Author Debra Easterling shares her family Christmas traditions and a couple of great recipes. That apple dessert is a sure winner. Then, check out the blurb for her mystery thriller from Champagne, Twenty Miles to Lvov.
AN EASTERLING FAMILY CHRISTMAS
As we get older, some of the holiday traditions seem a bit lame, but we stick to these traditions because they are “tradition.” It’s as if something evil will happen if we don’t follow the same rituals year-after-year.
Christmas Eve does not come with a huge dinner or party at our house. In fact, I don’t usually cook at all. Instead, all my kids, and now my grandkids, squeeze ourselves into my husband’s van and go Christmas light looking. We far exceed the maximum legally allowed in the van, but we drive slow and hope we aren’t pulled over. We find the neighborhoods with the most Christmas lights and drive around and around “oohing and aahing.” For a while, we sing a few Christmas carols, but unfortunately, the old Christian classics are rarely sung anymore and I’m the only one who remembers the words. So we stick to Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, and Hark the Herald.
Christmas morning is the time we treasure the most. It isn’t the presents, the toys, or the colorful wrapping paper, it’s “The Rules.” Every year for the past 35 years, Papa would recite the rules before allowing the kids to go downstairs to find their gifts. The rules are always the same. “Let the little ones go first.” “Put your wrappers in the black garbage bag.” “No pushing or shoving.” “After you open your gifts, put them in the box with your name on it before you open the next one.”
My sons, who all have wives and/or girlfriends, now get excited about sharing the rule time with Papa. In fact, most years, they come and spend the night before, or appear, super early in the morning, and sneak upstairs just before the rules are read. The grandkids all know the rules by heart and they follow along with Papa as he recites them. It may sound weird, but just thinking about Papa reciting the rules makes my children smile.
After the gifts are exchanged, we laugh, play some games, watch some TV, and some even go back to bed for a brief nap. My son, Dean, falls asleep every year on the sofa. Clay goes right into the closest bed and stretches out. This year, he may be joined by his fiancee and son. My oldest son, Dale, usually snuggles with his wife during a sappy Christmas movie. Marie and DJ play with their sons and help me in the kitchen. Later in the day, we have a feast of turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, and a pizza for my son, Lee.
A year’s worth of hugs and kisses are exchanged on Christmas, and for one day, all is right with the world.
EASTERLING FAMILY TREATS
This is a family favorite and I discovered it at a Girl Scout camp. It’s quick, inexpensive, and tasty. I don’t know anyone who tried it who doesn’t like it. The trick is getting them to taste it.
Apples – one for each person eating.
1 box of Sugar Free Jello mix (cherry or strawberry)
Make this just before eating or the apples will turn brown. Cut the apples into tiny bits, keeping skins on, into a large bowl. Sprinkle with dry jello mix. That’s it. The apples are so sweet the kids will think they’re eating candy.
D’s Family’s Apple Dessert
This recipe is not for those who are watching their carbs, sugars, fats or calories. If you do not want to go through the hassle of mixing up dough, you can do the same thing with frozen bread dough, but it may not taste as sweet, and it may taste more doughie.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 (.25 oz) package of dry yeast
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of white sugar
1 cup of warm water (slightly above room temp)
1 can of blueberry, cherry, mixed berry, pineapple or apple pie filling.
1/4 cup butter (optional)
1/4 graham cracker crumble (optional)
Mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large bowl. Mix in warm water and oil. Knead for 10 minutes. (You do not have to wait for the bread to rise.) Lay the dough out on a Tupperware cookie sheet, or if you have to use tinfoil, LIGHTLY butter the foil. Lay the dough out so it looks like a meatloaf. (In a long rectangular shape). Cut 1/3 off the top and set aside. (If you are using graham crackers, don’t do this.)
Take the dough on the cookie sheet and make a long well down the middle with your fists. Then fill the well with the pie filling. Take the 1/3 of the dough you removed previously, and roll it out with a rolling pin. Cut into slices and lay them over the dough with the pie filling in a criss-cross fashion. I then dribble a quarter cup of butter down the center. This part is optional. It makes the dessert richer, allowing us to eat less, but then again, I may have a death wish. Bake it at 375 for approximately 20 minutes. Check for doneness on the dough. (If you are using graham cracker crumble, sprinkle it on at this time.)
I do not have a picture of this dessert. It’s a dish handed down through the ages, but it looks like a long stretched out pie, the shape of a flat football, but heavier, and its dough is more like a pizza dough.
TWENTY MILES TO LVOV
There is something compelling yet frightening about the dark stranger. Moshe Brodsky, the world renown Nazi hunter, simply appeared on the doorstep of Ilsa Michalski’s boarding house at the edge of the Florida Everglades. Ilsa is inexplicably drawn to the hunter, although she hides a secret that her German step-brother was once a Nazi guard. Fearing Moshe will soon be after her brother, she must now choose between protecting him or surrender him to the man she loves. As her brother hitchhikes across the country to return home, she’s unable to warn him. Every mile he travels, brings him closer to a man who could destroy him.
As Ilsa and Moshe struggle with their faith and their attraction to each other, Moshe’s true prey, Horst Bress, a vile, freak of a prison guard, has decided to turn the tables on the famed Nazi hunter, and anyone close to him is fair game.
Click cover to buy. Check out Debra’s webpage at http://www.DebraEasterling.com
Tomorrow, Vintage Christmas Cards