24 December 2009

Ruth & Skitch Henderson’s Christmas in the Country


I like to buy cookbooks. I know, you are shocked to find that I like to buy cookbooks. There are a few “antique” cookbooks I covet, but they are usually out of my price range. So I am always on the lookout for books in my price range. On any given day, I generally have about $5 in my pocket and that is the magical cookbook range. Show me a cookbook in good shape, with a reasonable jacket that is priced under $5 and I will generally add it to my collection. Sometimes these books simply make a pass through and some of them are cherished possessions.

Last summer I picked up a lovely copy of Ruth & Skitch Henderson’s Christmas in the Country. I thought it would make a nice "Famous Food Friday" segment at Lucindaville, as Henderson was the conductor of the New York Pops. The book came complete with its own CD accompaniment, and next to cookbooks I love tunes, so this was a two-fer. Later I found that this particular copy was also a “Presentation” copy, inscribed by Ruth and Skitch to a couple who obviously were unimpressed because they never played the CD and dumped the book at a used bookstore. Lucky for me.

Ruth and Skitch Henderson on their wedding day

It being summer and all, I didn’t spend a lot of time with the book. With Christmas approaching, I pulled it out. Ruth & Skitch Henderson’s Christmas in the Country is one of the best Christmas cookbooks out there; in fact it is a really great cookbook on its own. Grant it, there are a lot of family stories, and some crafts, but there are really great recipes and tons of photo’s of lovely table settings. And there is a CD. Who knew!

Well, now you do!

Ruth Henderson describes fond memories of Saint Nicholas Day. On December 6, children made their Christmas list, rolled it up and placed it in one of their shoes. The shoe was placed at the foot of the bed or outside the bedroom door. They left Santa a snack and in the morning, if the list was gone and replaced with candy, you might have your list fulfilled, but if you found coal or a switch well, Christmas could be bleak.

The tradition was continued at the Henderson household, featuring a party for neighbors. Ruth always served a German drink called Glühwein.

Glow Wine

1 750 ml bottle red wine
5 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup dark rum (optional)
6 cinnamon sticks for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat to simmering; do not boil. Strain if you want to (we don’t) and keep warm. To serve, ladle into mugs and add cinnamon stick to each mug.

Give it a try.

Here's Skitch with Carol of the Bells.

Happy Christmas Eve

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