Monday, December 16, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

You've heard me talk about our neighborhood here in Boone, and you know how much we love it.
One of the things we all look forward to every year is our annual Christmas party, which we had this past weekend.
Everyone brings a covered dish, and we always end up with a feast. This year we had loads of appetizers, salmon, jambalaya, oyster stew, baked spaghetti, salads and side dishes galore, along with several desserts. And, everyone brings a gift for the Santa exchange. Years ago when we were first getting to know one another, the gifts were pretty hysterical cheap gag gifts. We came to the realization that this is a group of very creative, amazingly talented people. We have artists, wood workers, potters, stained glass artists, writers, knitters, quilters, leather workers, weavers, gardeners and seamstresses, canners and cooks and bakers. This discovery letdto a whole different kind of gift exchange. Now a lot of the gifts are handmade items, and much treasured. 

We visit and catch up with what everyone's been doing since we were last together (a whole month ago!).  We eat and laugh and tease one another.



Then we get down to the business of choosing a gift from under the tree based on what number we've drawn from Mary Anne's hat.
And we all know that there are treasures under that tree.

Treasures you do well not to fall in love with.
Someone else is going to fall in love with it too.
And, they'll have no qualms about coming and taking it away from you rather than take a gift from under the tree. 


What goes around, comes around.

And whoops!

There goes that gift again!!!!!

I forgot to take pictures of many of the gorgeous items, but I did get a couple.
Someone went home with a gorgeous original Jill Smith painting. This is a local neighborhood view painted by one of the most talented women I've ever had the privilege of knowing.
Have I mentioned how much we love it here?
And someone else (that would be me!) went home with a wonderful piece of pottery from the studio right down the road owned by Keith and Willie Lambert.  Isn't is scrumptious??  They do wonderful, wonderful work.  They also have a studio in Beaufort, NC.  So you can shop with them here in the mountains, or on the coast.

And this is a picture of the cake I took.
It's a French Vanilla Pound Cake, and the recipe is from Bibb Jordan's THE POUND CAKE COOKBOOK.

Recipe -
Do Not Preheat Your Oven!
One vanilla bean, cut into thirds
One cup of cream, room temperature
2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups of sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups of cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Butter and flour a large (10-12 inch) decorative bundt pan.
With a small knife, split half lengthwise the vanilla bean pieces.  Please the bean and cream in a small saucepan and warm the mixture to a simmer - making sure it doesn't boil. Remove from heat and allow it to steep while preparing the cake.
Cream the butter on high speed and slowly add the sugar; continue beating for about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Sift the cake flour with the baking powder and set aside.
Remove the vanilla bean pieces from the cream.  Using a small knife, thoroughly scrape the insides of the pieces into the cream.  Discard the pieces after you've scraped them clean.
Alternately add the flower and cream to the butter, beginning and ending with the flour.
Beat in the extracts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Place in a COLD oven. 
Turn the oven to 325 and bake for 65 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cake plate.
While the cake is cooling mix together:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar                               
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Chambord (raspberry-flavored liqueur)                               
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

  • Whisk until well blended and smooth.

    Spoon over warm cake.



    cathy said...

    How nice... over the years, I've heard about those neighborhood parties ya'll have and they sound like so much fun. That stone fireplace in the photos looks just like the one I used to have... it was perfect for that "Christmasy" feeling. :) Sounds like you all had a wonderful time at the party and that cake recipe sounds delicious.

    lil Gluckstern said...

    Nice piece-reminds of years gone by. It looks like a good time was had all!

    Anonymous said...

    What a gorgeous fireplace you have! T. Straw in Manhattan...

    Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

    A good time was had by all, for sure. We all like one another and it's a close-knit group.

    It is a gorgeous fireplace, isn't it? But not ours, I'm afraid. We were at a neighbor's house for the party.

    Libby Dodd said...

    How delightful! What a wonderful group of friends to have. Lucky you!

    BPL Ref said...

    I decided you must be at someone else's house, else where was Harley? ;-)

    Pat Browning said...

    Thank you for inviting us all to the party! Love the photos, and I can almost taste that gorgeous cake. Thanks for the recipe.

    The merriest of Christmases to you, Donald and Harley, and your mom -- !

    Patty said...

    Sounds like a blast! We do something similar, but with our dog training friends. The gifts are for the dogs and the "stealing" is always fun. The dogs come away with some wonderful gifts and the friends always have great stories to tell and some amazing food.