These are a few of our favorite things

Friends are, of course, No. 1 on our list of things to be thankful for every year. Friends who share great recipes are No. 2.

For these friends and recipes, the holidays are a time for sharing.

Here is the eggnog recipe given to Janet Aubry of Anna Maria by her friend Ralph Ellis of Houston. He told Janet that it was originally published decades ago in Harper’s Bazaar as ‘the’ traditional holiday beverage.

She adds, “May your days be merry and bright after you drink this and, for heaven’s sake, don’t drink this recipe and drive afterward.”

18th Century Eggnog Recipe
12 eggs separated
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 quarts heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 pint rum (dark)
1 quart brandy (2 pints)

Reserve six egg whites in one bowl and six egg whites in a second bowl.

In a large bowl beat all yolks well. Add granulated sugar gradually to yolks and beat well.

Add rum and brandy alternately and slowly to yolk mixture. Then, to this mixture, add three quarts of heavy cream.

Beat six egg whites until very stiff and fold into mixture.

Then beat remaining six egg whites VERY stiff and beat powdered sugar into them.

Add, stirring lightly, remaining cream and fold this mixture into the other.

Let stand in refrigerator 4 to 12 hours. Top with grated nutmeg (we prefer fresh grated) before serving. The recipe serves 20, but Janet generously “packages” jugs of joy for her holiday guests to carry home.

Mmmmm, rum cake
Also on our favorite list of friends is Billie Martini of Holmes Beach. She seems to know just the right time and day to appear at The Islander office with deviled eggs and Bacardi Rum Cake, both of which are VERY popular among staff. Post a warning over the “last” piece of cake, as fingers can be crushed in the taking.

Billie’s Best Bacardi Rum Cake

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 18 1/2 ounce yellow cake mix
1 3 1/4 instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup Wesson oil
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof)

1/4 pound butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (Fahrenheit). Grease and flour 10-inch tube or 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan. Mix all cake ingredients. Pour batter over nuts. Bake one hour. Cool cake. Invert on serving plate and prick the top.

For glaze, melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in rum.

Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides, allowing cake to absorb glaze. Repeat until the glaze is used up.

Yummy without rum
Susan Nudd warmly agreed five years ago to share her Christmas cookie recipe, passed down by her mother, she said, from a recipe that originated from the Amish-Dutch community of Sullivan, Ill.

“I’ve been making them since high school, then with my mom,” Nudd said.

Nudd’s cookies were discovered by us some years ago as she served them following the Roser Memorial Community Church Bethlehem Walk, and they had been decorated with special care by her granddaughter, Aaron Grace Tribble, then age 5.

Original Amish sugar cookies
First mix one cup sugar, one cup powered sugar, one cup Oleo. (Is that called margarine now, or is there still Oleo?)

Add two eggs, then one cup oil. Add 4 3/4 cup flour, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon cream of tartar, one half teaspoon salt, two teaspoons vanilla.

Cool dough about one hour, roll in balls, press with a fork and decorate with colored sugar, candy sprinkles and the likes. (Not icing.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

“It makes a really big recipe,” Nudd said. “About six dozen cookies.”

And it too is worth packaging and sharing with friends and as holiday hostess gifts.

Happy turkey!
“Season that sucker and cook it hot and fast.” That’s the advice of my longtime friend and chef, Augie Mrozowski, some 30 years ago on cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.

It’s sage advice, not to make a pun. Salt and pepper all over, including inside, cook breast side down, 450 degrees for about an hour and a half (18 pounds or so), then flip it and lower the temp to about 350 degrees for 20 minutes to a half hour to brown the top.

It will be moist and delicious, it’s guaranteed. We put trimmings from the veggies, carrot and potato peel, onion skins and celery tops in the bottom of the pan. When the turkey is done and removed, we then add the wing tips and other non-edible portions of the turkey to the veggies already in the pan and add some water to create au jus.

Bring the pot to a simmer for a few minutes, strain out the veggies and turkey parts, and then add a roux mixture (equal parts butter and flour mixed smooth) to the liquid — and you have awesome gravy.

Why we don’t cook a small turkey and trimmings once a month is the only remaining question. It’s that delicious.

Finally, one of the Island’s best
More than 16 years ago we first featured Bernard Haulsee of Anna Maria and his 20-year tradition of baking a fruitcake recipe handed down by his mother.

When it comes to holiday baking traditions, this is one of the tastiest. Really. It is not to be categorized with the store-bought brick variety.

Each eight-pound cake is full of cherries, pineapple, coconut, raisins and pecans — and an abundant “baptism” of Jim Beam.

“I love to bake them,” said Haulsee in 1993. “It’s a hobby. Some people tease me by telling me it’s a pretty expensive hobby, but I tell them that it’s a lot cheaper than playing golf!”

The week before Christmas was Haulsee’s favorite time during the holidays. With his cakes wrapped carefully in foil, he made his rounds to deliver his delicious gift to his friends and local businesses — those who had helped him during the year.

“They are always glad to see me,” he said. “This makes it a nice Christmas for all of us.”

As a holiday gift to Anna Maria Island, Haulsee agreed to share his recipe.

“Be sure to tell them not to stir the butter and sugar and eggs too much. If they do, the cake will crumble after its baked. Don’t want it to crumble,” he warned.

Many thanks to Mr. Haulsee, although considering his age then and that we haven’t enjoyed his fruitcake or seen him since 1994, we can only hope the best for him and his family.

Bernard Haulsee’s Heavenly Fruitcake
“Barely” cream together:
1 pound butter or margarine
3 cups white sugar
Add 1 egg at a time until 11 are added.

Mix together in order in another bowl:
1 1/2 pounds candied cherries
1 1/2 pounds candied or dehydrated pineapple
3 cups pecan nuts
2 pounds raisins
2 cups grated coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces grated ginger root
5 cups all-purpose flour sifted on top of dry ingredients
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix dry fruit batter in with butter, sugar, egg batter.

Mix well. Recipe makes two cakes. Grease or spray each loaf cake pan with Pam. Bake 2 1/2 hours at 275 degrees.

If using Pyrex loaf pans, cut baking time to 2 hours.

Optional: After cakes have cooled for 24 hours, set cake in a small amount of Jim Beam. After liquor is absorbed. Flip cake over and repeat.

Many thanks and best wishes to Janet, Billie, Susan, Augie and Bernard.

Readers: Warm your hearth and your heart and share some of our friendly, good cooking for the holidays.

Columbia Restaurant 1905 Salad

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, cut in eights
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 C swiss cheese, julienne
1/2 C ham, julienne
1/4 C green Spanish olives, chopped
2 teaspoons grated Romano cheese

1/8 C white wine vinegar
1/2 C extra virgin Spanish olive oil
4 cloves garlic minced
1 t. Worcestershire
1 t oregano
2 t lemon juice
brine from olive jar

Toss, add romano.

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