A Little Mistletoe Trivia

Mistletoe has several origin stories. One story purports that the favorite Christmastime plant is used to remember the fallen son of the Norse God, Thor.

Baldur was uniquely paranoid. The poor guy awoke one day to think the entire animal and plant kingdoms had huge, murderous vendettas against him. In desperation, his mother and wife went on a quest to apologize to each and every animal and plant on planet earth. Unfortunately, the pair neglected to appease the mighty mistletoe and Baldur was swiftly killed by an arrow made from the wood of a mistletoe plant. According to this origin tale, the acts of placing Mistletoe above doorways and kissing beneath the plant, remind us to never forget.

Another origin tale goes back to ancient Druids who viewed the plant as a symbol of luck and fertility. The plant was believed to be magical and was hung above doorways. In any case, mistletoe is now commonly used to get and give kisses.

Washington Irving said it best: The “Young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under [mistletoe], plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”

This probably holds true to everyone who uses the Christmas plant exclusively for smooches.

For more info – Mistletoe: The Evolution of a Christmas Tradition

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Pork Crown Roast Recipe

 

Pork Crown Roast with Apricot Apple Stuffing by Lynette Duke. She described it as “The crowning achievement for my Christmas dinner.”

A crown roast is usually done with lamb, veal, or pork. It is called a crown because it is two rib racks (usually 12 ribs from one pork loin) that are bent into a circle and then tied together with kitchen twine.   Read More and Click for Recipe

Tapioca Recipe

Tapioca (Portuguese pronunciation: [tɐpiˈɔkɐ]) is a starch extracted from Manioc (Manihot esculenta). This species is native to the Northeast of but spread throughout the South American continent. The plant was spread by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to most of the West Indies, Africa and Asia, including the Philippines and Taiwan, being now cultivated worldwide.

In Brazil, the plant (cassava) is named “mandioca”, while its starch is called “tapioca”. The name tapioca is derived from the word tipi’óka, the name for this starch in the Tupí language, which was spoken by the natives when the Portuguese first arrived in the Northeast of Brazil. This Tupí word refers to the process by which the starch is made edible.

Look at the instructions on the package of tapioca that you buy. Some small pearl tapioca requires overnight soaking in water. If your package has that requirement, reduce the milk in the recipe to 2 1/2 cups from 3 cups.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca (you can usually find it in the baking section of the grocery store, do not use instant tapioca)
  • 3 cups whole milk (or skim milk with cream added)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

See Directions

Celebrating Kwanzaa with Healthy Recipes

Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday which began in 1966 by its Founder, Dr. Maulana Karenga.  It is celebrated by over 5 million African Americans from December 26th through January 1st, and climaxes with a glorious feast.   There are seven principles of Kwanzaa, including:  Umoja (Unity) Kujichagulia (Self-determination),Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose),  Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).  To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit the official website at:www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/

On December 31, the second to last day of Kwanzaa, families prepare a lavish feast.  Drawing on the theme of black culture and unity, cuisines that originate from countries in the Caribbean, Africa, and South America are prepared.

You can enjoy a variety of the wonderfully diverse flavors of cuisine from the African Diaspora and still have a healthy feast.

Main Dishes:

Curry is a blend of Indian spices and typically contains turmeric, coriander, chillies, cumin, mustard, ginger, fenugreek, garlic, cloves, salt, and any number of other spices depending upon whether it is yellow or red curry.  In the Caribbean, yellow curry is used in dishes most prevalently.  This Caribbean Pork Curry recipe uses lean pork tenderloin: Click Here for Recipe

This Moroccan inspired steak with sweet potatoes is not your ordinary steak and potato meal. Filled with flavorful spices such as allspice, cumin, ginger, salt, cinnamon, coriander and cayenne, this recipe is sure to have your taste buds humming. . Click Here for Recipe

A traditional Kwanzaa feast is not complete without a dish that contains black-eyed peas.  Try this southern pasta salad with black-eyed peas recipe as a main course.  Its healthy and very tasty. Click Here for Recipe

Sides:

Rice and peas—or is it peas and rice? Depending on which West Indian country you are from, this popular side dish is a very typical fare that’s served with some sort of meat or fish. Although it’s called rice and peas, there aren’t actually any peas in the dish.  Bean are cooked with the rice such as red kidney or black eyed peas depending on your taste. Click Here for Recipe  

Stewed okra and tomatoes is a dish that leads back to Creole heritage.  West African slaves introduced okra to the Caribbean and U.S. around the 1700’s and then the Creoles in Louisiana learned to thicken soups with okra in gumbo.

Click Here for Recipe

Another delicious side dish is sweet potato casserole.  This recipe uses honey and freshly grated orange zest instead of your traditional stick of butter that is loaded in fat and calories. Click Here for Recipe

Desserts:

Bananas in Brown Sugar-Rum Sauce is a simple yet delicious recipe that surprisingly contains only 3 grams of fat.  Click Here for Recipe

If you’re looking for a no-bake dessert recipe to complement your Kwanzaa meal, this tropical fruits with pistachios & coconut will do the trick.  Click Here for Recipe 

France: How to Make a Roux

roux

Roux ( /ˈruː/) is a cooking mixture of wheat flour and fat (traditionally butter). It is the thickening agent of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: béchamel sauce, velouté sauce and espagnole sauce. Clarified butter, vegetable oils, or lard are commonly used fats. It is used as a thickener for gravy, other sauces, soups and stews. It is typically made from equal parts of flour and fat by weight. When used in Italian food, roux is traditionally equal parts of butter and flour. In Cajun cuisine, roux is almost always made with oil instead of butter and dark brown in color, which lends much richness of flavor, albeit less thickening power. Hungarian cuisine uses lard (in its rendered form) or—more recently—vegetable oil instead of butter for the preparation of roux (which is called rántás in Hungarian).

 

The fat is heated in a pot or pan, melting it if necessary. Then the flour is added. The mixture is stirred until the flour mixing rouxis incorporated and then cooked until at least the point where a raw flour taste is no longer apparent and the desired color has been reached. The final color can range from nearly white to nearly black, depending on the length of time it is over the heat and its intended use. The end result is a thickening and flavoring agent.

 
Roux is most often made with butter as the fat base, but it may be made with any edible fat. In the case of meat gravies, fat rendered from meat is often used. In regional American cuisine, bacon is sometimes rendered to produce fat to use in the roux. If clarified butter is not available, vegetable oil is often used when producing dark roux, as it does not burn at high temperatures, as whole butter does.

 
When combining roux with water-based liquids, such as broth or milk, it is important that these liquids are not excessively hot. It is preferable to add room temperature, or warm, roux into a moderately hot or warm liquid, or vice versa. To ensure the desired viscosity, they should be added in small quantities while stirring, briefly bringing the temperature up to boiling. Otherwise, the mixture will contain lumps.

 

Watch 45 Sec Lesson on How to Make a Roux

History of Marzipan- An International Favorite

The German name has largely ousted the original English name marchpane with the same apparent derivation: “March bread.” Marzapane is marzipandocumented earlier in Italian than in any other language, and the sense “bread” for pan is Romance. The origin could be from the Latin term “martius panis”, which means bread of march. However, the ultimate etymology is unclear; for example, the Italian word derives from the Latin words “Massa” (itself from Greek Μάζα “Maza”) meaning pastry and “Panem” meaning bread, this can be particularly seen in the Provençal massapan, the Portuguese maçapão (where ‘ç’ is an alternative form for the phoneme ‘ss’) and old Spanish mazapan – the change from ‘ss’ to ‘z’ in Latin words was common in old Spanish and the ‘r’ appeared later.

What is Marzipan?

Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar and almond meal. It derives its characteristic flavor from bitter almonds, which constitute up to 12% of the total almond content by weight. Some marzipan is also flavored with rosewater. Persipan is a similar, yet less expensive product, for which the almonds are replaced by apricot or peach kernels. In Goa (formerly Portuguese India) almonds are replaced by cashews. Many confectionery products sold as marzipan are made from less expensive materials, such as Soy paste and almond essence. German marzipan is made by grinding whole almonds with sugar and partially drying the paste, and French marzipan is made by combining ground almonds with sugar syrup. Spanish marzipan is made without bitter almonds.

The History

There are proposed two lines for its origin; they are not necessarily contradictory but can be complementary, as there have always been Mediterranean trade and cooking influences. In both cases, there is a reason to believe that there is a clear Arabic influence for historical reasons (both regions were under Muslim control). Other sources establish the origin of marzipan in China, from where the recipe moved on to the Middle East and then to Europe through Al-Andalus.READ MORE

Apricot Snowballs Recipe

Apricot Snowballs

Apricot Snowballs is a popular Christmas recipe. Learn how to make/prepare Apricot Snowballs by following this easy recipe.

 

Ingredients:
• 225 gms Dried Apricots
• 1-1/2 cups Coconut (flaked)
• 2 tbsp Confectioner’s Sugar
• 2 tsp Orange Juice

How to make Apricot Snowballs:
• Crush apricots in a food grinder.
• Now add with coconut, orange juice and confectioners’ sugar.
• Shape into small balls and smear in sugar.
• Keep in a tightly covered vessel.

MCCN Recommends Indobase.com for More Great Recipe!

A Dashing of Christmas Card History

Christmas CardSir Henry Cole started the custom of sending Christmas Cards in 1843. A Civil Servant based in the U.K., Cole developed the holiday card idea with a friend, John Horsley. The two men designed the first card depicting people helping the poor and a family enjoying a large Christmas Dinner.

The first Christmas Cards sold for 1 shilling each. Those cards are now very rare and very valuable. The cards were first sent via the Public Post Office and gained popularity when printing methods improved and postage dropped.

Christmas Cards made their way to the United States during the late 1840’s. It wasn’t until 1875 when Germany’s Louis Prang began the mass production of cards, that everyone in the United States (besides the rich) was able to participate in exchanging seasonal greetings.

Early Christmas cards featured Nativity Scenes, flowers, children, and plants. Modern day cards are now very creative with tunes, 3-D pop-ups, and anything you can imagine. The popularity of Christmas Cards may never go away, but during the 2013 Christmas Season, the world was hit with a new phenomenon: The Viral Christmas Greeting Video.

For more information on the origin of Christmas Cards check out WhyChristmas.com.

Mexican holiday punch: Ponche navideño

mexconnect.com-In addition to being served in Mexican homes during the Christmas and New Year holiday poncheseason, hot Mexican holiday punch, or ponche navideño is sold at night by street vendors who ladle it out from steaming cylindrical vats. The tejocote is a small fruit, golden in color when mature, similar in taste to an apple, but with a pastier texture. It is not easily found outside of Mexico, but apples make a good substitute. In Michoacan, a piece of beet is often added instead of jamaica to color the punch.

Ingredients

  • ¾ pound small apples or tejocotes, peeled and sliced
  • 10 guavas, halved
  • ½ pound raisins or prunes or a mixture of both
  • 6 oranges, scrubbed and sliced with rind
  • 1 cup jamaica (dried hibiscus) flowers
  • 4 pieces sugar cane stalk, peeled and cut into strips (see note)
  • 3 sticks cinnamon, each about 6 inches long
  • 7 quarts water
  • sugar to taste (the usual proportion is 1/3 cup to each quart of water)
  • brandy, rum or wine to taste (optional)

See Directions