LAST NIGHT OF CHANUKAH – CHRISTMAS EVE

Merry-Christmas-Animated-image

 

 

Chanukah is coming to an end tonight. I am always sad to see it end. I love holidays. But, Christmas is making it’s entrance tonight. A thought just came into my mind…Jewish holidays always begin the night before it says on the common calendar because our holidays always begin at sundown. Is this why Christians celebrate Christmas Eve? Does anyone know? I’d be interested to learn why. Anyhow, this is not the topic I chose for today. I am choosing the topic of violence and war. I just learned about the execution-style killing of two New York police officers and the Berkeley, Missouri fatal shooting of a black teen. To the family of these people, I offer my sincerest sympathy.

I also read that there is a project of delivering cookies to police precincts in support of our peace keepers. Isn’t that the role of police, after all? To protect the people and keep the peace. Unfortunately, many people don’t see police that way at all. Police, historically, have endured bad reputations, and in many cases they are well deserved. But, on the whole, police are like everyone else. There are good cops and bad cops. They have a hard job to do and their lives are in danger everyday. I wouldn’t want their job, that’s for sure. I have known many police officers as I took a police science course and a course in penology in college and met many there. In my role, many, many years ago as a probation-parole officer, I worked with many police officers. I am glad to say I never met one I didn’t respect. Yes, there is a difference. I was a colleague and I am a white female. But even so, I saw how they related to my caseload. They gave their honest opinions on people. In most cases they were the same opinions that I had and I am a liberal do-gooder type of person, or try to be. I am a bit more conservative these days as I am older and have seen more in my life than I had seen in those days, and, truthfully, those days did color my opinions. I used to be against the death penalty in all cases. Now I am not so sure. I would be for the death penalty if there was no such thing as human error. My fear is that an innocent person would get the death penalty and perish unjustly. That is the only thing that holds me from not going totally pro in the death penalty debate. Anyhow, I would like to come out in support of this cookie project. I think it should be done not just at Christmas-time, but all year round. I think it’s appreciated most when it is not expected. I also think the same thing should be done for our fire-fighters, ambulance crews and postal workers. I know that after 9/11 I took donuts to our town’s ambulance crew and boy were they pleased. I figured that the fire-fighters would be the obvious for everyone to donate goodies to, so I wanted to let the EMTs know that they too were appreciated. It felt great to give to these people. So, maybe once a month or once every few months, do something for people in these essential professions. But, cookies were not my topic, back to the main thread of my thoughts…

There is war around the world in so many places, the Ukraine, Israel, Iraq, South Sudan and Syria, to name just a few. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could begin the Christmas season and New Year 2015 with world peace? I wonder if we start a cookie project as a friendship project world-wide if that would help. I doubt it. First of all, the cookies would probably be crumbled by the time they reach an ordinary person in say South Sudan. Would the recipient see the crumbled cookies as an insult and make things worse or would they see it as what it was meant to be, a token of friendship, but one that went wrong? Better would be to anonymously pay someone’s bill, but how would you get a name of a common person in Syria and know where to send your donation? What would your idea of taking a step towards peace be? Perhaps we need to begin in our own neighborhood. Perhaps there is a new immigrant down the street that you can give a gift of welcome to. Perhaps there is a person who is a different religion or race than you are that you have not offered friendship to. Perhaps you can rectify that situation and now offer that friendship to him/her/them. Send them a holiday card if you know what holiday they celebrate. I know it’s late, but my motto is “better late than never.” If we all decided to take just one step to rid ourselves of our own prejudices (yes, even I have one or two), that would make a difference in our world. It would be like giving the world a Chanukah or Christmas present. I think that would be awesome. I have to think about what I can do and when I have done it, I will let you know. I hope you will do the same. I would be interested in learning if this post has had any affect on you.

On to a different topic, one more in line with the Christmas season. I just read that archaeologists think they have discovered the location where Jesus taught. The discovery was made in the ancient town of Magdala — thought to be the hometown of Mary Magdalene — on the western shore of the sea of Galilee. Jesus is believed to have spent most of his life in the area. The site is an ancient synagogue. Isn’t that exciting! I just find archaeology fascinating. The priest who was interviewed for the article said that he can see the people sitting around studying the Torah. I can feel that somehow and I’m not even nearby. But I’d like to see it. I would have found it fascinating to attend one of Jesus’ study sessions. I do believe Jesus was a good Jew and was just ahead of his time. No, I do not believe he is the Messiah or god-like. But that’s because to believe so would go against my religious beliefs. I do believe he was a scapegoat used by the Romans to be an example. How horrible those leaders were. Death by crucifixion. What kind of monster thought of such a thing? I think that the Jesus we know via Christianity is a good role model for anyone. A man of compassion, a man of wisdom, a man of learning and a man of the people. There have been other great rabbis who also fit this description and many have been made scapegoats. So what is it that made Jesus different? That is the mystery I would like to see solved. I’d also like to know if he and Mary Magdalene were indeed married. I would like to believe so. After all, in the Jewish religion, rabbis are allowed to marry and are encouraged to do so, so why would Jesus not be married? And I’d hate to think of this nice, good man, all alone without a soul mate. I would also like to know what he would think of Christmas as we know it today. I think he would be proud to be celebrated, but at the same time, I’d think he’d be too humble of a man to be comfortable with it. I am sure he would like to see the celebration toned down a bit, but I’d have to disagree with him there. I love the hoopla that is Christmas. I love the decorations and the music, although both begin much too early in the retail world, at least here in the U.S. I love giving wrapped gifts. I love the cookies. I love the idea of what Christmas is supposed to bring, love, joy, hope and peace. I only wish it did. It seems this only happens on a family level, not a world-wide level as it is supposed to. But, like Chanukah, it at least brings families together and it breaks up the winter a bit. It also gives us a brief respite from reality and for many, it brings time off from work and gives one a mini-vacation which is always nice. And it gives me a chance to wish all of you a Merry, Healthy, Happy, Prosperous Christmas and New Year! To help along in your celebration and to help kick off the cookie project I am going to give you not one, but three cookie recipes. Hope you enjoy them. They are among my favorites!

 

 

 

marshmallow brownies

 

 

Home Cookin Chapter: MARILYN’S RECIPES

Gladys Gooding’s  Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

==================================================

Gladys Gooding, a friend from the Monroe County Branch of the New York State

Home Bureau, made this for our annual pot-luck picnic in August of 1994.

These bars were the hit of the picnic! I just fell in love with them. I have

not made this recipe yet. Gladys belonged to the Bayview Chapter and I

belonged to the Nosheri Too chapter, which I began. ~ Marilyn Sultar

Ingredients

BARS:

3/4 cup Margarine OR Butter

1 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar

3 large Eggs

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

3 tablespoons Baking Cocoa

1/2 cup Nuts; chopped

4 cups White Miniature Marshmallows

TOPPING:

1 1/3 cup Chocolate Chips

3 tablespoons Margarine OR Butter

1 cup Peanut Butter

2 cups Crisp Rice Cereal; (i.e. Rice Krispies)

Directions

BARS:

PREHEAT oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

GREASE 13“x9”x2″ pan.

Cream 3/4 cup butter and granulated sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat

until fluffy.

Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder salt and baking cocoa. Add to

creamed mixture. Stir in chopped nuts.

Spread batter into GREASED 13“x9x2” pan. Bake at 350° Fahrenheit for 15-18

minutes. Take pan out of oven and sprinkle marshmallows evenly over cake.

Return the cake to the oven for 2-3 minutes.

Using a knife dipped in water, spread the melted marshmallows evenly over the

cake. COOL.

TOPPING:

Combine chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter in a small saucepan. Cook

over LOW heat, stirring CONSTANTLY, until melted and well blended. Remove

from heat; stir in cereal. Spread over bars. Chill.

MARILYN’S NOTE: For the topping, I would combine chocolate chips, butter and

peanut butter in a MICROWAVE SAFE POT OR BIG BOWL. I would heat in microwave

for 1 minute on HIGH, stir and if not all melted and smooth, I would put into

microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until everything is melted

and smooth, and mixed together thoroughly.

Source: Gladys Gooding via Marilyn Sultar

Servings: 0

Exported from Home Cookin 8.59 (www.mountainsoftware.com)

 

 

 

 

snow-capped chocolate mint cookies

 

Home Cookin Chapter: MARILYN’S RECIPES

Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies

===============================

Chocolate Mint Snow-Top Cookies

These cookies are awesome and are one of Paul’s and my favorite cookies. We

can go through the entire batch of cookies in one sitting, if we let

ourselves!! I made these for the first time to take to Chuck and Sue

Ireland’s house for Christmas 1991. ~Marilyn Sultar

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Salt

1 (10-ounce) package (1 1/2 cups) Nestle Toll House Mint Flavored Semi-Sweet

Chocolate Morsels; divided

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) Butter; softened

1 cup Sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs

Confectionery Sugar

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Melt 1 cup of Nestle Toll House Mint Flavored Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

Cool for a minute.

(MARILYN’S NOTE: I melt mine in the microwave–HIGH for 1 minute. Unless you

know how long it takes you to melt chocolate in your microwave, start with 30

seconds and go up 10 seconds until melted.)

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add melted mint chocolate and vanilla;

beat in eggs. Add the flour mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup Nestle Toll

House Mint Flavored Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

Refrigerate dough for 1/2 hour–45 minutes covered with plastic wrap. (The

original recipe says to freeze for 20 minutes but I like the refrigerator

method better. But if you choose the freezer method, you have to wrap the

dough in plastic wrap–I didn’t want to be bothered.)

PREHEAT oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Shape dough into 1″ balls. Place on

UNGREASED cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven.

After you remove the cookies from the cookie sheet, while they are still

warm, roll them (top and bottom) in confectionery sugar. (MARILYN’S NOTE:

Recipe says to do the rolling in sugar before you bake them, but I roll after

they are cooled as if you roll them in the sugar before they cool, they don’t

come out as pretty–the sugar melts. If you do it after they are cooled, you

see the white of the sugar.)

Source: back of package of Nestle Toll House Mint Flavored Semi-Sweet

Chocolate Morsels via Marilyn Sultar

Servings: 0

Exported from Home Cookin 8.59 (www.mountainsoftware.com)

 

 

christmas-sugar-cookie-clipart-christmas-cookies-santa-eps-11713502

 

 

 

Home Cookin Chapter: MARILYN’S RECIPES

FRAN SCARMANACH’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS COOKIES

===========================================

These are a cakey cookie, which is one reason that they are my very favorite

cut-out cookie. The other is their incredible flavor! I have been making

these cookies since I was about 12 years old and this is my favorite cut-out

cookie recipe. I call these my Italian Christmas Cookies as the recipe came

from an Italian family friend who we used to visit every Christmas. In fact,

the husband was my father’s partner in a grocery store business called

Rabin’s on Park Avenue in Rochester, New York. Their names were Fran and Tony

Scarmanach. Their children were Tony Jr., Chrissie and Elaine. This is also a

favorite as all my high school friends and I would congregate one day a year

after ice skating at Cobbs Hill to bake and decorate these cookies. So they

became a real tradition for me. Of course our main goal was to eat them!!!

Ingredients

Cookies:

1 1/2 cups Shortening

2 cups Granulated Sugar

6 Eggs

1/2 cup Milk; at room temperature

2 teaspoons Lemon Extract

2 teaspoons Orange Extract

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

7 cups All-Purpose Flour; sifted

7 ROUNDED teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Salt

Frosting:

Confectionery Sugar

Water OR Milk

Directions

Cream shortening and sugar well. Add eggs, one at a time. Then add milk,

lemon, orange and vanilla extracts, flour, baking powder and salt. (Add

flour, baking powder and salt to liquid mixture.)

Refrigerate for an hour. Roll a portion of dough at a time, keeping the other

portion of dough in the refrigerator.

Cut with your favorite cookie cutters.

Bake cookies at 350° Fahrenheit. Take the tray of cookies out IMMEDIATELY.

Let cool on wire cooling rack. (Put wax paper underneath rack!) Let cool.

After cookies are cooled, front with confectionery sugar mixed with water to

desired consistency. Decorate as desired.

Source: Fran Scarmanach via Marilyn Sultar

MSS Note: This recipe makes a lot of cookies!!! In my “old” age, I have

begun to make half the recipe.

Servings: 0

Exported from Home Cookin 8.59 (www.mountainsoftware.com)

 

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE:

Merry Christmas graphic:   http://www.christianwallpapersfree.com/2012/12/merry-christmas-animation-clip-arts.html

Santa’s Cookies graphic:  http://www.clipartpanda.com/

 

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