Place plastic wrap or wax paper that a bit larger than the pan over the dough.
Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough evenly in the pan. Or you can use your fingers.
Lightly score the dough with a fork into square or strip shapes (optional).
In a small bowl place
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon water
Beat until frothy.
Brush the egg mixture over the dough.
1/2 Cup sliced almonds
Dutch kandij (see hints),or crystallized or regular sugar
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until very lightly browned.
Remove from oven and, using a sharp knife, cut immediately into squares or strips.
Leave them on the pan(s) to cool thoroughly so they don't lose their shape.
These cookies taste better when they are thoroughly cooled.
About the sky for the rest of December, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…
December 18 - New Moon at 1:30 a.m. The Moon is completely invisible to the naked eye. Incidentally, this new moon ushers in the longest lunar month of the 21st century (2001 to 2100). A lunar month is the period of time between new Moons. The New Moon is at apogee, its farthest point from Earth in its orbit. Need an easy way to remember? (A)pogee = (A)way.
December 20-23 - Nature’s annual holiday light show, the Ursid meteor showers, are at their peak. Visible from the north all night, these meteor showers generally produce anywhere from 5 to 15 meteors per hour at their peak (usually on the first full night of winter, Dec. 22). They are the dusty debris left behind in the orbit of Comet Tuttle. There have been a few occasions when the Ursids have surprised observers with a sudden outburst many times their normal hourly rate (over 100 per hour in 1945), but such cases are very few and far between.
December 21 - Winter officially begins at 11:28 a.m. with the Winter Solstice. The Sun reaches its farthest point south of the celestial equator so it’s the shortest day of the year in terms of sunrise to sunset. The good news is that the days will start getting longer from here!
December 29 - Before sunrise, look to the southeast sky to see Mercury (hugging the horizon), Jupiter, higher in the sky, and Mars directly above Jupiter.
December 30 - The Moon occults Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus.
December 4 - The nearly-full waning gibbous Moon is at perigee, its closest point to Earth in its orbit.
December 7 - Earliest sunset of 2017 at 40º N. latitude. This comes come some 2 weeks before the winter solstice, not on the solstice as you might think!
December 8 - Look eastward after midnight to see the waning gibbous Moon paired up with the star Regulus. Regulus will be sitting above the Moon.
December 11-13 - Bundle up for the annual Geminid Meteor Showers! These showers will peak on December 13th. Normally one could expect up to see up to 120 meteors hourly with this display, but the Moon’s brilliant light will likely obliterate all but the very brightest meteors. Regardless, they’re considered the best meteor showers of the year and it’s worth taking a look.
The radiant - that spot in the sky where the meteors will appear to emanate - lies just below and to the right of the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini (hence the name, “Geminids”). Best viewing after midnight when the radiant point is high in the sky, until dawn, no matter where you are.
It seems to me that the flood of Christmas-themed movies begin earlier every year.
This year they began right after our Thanksgiving, and, to be honest, I don’t know where they find these movies.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s the same movie and they just changed the intro and end credits.
Oh, well, they’re a bit of mindless fluff to have playing in the background while we plow through our holiday baking.
One Christmas favourite I’m actually looking forward to seeing is the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, which was based on Jean Shepherd's stories about his childhood.
If you haven’t seen it, it takes place in the 1940s, and is about a boy who is desperate to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.
I know, a kid wants a gun for Christmas… well, trust me, it’s a nice movie, filled with scenes that bring back a lot of memories of how kids really are, especially as Christmas is getting closer.
The film also has quite a bit of food in it.
Ralphie tries to bribe his teacher with a huge fruit basket.
The family’s Christmas turkey is devoured by the neighbour’s dogs, and the family has to go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner.
And then there’s Randy, Ralphie’s kid brother, who is refusing to eat dinner.
Apparently he hasn’t eaten voluntarily in over three years.
There he sits, pushing his food around, muttering:
Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double beetloaf. I hate meatloaf.
Don’t worry, his Mom has a way to make him eat his meatloaf.
No crying, no bloodshed. She’s THAT good.
In honour of this paragon of motherhood, I usually make a meatloaf dinner around this time of year. Since Ralphie’s family doesn’t look Italian, let alone Maltese, I use the German recipes Ma made when her American sister-in-law came by.
Aunt Liz never quite knew what to make of a hard boiled egg in a meatloaf.
Ma served the meatloaf with red cabbage and mashed potatoes.
And, when you’re eating like the family in A Christmas Story, the German recipes are more proper than either Mediterranean twinkie meatloaf.
About the sky this week and next, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…
November 18 - New Moon at 6:42 a.m. The Moon is completely invisible.
November 20 - Look for Saturn in the southwest after dusk, about 40 minutes after sunset. Catch it early; the ringed planet sets more than an hour after dark at the beginning of the month, but before the end of evening twilight by November 30th. This evening, look about 10° above the west-southwest horizon to sight a slender sliver of a crescent Moon. Mercury will also be hovering near the west-southwest horizon, directly below the Moon and Saturn.
November 23 - Look to the west after sunset to see Mercury right below Saturn. Mercury is usually difficult to spot but now it’s at its greatest elongation from the Sun so it’s a good time to see this “elusive” planet.
It was cooked in the 17th century by German colonists who settled in Pennsylvania.
Well, Pennsylvania is New York’s neighbour, and, like all good neighbours, the folks there shared the recipe with the folks in New York.
College Point, a town in the borough of Queens, New York, was home to Irish and German families in the 1950s.
I don’t know if Ma learned the recipe for scrapple from a German neighbour or a co-worker at Lily Tulip, but learn it she did.
And of course she gave it her own touches.
The original Scrapple recipe was a way to use up pork scraps (including head, brains, heart, liver and skin) which were boiled with the bones.
After discarding the bones, the bits of meat were then simmered with cornmeal, wheat or buckwheat flour, onions, and spices like sage and thyme.
Okay… that was the original recipe.
Ma found that the holidays usually left her with turkey, rather than pork, carcasses.
Being Ma, she wasn’t about to let those bits and bones go to waste.
So she made turkey scrapple.
The holidays are coming up.
Why not file this recipe in your holiday survival file?
If your large pot and its lid are oven proof, place it, covered, in a 350º F oven for 2 hours to simmer the carcass.
Don’t have a food processor? A blender - or sharp knives - will do.
If, while it’s baking, some of the crust sticks to the side of the pot, scrape and stir the bits back into the scrapple.
You can coat the slices with flour before frying to make it crustier.
Scrape the bits of meat off the bones
Place in a large pot
Turkey bones, wings, scraped bits and skin
5 cups water
Simmer for 2 hours.
Drain the broth into a measuring cup.
You want to have 4 Cups of liquid (you can top it off with water).
Discard the skin and bones.
Place the turkey in a food processor and grind - you want to have 4 Cups of meat.
Grease well a small roaster or Dutch oven
Preheat oven 350º F
In a large bowl combine
1 Cup cornmeal
1/4 Cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sage or thyme (or a mixture)
the ground turkey meat
the broth / water mixture
Pour the mixture into the greased roaster or pot.
Bake for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Put the mixture into 2 loaf pans.
Cover with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator.
Slice into half inch thick slices and pan fry in butter or oil over medium heat until golden brown.
Serve with eggs and toast at breakfast with apple butter, ketchup, mustard, honey, jelly or maple syrup.
It’s also good served hot, as is.
About the sky next week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…
November 12-14 - About 45 minutes before sunrise, look to the east-southeast horizon to see an incredible planetary pairing: Jupiter and Venus will appear spectacularly close together, rising side by side on the morning of November 13th.
Make sure that your view is free of any tall obstructions such as buildings or trees. Both planets will appear quite low to the horizon, so you’ll need a nice “wide-open” view.
North Taurids Meteor Shower are expected to peak at this time, with the best viewing is from 12 - 2 a.m. local time; and good news— the sky will be nice and dark due to the tiny waning crescent Moon.
The Taurids are actually two annual meteor showers created by the comet Encke. They are named for constellation Taurus, where they are seen to come from in the sky (near the Pleiades). But they can be spotted anywhere (simply look up!).
November 14 – 15 - Look to the east, one hour before sunrise, to see the tiny sliver of a waning crescent Moon paired up with the planet Mars. On the 14th, the Moon is above Mars; on the 15th, it is below it. Closer to the horizon you will find Jupiter and Venus.
November 17 -18 - The Leonids Meteor Showers peak. Best viewing time is between midnight and 5:30 a.m. local time. This meteor shower, named for the constellation Leo, is typically one of the more exciting showers of the year, producing an average of 20-30 meteors per hour. And it should be nice and dark this year as the Moon is in the new (dark) phase.