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November 2009

Tips for Preparing for an Extra Special Holiday Season!


 I love the colorful drama of Autumn, but when the last pumpkin is carved and the candy corn all gone, I begin think about the daunting task of planning for the holiday season that lies ahead. Even for someone like me who has spent their entire life in the business of making dreams come true, planning endless parties and events can be a pretty intimidating assignment! I get asked all of the time for ideas to help create a wonderful holiday for family and friends while enduring the frantic pace of everyday life!

One of the most important things that I have learned is that great holidays don’t just happen unless you plan for them!  I’ve discovered over the years that few are really comfortable expressing their needs around the holidays. My job is to help you do that with ease so that when the last present is unwrapped and the last glass of champagne poured you are completely satisfied!   All it really takes is the mastery of 2 very simple tools!

One of my favorite ways to have fun is to sit down at the beginning of the season with a blank sketchbook, lots of colored pens and a huge stack of magazines.  Relax for a moment and then begin to write down your ideas .  Are there any friends who you’d like to invite over for cocktails? Christmas cards or a tree trimming  party? Maybe you’ve always wanted to have a traditional Parisian Christmas eve or a black tie New Years?  Don’t forget to include at least one fabulous holiday concert at Severance Hall!  Be sure to come down pre-concert to the Smith lobby to say hello!  I’ll be down there every weekend until Christmas selling  the WCCO Silver Bells!  
 When you’re ready, cut out pictures that appeal to you  and glue them onto the pages of your workbook. Take the markers and make notes about the things that you love about those images!
 I encourage you to do this at first without thinking about budget, because I promise you that there’s a way to make almost any dream come true at  any price. That’s because once you begin to see your holiday take shape on those pages almost everything that you choose to do will begin to reflect your desires.  When you’re done dreaming break out your calendar and choose the dates for each of your activities, even card sending and cookie baking! 

 Next, become a really great list maker! I resisted doing this for years, but I’ve learned the power that a simple list made early in the season has to help you achieve your holiday goals!  Start with menus, card and gift lists. This makes shopping much easier and creates a template for your life over the next 2 months that will help you live happily and with as little stress as possible. Remember too that the most precious currency that you can share is the gift of your time. All of the gifts, delicious food , music and glitter are simply the stage that we’ve set for you and your family to create wonderful memories together and never once in all of my years spent selling very precious gifts at Schreibman’s did I ever eclipse the gift of time .

You have my promise that when the tree has finally come down and the last bit of tinsel is swept away, that’s the present you’ll remember the most. 

My gift to you next month? A  special holiday recipe from my mother’s collection!

Wishing you and yours an endless abundance of holiday sweetness....

Beth Schreibman Gehring

 The Womens Committee of the Cleveland Orchestra- Silver Bells

The Windesphere Witch Fruitcake Recipe Contest - Hawaiian Fruitcake

Lisa...you've been entered into the drawing!

This delicious recipe was submitted by Lisa Corcoran!

* Exported from MasterCook *

                            Hawaiian Fruitcake

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
     3/4           cup  sugar
     3/4           cup  flour
     3/4      teaspoon  salt
     1/4      teaspoon  baking powder
     1/4      teaspoon  baking soda
  2               cups  pitted dates -- (10 ounces)
  1                cup  glaced pineapple pieces -- (8 ounces)
  1                cup  macadamia nuts -- chopped
  3                     eggs
     1/2      teaspoon  brandy extract

Heat oven to 300 degrees F.  Grease 9"x5"x3" loaf pan and line bottom with greased paper.  In large bowl mix sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir in dates, pineapple and nuts; coat with mixture.

Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored.  Fold into fruit mixture. (There will be just enough batter to really coat the fruit and nuts -- this is okay).

Turn into loaf pan; bake 1 1/2 hours.  

Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Turn onto wire rack and peel of paper to finish cooling.

Note:  If you want a liquor-infused fruitcake in the traditional way, use rum.

Photograph courtesy of Skidmore.edu

Ho Ho Ho! It's time for The Windesphere Witch Fruitcake recipe contest!

Everybody has an opinion about fruitcake! Some hate it and just as many love it! My mother's recipe for fruitcake was amazing, filled with bourbon soaked fruit and pecans with just enough cake to hold it together and soaked for weeks with more of the bourbon. This year I'm going to mix it up a bit and soak them with Navan, a  wonderful vanilla flavored cognac and It should be delightful! I'll post it as soon as I can retype it....over the years it's gotten a bit sticky!

There have been many requests to share fruitcake recipes on my facebook page so I decided to spice things  up a bit! If you submit your favorite recipe  to me by email ,I'll post them here as I receive them for all to share! Just send your recipe to me at  [email protected]  by 11:59 the 30th of November, and as a bonus I'll put your names into my Santa's cap and  pull one out! The lucky  winner will receive a 50.00 gift card from Williams Sonoma as an early Christmas gift from me!

Here is a video recipe for a delicious fruitcake infused brandy to get you started!  

 Photograph courtesy of PuddinHill.com

Video courtesy of how2heroes

Cheddar Ale Soup (For Vegans!)

Who doesn't love soup, especially this time of the year! This morning I woke up with a bit of extra time on my hands and a very hungry husband at home. I love to spoil him so I decided to make him a treat!   It started out as plain cream of cauliflower soup but quickly turned into a yummy vegan cheddar ale.  

Making this soup is fairly easy and you really don't miss the cheese or dairy. I happened to use the new Sheeze Smoked Cheddar from England which you can find at Whole Foods which is pretty fabulous! If you're not a vegan just use the real thing and thin the end result with some half and half! Either way, you'll love it!

You will need:

3 cups of Cauliflower

1 cup of chopped onion

1 cup of chopped celery

3 tablespoons of Earth Balance (Vegan butter type spread)

1 cup of raw cashews

4 cups of vegetable broth

4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

1 bottle of pumpkin ale

3/4 cup of tofutti sour cream

1 cup of crumbled Smoked cheddar flavored Sheese (or your favorite cheddar substitute)

1 teaspoon of white pepper

1/2 each teaspoon of cumin, nutmeg, sage and thyme

Toasted hazelnut oil

Start out by sauteing the vegetables in the earth balance. Add the cumin, nutmeg and the white pepper and stir until all of the vegetables are coated with the spices. Add half of the bottle of ale and simmer until they are soft and then add the cashews. Simmer for another 2 minutes and take off of the heat. 

Put the vegetable broth into a soup kettle on the stove and bring to a soft simmer.

In the large pitcher of your blender add the cooked vegetables,sage, cumin,  Sheese,  Tofutti and the rest of the ale. Blend all until you have a fine puree and whisk slowly into the gently simmering broth to which you've added the nutritional yeast. Keep whisking until you have a lovely creamy soup! The next step is to  strain the soup through a chinoise or any mesh strainer for added silkiness. 

Ladle the Cheddar Ale soup into bowls and drizzle a bit of toasted hazelnut oil over the top for a bit of extra autumn flavor! This is wonderful served with a simple salad of apples,red onions,  spinach and mushrooms with a simple vinaigrette  and a lot of crusty warm bread!