If you only lived in Branson/Branson West, Missouri. Explanation: By the first week of November the entire city and surrounding communities are decked for the season. Some locals even state there’s no need to decorate because they’re surrounded at every turn. My own son banned me from any lights until the day after Thanksgiving! I’m one of the zealous ones who loves decorating even if it’s just for my personal enjoyment!!
This past week I have been immersed in ‘reindeer’. That’s right, reindeer. In 2015 our plywood deer were caught in high winds that ruined their presence in our yard for 2016. With the help of a neighbor, they were re-cut including an extra set of antlers for each. That, my friends, was last January. You got it, everyone procrastinated about the deer all summer. I couldn’t get my husband or son interested in painting Vinnie and Verlyn. So, this past week I doused the fellas in several coats of sealant and white paint. Hopefully tomorrow night they’ll be ready to make their debut. Our yard just wouldn’t be the same without them.
My favorite way of decorating for the holidays is to rely upon nature, much as we did many years ago. The cedar trees in the fence rows?
They’re one of my favorite kinds of greenery for the winter season. Pine Cones, twigs, and various dried flora are all a part of my holiday décor. Usually I wait until the middle of December to add all the fresh touches. Call a local farmer and I’m positive they would love to have a cedar or two removed from their fence rows or pasture. The flower pots at the front door don’t have to be empty now that winter has arrived. Cut long branches of pine and arrange them within the containers. Add a few pine cones or dry flora along with a festive ribbon and the project is complete. Don’t want to buy an expensive wreath, make your own. Using an old metal hanger prepare a wire circle. Cut several pieces of pine the same length. Buy a green or brown string/cord at the hardware store. Wrap the cord around the greenery securing it to the metal ring. Keep it thick, not to thin. Pick up the same ribbon as you did for the two big pots and add a big perky bow.
If you can’t make bows carry the ribbon to a friend who does, and have them assist.
Well goodness, this cooking column did not start out as a decorating site! It’s all Vinnie and Verlyn’s fault, they kept me up late all week, and I’m just not thinking straight.
My mother, Betty has made these easy peezy peanut clusters for as long as I can remember. When I was little I remember her making lots of different candies and cookies. Now days we’re a bit more reserved with all the excessive sugars. However I always find an excuse to stir up at least one batch of these sweets. During my childhood, lots of different school groups, clubs and churches went Christmas caroling in December. Mom would always have extra candies and cookies on hand. If we were blessed with carolers she was ready with treats. I guess that comes from small-town living! I remember how much thought we put into our lists as we planned our caroling routes.
If you need to mail a few goodies you will find this recipe travels quite well. Think how special it would be to receive a box in the mail with 14-20 of these clusters inside. Today someone asked me how long they could keep some of their candies around. Well, if you keep them in the freezer, quite a while. One season we had these clusters in the refrigerator until early summer! Sealed in an air tight container they made the journey unscathed.
Be sure to gather all your ingredients for candy making so they are within the reach of your fingertips. Open containers and bags ahead of time. Lay out parchment or wax paper to drop the goodies on as you go. Don’t get too anxious to pick them up before they are solidly set. Sometimes I’ve been known to make them at bedtime and let them set overnight. I’m blessed to have a screened-in porch which is an excellent place to keep winter candies. My Grandmother, Lucy Richardson, from Monticello, Missouri, had an unheated closet where she kept all her Christmas goodies. We grandkids never went near that closet, for me it was because I was afraid of the cold dark space! (It also smelled funny!)
Have a splendid week and remember to include a bit of time for self.
Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
12 ounces chocolate chips
12 ounces butterscotch chips
1 cup smooth peanut butter
Melt the above on low, allowing cooling slightly after melting.
Approximately 8-12 ounces salted peanuts, I use roasted-
1 regular package of miniature marshmallows
Allow the chocolate mixture to cool enough so that it doesn’t melt the marshmallows. Drop by desired size onto wax paper and allow to set. This recipe doesn’t usually have problems with humid or rainy days.
*If you don’t like marshmallows use more peanuts and make the clusters smaller in size.