What does cookies, fruitcake and poinsettias have in common? They are all popular Christmas traditions.
The holidays are celebrated in many ways. One very traditional way is baking and enjoying holiday cookies. There is, however, more going on inside your cookie jar than meets your taste buds. In fact, psychologists have discovered that the way your cookie crumbles reveals the flavor of your personality, say several family therapists.
Here are some examples:
• Chocolate Chip You’re as American as apple pie, and you’re raising your kids with the traditional values you treasure. Your low-key approach to life makes you a favorite with family and friends because you bring a steadying influence to the most chaotic situations.
• Ginger Snaps You’re bold, brave and in search of excitement. Life is never dull when you’re around, and both kids and adults are attracted by your zest for life. You never shy away from new adventures, leading a happy band of friends and family who’ll gladly follow you anywhere.
• Fig Newtons Quiet, reserved and mature, your keen mind makes you a force to be reckoned with. You always have your “ducks in a row”, and your organizational skills assure your home and job are both running smoothly. Just don’t forget, spontaneity is a good think too.
• Sugar Cookies You’re a nonconformist who believes that variety is the spice of life. Your avid interest in a multitude of subjects, teamed with your antiestablishment sensibility, makes you a challenging companion. You may not always take the safe path, but there’s no doubt that life with you is never dull.
• Oatmeal As homespun and down-to-earth as a comfy pair of slippers, you’re a genius at making others feel loved. Your family and friends blossom under the warmth of your generous spirit, while your practical approach to problems helps you find the best route to a solution that satisfies everyone involved.
The History of Fruitcake
Culinary lore claims that ancient Egyptians placed an early version of the fruitcake on the tombs of loved ones, perhaps as food for the afterlife. But fruitcakes were not common until Roman times, when pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and barley mash were mixed together to form a ring-shaped dessert. Prized for its portability and shelf life, Roman soldiers often brought fruitcake with them to the battlefields. Later, in the Middle Ages, preserved fruit, spices and honey were added to the mix and fruitcakes gained popularity with crusaders.
In fact, by the early 18th century, fruitcake became synonymous with decadence and was outlawed in Europe, where it was proclaimed "sinfully rich". The law was eventually repealed since fruitcake had become an important part of the tea hour, particularly in England.
Recent centuries have seen fruitcake continue as a popular item to send to soldiers. One former soldier, Lance Nesta, rediscovered a fruitcake gifted to him in 1962 when he was stationed in Alaska. He had forgotten about the loaf, and it ended up in his mother's attic, where he found it 40 years later, claiming that at the time of receiving the present, "I opened it up and didn’t know what to do with it. I sure wasn't going to eat it, and I liked my fellow soldiers too much to share it with them".
The humble loaf has also appeared in popular culture like Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory", which recounts young Capote's time spent with his eccentric cousin, who would commence to fruitcake making when she deemed it proper "fruitcake weather".
But it is perhaps the former host of "The Tonight Show", Johnny Carson, who best determined fruitcake's place in the modern psyche. Deriding the loaf as a holiday reject, he once claimed that, "The worst gift is fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and the people keep sending it to each other"
Poinsettias and Friends
There are some beautiful varieties of flowering plants that can add to the beauty of the holidays and in many cases, can last for many years. Here are a few tips to help you be successful. Poinsettias, Cyclamen and Christmas Cactus are the most popular with the Poinsettias leading the choices.
1. Buy from plant stores where plants are a year round business. They will know how to maintain their plants until they are purchased.
2. Make sure any plant purchased is wrapped to protect that Tropical foliage from cold, outdoor temps.
3. Place in a room with good sky light, a room that you could read this article at noon without turning on any additional light. The plant does NOT need sunlight through window glass. Northern window light is best for all blooming tropicals.
4. Remove foil around pot and place on a saucer. Keep plant away from a working heat source, or quick chill for example, Furnace vent, working fireplace, or door that opens to the outside.
5. Water the soil when it feels dry to the touch. Place pot in kitchen sink under faucet and let luke warm water gently water the soil till excess water runs out drain holes. Leave in the sink till all water has run out and place the plant back in its home.
6. Only repot these plants when top heavy. Move soil clump up to next size pot. Christmas cactus also respond to no water in October for more dependable bloom in December.
Now, go enjoy the holidays and each other.
Merry Christmas to All
Contact Denny McKeown at www.bloomingarden.com
Listen to Denny 8-10 am Saturdays on Realtalk WQRT 1160AM