Holiday Snacks—Internationale!

Winter Strawberries

1 6-ounce package strawberry gelatin

1 cup ground pecans or walnuts

1 cup flaked coconut

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Red decorator sugar

About 1/2 cup blanched almonds, slivered

Combine gelatin, pecans, and coconut. Stir in milk and vanilla. Mix well. Chill one hour. Shape into strawberries and roll in red sugar. (If red decorator sugar cannot be found, make your own by putting white sugar in a jar, adding a few drops red food coloring, and shaking well.) Tint almonds with green food coloring (same method as for tinting sugar) and insert in tops of berries to form leaves. Faye Walch, Salt Lake City, Utah

Nippy Mexican Dip

1 cucumber

4 medium tomatoes

1 onion

1/4 green pepper

1 small clove garlic, pressed

1–3 hot yellow peppers (optional)

5–10 sprigs cilantro or parsley

1/2 avocado (or more)

1 stalk celery

1 carrot

1/4 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce

1 tablespoon catsup

Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime

Dash oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop or grind the first seven ingredients together. In a blender, mix the avocado, celery, and carrot, using a little juice from the chopped ingredients. Combine the chopped and the blended ingredients, add seasonings, and chill. This dip goes well with tortilla chips, crackers, or raw vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, or zucchini.

Jan Hagel Cookies

These crispy cookies originated in Holland, though this version is less sweet than the original. Nuts and seeds have been added for crunch and flavor—not to mention nutrition!

1/2 pound butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons water

1 cup fine whole-wheat flour

1 cup white flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped or sliced almonds

1 cup sesame seeds

Glaze: 6 tablespoons brown sugar and 6 tablespoons water

Combine the butter or margarine, sugar, water, flours, and cinnamon to form a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two equal parts, and press into two 10″ by 15″ cookie sheets (size is important). Using the palm of the hand, keep pushing and stretching the dough until a thin layer reaches all sides of the pan. Press nuts into the dough in one pan and sesame seeds into the other. Sparingly brush the glaze on top. Bake the sheets one at a time in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for about fifteen minutes or until evenly and lightly browned. Remove from oven and cut into squares or diamonds while still hot. Store in airtight container in a cool place. Makes about ten dozen delicate cookies.

Belgian Cheese Log

(The basic ingredients of cheese and butter can be used as a starter for many other variations. Try substituting ground dried fruits, grated cheeses, sesame seeds, or other items.)

4 ounces cream cheese

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon “fines herbes”

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 teaspoon chives, chopped

Dried parsley for rolling

Soften cheese and butter to room temperature. Mix well and add the herbs, except parsley. Shape into a ball or log and roll in chopped parsley. Wrap in a double layer of waxed paper and chill, or use as a dip. (Above recipes from Karen Mergeler, Bear Valley, California)

[photo] Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten

Our Scripture Tree

When Dan and I overheard our children anticipating their Christmas gifts shortly after Halloween, we realized we needed something to focus their attention on the true meaning of Christmas. Concluding that our family emphasis should be on the gifts our Savior has given us and the gifts of the Spirit he would have us develop, we decided to hang a scripturally oriented advent calendar and involve the children in using it each day.

I placed a white, felt tree in the center of our wall hanging, with the words “Not as the world giveth” (John 14:27) cut from felt and glued around the tree. Next, I sewed twenty-four pockets, one for each day of December until Christmas, to the wall hanging, above and below the tree. A theme-related scripture for each day was typed on a white card and inserted in the pockets. (A bit of Christmas decoration on each card helps with the Christmas spirit also. Ours were made festive, but it takes time.) Then a theme word from each verse of scripture was also typed, glued to a strip of red ribbon, and attached to the tree.

Our two children, Daniel (eight) and Laura (six), took turns lifting the scripture from the appropriate pocket each morning. Then they found the key word from those displayed on the tree. After family prayer we discussed how we could apply the scripture in our lives; then the child attached the scripture to the center of the tree to serve as a reminder for the day. At dinner each night we were supposed to tell what we did during the day to try to make the scripture a part of our lives.

While we sometimes failed to follow-through, it was a rewarding experience to discover and share a new “gift” from the Savior each morning. Those days we consciously acted on the scripture, we truly basked in Christmas joy and spirit. Next year I may wrap tiny surprises and place them in a prominent bowl to help our children remember the daily challenge and provide incentive for alert and positive responses at dinner.

Preparing this advent calendar and combing the scriptures for scriptural “gifts” was fun—but did take hours of time. It pays to start early. Sherlene H. Bartholomew, White Plains, New York

[photo] Photography by Sherlene Bartholomew

Ten Minutes a Room

After some years of frustration at not being able to accomplish my goals in homemaking, I devised a game for myself that helps our household run more smoothly.

Instead of spending a big chunk of time in any one room of the house at the beginning of each day, I spend up to ten minutes in each room. I time myself by the clock, and when ten minutes are up, I move on. Counting the laundry room, hall, and bathrooms, this initial house cleaning takes two hours.

Ten minutes is a very small amount of time to spend cleaning a room like the kitchen, but I can clear the dishes off the table and put them in the sink in ten minutes. I can also fold a load of wash or make a bed or scrub the bathroom fixtures in ten minutes.

At the end of two hours my home is presentable, and I feel more at ease taking time to read the scriptures, prepare a Primary lesson, or cut out a dress. Earlier, I would have felt guilty engaging in these activities while my house was in disarray.

Of course, good housekeeping requires much more than ten minutes in each room, so after the initial once-over I go back and concentrate on the heavier projects like floor scrubbing, vacuuming, or cleaning out cupboards. It’s good to establish a schedule for these kinds of cleaning projects also. By combining my ten-minute plan with my other schedule I’m able to get the house clean on the surface as well as underneath—and still have time for other activities. Betty Jan Murphy, Tucson, Arizona

[illustration] Illustrated by Michael Rogan