Traditions, Old And New

Trish Mileham recently hosted a Christmas open house for the parishioners of the East Randolph United Methodist Church, the church to which her husband, Pastor Rodney Mileham, ministers.

“My mom and I used to cook together all of the time. This (open house) reminds me of that. When I do all of this I feel closer to my mom,” she says. “I pick the recipes that are easy and fast, and I chose some because they are favorites of some of the church people.

“I believe my God-given talent is cooking,” she continued. “At one time I wanted to be a home economics teacher. I get so much pleasure out of cooking and giving things away to people. I just like bringing joy to people and like to see the expressions on their faces when I take a dish to their house.”

The homemaker has good organizational skills and likes to make lists. At one time she made her grocery list from her weekly planned menus and would not stray from the list.

“My parents always made Christmas special,” she said. “They would take us Christmas shopping to the Thruway Mall where there were animated characters in the windows. We always dressed up to go shopping and then go out for a nice dinner at a nice restaurant afterwards and we could order whatever we wanted.”

She continues reminiscing.

“I remember traveling to my grandparents’ at Thanksgiving, but at Christmas we were always home. Back then families were families,” she said. “We’d sell produce from our garden so my brothers and I could use the money to buy (Christmas) gifts. We sold corn, peppers, squash, cauliflower and broccoli by the bushels. We all had our special jobs that we did for the garden.”

The couple’s new Christmas season tradition is to get dressed up and go out for dinner. It reminds her of when her father took her family out when she was a child.

“We try to get together with all of our kids in one location. Rodney always cooks breakfast on Christmas. He makes potatoes, sausage, eggs to order, juice, toast, pancakes or cinnamon rolls,” she said. “The grandchildren all have stockings. We string Christmas mittens for the adults, rather than stockings. Everybody goes up, one at a time, to get their mitten.”

She collects sock monkeys and items made to resemble them. She also collects cookbooks and has many.

“I have a passion for cookbooks. I love unique and different things, but I don’t go gourmet,” she said.

After her violin teacher discontinued her lessons due to lack of participation of other students, she had always wanted to resume the lessons. Her husband gave her a violin for Christmas one year, but she did not take lessons until moving to their present home in East Randolph.

Mrs. Mileham is currently a homemaker, but held the job of shift leader at a Burger King on the New York State Thruway for 11 years while her husband was in school.

While they were serving Laona United Methodist Church, she worked at SUNY Fredonia Federal Credit Union at the college.

The Milehams have one daughter, Tami, and three sons, Kelly, Nicholas and Justin. They have seven grandchildren and two “grand puppies.”

“My mom found the Whiskey Cake recipe in Workbasket Magazine,” she said. “It’s like the simplest recipe around. My dad absolutely loved it. She probably made 100 or more of these and it is our family’s Christmas tradition.”

The Cut-out Molasses Cookies was her great-grandmother’s recipe.

“My Grandmother Daisy had molasses drop cookies or round cut-outs in a can on the table. I loved going to her house. You could smell molasses and cinnamon when you walked in the house. The cut-out recipe has been handed down and now my son’s have it,” she said.

She also has fond memories of her Mom’s Candy Cane Cookies, remembering watching her mother roll them out when she was a child.

“They were never the same. Some were fat, some were skinny and some were long.”

She has included the recipes served at the open house. These could be used for cookie trays that one passes to guests, friends and neighbors during the Christmas season. Either way, they will be very much appreciated by the lucky recipient.

Straight from the kitchen

Butter Brickle Biscotti

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 package (7-1/2 or 8 ounces) English toffee bits or almond brickle chips

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in toffee bits.

2. Divide dough in half. On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, shape each portion into a 10-in. x 2-1/2 in. rectangle. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to cutting board; cut diagonally with a serrated knife into 1/2-in. slices.

4. Place slices cut side down on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Cranberry Gumdrops

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup cold water

1 can (16 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce

2 cups sugar, divided

3 packages (3 ounces each) raspberry gelatin

Additional sugar, optional

In a saucepan, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over water; let stand for 2 minutes to soften. Add cranberry sauce and 1 cup of sugar; cook over low heat until sauce is melted and sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and add raspberry gelatin; stir until completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Pour into an 8-in. square baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours or overnight (do not refrigerate).

Cut into 1-in squares; roll in remaining sugar. Place on baking sheets; let stand at room temperature for 3 hours. Turn pieces over and let stand 3 hours longer. Roll in additional sugar if desired. Store in and airtight container at room temperature. Yield: about 5 dozen.

Eggnog Tube Cake

1 package (18 ounces) white cake mix

1 package (3.9 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix

4 eggs

1 cup eggnog

1/4 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons rum extract

1-1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

GLAZE

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon rum extract

3 to 4 teaspoons eggnog

1. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, eggnog, oil, extract and nutmeg. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

2. Pour into a well-greased 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 for 38-41 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter.

3. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, extract and enough eggnog to achieve a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Holiday Truffles

3 packages (12 ounces each) semisweet chocolate chips, divided

2-1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk, divided

1/2 teaspoon orange extract

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1-1/2 pounds white candy coating, melted

3/4 pound dark chocolate candy coating, melted

1/2 cup ground almonds

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt one package of chips. Add 3/4 cup milk; mix well. Stir in orange extract. Repeat twice, adding peppermint extract to one portion and almond extract to the other. Cover and chill for 45 minutes or until firm enough to shape into 1-in. balls. Place on tree separate waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill for 1-2 hours or until firm.

Dip the orange-flavored truffles twice in white candy coating; place on waxed paper to harden. Dip peppermint-flavored truffles in dark chocolate coating. Dip almond-flavored truffles in dark chocolate, then roll in the ground almonds. If desired, drizzle white coating over peppermint truffles and dark chocolate coating over orange truffles. Yield: about 7 dozen.

Marshmallow Fudge

1 tablespoon plus 2 cups butter, divided

1 package (10-1/2 ounces) pastel miniature marshmallows

1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 package (11 ounces) butterscotch chips

1 cup peanut butter

Line a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. pan with foil; grease the foil with 1 tablespoon butter. Place the marshmallows in prepared pan.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butterscotch chips, peanut butter and remaining butter, stirring constantly. Pour over marshmallows. Tap pan lightly on work surface. Refrigerate. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: 5 dozen.

Mom’s Famous

Whiskey Cake

1 Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix

1 Small instant vanilla pudding

5 eggs

3/4 cup Crisco oil

1/2 to 3/4 cup whiskey

Mix all ingredients together well.

Add and blend in

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Spray a 10 inch tube pan and pour in cake mixture. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and the remove cake from pan onto a wire rack. When cooled place on a serving platter and serve.

Brown Sugar

Cashew Fudge

1-1/2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup butter, softened, divided

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup evaporated milk

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 cups coarsely shopped salted cashews

Line a 9-in. square pan with foil and grease the foil with 1-1/2 teaspoons butter; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, milk, corn syrup and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a rapid boil, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar; mix well. Fold in cashews. Immediately spread into prepared pan. Cool. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Cut into 1-in. squares. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Yield: 3 dozen.

Cardamom Almond

Biscotti

1 cup butter, softened

1-3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons almond extract

5-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

1 cup chopped almonds

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cardamom; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Fold in almonds.

Divide dough into fourths; shape each portion into a ball. On two greased baking sheets, roll each ball into a 15-in. log (two logs per pan). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Transfer to a cutting board; cut diagonally with a sharp knife into 1/2-in. slices. Place with cut side down on greased baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in airtight containers. Yield: about 7 dozen.

Coconut Bonbon Bars

Base

1 pouch Betty Crocker double chocolate chunk cookie mix

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons water

1 egg

Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk(not evaporated)

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups powdered sugar

1-1/2 cups coconut

1/2 cup finely blanched almonds

Topping

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 bag (12oz) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

1/2 cup butter (do not use margarine)

1. Heat oven to 350. In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press in bottom of ungreased 13×9-inch pan. Bake 12 minutes. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour.

2. Beat first 3 filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar. Stir in coconut and almonds. Spread filling evenly over cookie base. Cover; refrigerate about 1 hour or until filling is set.

3. In 2-quart nonstick saucepan, heat topping ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Cool about 10 minutes or until lukewarm. Spread topping over filling. Refrigerate 2 hours or until set. Cut into 9 rows by 4 rows.

Crispy Peanut Butter Balls

2 cups creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, softened

3-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 cups crisp rice cereal

4 cups (24 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon shortening, divided

1/3 cup vanilla or white chips

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat peanut butter and butter until blended; gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Stir in cereal. Shape into 1-in. balls. Refrigerate until chilled.

2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and 1/4 cup shortening. Microwave on high until chips are melted; stir until smooth. Dip balls into chocolate; place on a waxed paper-lined pan.

3. In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine vanilla chips and remaining shortening. Microwave at 70 percent power until melted stir until smooth. Drizzle over candies. Refrigerate until set.

****Reduced-fat or generic brands of peanut butter are not recommended for this recipe.

Mom’s Candy Cane

Cookies

Mix well

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup butter (soften)

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg

11/2 tsp. almond flavoring

1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together and Stir in

2 1/2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp salt

Divide dough in half. Blend into one half 1/2 tsp red food coloring.

Roll 1 tsp each color dough on lightly floured board into a strip about 4 inches long. Place strips side by side, press lightly together and twist like a rope. Place on ungreased cookie sheet curving the top to look like a candy cane. Bake until lightly browned. Remove from the cookie sheet while still warm.

Bake at 375 for about 9 minutes. Makes about 4 doz.

***You can sprinkle with a mixture of 1/2 cup crushed peppermint stick candy and 1/2 cup sugar after removing from the oven.

Snow Punch

1 cup lemon juice

5 medium ripe bananas

1 cup sugar

2 cups half-and-half cream

1 liter lemon-lime soda, chilled

1 pint lemon or pineapple sherbet

1/4 cup flaked coconut, optional

In a blender or food processor, cover and process the lemon juice, bananas and sugar. Add cream; blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, pour banana mixture into a punch bowl. Stir in soda. Top with lemon sherbet and coconut if desired. Yield: 2-1/2 quarts.

Cut Out Molasses

Cookies

Cream 1 cup shortening with 1 cup light brown sugar. Add 2 cups molasses, 2 Tbsp soda dissolved in 1 cup buttermilk.

Sift 1 tsp ginger and tsp cinnamon into 4 cups of flour and add to liquid mixture. Add enough more flour to make a stiff dough. Refrigerate over night.

The next day roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters cut out cookies and place onto a cookie sheet. Bake cookies in 350 oven for 10 minutes. (Depending on size of cookie will determine how long the need to cook. Larger cuts outs will take longer.) When cookies are done, let them cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes before removing to a wire rack.

****Only roll out small portions of the dough at a time, and keep remaining dough refrigerated until you need more to roll out.

Everything Nice Nuts

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4-1/2 teaspoons water

2 cups mixed nuts

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 minute. Stir; heat 30-60 seconds longer or until syrupy. Add nuts; stir to coat. Spread into a microwave-safe 9-in. pie plate. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 4 to 4-1/2 minutes or until syrup is bubbly. Immediately spread onto a greased baking sheet. When cool, break apart. Yield: 2 cups.

Trish’s White Trash

2 cups of Wheat Chex

1 cup of Rice Chex

1 cup chocolate cheerios

1 cup Reese Peanut Butter Puffs

8 oz unsalted dry roast peanuts

1 lb. M & M’s plain

1 lb. M & M’s with nuts

2 cups small unsalted twisted pretzels

4 1b. White melting chocolate

Mix together all ingredients except for the white chocolate. Melt white chocolate in microwave. Pour over mixture. Spread out on wax paper lined cookie sheets. Break apart when hardened.