Christmas trivia

By the time many of you are reading this, Christmas will be mostly over. For others, including me, it will barely have begun. I am so behind this year that it is truly pathetic! I lost an entire week after being exposed to the virus, and just before that, I managed to fall without breaking anything, but it sure did slow me down. With already having sciatica and other back problems, the fall did me no favors! Now, with just residual pain occasionally, my things are getting done, as this morning (Thursday), I put together six jars of soup mix. They will be made into gifts with the addition of the extra ingredients of corn and tomatoes that are needed to make the soup.

My daughter came in and helped me do some decorating and I was able to finish on my own. Needless to say, with trying to avoid public places, not all of my shopping is finished, as there are several more gifts needed that require going to Victoria, hopefully, that can be done on the 18th, if not…some folks may just get a hug and a promise of a gift a little later.

Here is a little bit of Christmas trivia for you. An article appeared several years ago during Christmas week in the Victoria Advocate. They state that it is from Old Icelandic tales that give the following as the names of Santa’s elves: Askasleikir, Bjugnakraekir, Faldafeykir, Stekkjarstaur, Gattathefur, Giljagaur, Gluggagaegir, Ketkrokur, Og Kertasnikir, Pottasleikir, Skyrjarmur, Stufur and last but not least Thvorusleikir! Wouldn’t you love to have to learn to spell these when you learn to write your name? Wow!

The Story of Cookies for Santa

Almost as much fun as the toys under the tree for a young boy and girl are the other signs that Santa Claus really did come to visit during the night—the glass of milk is empty and all the cookies are gone, nothing left but a few crumbs.

Nobody seems to know just who first came up with the idea of leaving a snack to keep Santa’s energy up during his whirlwind Christmas voyage. One researcher has traced the tradition as far back as 1908 to an article that appeared in a New York newspaper.

The story reported that children in one family left a meal of sandwiches, cake and coffee for Santa. To their delight, the next morning the food was gone and in its place was a note from Santa thanking them for their kindness.

It wasn’t unusual in the early 1900s for thoughtful children to remember Santa’s reindeer. Accounts of children leaving carrots for the team, and of rural youngsters, leaving piles of salt on their windowsills are common..
The reindeer probably have not fared so well in recent years, although Santa may be sharing some of his milk and cookies. It is a wonderfully whimsical food tradition, the stuff a child’s dreams are made of.

Next week, I’ll give you a different version of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” as it appeared in the San Antonio paper way back in the 1960s. It is no longer considered Politically Correct, but it is cute.

Just in case you’re not through with making candy and baking cookies (I’m not either, the cookie dough is in the fridge, waiting for me to decide to bake), here are some candy recipes to go with the cookie recipes that have been in my column during the month of December.


1 jar marshmallow cream

1½ cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

¼ cup butter

¼ teaspoon salt

12-ounce package chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup chopped pecans

Combine marshmallow cream, sugar, milk, butter and salt in saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips, vanilla and pecans. Spread into 9-inch square pan. Chill until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares. Store in airtight container.

Margaret’s Pecan Pralines

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup buttermilk or clabber*

1 level teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecans (can use halves or chopped)

Use a large pot and slowly boil to soft ball stage (240º to 250ºF), the sugar, buttermilk and baking soda. This mixture turns brown as it cooks and needs to be stirred constantly. Take off heat when it reaches soft ball stage and stir in vanilla and pecans. Stir and beat with a spoon (wooden is best) until it looks as if it is going to turn to sugar. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or foil Cool completely. Store in airtight container. *(To make milk into clabber, use whole milk, pour about 2 Tbs. lemon juice or vinegar into a measuring cup and then add milk to make 1 cup, stir together and allow to stand for 3 or 4 minutes before using.)

Peanut Brittle

Before you start making this, cover a cookie sheet with foil, butter well, and sprinkle with granulated sugar to coat. Set aside.

1 cup sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

2 cups shelled, raw peanuts

1 teaspoon baking soda

Combine sugar, peanuts and syrup. Cooking stirring constantly until it is light brown in color, about 16 to 20 minutes.

When mixture is light brown, remove from heat and stir in baking soda. This will cause mixture to foam up. Immediately pour onto prepared cookie sheet and spread to sides of pan. Allow to cool completely, break into pieces and store in airtight container.

Candied Peanuts

1 cup sugar

2 cups raw peanuts

½ cup water

¼ teaspoon red food coloring (if desired)

2 to 3 drops cinnamon oil (if desired)

Mix all ingredients in iron skillet and boil until water is gone. (Stir frequently). Pour on cookie sheet; bake for 15 minutes at 300ºF. Pour out onto foil lined cookie sheet and allow to cool completely before serving. Stir in airtight container.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and may your New Year be full of blessings and good health!