Good morning! Are you like me? This is one lady who is semi-glad the holidays are over. These days of having Monday twice in a week and never knowing exactly what day it is unless you look at a calendar have been driving me crazy! Go to church on Sunday, skip a day, go back to church on Tuesday, now it is Monday, no it’s not, it’s Wednesday. I have been doing aqua therapy to help me be a little more limber and sometime be in a little less pain. My phone rang and the therapist asked me: “Mrs. Word, are you OK,” I said yes, she said: “Well, your appointment was at 8:00 and you’re not here,” my answer was: “Yes, I know I have therapy on Wednesday at 8:00.” Her answer was: “It is Wednesday,” after a good laugh, we rescheduled for later in the day and everything was fine. So you can see why I’m ready to have Monday be on Monday like it’s supposed to be!
New Year’s was quiet for me. As usual, I went to my sister’s home to celebrate not only the New Years entrance, but also to celebrate her birthday. The three of us had a very enjoyable evening and I came home fairly early. Finally, as I realized that I was watching TV through my eyelids, the jammies were put on and I went to bed, even though it wasn’t quite midnight. In a very short time I heard a noise, and the next thing there was a very scared, shaking dog curled up extremely close to me and he lay there and shook until the last firecracker was finished popping! Poor baby he is so scared of really loud noises and I wasn’t aware of it, until he came to me for protection.
On New Year’s Day my daughter and son-in-law came for the day and while he worked on my computer, she and I walked to my sisters’ home and visited for a short time and then it was back to my house for the great lasagna they had brought with them. Of course, left over pie and cake were brought out for dessert and cookies were available for snacking as the day went by. And, my daughter and I played a couple of board games. One was our usual Rummikub® and the other was a new game that a friend brought back from her summer spent in Michigan. She said they played it all the time. It is called “Quiddler,” and is a card game that has the letters of the alphabet on the cards and you make words with what you have in your hand. You start with three cards and then continue with each hand adding a card through eight cards. You make the word with the three cards, and that round is finished, and go on to each hand of cards. It is a fun and different game and we enjoyed it. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.
Many of us feel that there is no dessert quite as good a chocolate one! “If it’s chocolate, it has to be good”! (And, while I’m not sure, I think this was a comment in some type of commercial at one time.) Haven’t you heard that? Chocolate is so frequently associated with Valentine’s Day that we sometimes forget that it can be served any time you want it! “They” are now even saying that chocolate is good for you. A joke went around several years ago that chocolate was a vegetable, because it came from a bean and beans were vegetables!
Cacoa (cocoa) beans are the source of chocolate, which is obtained by grinding roasted cacoa beans that have been removed from their shell. “Cocoa” is the English-language corruption of the word “cacoa,” that is from an ancient Aztec language. The cacao tree is native to coastal Mexico, Central and South America and in the wild the trees will grow to heights of 40 to 50 feet.
Cacao beans were discovered during the Early Spanish conquest of Mexico and also by Pizarro in Peru, and were used as currency as well as for food and drink. Cacao beans were first brought to the United States for chocolate manufacturers when fishermen from Massachusetts accepted them as money in tropical America.
In 1765, the first chocolate mill in North America was located near Dorchester, Massachusetts. Later, in that same century, Dr. James Baker acquired this mill and founded the Walter Baker and Co., Ltd. By 1790, 500,000 pounds of cacao beans were being imported annually. By 1900, the numbers had climbed to over twenty million pounds and in 1960; this country was importing over 700 million pounds annually.
Fudge Pecan Pie
1/2 cup butter, do not substitute
3 tablespoons Hershey’s® cocoa
3/4 cup HOT water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can evaporated milk (5-oz. size)
1½ cups pecan halves
1 un-baked, ‘deep-dish’ pie crust (9 or 9½” size)
Preheat oven and a cookie sheet to 350ºF. In a medium saucepan, melt butter, over low heat, add cocoa and stir until dissolved. Add hot water and stir again with wire whisk. Stir together sugar and flour, blend in with vanilla and milk. Stir until very smooth with whisk. Stir in pecans and pour into pie shell. Bake on pre-heated cookie sheet for 50 minutes or until knife inserted 1-inch from edge comes out clean and filling seems firm.
The taste of this cake is well worth the work that is needed to make it. Enjoy!
Chocolate Italian Cream Cake
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco®
2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs (separated)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup Hershey’s® cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coconut
1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Cream together butter, shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Combine soda, flour, cocoa and salt, add alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and mixing well. Add vanilla, cocoanut and nuts and stir to incorporate. Beat egg whites until stiff and carefully fold in, just until mixed. Pour into 3 greased and floured 8 or 9-inch pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack and cool completely. When cooled, frost with your favorite homemade or purchased cream cheese frosting.