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We Always Say We Always
November 17, 2005

            Lots of lovely words associate themselves with the Christmas season.  Two of the loveliest, I think, are we always.

            “We always go to sing carols in the square.”

            “We always watch the youngest one put the angel on top of the tree.”

            “We always make brownies for Santa.”

            The words sing of family and tradition.  But one thing we always did in our family was not talk about Christmas until the Thanksgiving turkey had turned into soup and the china sparkled clean and dry in the corner cupboard. 

            That has changed. It’s hard not to think about Christmas starting in October when the candy canes shove the Halloween costumes out of the way in the discount stores and when a huge Santa grins down at me from above the Tallahassee Highway before I even think of purchasing the Thanksgiving Tom.

            I try not to think about it, but the weekend before Thanksgiving in Bainbridge, how can you not?

            Christmas comes downtown on the Sunday afternoon before the holiday in a big way as local merchants throw open their doors, serve up holiday goodies and put everyone in the proper spirit to start the season.  And along with lots of others, I’ll be there.

            I’m not starting on the Square, though; I’m heading for the Firehouse where the Arts Council is kicking off the season with scores of home-made goodies—good for Christmas giving and good for Thanksgiving sharing.  The Arts Council’s Heather White has lined up bunches of baked goods, gingerbread cookies, and her very special pickled tomatoes. 

            And if you prefer cooking done at home—then you are in luck.  Heather has compiled a cookbook of favorites of Arts Council members and other community friends—and this is its inaugural day!  Pick up a copy, or two or three, of Tried and True: Toe-curling, Lip-smacking, Tummy-tingling, Soul-lifting Recipes. What a great gift.        

            But there will be more than shopping in the Firehouse. How about a family-portrait Christmas card?  No, it’s not too late.  Bob Stott will be set up to shoot the portrait and the cards will be ready to pick up in a few days. 

            And for the kids and the kid in all of us?  At 2:00 Jenna Miley will read the Christmas Story, and Lori Kuhn-Hancock will also   perform  “A Cajun Christmas.”  Sounds like fun.

            More is going on over on the Square.  You can grab a bite of birthday cake and ice cream and wish Willis Park a happy one-hundredth birthday.  Speaking of Christmas traditions—once again, Mary Cox will be in the gazebo from 1 until 5 p.m. signing her 2004 Christmas ornament.  This year’s drawing is of the Chamber of Commerce building.  And this year, the ornaments are only available in the park and through the Community Development Office of the city.  About 3 o’clock action will move over to City Hall for the ribbon-cutting for the beautiful Streetscape project.

            All around the Square things will be popping.  Amanda Glover of Community Development reports that at least twenty-one downtown businesses are participating in the open house.  And many of them will be serving Christmas goodies.

            I know I’ll be over at the Book Nook sipping on their eggnog—for a tradition in our family is Christmas books, and owner, Jim Smith tells me he has plenty.  I went down and looked.  It’s hard for a grandparent to get out of the store.  This year’s crop of books for the small ones is incredible.

            Jim is serving up more than eggnog and best-sellers.  You can meet the authors and have your gift books signed.  That’s right—authors!!  Jim has lined up at least five—maybe more—local writers to be on hand to share their experiences and books. 

            Carolyn Kelly has compiled two cookbooks—one with her friend Carolyn Fox is aptly named “Two Carolyns’ Recipes and Remedies.”  She’s also harvested the memories, pictures and recipes of the Warren Kirkland Smith family in “Smith Family Recipes.” She will be at the Book Nook signing all Sunday afternoon.

            The writing duo, Steve and Peggy Phillips King, will join her.  Both have written memoirs—Peggy‘s about childhood in South Georgia and Steve’s relate his World War II experience.  Nile Limbaugh’s book 20/20 Vision and No Such Thing as Luck by Floridian Charlie P. Johnston will be available as well.  And don’t forget the Book Nook’s own Julia Faye Smith.  She’ll be there to sign Tommy:  the Civil War Childhood of a President.

            When I was checking out Jim’s book stock, I was delighted to find two of my favorite books, both of which I thought were no longer available.  Jim has several copies of the late Ed Marsicano’s All So Good and Rats in White Sauce.  (I received my copy as a gift a couple of Christmases ago.)  And the few remaining copies of the popular and coveted Decatur County Historical Society Cookbook grace the shelves.  What a gift that will make!

            If you are looking for the Pando family this Sunday afternoon—look downtown.  We always go to Christmas Open House.

            While I looked through Carolyn’s cookbook, I came across these delightful sweets that I’d forgotten.  I think I learned to make these in seventh grade homemaking class.  They are good with chocolate chips too.

Butterscotch Drops

(from Two Carolyns’ Recipes and Remedies)

2 bags butterscotch morsels

1 can chow mein noodles

1 can skinless peanuts

            Toast noodles and peanuts at 250 degrees for 10 minutes.  Melt chips on low heat.  Take off heat and add chow mein noodles and peanuts.  Drop by spoonfuls on to waxed paper; let cool.  Store in an airtight container.

            For those who want to take advantage of the end-of-the-season tomato crop, Heather White has shared her green tomato pickles recipe.  For myself, I’m buying mine at the Firehouse.

 

Heather’s Spiced Green Tomato Pickles

 Soak seven pounds of sliced green tomatoes (small ones are great) in 2 gallons of water and three cups of lime (dissolved) for 24 hours.  Use an enamel pot.

Drain and soak in fresh water for 4 hours-changing water every hour. 

Drain.

Place in a kettle with 5 lbs of sugar, 3 pints of vinegar and 1.5 teaspoons each of cloves, ginger, allspice and cinnamon and 1 teaspoon each of celery seed and mace.  Bring this syrup to a boil, pour over the tomatoes and let stand overnight.  In the morning boil for an hour.

            Take your prepared canning jars and carefully place pickles in jars with some of the syrup.  Seal tightly and turn jars upside down.  After about 5 minutes turn them upright and wait for the centers of the jar lids to pop inward, indicating the jars are sealed well.  If the center of any of the jars do not seal, they must be refrigerated.  Enjoy!

            If you can’t wait until Sunday, then foray over to St. John’s Episcopal Church on Saturday.  The ladies of the church are holding their annual bazaar from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.  This year they are featuring an “Extravaganza of Angels,” with golden angels of many sizes.  They also have their classic Country Kitchen standards ready to pop into your freezer (Pauline Brock’s famous turkey dressing) or pantry (Berry Penhallegon’s incredible pyracantha jelly and Mid Brock’s fabulous soup mix).  Chicken salad lunch for dine-in or carry-out rounds out the morning.


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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network