemnation, self-judgment, anxiety and fear.  It's a whole mishmash of stuff.

     Dump the guilt.  Make a list of all the things you think you have to do, including making that mystery relish that's been in the family since the Black Death.  After dinner, before everyone runs off, read the list.  If something gets big smiles, it's a keeper.  If you say 'Relish' and people make barfing sounds, scratch it.  If your family's too polite or you've invited out of town relatives just think about the past year.  If you were still trying to unload that relish with the Easter ham, lose the recipe.  
     Office Parties were dandy back when men held the same job for decades, 'The Wives' were drooling to dress up and 'Meet those exciting people you work with' and the kids could be packed off to Granny's.  Now both spouses have parties - guess what, they're always on the same night - 'The Wives' and 'The Husbands' don't want to meet The Idiots you're always complaining about, Granny's on a cruise and the Goth babysitter looks like Dracula.  You see your co-workers enough.  They'll save you a copy of the secretary's xeroxed butt.

     Cards used to be nice and simple.  They had pretty pictures and a cheery message.  All you had to do was sign and send.  Then some fool got creative and started printing up long bragging letters.  Do your friends a favour.  Don't write The Letter.      

     Being tempted by seeing everybody in the flyers looking wildly happy?  Want your family to go nuts, too?  Guess what.  The folks in the flyers are models who were paid big bucks to grin like idiots and jump around like that.  Stores want you to buy stuff.  That's their only goal.  Helping you have a nice holiday is not their problem.  If they had their way you'd replace everything every year. 

     Remember how the best presents were items that showed someone knew what you really liked?  Maybe somebody hunted down a book by your favourite author.  Those gimmicky things that looked impressive seem downright strange on December 26th.  Do your family a favour and toss those flyers.  

     Do get yourself some little treats.  I have a friend who picks up a few bags of pfeffernusse cookies every November.  Whenever she feels like all she's doing is giving, giving, giving, she pops a pfeffernusse and gives herself an old time Christmas.  It doesn't take much.  

     God bless us, everyone.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Anna Sultana's White Bread / American Bread

A few days ago I mentioned cooking pasta fagioli as a way of helping the holiday gift buying budget.

If you clicked on the link and went to the post you noticed I wrote:
Would I make Pasta Fagioli again?
It's a basic item at my house.
Even when it's not tax time.
A loaf of crusty Italian bread goes well with it.
After eating all those carbs, who could be nervous?

Bread is a funny thing.
Buy a loaf and it’s just bread.
Bake it and you’re suddenly Mother Walton.
Which is a charming thing to be at this time of year.

Maltese food wasn’t as popular as Italian food in New York.
If Ma wanted a taste of home, she had to bake her own Hobz, Maltese Bread.
Sometimes she also baked Crusty Italian Bread.
Both are great and add a certain oomph to a meal.

Don’t be put off by the idea of making four loaves at one time.
Homemade bread is a treat.
With butter or jam, it’s as good as any cake.
Believe me, it won’t last long enough to go stale.

A neighbour once gave Ma her recipe for bread.
It was a basic white bread recipe.
Ma called it American bread.
Well, the neighbour was an American, so it made sense.


While kneading the dough, dip your hands in water to give the 
dough a smooth elastic finish.

To give your bread more volume add lemon juice or white vinegar:
1 Tablespoon for every 4 to 5 Cups of flour. 

For variety you can substitute for equal portions of all purpose flour:
1 to 3 Cups whole wheat flour
1 to 2 Cups dark rye flour
1 Cup oatmeal

                        Basic White Bread

Makes 4 loaves
grease four 4 1/2” x 8 1/2” loaf pans
preheat oven to 375º           
bake 40 minutes

In a large mixer bowl place
1/2 Cup warm water (about 110º F)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
Let stand about 10 minutes, then stir.

3 1/2 Cups warm water
1/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons salt
Stir to combine ingredients.
4 1/2 Cups flour
Mix until a soft dough is formed.
Gradually add
5 to 6 Cups flour, more or less, to make a workable dough.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface.
Knead until it is very smooth, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl.
Turn to cover top surfaces with oil.
Cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until doubled.

Punch down the dough and cut it into 4 even pieces.
Cover and let rest 20 minutes.
Form into loaves and place in greased pans.
Brush the tops with oil.
Cover and let rise 50 minutes.
Bake 40 minutes, or until bread tests done and is golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes.
Remove from pans.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Anna Sultana's White Fruitcake

Four years ago I posted the recipe for 
A couple of years ago I posted a recipe 

I recently got a request for a white fruitcake recipe that has crushed pineapple.
It’s about time for another fruitcake recipe.
Yes, this recipe has crushed pineapple in it.
Marilyn F., I hope this is the recipe you are looking for.

Not sure if it's too late to make a fruitcake this year?
Check out this post: Anna Sultana’s Fruitcake Baking Hints
Along with the explanations on why fruitcake making is such a hassle here are links for three cakes that could pass for the holidays:

Ma’s Cinnamon Swirl Sour Cream Coffee Cake 
Ma’s Pineapple Cake with Coconut Pecan Topping 
Carmela Soprano's Mom's Pear and Grappa Pound Cake 


There’s a light touch of almond flavouring in the cake.
If you'd like a stronger almond flavour, you could increase the amount of almond extract, or you could replace the lemon extract or vanilla with another teaspoon of almond extract.

You could replace the coconut with 8 ounces (250 g) sliced almonds.
Or you could use 4 ounces (125 g) of each.
You could also use just red or green candied cherries, especially if a large tub of either was on sale.

Leave the fruitcake wrapped in the wax paper for storing.  
Remove it just before slicing and serving so it will stay moister.

Why not make both a dark and a white fruitcake?  
Then you could present alternating slices of each on a a festive platter. 
Marilyn mentioned that “her mom loved it (white fruitcake) as it contrasted so well with her dark fruitcake.”
Your guests would love it, too.

After aging this cake can be stored for an indefinite period in the freezer. 
(Maybe next year you could make it in September to get a jump on the season).

                    White Fruitcake

Grease well an 8 inch square cake pan
Line with two layers of wax paper
Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C)         
Bake 2 3/4 to 3 hours

Drain over a large measuring cup (you want to save the juice)
1 can (19-ounce / 540 mL) crushed pineapple
If necessary, add enough water to make 1/2 cup (125 mL) of liquid.

Mix together in a large bowl
1 1/2 Cups (375 mL) golden raisins 
4 ounces (125 g) chopped mixed peel or citron
8 ounces (250 g) candied red cherries, quartered
8 ounces (250 g) candied green cherries, quartered
1 Cup (250 mL) coconut 
Sprinkle with 
1/2 Cup (125 mL) flour 
Toss until all the fruit is well dusted. 

Sift together in a medium bowl for the flour mixture
2 1/4 Cups (550 mL) flour
2 teaspoons (10 mL) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) nutmeg

In large mixer bowl place
1 Cup (250 mL) butter, room temperature
Cream the butter.
While creaming the butter gradually add
1 1/2 Cups (375 mL) sugar
Mix until light and fluffy.
Add, one at a time, beating well after each addition
3 large eggs
Then add
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon extract
1 teaspoon (5 mL) almond extract
the reserved pineapple and 1/2 cup pineapple juice
Stir well.
Add 1/4 of the flour mixture and stir just until mixed.  
Make 3 more flour mixture additions, stirring just until mixed after each one.
Stir in dusted fruit.

Turn batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. 
Bake at 300°F (150°C) for 2 3/4 to 3 hours.
A skewer inserted in centre should come out clean. 
Cool cake in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. 
Turn out onto rack to cool completely. 

Wrap in aluminium foil and store in an airtight container in a cool place.

'Tis the Season by Margaret Ullrich

Back in 2002 I wrote this for the CKUW radio show ‘2000 & Counting’.  
Goodness, that was a dozen years ago!  
Christmas shopping hasn’t changed all that much.  Darn!!

     Okay… listen up!  There are 5 weeks left until Christmas.  That means gifts.  I know, I know, it's more blessed to give than to receive.  But, unless you have ways of shopping that you'd like to keep secret, giving gifts means money.  

     It's a little late to start a Christmas gift account at your bank and the utility companies really lose that Ho Ho Ho spirit if you try to skip paying their bills.  

     If the charge cards are already maxed out - or you just want to keep your nearest and dearest on a cash and carry basis - gift getting is going to take a little effort.  

     Desperate times call for desperate measures.  As we're all stuck with holidays - oh, lucky us - I'll tell you some of my desperate measures.

     Live off your hump.  You know what I mean.  Things like the 18 cans of tuna you have left from the time you bought 20 cans so you could get 50 bonus airmiles.  Now's the time to crack those babies open.  I know the family hates tuna.  That's why there are 18 little cans of fishies swimming around your pantry.  Well, the family would hate a Giftless Christmas even more.  Think about it.  Lousy dinners happen to everybody.  But the family Grinch who comes up giftless at Christmas gets blabbed about throughout the neighbourhood and the generations.  You don't want to be remembered by your great great grandchildren as Granny Grinchie.

     Try creative cooking.  Pretend you're on the TV show Iron Chef.  You've just been given a tube of ground beef, a bag of marshmallows, a jar of salsa, a bottle of raspberry vinegar, a carton of frozen spinach, a jar of maraschino cherries and a box of rice-a-roni.  Think only a nut throws odd things together?  How do you think raspberry vinegar was invented?  If the family gets snarky, tell them you found the recipe in a magazine - Drop names.  Martha is always good - and if they can't appreciate all the effort you put into making dinner interesting… Well!  You know the speech.  Remember, guilt, when the other person has it, is a good thing.

     Go ethnic.  Granny's recipes don't have to be saved for Folklorama.  God bless ancestors.  Go to an ethnic restaurant and get a load of the prices they charge for a plate of pasta fagioli (that's noodles and beans).  Grandma would die laughing if she saw those prices.  Starch and beans got millions of people through tough times.  Go thou and eat likewise.

     Beans aren't good enough?  Go past the recognizable cuts and shop the mystery meats.  Put enough spices on them and the family won't know what hit them.  I once made spaghetti and meatballs using animal organs only a mother could love.  Guess what?  Hubby had invited a friend.  Well, the buddy was getting a free meal, so I followed the Cook’s Golden Rule: Don't apologize and don't explain.  The buddy said it was delicious, like the meatballs they serve at the Bay.  Hmmm…  I notice the Bay is still in business.  There's more than one way to skin a cat.   

     Shop your house.  No kidding.  Grab a bag and stroll through your house.  Look for things somebody foisted… uh… gave to you.  Well, why should you be stuck with it until you're six feet under?  Unless it was made by your preschooler - don't even think it, they DO remember - you're free to pass it on to someone else.  Just don't give it to the person who gave it to you. 

     Pack your own.  Ever notice the little overpriced goodies the stores stuff into baskets and bowls?  One current gift item is a box of pasta, a tin of sauce, some cheese and some wooden spoons nestled within a large bowl.  Are you too stupid to do the same thing?  I didn’t think so.  It's one way to get rid of some of those extra airmiles purchases.  Let somebody else eat the tuna.                  

About Saturday night’s new moon in Sagittarius
According to the folks at
November 22, while the new Moon rises in feisty Sagittarius, you can expect increased adventure, grand plans, and plentiful opportunities to broaden your horizons!

With the new Moon in this bold, audacious sign, it’s just in time for Thanksgiving.  
The astrological vibe turns from gloomy to joyful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Stuffed Peppers, Maltese Style

Maltese recipes include quite a few stuffed vegetable recipes.
If something has an indentation, we will fill it.
Maybe it’s a form of nesting.
Maybe it's a type of hoarding.

Maybe it’s a way of making some really good recipes.

Ma had a few Maltese ways of stuffing green peppers.
She had two favourite Bżar Aħdar Mimli recipes, one had pork and one had anchovies.
Over the years Ma picked up some recipes from her co-workers and friends.
Can’t keep a good recipe down.
But, of course, Ma added her own touches.

This recipe calls for red bell peppers, which are ripened green peppers.
Green peppers are less sweet than yellow or orange peppers.
Red bell peppers are the sweetest.
You can use what your family prefers.

If you're shopping at a grocery store, you might find red, yellow and green bell peppers being sold together and called traffic light peppers.
You could pick up a few packs for this recipe.
The kids might enjoy the variety of colour.
Or they might fight over the yellow peppers.
So it goes.

If the kids are in that stage of life, stick to the red peppers.
Yes, they'll outgrow it.


It would be a good idea to have tomato sauce on hand, or to make it about 3 hours before you make the stuffed peppers.
Ma’s recipe for tomato sauce will make enough for this recipe.
This is her sauce recipe if you want to use fresh tomatoes.

                       Stuffed Peppers

Serves 6

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan               

6 red bell peppers
Cut around the stems to remove them.
Cut peppers in half length-wise, and remove the seeds and ribs inside the peppers. 
Place the pepper halves on the baking pan.

Place in a large pot
2 pounds lean ground beef or lean ground pork (or lean ground chicken or a mixture)
Fry, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
4 Cups tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon pepper
Simmer 20 minutes.
1 Cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry with paper towel
4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Stir until everything is well combined.

Preheat oven to 450º  
Scoop about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture into each pepper half.

Have on hand 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle over each pepper half
About 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Bake about 30 minutes, until cheese is melted, and lightly golden brown.

Serve on a bed of rice or with pasta.
Have some extra sauce and cheese for everyone to add to the rice or pasta.
Roasted potatoes would also go well with the green peppers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Anna Sultana's Timbale - Pasta Casserole, Maltese Style

No doubt about it, winter is coming.
It’s getting cold.
To stay warm we have to burn calories.
Try to exist on salads and you’ll freeze to death.

Nope, carbohydrates are what we need now.
Ah….. carbohydrates!
Back in February, 2010, I compared Carmela's Baked Ziti to Ma's Timpana.
In those days my posts weren't very heavy on actual instructions.

I would write lines like 

Maltese cooking is heavy on simple carbs. Maltese go beyond simple into downright retarded. A pan filled with macaroni is not enough starch. Oh, no. What makes a Timpana unique is it is baked like an apple pie.

A recipe that’s similar to Timpana is Timbale.
It has the same amount of starch, but more vegetables.
And it is perfect for when eggplants are on sale.


About the macaroni…
Usually Ma used ziti.
Sometimes penne.
In a pinch, elbow.
You want something that can be filled by the sauce. 
Spaghetti would just lay there.
Not a good thing.

When laying the eggplant in the bundt pan start from the centre of the pan so that a part of the slice will hang outside the pan. 


Serves 5 - 6

Wash and trim the ends from
2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound)
Slice them lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick.
Place the slices in a colander or on a large cookie sheet.
Sprinkle them with 
Let drain for 30 minutes to remove bitterness.
Rinse the eggplants and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 350º
Lightly coat the slices with
Extra Virgin olive oil
Place them on the cookie sheets.
Bake them for 10 minutes at 350º.  
Set them aside.

While the eggplant is baking, cube
1/2 pound mortadella
1 pound mozzarella
Set aside.

In a dutch oven pour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Fry until translucent.
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
Fry until lightly browned.
Remove excess fat.
1/2 pound peas
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon salt, more or less
Cover and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, in a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
1 pound macaroni, about
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta, run it under cold water, drain again and return it to the pot.
Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce.

Line a 10" x 5" bundt pan with all of the eggplant slices.
Add half of the pasta followed by half of the meat sauce.
Sprinkle with half of the cubed mortadella and mozzarella.
1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated  

Add the remaining half of the pasta followed by the meat sauce.
Sprinkle with the remaining cubed mortadella and mozzarella.
1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated 
Flip the part of the eggplant slices that is hanging over the rim of the pan over the pasta / cheese mixture.

Preheat oven to 375º           
Bake for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool 15 minutes.
Invert over serving platter.

Timbale is best served hot.
But it is also delicious cold and is great for picnics.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Anna Sultana's Soppa Qara - Pumpkin Soup, Maltese Style

Pumpkin has suddenly become THE FLAVOUR.
So much that pumpkins that used to sell for a dime a pound have tripled in price.
Okay, they’re still cheaper than prime rib roasts.
But there is a bit of sticker shock.

So people who would’ve normally tossed their Halloween decorations are now thinking of getting some kind of meal out of their jack o’ lantern.
Don’t panic.  That is really easy to do.
Make soup.  

Maltese can make soup out of just about everything.
And pumpkin is an old favourite.

Looking for more soups that use pumpkin?


When it comes to seasoning, suit yourself.
Ma usually used a bit of salt and pepper.
If you believe pumpkin needs pumpkin spices, fine.
You could experiment with allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg.

                        Soppa Qara

Preheat oven to 350º

3 pounds pumpkin
2 apples
2  potatoes
Place slices in a roasting pan and drizzle lightly with
Extra Virgin olives oil
Roast until slightly charred, about 20 minutes.

In a large pot place
2 tablespoons lard or butter or oil - your choice
1 onion, diced
Fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
3 cloves garlic, diced
Fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

3 Cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
Bring to a boil, then let simmer 30 minutes.
Run through a blender for a smooth consistency.
Add more stock if you’d like a thinner soup.
Check for seasoning.

Crusty bread and a green salad go well with the soup.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Full Moon / Beaver Moon by Margaret Ullrich

On Saturday we set our clocks back.
Around here it was a big whoop.

I guess one's reaction to Daylight Savings Time depends on where one lives.
Here in Manitoba it just means that it’s dark when we have breakfast and just as dark when we have supper.
Not great for energy, either personal or consumption.
Well, someone thought it was a good idea.

Before I get any comments on my saying this is a Full Beaver Moon…
In some parts of North America, this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. 
I think this name was for folks a bit south of us.
Shallow water here is hard as a rock.
And we’re having a mild Autumn (so far) this year.

Others say that Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. 
Again, they must be southern beavers.
Sometimes we’ve had white Halloweens.
I’d like to think beavers have more sense than candy craving kids have.

It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.
Ah, yes, well, that sounds about right.
We're definitely having frost nights and, as I said, we're having a mild Autumn.

About Thursday’s full moon in Taurus…
According to the folks at

The full Moon in Taurus makes everyone crave sensuality in all its forms; the three days leading up to this are some of the best moments of the month to indulge.

Well, that explains our candy craving since Halloween.

Should you follow your feelings or remain completely practical in your approach? 
You'll likely find your answer somewhere in between.
On Thursday you have only one mission: listen to your body talk. 
You will definitely experience some deep, fully awakened desires this week.

Taurus energy is intentionally slow.  But at this luscious full Moon, that very slowness can be a tantalizing invitation to enjoy every single moment of intimacy. 
Food, scent and gentle touch should all play a role now. Only the loveliest scented candles will do. You might want to draw a bath for your partner, or make a ridiculously delicious, slow-cooked meal redolent of spices and herbs.  Sensuality totally rules!

Hmmm…. about that Beaver Moon….  

Are you feeling pressured to spend money that you don't want to spend?  Pay attention to the insights you receive, and take a clear-eyed look at your financial life. 

Given that loyalty is a signature trait of Taurus, keep in mind that being loyal to yourself is just as important as supporting others

Ah, yes, feeling pressured to spend money...
on to shopping for Christmas!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Anna Sultana's Biskuttini tar-Rahal #2 (Village biscuits / Maltese Style Cookies)

About four years ago I posted Ma’s recipe for Biskuttini tar-Raħal.
It’s a very simple recipe and the cookies are perfect served with a cup of tea.
A friend asked if there was another recipe for Biskuttini.
Is Malta an island?  
Of course there’s more than one recipe.

About the name… Biskuttini tar-Raħal means Village Biscuits.
But they are really light spiced cookies. 
Do not serve this as a bread with a stew.
Although they would be nice as a dessert.

They are also called Christening Biscuits because they were served during special occasions, such as christening parties. 
Then they would be decorated with swirls or lines of pink icing on top for the christening of a baby girl, or pale blue for a boy.
I know that’s not politically correct, but this is an old recipe, when folks followed the pink and blue custom.
If you’d rather not start a fight, you can use yellow or green.


If you’d like to present your guests with different coloured cookies you can divide the icing into separate bowls and colour each bowl of icing with a different colour.

                        Biskuttini tar-Raħal

Makes about 36 cookies

Grease and flour 2 large cookie sheets
Preheat oven to 350º 

Sift together into a bowl
2 1/2 Cups flour         
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 teaspoons ground aniseed
1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place on a plate
1 Cup flour

In a large mixing bowl place
1 1/4 Cups sugar
4 large eggs
Beat until mixture is thick and light in colour.
the flour / spice mixture
4 teaspoons grated lemon rind
4 teaspoons orange blossom water
2 teaspoons vanilla
Blend until the mixture forms into a soft dough.

Scoop the dough with a spoon and place on the plate of flour.
Roll the dough ball to form a neat round ball.
Place the ball on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining dough, leaving about an inch between the cookies on the sheet.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until they are golden.
Cool on racks.

Royal Icing

In a medium bowl combine
1 2/3 Cups confectioner’s sugar        
2 Tablespoons warm water
a few drops of food colouring
You want the icing to be slightly runny.

Decorate the cookies with a drizzle of Royal Icing.