Bless Your Spoon — Let’s get this Christmas party started

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2023

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Let’s get this party started — with a celebration of history.

Christmas marks a day in history, one that honors and celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. A study of history teaches us, the past informs, awakens and reveals to us.

Last week was one for past reflections of history. Hosted by the Forsyth Preservation Society, a holiday party with a tour was held at the two newly restored and festively decorated historic homes in Winston Salem — the Benjamin J. and Rosa H. Sheppard House and Jacob L. and Myra H. Ludlow homes on Summit St. in the West End area.

The large parcels of history were salvaged after a group of investors bought the two condemned properties slated for demolition and refurbished them into bed and breakfast inns, collectively named The Summit Inns. Recently, this project received a commercial award from Preservation Forsyth for their comprehensive rehabilitation of the homes.

Guests were offered glasses of wine with a variety of meats, cheese and other finger foods from an artfully arranged charcuterie board. Decorated for Christmas, the homes glistened in sparkling white lights, festive gold bows and swags of ribbon-wrapped greenery. The impressive cozy bedrooms with mega chrome baths sparkled. At dusk, I marveled over those glorious stained-glass windows with light gleaming through.

And then on Saturday, I marinated in local history while enjoying a tour of the Jesse A. Clement House in Mocksville hosted by the Davie County Historical and Genealogical Society. Celebrating a history of 200 years, the home was open to guests, and refreshments were served following the tour. Beautifully decorated, the home reflected the simple elegance of the period.

I love everything of vintage eras and completely support all restoration, remodeling and rethinking of spaces. I support the care of anything and everything that reflects the past. My heart goes out to those who preserve history, especially to those who steward old homes. When you have a heart for history, you want to see as much of it preserved as possible.

But it’s not just about architecture but the personal stories, as well. Family traditions, foods and holiday rituals — they all make up our stories. But people are the most important — it’s all about the folks. Whether it’s Aunt Doodie’s Christmas menus, my friend Dot Ann’s favorite cranberry recipe, Mamma’s fudge cake or my grandmother’s Raggedy Ann doll collection — the past tells us stories. I hope you will always keep your people and your memories alive.

That brings me to our elderly — they might be aged but they’re still with us. They’re vital to our society, have a wealth of knowledge and are full of wisdom. They should be upheld and esteemed, as such, for the lives they have lived and the stories they long to share with us.

Many of our old folks are suffering greatly through the holiday season from loneliness and isolation, especially those shut in without transportation. I challenge you to make a pact with an elderly person you know and be their holiday Santa — their sled full of gifts and reindeer with blankie lights. Bring comfort by sharing the reason for the season — a shining light in someone else’s darkness.

Please consider that God came to us through a birth — and in the form of a baby. The Gospel of John tells us, “The word became flesh and lived among us.” We were to care about Him. We are to protect, preserve, and share His words and stories.

History teaches us.

Salami Wedges

• 36 thin slices of salami

• 8 ounces softened cream cheese

• 2 Tbsp. horseradish

• Dashes of hot sauce

In a bowl, combine cream cheese with horseradish and hot sauce. Make 3-decker sandwiches by spreading 1 slice of salami with about 2 tsp. of the cheese mixture. Top with another slice of salami; spread with cheese mixture, and put a final slice of salami on top. Chill for at least 1 hour. Cut into quarters and spear with toothpicks. Makes 4 dozen.

Bacon Crackers

• Club crackers

• 1 pound lean bacon

• Garlic powder or salt

• Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cut bacon slices in thirds. Wrap raw pieces of bacon around a cracker. Place on baking sheet with the end pieces downward. Fill the entire baking sheet with crackers. Sprinkle garlic and grated cheese over entire baking sheet of crackers. Cook in a preheated 200-degree oven for 2 hours. Allow to cool.

Brie Wheel with Cognac Glaze

• 1 small round of brie cheese

• 1 cup chopped pecans

• 2 cups brown sugar

• 2 Tbsp. Cognac

Remove rind from a small round of brie cheese. In a bowl, combine pecans, sugar and Cognac. Top the cheese with the mixture. Bake in a preheated 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Reuben Dip

• 6 ounces finely chopped corned beef

• 1 pound drained sauerkraut

• 1 cup Thousand Island dressing

• 12 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

In a bowl, combine the chopped corn beef, drained sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and shredded Swiss cheese. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve with Rye chips.

Steamed Shrimp & Sauce

• 2 pounds large shrimp

• Beer

• 1 tsp. hot sauce

• 3 Tbsp. seafood seasoning

Sauce:

• ¼ cup horseradish

• ¾ cup ketchup

In a pot, place rinsed fresh shrimp. Fill pot 1/8th full with beer. Add to the pot, the hot sauce and seafood seasoning. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Turn shrimp several times while cooking. Drain and serve hot or cold with sauce. For the sauce, combine ingredients.

Ham and Cheese Hot Wheels

• 8-ounce package crescent dinner rolls

• ¼ cup hot mustard

• 1 ½ cups minced, cooked ham

• 1 ½ cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

• 1 tsp. grated onion

Unroll package of rolls and press every 2 triangles together to form a square. Spread each square with mustard. In a bowl, combine the ham, cheese and onion. Evenly sprinkle cheese and ham mix on top of mustard on each square to cover. Roll up each square in a jelly roll fashion. Chill for a couple of hours. When ready to bake, cut into ½-inch, bite-sized pinwheels, and place on cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 12-12 minutes or until hot.

Boursin Cheese Dip

• 8 ounces whipped salted butter

• 16 ounces softened cream cheese

• 2 cloves garlic

• ½ tsp. each salt, basil, marjoram, chives

• ¼ tsp. each thyme, freshly ground pepper

• 1 tsp. dill

To a processor, add butter, cream cheese and remainder of ingredients. Blend until smooth. Store in refrigerator and when ready to use, take out to soften for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Serve with crackers. Suitable for freezing.

Bite-Sized Crab Quiches

• 3 ounces cream cheese

• ¼ lb. salted butter

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus

Filling:

• Squares of deli thin sliced ham

• Squares of Swiss cheese

• 3 ounces drained crabmeat

• 2 large eggs

• 1 ½ tsp. all-purpose flour

• ¼ tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. ground mustard

• Dash of cayenne

• 1 cup half and half

For the pastry, in a mixer bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in salt and flour at low speed. Pinch a ball of dough and if it is still sticky, add a little more flour. Press balls of dough into small-sized muffin tins. For the filling, into each uncooked shell, place a small square of ham, cheese and crab meat. In a bowl, beat eggs, flour, salt, mustard and cayenne. Add half and half and pour over the meats. Beat in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes and then reduce oven to 350-degrees and cook 15 additional minutes.

Ham and Pecan Roll

• 8 ounces softened cream cheese

• 1 Tbsp. premium mayonnaise

• ½ cup chopped chutney

• 1 cup ground cooked ham

• 1 cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, combine cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add chopped chutney and ground ham. Shape into log form. Sprinkle chopped nuts on waxed paper and roll log in nuts. Wrap in aluminum foil and chill until firm. Serve cold with crackers.

Crab Meat Coquilles

• 1 pound drained, fresh crab meat

• 1 cup premium mayonnaise

• 1 cup whole milk

• 1 cup crushed stuffing, plus

• 1 Tbsp. chopped onion

• 1 tsp. each mustard and Worcestershire

In a mixer bowl, combine crabmeat with mayonnaise, milk, stuffing, onion, mustard and Worcestershire. Pour into a lightly greased baking dish. Top with additional crushed stuffing and dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Can be made in individual shells. Serve with bagel chips for dipping.

Bar-B-Q Cheese Crescents

• 1 Tbsp. olive oil

• 1 pound ground chuck

• ½ cup tomato sauce

• 1 cup BBQ sauce

• 2 Tbsp. dry onion soup mix

• 2 packges refrigerated crescent rolls

• Sharp cheddar cheese

In a skillet, brown ground beef in oil. Add tomato sauce, BBQ sauce and dry onion soup mix. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Unroll and separate the crescent rolls. Spread 1 Tbsp. beef mixture on each roll. Roll up as for crescent rolls. Place on a cookie sheet and top each with thin slice of sharp cheddar cheese. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes.