‘Tis the season for gift giving! Here is a fun little cookie called a Calypso dip that we have used for many Bethany retreatants, teas and to include in gift baskets. Much of its appeal comes from its novel shape and unexpected flavors, just a little different from the usual cookie. Give it a try and you might decide to add it to your own collection of Holiday goodies.
I think most people will agree that an essential ingredient to the
recipe for an “old fashioned Merry Christmas” (or even a contemporary
one) is the baking of homemade cookies. Old favorites are always a
must and adding new ones is also fun, as are cookie swaps where each
person brings their favorites and samples everyone else’s. If you
haven’t done this in a while, you might want to consider it for this
This buttery almond cherry cookie recipe is one I came by in such
manner, and it has remained as a “keeper” ever since. These “cheery”
little creations are great to have on hand for unexpected holiday
guests, or scheduled ones. They can make an attractive gift as well.
However you use them, you will never have too many, so make plenty of
them when you do.
Apple Fritters… crunchy, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth on the outside, cinnamon-y dough with apple chunks on the inside. I can’t think of a better use for our apple drops that we are collecting in the early hours of the morning. A delightful early morning treat to pair with a steaming cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning.
Advent is a very special time in our Community. To me, it symbolizes not only waiting, but also preparation– preparing our hearts and our homes to receive the Christ-Child. We welcome Advent with a festive weekend open to the public. One of the highlights is our candlelit service of Advent Lessons and Carols – a service steeped in English tradition. Throughout the weekend, we serve an elegant afternoon tea at Bethany Guest House situated in scenic Rock Harbor, Orleans. This tradition was started by one of our founders, Mother Cay. She took great pride in entertaining and hospitality, and her sharp and loving eye for beauty and detail has been passed down to all of us. Bethany becomes a magical place at Christmastime. Throughout the weekend, our gift shop, Priory Books and Gifts is bustling with activity. We stock our shop with home baked goods From a Monastery Kitchen – our famous Kentucky Bourbon Cakes, Fresh Baked Cinnamon Rolls, Cranberry Pear Chutney and English Toffee are just a few of the items sold throughout December in our shop.
For years now, it has been my responsibility to get the Monastic Bakeshop “ready” for Advent. We start preparing in the summer – sampling recipes, making lists of ingredients and then going to companies to see if they would be able to “gift” items to us. In turn, we offer our prayers on their behalf, as well as a tin of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. It has been such a blessing to see the response. Year after year, we have faithful donors that have given of themselves to support our outreach – sugar, flour, oats, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins and yes, even Jim Beam Bourbon, have been generously given to us – enabling a profit of the sales to help support our community.
A few years ago, I became friends with a woman who frequented our bakeshop. She told me of a wonderful almond cake that I really should try sometime – and perhaps even sell in our shop. She came back a couple days later with a gift for us – the special Scandinavian Almond Cake pan and recipe. What a touching gift that was! This has become one of our favorite cakes to make at Christmas time – or anytime. We now share it with you.
A blessed Advent to you and yours,
The Gourmet Nuns
We’ve been cooking up lots of strawberry jam for Christmas gifts with this summer’s bountiful crop of berries from our garden. One of our sisters has been dying to make a strawberry tart with it and today she did.
I loved the looks of it when it came out of the oven. I loved the taste of it even more, as did some of the other kitchen sisters who sampled it. The unusual flavor of fresh lemon zested crust was a taste treat in itself even without the filling.
“Leave it right here”, I said “I’ll be back in a minute to take a picture. This has to be a blog!” Locating the camera as quickly as possible I returned to take this photo…..
Today I am looking out on a winter wonderland! We are in the midst of a blizzard that has dumped an amazing amount of snow as far as the eye can see. One of those days to sit by the fire with a hot cup of tea and a slice of warm Apple cranberry bread.
We still have apples in the refrigerator from our fall harvest which are in surprisingly good shape – the one I munched on while making this bread wasn’t fresh from the tree, but still crisp and sweet. We also were given a large quantity of cranberries from a local bog, so it seemed like a good use of the two to put them together in a quick bread. We are always looking for different morning snack ideas to serve at our community work time break. I tried a couple of different recipes and actually left the peels on the Apple’s to give the breads a little more texture. Here is one variety that I thought the most flavorful and moist.