Diva Musing: Christmas Around the World…

Christmas In BRITISH ISLES
Many of our current American ideals about the way Christmas ought to be derive from the English Victorian Christmas, such as that described in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The caroling, the gifts, the feast, and the wishing of good cheer to all – these ingredients came together to create that special Christmas atmosphere.
The custom of gift-giving on Christmas dates only to Victorian times. Before then it was more common to exchange gifts on New Year’s Day or Twelfth Night. Santa Claus is known by British children as Father Christmas. Father Christmas, these days, is quite similar to the American Santa, but his direct ancestor is a certain pagan spirit who regularly appeared in medieval mummer’s plays. The old-fashioned Father Christmas was depicted wearing long robes with sprigs of holly in his long white hair. Children write letters to Father Christmas detailing their requests, but instead of dropping them in the mailbox, the letters are tossed into the fireplace. The draft carries the letters up the chimney, and theoretically, Father Christmas reads the smoke. Gifts are opened Christmas afternoon.
From the English we get a story to explain the custom of hanging stockings from the mantelpiece. Father Christmas once dropped some gold coins while coming down the chimney. The coins would have fallen through the ash grate and been lost if they hadn’t landed in a stocking that had been hung out to dry. Since that time children have continued to hang out stockings in hopes of finding them filled with gifts.
The custom of singing carols at Christmas is also of English origin. During the middle ages, groups of serenades called “waits” would travel around from house to house singing ancient carols and spreading the holiday spirit. The word “carol” means “song of joy.” Most of the popular old carols we sing today were written in the nineteenth century.
The hanging of greens, such as holly and ivy, is a British winter tradition with origins far before the Christian era. Greenery was probably used to lift sagging winter spirits and remind the people that spring was not far away. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe is descended from ancient Druid rites. The decorating of Christmas trees, though primarily a German custom, has been widely popular in England since 1841 when Prince Albert had a Christmas tree set up in Windsor Castle for his wife Queen Victoria, and their children. To this day you see Christmas trees on display in parks, hotels in London and various other cities, and in homes.
The word “wassail” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon phrase waes hael, which means “good health.” Originally, wassail was a beverage made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, nuts, eggs, and spices. It was served for the purpose of enhancing the general merriment of the season. Like many of the ancient customs, “wassailing” has a legend to explain its origin. It seems that a beautiful Saxon maiden named Rowena presented Prince Vortigen with a bowl of wine while toasting him with the words “Waes hael.” Over the centuries a great deal of ceremony had developed around the custom of drinking wassail. The bowl is carried into a room with great fanfare, a traditional carol about the drink is sung,
For many years in England, a roasted boar’s head has been associated with Holiday feasting. The custom probably goes back to the Norse practice of sacrificing a boar at Yuletide in honor of the god Freyr. One story tells of a student at Oxford’s Queen College who was attacked on Christmas Day by a wild boar. All he had in his hand to use as a weapon was his copy of Aristotle, so he shoved the book down the boar’s throat. Wanting to retrieve his book, the student cut off the animal’s head and brought it back to the college where it was served for Christmas dinner with much pomp and ceremony.
The celebration of Boxing Day, which takes place on December 26 – the feast of St. Stephen, is a part of the holiday season unique to Great Britain. Traditionally, it is on this day that the alms box at every English church is opened and the contents are distributed to the poor. Also, this is the day that servants traditionally got the day off to celebrate with their families. It became traditional for working people to break open their tip boxes on this day. Boxing Day began in the mid-nineteenth century when the custom of tipping by rich persons to persons in service positions had apparently gotten out of hand. Children and others pretended to be in the trades and solicited tips. The custom was expanded to giving to anyone and everyone who had less money than you did, and soon the streets at Christmastime were full of aggressive soliciting of tips. To contain the nuisance “Boxing Day” was designated as the one day for giving to the less fortunate. 
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Diva Tasting: Cranberry Pie…

Cranberry Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups Cranberries
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Almond Extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9 inch pie pan.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the cranberries and the walnuts, and toss to coat. Stir in the butter, beaten eggs, and almond extract. If you are using frozen cranberries, the mixture will be very thick. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
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Diva Tasting: Holiday Sides….

Holiday Sides
Mash Potatoes
Ingredients
  • 8 Large Russet Potatoes, Peeled And Rough Chopped
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 Cup Cream
  • 1 (8 Oz) Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream
  • Sea Salt And Ground Black Pepper To Taste
Directions
  1. Place the potatoes into a large pot, and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, and return the potatoes to the pot. Turn heat to high, and allow the potatoes to dry for about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.
  2. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher twice around the pot, then add the butter and milk. Continue to mash until smooth and fluffy. Whisk in the salt and black pepper until evenly distributed, about 15 seconds.
    1. MUSHROOM STUFFING
    2. Ingredients
  3. 1 pound fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced
  4. 6 tablespoons butter
  5. 1 cup diced onion
  6. 1 cup chopped celery
  7. 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  10. 12 cups dried bread crumbs or herb stuffing mix
  11. 3 cups hot chicken broth
  12. 2 eggs, beaten
  13. 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
    Directions
  14. Butter one 9×13 inch casserole dish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  15. Rinse, pat dry and quarter mushrooms. In large skillet heat butter and add mushrooms, onion and celery; saute 5 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.
  16. In large mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs with broth and eggs, add mushroom mixture, and parsley; mix well. Turn into casserole dish.
  17. Cover and bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes longer to brown top.
BASIC GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Ingredients
  • 4 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 (6 ounce) can French-fried onions
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; add green beans and cook just until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
  3. Mix green beans and cream of mushroom soup together in a bowl; spread into an 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle Cheddar cheese over green been mixture and top with French-fried onions.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted and browned, about 30 minutes.
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Diva Musing: Christmas Around the World…Bethlehem…

Christmas Around the World: Bethlehem 
The little town where Jesus is said to have been born is the site of the Church of the Nativity, which is ablaze with flags and decorations every Christmas. On Christmas Eve natives and visitors alike crowd the church’s doorways and stand on the roof to watch for the dramatic annual procession. Galloping horsemen and police mounted on Arabian horses lead the parade. They are followed by solitary horseman carrying a cross and sitting astride a coal-black steed. Then come the churchmen and government officials. The procession solemnly enters the doors and places an ancient effigy of the Holy Child in the church. Deep winding stairs lead to a grotto where visitors find a silver star marking the site of the birth of Jesus.
Christian homes in Bethlehem are marked by a cross painted over the door and each home displays a homemade manger scene. A star is set up on a pole in the village square. . 
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Diva Decorating: Salt Ornaments…

Years ago I use to have all the kids in the neighborhood over and have an ornament party.  We’d bake these and send them home for their trees.  Sometimes a dradle or two.  I had one of a little piggy girl with holly in her hair for 20 years.  They are fun, creative and the kids have ownership in their own trees decorations.  The neighbor hood moms loved me because they didn’t have to clean up the mess.  That is what plastic table cloths are for ….Have fun decorating.  Namaste, The Queen Cronista

SALT Ornament Dough

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Combine the flour, salt and water; mix well and knead for 10 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface.
  3. Cut into desired shapes and make holes for hanging. You may want to poke the backs with toothpicks a little to keep from puffing. Bake for 30 minutes; allow to cool.
  4. Decorate with poster paints or tube paints. Allow to dry and spray with clear polyurethane on both sides to preserve. Use ribbon or yarn pieces to hang.
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Diva Rambling: Little Things….

I am one of those people who is so grateful for the little things.  I’m not one of those warm, fuzzy types who make people want to do nice things for me.  I’m a “buck it up; walk it off” kinda diva.  However, even those of us who are lone wolves and walk the path alone appreciate each and every act of kindness shown us.  So few people do the little things in our world anymore.  

I notice at Christmas, so many folks are doing things to show others they notice them and care about them.  It is a wonderful thing. Take it from someone who is invisible in the world, it means so much to so many when you show them they are important in the existence of the Universe.  You cannot imagine the good you do.  It shows on their faces and they glow from within.  

I don’t believe it should be limited to the holiday seasons. It should be a part of our daily Karma all year long.  Easier said than done in this chaos infested world.  But, to those of you I get to see doing it….rock on! May your blessings be many.

Namaste, The Queen Cronista

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Diva Tasting: Mini Bittersweet Chocolate Cakes…

Mini Bittersweet Chocolate Cakes 

Cake:

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 ounce) package Dark Chocolate 60% Cacao Baking Chips, divided
  • 1 teaspoon shortening
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Frosting:

  • 8 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Baking Chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15×10×1-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper; set pan aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, place 3/4 cup of the dark chocolate baking chips with the shortening. Heat over low heat until melted and smooth; set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low after each. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk into butter mixture, beating on low after each addition. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  6. Meanwhile for the frosting: Melt the remaining 1 cup dark chocolate baking chips and cool. In a very large mixing bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in melted chocolate, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar until combined. Beat in cream and vanilla. Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in enough additional cream until smooth and spreadable.
  7. Cut rounds of the cake using a 3-inch round cutter or heart cutter.* Halve the cakes crosswise to form 2 thin layers. Spread frosting over each round (both layers). Stack one frosted round over the other. Sprinkle with mini baking chips or sprinkles.

ALLRECIPE.COM

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Diva Musing: Karma and Christmas….

About Karma…

Whether our action is a past life, or something done twenty years ago, or done just a few days ago, or even just now– it not an issue.

Karma is Karma, that’s it. That is why it is said that the ways of Karma are boundless. One can never understand it or imagine it. Karma will always have it’s way. Whatever you experience is directly related to your past actions.

Karma will always find you and serve you what you deserve. Think before you act, act with compassion… not ill intention and leave the rest to Karma.

Happy Holiday Season, Namaste, The Queen Cronista

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Diva Tasting: Open Face Egg Rolls…

Open Face Egg Rolls 

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Chipotle Hot Sauce (such As Cholula(R))
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons Minced Ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon Honey Syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 (8 Ounce) Package Coleslaw Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Red Pepper, Diced (optional)
  • 4 Green Onions, Chopped, Or More To Taste
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
  • Crispy Chinese Noodles

Directions

  1. Mix chipotle hot sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and agave syrup together in a small bowl to make sauce.
  2. Heat olive oil and sesame oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef; cook, stirring to break up clumps, until juices run clear, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, reserving juices in the wok.
  3. Combine coleslaw mix, red bell pepper, green onions, and garlic in the wok; cook and stir over medium heat until slaw is slightly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sauce; mix to combine, about 1 minute. Return turkey to the wok and stir until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle sesame seeds and crisp Chinese noodles over slaw before serving.
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Diva Tasting: Herb Roasted Sirloin Tip and Pear Salad….

Herb Rubbed Sirloin Tip Roast
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 Tablespoons Smoky Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 (3 Pound) Sirloin Tip Roast
  • 1 Bag Of Fingerling Potatoes Halved Lengthwise
  • 1 Pound Of Brussels Sprouts Halved Lengthwise
  • 1/2 Cup Of Water With 2 Tablespoons Of Worcestershire Sauce
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme. Stir in the olive oil, and allow the mixture to sit about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a Dutch Oven or 9×13 aluminum baking pan
  3. Spread the potatoes and Brussels Sprouts in the bottom pour Worcestershire and water over vegetables.
  4. Place the roast in the prepared Dutch Oven or baking pan, and cover on all sides with the spice mixture. Cover or Tent the roast until 15 minutes before cooking time is up. Pull off Lid or tent and roast 15-20 more minutes until brown on top.
  5. Roast 1 hour in the preheated oven, or to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Let sit 15 minutes before slicing.
  6. Serve with herb roasted fingerling potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts on the side.
Roquefort Or Gorgonzola Pear Salad
Ingredients
  • 1 Head Bibb Lettuce, Torn Into Bite-Size Pieces
  • 1 Small Bag Baby Spinach
  • 3 Pears – Peeled, Cored And Chopped
  • 5 Ounces Roquefort Or Gorgonzola Cheese, Crumbled
  • 1 Avocado – Peeled, Pitted, And Diced
  • 1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Green Onions
  • 1/8 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Pecans
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons White Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Prepared Mustard
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper To Taste
Directions
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/8 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool, and break into pieces.
  2. For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, spinach, pears, cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans, toss and serve.
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