Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Reconnecting in the Kitchen

Christmas is often a time to reconnect with friends from days gone by ...

When we moved to this house last year, I did a lot of my own packing, numbering the boxes and cataloging their contents in a Microsoft Excel document so that I didn't have to unpack everything but could use the search feature in that program to find whatever I needed.

This evening I was making a recipe for Christmas when I happened to remember a long-time friendship that has been packed away for years, even before we moved and when I had done all that packing.

Mrs Claus
Waaaay back in about 1981 or so I was into making soft sculpture dolls with my old pantyhose.  One year I made many of them, selling some in a school-sponsored craft show (never again, by the way), and then giving some as Christmas gifts. The only one that I still have has been packed away for probably two decades. This evening I decided to look her up and found her in Box 79 in my filing system. 

It should be no surprise that she did not look her best when we first met eyes this evening.  I think she was put out with me We greeted each other with cries of delight and I quickly decided she should join me in the kitchen.

Mrs Claus and me
As we made our way up the basement stairs and into the kitchen, I assured her that I would fluff up her white hair and reshape her facial jowls structure, making her look like her original self of 30-some years ago.

Mrs C, looking a little better
I am hopeful that she understands none of us, even with some pin tucking,  can look as fine today as we did in previous years; we just do what we can and hope our pleasing personality will overshadow our physical detractions.

what's under the skirt
Perhaps some of my readers made similar dolls back in the 80s. We took an empty 1 liter pop bottle, filled it with kitty litter or sand (something to give the bottle a little weight), sealed the lid on snugly, and then proceeded to create a head out of a used nylon stocking and poly fiberfil stuffing.  The stuffing was kept in place with thread at the neck and then the rest of the stocking was pulled down the length of the bottle and sewn closed at the bottom. A simple dress was made, arms were stuffed and sewn on, and so forth.  

felt holly with a berry in her hair

hand embroidery on her apron
If you (like me) marvel at all the detail I put into this doll, we have to remember that in 1981 extremely few of us had home computers with email to send, Face Book to read, and blogs to compose. While my children were in school, I had the time for such frivolities.  I can also be a very detailed person when I want to be.

Mrs Claus wears a sapphire ring not unlike Princess Diana's,
whose royal wedding was around that time
Well, anyway, Mrs. C found it in her heart to forgive me for leaving her packed away since oh, I don't know, about 1995 I think.  Since I pulled her out of the box in a different house from when she was packed, I had to bring her up-to-date on our residences since that time: Florida and two houses in Colorado.  

I could see the hurt starting to re-form on her face as she realized the adventures she had missed in those houses, so I quickly changed the subject to something I knew she would like -- cooking.

Unfortunately,  I had to deliver one final blow by telling her I cannot eat her delectable treats anymore since I've been diagnosed with gluten intolerance.  She had no idea what that was.

Well anyway, we finally got past all of that and she assisted me as I made a gluten-free dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner. I'm giving you the recipe here and hope you will try it.  With the aid of a food processor, it is very easy.  If you like the taste of brownies, this will be a hit with you.

Flourless Chocolate Cake, makes 4 servings

1  1/2 cups raw walnuts*
dash salt
10 pitted Medjool dates*
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
2 teaspoons water

Place the walnuts and salt in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until finely ground. Add the dates, cocoa (or carob) powder, and vanilla and process until the mixture begins to stick together.  Add the water and process briefly.

Transfer to a serving plate and form into a 5-inch round cake. Chill for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for 3 days or this cake will keep for 2 weeks in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before serving.

*In the vegan world of cooking, we often soak nuts and dried fruits before using them. Don't do that with this recipe or it will turn out runny and soggy.

Medjool dates
Some of my readers may be unfamiliar with Medjool dates. I am finding them in all markets now, including Walmart's produce section. This package has dates that are pitted. If you have to pit your dates, simply slice them in half and pull out the pit. It's very easy and quick. 

Form the cake to about 5 inches in diameter
This center photo was taken with a different camera and
the color came out terrible!The cake really is a deep dark chocolate color.
Cover the cake with plastic wrap and freeze
This is a small cake but it's very rich, so serve small slices.  I'll be serving this on Christmas Eve with a nice drizzle of pureed fruit, such as raspberries or strawberries.


  1. I remember these dolls, Barbara! They were so popular after the Cabbage Patch Dolls that were also handmade back then. Mrs C looked happy to be out in the open again for this Christmas season. I still use mechanical figures in my front window that must be over 20 years old! I love them!

    Your cake sounds delicious--a little bit like a plum pudding. I made GF gingerbread cookies from a recipe from King Arthur Flour website today for my grandsons. They tattie as good as my regular gingerbread cookies -- I'm really pleased with the results!\\

    Hope you have a very happy and blessed Christmas!

  2. An interesting recipe. It does sound good, and your fruit puree drizzled on will make a lovely presentation! Love Mrs. C and all the detail you put into her! You are so right about how the internet has changed us. Who had time for crafting these days? It is something we have to MAKE time for, and unfortunately (for me) it just doesn't happen. Sigh.

  3. Your doll is just darling! And SUCH detail. Fun post...thanks for the recipe!