It's not unusual at Christmastime for parents and grandparents to reminisce about the good old days. Many of those memories are attached to a certain food. Holiday recipes gathered from our relatives for pies, cakes, cookies and candies conjure up sweet memories.
At a recent event at Mayfair Village, ITNBluegrass — a non-profit that provides rides for the elderly and sight-impaired — asked volunteers and residents to share favorite holiday recipes. They were compiled in a booklet, Stirring Up Holiday Memories.
Jean Owens, who uses the services of ITNBluegrass, contributed a recipe for the Lowe family cake, a whiskey cake, and shared her holiday story.
When Owens and her sister Pat Dubus were growing up, their father was a construction worker who built power plants.
Never miss a local story.
"Our family moved so often, we did not think of ourselves as having traditions. We always had a great Christmas, but if we did anything two years in a row, it became traditional," she said.
"In 1978, I was a new widow, living in Texas, and my sister was a single mother with four children, living in Massachusetts. We wanted to establish a new tradition.
Their parents were living in Fishville, La., and the two sisters decided to start going there every year for Christmas.
"We always got home on Pappy's birthday (Dec. 23), and that first year Fernie (their mother) made the whiskey cake for his birthday, and then every year after that," Owens said. "After Pappy died, the cake became my birthday cake. Now that Fernie is gone, I still make the cake."The Lowe family cake
½ pound butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
4 cups flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whiskey
1 quart pecans
½ pound chopped dates
½ pound chopped cherries
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Add 3¾ cups flour, baking powder and nutmeg, alternating with whiskey. Coat nuts and fruit with remaining 1/4 cup flour and add to flour mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into cake batter. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.
Charlotte Lander said this recipe was given to her by Katie McBrayer, wife of former University of Kentucky All-American and assistant basketball coach Paul McBrayer. "Every time the UK basketball players, from the 1938-1943 era, had a reunion for Coach McBrayer, Mrs. McBrayer provided the Irish cream. These reunions continued until Coach McBrayer's death in 1999," Lander said.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pint half-and-half
11⁄3 cups bourbon
Chocolate syrup, to taste
½ teaspoon instant coffee
Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator.
Ann C. Purple found this recipe for applesauce nut bread in a Parents magazine in the 1950s.
"I have used it sliced thin with cream cheese and served at tea. It is almost good enough for dessert. However, I first made it as a Christmas bread and shared it with friends. The entire family would call on friends and sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas and have a visit. It was wonderful to take time during the busy season for this simple ritual," Purple said.
Applesauce nut bread
1 large orange
½ cup raisins
1 cup applesauce
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped nuts
2 tablespoons melted butter
Squeeze juice from orange and set aside. In a food processor, using a medium blade, grind orange rind and raisins.
In a large bowl, combine juice, rind, raisins and applesauce. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Add fruit mixture and nuts. Mix thoroughly. Beat egg and add it with the melted butter to the applesauce mixture, stirring until thoroughly blended. Pour into large greased loaf pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. It's best the day after baking.
"Every year at Christmas, I made enough candy to give as gifts to my family and friends," Jackie Erwin said. "I thought about not doing it this year, but this is a Christmas tradition I just wasn't ready to give up."
5 cups sugar
5 tablespoons white Karo syrup
1 teaspoon salt
11/2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons orange, lemon or peppermint flavoring, optional
1⁄3 pound butter
Semisweet chocolate for dipping
In a large saucepan, add sugar, syrup, salt, boiling water and flavoring if using. Stir until dissolved. Cover and cook to soft-ball stage (240 degrees). Place butter in a crock and pour candy over it. Let cool, then beat with mixer until creamy. Work into balls and store several days in an airtight container before dipping. Dip in melted semisweet chocolate.
"This quick and easy recipe is simple and simply delicious," said Betty Dickey. It was given to me by a good friend and has been very popular with my family and friends."
Chocolate chip peanut butter squares
2 rolls refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 cups chunky peanut butter
Flatten 1 roll of cookie dough in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Spread with peanut butter, then top with a second roll of cookie dough, broken into chunks. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Do not overbake. Leave it moist and creamy.
Mary Carpenter's family favorite is pecan pie.
Utterly deadly Southern pecan pie
1 cup sugar
1¼ cups Southern cane syrup
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups pecans, coarsely broken
1 unbaked pie shell
In a medium saucepan, boil sugar and syrup together for 2 to 3 minutes. In a bowl, beat eggs and pour slowly into hot syrup; add butter, vanilla and pecans. Pour into an uncooked pie shell and bake in a moderate oven until set, about 45 minutes.
Rum cake is a holiday tradition with Noi Doyle's family.
Christmas rum cake
1 package yellow cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
½ cup oil or melted butter
½ cup water
½ cup rum
½ to 1 cup broken pecans, optional
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except nuts, if using. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle with nuts. Pour in batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Leave in pan. While cake is baking, make rum sauce.
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup rum
¼ cup butter
In a saucepan, bring sugar, water, rum and butter to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Pour sauce over hot cake while cake is still in the pan. Let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.