Grandma Sara’s Butter Brickle

Bumping this back to the top – here’s a recipe you’ll want to try – makes a great gift during the holidays!

My Grandmas' Recipes

Here’s one you’ll want to add to your holiday cooking list, and I’m telling you right now, plan on making a double batch because it goes fast. This is Grandma Sara’s butter brickle, or English toffee. She made it every year at Christmastime, and a batch of this, placed in a special piece of pottery, was the coveted gift in our family gift exchange for years!  I learned to make this many years ago, but even though I follow her recipe closely, I still say hers tasted better.

GRANDMA SARA’S BUTTER BRICKLE

2/3 c. sliced almonds, crushed, divided into 2 parts
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips (milk chocolate is okay too, because really, when does milk chocolate not work, anyway?)

Prepare pan: Line a cookie sheet that has sides (jelly roll pan) with foil, then butter the…

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Come hear Handel’s “Messiah”

IT’S TIME AGAIN FOR shameless self-promotion. Well, it isn’t exactly self-promotion: I am part of a much larger group, the National Philharmonic Chorale, and we are presenting Handel’s Messiah on December 16 and 17, 2017.

Together with the National Philharmonic, and four fabulous soloists, we do the whole thing, start to finish. (Well, most of it. There are always a few parts that we leave out.)

National-Philharmonic-2-12-

To buy tickets, go here. Kids ages 7-17 are FREE! – but you do need to reserve a seat for them.

How about a little Messiah backgrounder? Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.

And here’s some good history from Smithsonian Magazine:

Handel’s Messiah was originally an Easter offering. It burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The audience swelled to a record 700, as ladies had heeded pleas by management to wear dresses “without Hoops” in order to make “Room for more company.”

An Easter offering! From the same article:

“There is so much fine Easter music—Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, most especially—and so little great sacral music written for Christmas,” says Cummings. “But the whole first part of Messiah is about the birth of Christ.”

When I was at Dickinson College, we presented Messiah as a sing-along. (For fun, I just Googled, and found an archive photo from December 1986 that I am probably in! – though I don’t recall posing and can’t find my face.) It was big fun – we filled the recital hall each December with college and community voices and had a blast singing together.

Our performance with the National Philharmonic is not a sing-along – for you. But you can listen and appreciate this amazing work, performed by musicians from the DC-area community, just in time to get yourself into the Christmas spirit.

In case you can’t join us for this performance, here’s the Hallelujah Chorus, performed by the Royal Choral Society.

Send me a message if you need more information!

 

‘Tis the season

‘TIS THE SEASON for primo parking at Metro lots on Fridays. Lots of folks work alternative schedules that are arranged to keep them from commuting on Friday (lucky dogs), but this time of year, even more people are off work, burning vacation days they might otherwise forfeit as the year rolls over. I have been a full-time working person with benefits for over 27 years and have never once been in a position where I had more vacation days to use than I knew what to do with. What is that like? I hope one day to know.

‘TIS THE SEASON for snow in the weather forecast. This means two things: One, I miss my Jeep. The Jetta is fun to drive, but I can’t lie, I miss 4WD. And Two, now begins the frantic search for mittens and gloves (pairs, that match), scarves, hats, and boots. Did I not put them all in the designated basket when winter ended? I was sure I did. Oh, and I need to find the ice scraper for the car, too. Ho ho ho.

‘TIS THE SEASON for college kids to be taking finals! I remember the feeling. Seth has all three of his next Monday; Ross has his spread out over the week next week. Related: it’s also time to return the textbook rentals. And to register for next semester.

‘TIS THE SEASON for my annual declaration, HOMEMADE GIFTS FOR EVERYONE!, which is followed shortly thereafter by my other annual declaration, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING. Here’s hoping they feel the love in each carefully mail-ordered gift that will be hastily stuffed into a gift bag on December 24.

‘TIS THE SEASON for hour-long hold times and newly-hired seasonal temps receiving a “baptism by fire” during my “where is the rest of my refund?” call, and a still-incorrect refund from Macy’s. It was obvious the guy was a rookie, which is fine, and I had time to hold, but I would also have expected his team lead, whom he kept telling me he was “partnering with”, to correct my refund. I returned 4 things and, so far, have been refunded for two of them. Alas.

‘TIS THE SEASON to deck the halls. This year, I’m decking mine with new traditions, as it’s my first Christmas in my new place. I got a new fake tree, and I like it. We hung those pine-scented sticks on it so the house smells like fake evergreen. Last night, the boys and I hung old ornaments on it. That was mostly OK, but frankly, it kind of made me melancholy. But, it felt like the right thing to do. I put candles in my windows, just like before, but am happy I don’t have to drape greenery on my split rail fences (one year I went full Martha Stewart and fashioned garlands and wreaths from real greens!) and have the annual disagreement over whether the lights on the house should be all white (my preference) or multi-colored (the kids’ preference).

‘TIS THE SEASON for busy-ness, but also for good cheer and hugs and smiles and for being thankful and grateful for so many things.