Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time...

... of the year. Christmas truly is my favorite time of the year... yes, when I was younger, it was all about the presents, but now that I'm more mature and over that aspect (my parents should be laughing by now) - it means so much more. It only took Charlie 45 minutes or so to tear through his piles of presents, but I could (and gladly would) have sat there all day watching the delight in his eyes as he discovered each gift... and I know that having little Charlie around was all the present "Great-Granny Lum" needed. Moments like these with my family really reinforce the true meaning and miracles of Christmas. Some notes... for those in the 14-month age-range... wood puzzles and shape sorters (you know what this is if you're a parent) are huge hits. And, thanks to some family friends, the DeNiros, we got to meet the latest Tickle Me Elmo today; he's hilarious if you're into waiting in long lines to find out that they are sold out or hounding eBay auctions.

Many things have changed in the past year or so since Charlie waltzed into our lives... including the disappearance of my family's annual Christmas night dessert party... but there is one tradition that held fast - my mom's Fresh Strawberry Trifle.

Strawberry Trifle

1 c sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
2 TBSP butter
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In saucepan, heat milk and butter till butter melts; keep hot. In mixer, beat whole eggs on high speed til thick and lemon-colored, about 3 min. Gradually add sugar, beating constantly at medium speed for 4-5 min. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture; stir til just blended. Stir in hot milk and vanilla; blend well. Turn into 2 greased and floured 8 inch round cake pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 min or until cake is done. Cool in pans 10 min. Remove cakes and cool on racks.

Custard and Strawberry Filling
1/4 c sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 c milk
2 beaten egg yolks
1 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c whipping cream
2 pints fresh strawberries
3 TBSP sugar
Strawberry or Orange liqueur
Powdered sugar

In saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the milk. Cook and stir over med high heat until thickened and bubbly. (Stir constantly; do not let milk scald) Then stir a small amount of hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Return to mixture in pan, stirring constantly. Cook 2 min more. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cover surface of pudding with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill. Later, whip the whipping cream; fold into chilled pudding. Set aside some strawberries for garnish; crush remaining berries and stir in sugar.

To assemble: Split cake layers in half to make 4 layers. Fit 1 layer into bottom of trifle dish; spread 1 c berries over. Top with second cake layer. Sprinkle cake with liqueur. Spread with all of the pudding. Place third cake layer on top; spread remaining berries over. Sprinkle cut side of fourth cake layer with liqueur; place cake, cut side down, on top of berries in dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, sift a heavy covering of powdered sugar over the top.

In the end, I have finally learned that no matter what your traditions are, and upheld or not, all that matters is the love that you give to family and friends... and that you remember the real reason for the Season.


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