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Celebrating the Holidays with Founding Mother Recipes

By Robyn

A nice way to start the holidays is by browsing through old cookbooks and finding favorite family recipes to make again. I made my mother’s time honored pumpkin chiffon pie this Thanksgiving, a lighter than light 1960s version of the original. It brought back so many fond memories making this pie with my mother from the time I was a small child. I got to lick the mixing spoons and bowl at the end - delicious! She lived over twenty years in England where Thanksgiving is celebrated only by American expats. I remember her improvising by crushing digestive biscuits for the pie crust, rather than the usual graham crackers. And I think she found the pumpkin in a Chinese store, where it would normally be made into soup. How we enjoyed gathering around the table with family and friends for this uniquely American treat.

We at International Neighbors happily come together with food and friendship all the time. I’m looking at our lovely cookbook, “International Neighbors Collected Recipes, published in 2008. Kasia Gallo from Poland, our Newsletter Editor at the time, created the book with the help of many international neighbors who contributed recipes from all over the globe. A beautiful watercolor from Ann Staiger’s painting class graces the cover. Kasia says in her foreword to the book:

“Each year new members join our organization, and old friends depart as they move back to their home countries or elsewhere. We remember all who leave, and miss them dearly; those who move away miss the friends they leave behind. The enclosed recipes provide a great way to get together with friends-if only in spirit-by cooking the foods they love!”

Looking through the cookbook, I see many familiar names, including some of our Founding Mothers who are no longer with us. The hospitality of these wonderful women was legendary and reading the recipes brings back so many happy memories. Please let me share a few with you, with a few comments added in italics.

Cover for the International Neighbors Collected Recipes

International Neighbors Punch

Submitted by Marilyn Maaseidvaag

3 cups strong tea

1 large can pineapple juice

1 large can orange juice (frozen)

Lemon juice (approximately ½ cup)

2 quarts ginger ale

Place all ingredients in a punch bowl. Garnish with strawberries, lemons, or orange slices. To keep the punch cold without diluting the flavor, make an ice ring with lemonade and fruit and place in the punch bowl along with the punch.

Makes 20 servings.

(This recipe was served at International Neighbors Fall Receptions, downsized from the original that served 300. This nostalgic punch adds a celebratory touch to any gathering.)

Tomato Aspic

Submitted by Ernestina Parravano

I always make this one day ahead.

2 small (3 ounces) or 1 large (6 ounces) package of orange Jello

1 - 46 ounce bottle of V-8 or other vegetable juice, divided

¼ cup cold water

A few capers or sliced olives

Heat two cups of V-8 juices until very warm. Put Jello into a bowl and cover with the warm juice. Add one cup of cold V-8 juice and the cold water. Stir. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with capers or green olives just before serving.

(A favorite savory party dish. I remember Ernestina, from Italy, bringing it to the lunch where the new members of the International Neighbors Board were welcomed by the outgoing members)

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Filbert Crescents

Submitted by Shirley Axon

! cup soft butter

1 cup filberts, finely chopped in blender

¼ cup sugar

2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill until firm. With hands, shape small pieces of dough into tiny rolls. Twist on cookie sheets to from crescents. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 10 minutes.

You may dip in or shake some powdered sugar over the finished cookies while warm. Handle gently.

(Shirley Axon would always make these cookies for our December Tea Group, where hostesses would prepare plates of holiday cookies for their guests. Filberts are often called hazelnuts. In Shirley’s memory I plan to make these cookies for the International Day Cookie Exchange this year.)

Oat Cakes

Submitted by Shirley Wolfe


2 cups oats

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

2 Tablespoons sugar

½ cup butter or margarine

½ cup boiling water

Blend oats in a blender until chopped finely. Add to the other dry ingredients. Cut in butter or margarine. Add boiling water and mix together. Divide in half and shape into 2 balls. Roll these out very thinly on a floured cloth. Cut into squares, strips, or wedges. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes.

(Sometimes you want to eat something healthy among all the holiday treats. Shirley Wolfe’s Oat Cakes, wonderful for breakfast with a little jam, are a delicious way to start the morning)

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