tree trimming party

My daughter calls me an ornament hoarder. I’m always on the lookout for the old ones at yard sales. Sometimes I find them at the bottom of big boxes and I know that they’ve come from someone’s attic – someone who has died – someone whose children and grandchildren saw these shiny treasures as junk. I rescue them to hang on a lighted tree again. They have good energy. I like them when they are so old that they start to become translucent and the light penetrates their milky luster. The old glitter looks like tarnished silver. I have handmade ornaments that when they are unwrapped and hung on the tree each year bring an endearment of thought. The wool roving ornaments made at a school holiday fair. The pressed cinnamon reindeer from preschool. The delicate orbs of blown glass from middle school science class filled with colored water. Ornaments brought by our friends through the years are remembered and hung on the tree with love.


In the beginning, we had friends over and just ordered pizza from Two Boots while we worked on the tree. Some years later I got the idea that I should make it fancier from watching a show on the Food Network about holiday hors d’oeuvre and for a couple of years I woke at dawn and stressed myself out in the kitchen until one of my daughters said “Mom, we liked it better when we just had pizza from Two Boots”. This year I did order pizzas from Two Boots and we made three different kinds of deviled eggs –  easy and delicious. I tinkered with recipes from I served the adults Dark and Stormy cocktails – a good wintery drink.

Chipotle Deviled Eggs

7 eggs (makes 14 halves0
1 chipotle pepper from a can (with adobe sauce) seeded and chopped fine
salt and black pepper to taste
Mayo – good quality or homemade

Hard boil the eggs and cut in half. Scoop out the yolk into a mixing bowl. Smash up the yolk, add the chopped chipotle and salt and pepper. Add enough mayo for a consistency like dry frosting. Stuff lightly into the halved whites.

Tarragon and Capers Deviled Eggs

7 eggs (makes 14 halves)
1 tsp fresh tarragon chopped fine
1Tbs shallot or green onion chopped very fine
1 Tbs capers
Salt and pepper to taste

Same as above, but add the chopped tarragon, capers and mayo. Stuff lightly into the egg whites and add one caper on top for a garnish.

Regular Deviled Eggs

10 eggs (makes 20 halves)
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Same as above, add the mustard, pepper or paprika, mayo and salt and pepper. Stuff lightly into whites and sprinkle with paprika on top.

Dark and Stormy cocktails

Splash of Goslings Dark Rum in a tumbler over ice
Fill with Reeds Ginger Beer or other good quality ginger beer
Squeezed lime




chocolate sauce

I make chocolate fudge sauce every year for my kid’s teachers. This is an easy recipe and very delicious. I now make industrial quantities of the stuff because the teachers from the grade before, beg my kids for the sauce and so some of teachers have been grandfathered in. I’m now cutting them off after 2 years. Term limits for chocolate sauce. This recipe is originally from Martha Stewart’s Living magazine and yields 2 cups of sauce. I did the math and have increased it to fill fourteen half pint mason jars for the teachers and three pint jars for home and special friends. A total of 17 half pint jars.

chop good quality chocolate in chunks

chop good quality chocolate in chunks

For two cups of chocolate sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs light corn syrup
12 oz semisweet chocolate chopped
2 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan over medium heat bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil. Remove from heat (or lower) and whisk in the chocolate chunks until melted. Stir in the vanilla. Pour into jars and cool completely before covering or refrigerating (otherwise the sauce will become granulated). To reheat, microwave it a little or put the jar in a bowl of hot water.

a thing of beauty

a thing of beauty

The proportions for a massive quantity detailed above for gift giving:

6 cups heavy cream
12 Tbs light corn syrup
72 oz semisweet chocolate
12 tsp vanilla

Ileana's chocolate factory

Ileana’s chocolate factory

We spoon the chocolate sauce over vanilla ice cream – divine. We love it on my mother’s bread pudding and drizzled on pie. It’s good to have on hand for the holidays to make any dessert special. Heat some up and pull out a box of shortbread cookies to dip in the sauce – and voila, you have a beautiful dessert.

Some years we make fancy labels and wrap ribbons around the jars. Some years we just cap the jar. This is one of those years.