Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So this is Christmas....  

As the holidays approach we can take some time to reflect and let the past year settle in our minds.  It can easily become a harried time of year, running to and fro, getting things done, and so on. I like to take time to totally stop, breathe out, maybe have tea by the Christmas tree and reflect in 
preparation for the new year......

This has been a busy December for my elf friends and me.  The head elf around here is my personal designer, she has been working on a couple of secret projects but also a few I can share.......

Every week she volunteers at a preschool.  She made each student and teacher in the class an angel peg doll ornament.  She attempted to capture each child's personality and looks.  The children and teachers loved them!!

We also hosted a lovely little party!  The guests had a pleasant time decorating candles by the light of the tree, exchanging gifts and enjoying snacks.  

The snowflakes we cut out and hung make me smile every time I see them dancing above my head in the kitchen!  They are so joyful!!!

My main culinary expedition of the month was poached pears!!!  They have always been somewhere on the list of fancy, elegant things I aspire to make somewhere along my journey 
of culinary exploration.  

I was absolutely ignorant about the secret lives of poached pears!   The ingredients for the syrup are mostly my on design. I browsed many recipes and chose the ingredients and proportions which seemed logical, then while cooking I added more spur-of-the-moment ideas that bubbled out of the pot!  

Hope you enjoy!!!!!  

- - - - - Pizzazzy Poached Pears - - - - - 


* 4 pears
* 3 cups apple cider
* 3/4 scant cups sugar (we use cane sugar)
* a few slices fresh ginger
* lemon rind and the juice therein 
* 2 cinnamon sticks 
* 20 whole cloves
* some raspberries for later

*  Peel pears, leaving them whole with stem on (do not let them 
   sit out too long because they will get chilled and 
   become distempered).  Pit them by inserting spoon from below 
   and carve out the seeds (do not skip this step!). 

*  Mix cider and sugar in a medium saucepan (measure 
   pan beforehand to find one that the pears can lie in 
   with some breathing room).  Heat until sugar dissolves, 
   then carefully add pears.  The syrup will be hot,
   do not splash!

*  Add the ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and carve 
   off a few slices of lemon rind and toss in!  Squeeze as 
   much lemon juice as you think you might enjoy and return 
   to heat.  Cover with a piece of parchment paper to 
   seal in the moisture and simmer for approx. 
   20 minutes or until they are soft and you can 
   easily insert a fork. 

*  When they are pleasantly soft carefully spoon them out onto a 
   dish leaving a liberal coating of liquid on them.  Place the 
   dish into the oven on the lowest setting.  

*  Continue to cook the syrup down at a simmer to your desired 
   consistency.  I cooked mine for approx. 20 minutes....I think.  
   Be aware, the syrup will set up a bit after you remove it from 
   the heat.  A few minutes before removing from the heat add a 
   nice handful of raspberries (frozen are fine!) for color 
   and a bit of pizzazz!

*  Remove pears from the oven and serve with the syrup 
   spooned over top and a dollop of yogurt on 
   the side!!! YUM!!! 

Regardless of our religions or beliefs, this is a great time of year to reflect, regroup and replenish.  It is a perfect opportunity to reach out in a compassionate gesture, and warm someone's heart in the bleak mid-winter.  It is a time of year that helps me to realize how important my life and the things that round it out are; a time when I realize how much I cherish the lights that guide me along my path through life.  

So, I would like to extend to Everyone Wishes of Joy and Peace!! 

Happy Holidays!!!