Hen Party & Holiday Happenings
My farmgirl sisters wanted to have a holiday "hen party" and gift exchange. We managed to squeeze it in even though everyone is very busy this time of year. I was the hostess hen for our luncheon. It was a cold and blustery winter day, but spirits were warm and bright. Hey, why don't you c'mon in and join us ...
Anita brought some of her homemade wine for gifts and for the meal. The rest of the hens came bearing gifts too. Oh did we have a grand time ... as usual. We're "absotively, posilutely" addicted to our hen party shindigs.
On the menu: Stuffed Pumpkin (recipe to follow), a creamy chowder, Waldorf salad, homemade pickled beets and dilly beans ... and Anita's fudge for dessert. I made Christmas ornaments for the girls - tucked into old-timey bags. Jenny gave us each a trio of really old bottles to put vintage Christmas balls into ... and flowers in the summer. Lisa gave us gourmet coffee and candy inside coffee cups that wear the new logo of our local newspaper that she owns ... oh and a "company pen" too. Anita gave us each a couple of beautifully wrapped bottles of her homemade wine. Michele gave us stockings made from old quilts and the most adorable log cabins which she also built. The cabins have a window on one side and when you put a tea-light inside the cabin, Ohhhh, it so charming at night. I've said many times that when we have our farmgirl hen parties we laugh a LOT. Ok, so, Jennie asked Michele the name of the quilt pattern that her stocking is made from. Michele innocently answered, "Drunkard's Path". Simultaneously, the rest of us burst into laughter!! Jennie loves her wine and she laughed right along with us. Michele was a wee bit taken by surprise, but she quickly got it and joined in the giggle fest. People are at their funniest when they don't mean to be.
Along with old china, I collect old silverware. But, these red & cream colored dishes are by "Country Living" and available right now at K-Mart. The dinner plate has a hen and chicks on it, the salad plate sports a rooster. The day before our luncheon, I managed to decorate the tree. I promised myself to organize the Christmas box after the holidays. Oy, I need to do some serious culling.
Back to lunch, I had a smallish pumpkin that I filled with stuffing - just right for the main course and plenty for four hungry farmgirls. This recipe is based on using a pumpkin about 8" around. You can use a variety of ingredients for stuffing options. I used what I had on hand.
Stuffed Pumpkin (serves 4-6)
8" Pumpkin (cleaned out), save top. Heat oven to 350.
Dried bread and cornbread (about 8 cups)
1/2 pound cooked bacon bits
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup shredded cheese
Dash of Thyme
1 Tbsp chives
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup heavy cream
Combine stuffing ingredients in a mixing bowl - the mixture shouldn't be too wet & sticky; it should kind of fall apart. Add a little more bread if you think it is too moist. Spoon it into the pumpkin cavity and press it down very firmly as you go. Fill it to the brim. Place top back onto the pumpkin and bake it in an oven proof dish for about an hour and a half - remove top for the last 30 minutes. When done, the pumpkin will be softened and very shiny (the color of cinnamon). Take it to the table whole (since it so pretty) and slice into quarters. This is truly one of the best things I've cooked in recent times - everyone loved it.
After my "hen friends" left for home, I took the luncheon leftovers out to my real hens...
Like all you other busy-bees out there, I've been busy too. I submitted a log cabin quilt design to MaryJanesFarm (published in the online magazine for MJF sisterhood members (The Cluck); directions are in the new December issue). Oh, and I took some of my jewelry to a bazaar that a friend invited me to. She specializes in art glass and stained glass. I bartered jewelry for the two oil paintings in the photo collage below. Bartering is fun. Very soon I'll have to begin baking for the holidays and these coconut candies are at the top of the list. One of the other artisans brought them to the bazaar. My dad and I love anything "coconutty".
Some of the "baubles" I took to the bazaar...
I bet many of you will be going to (or have already attended) Christmas programs at schools or churches. I helped to organize one here in our little town that took place this past weekend. Such things are as American as apple pie and baseball. My farmgirl friend, Anita, played in the bell choir, my sister's fiancee sang "Ave Maria", my husband read a funny and darling story entitled "The Christmas Pony". The story was a perfect fit for his cowboy appearance, his witty personality and he is a natural born storyteller anyway. I found the story online, it is a true tale written by Newt Harlan and you can read it here: http://usads.ms11.net/christmaspony.html
Here are some highlights...
So, on to the next bunch of Christmas happenings. I went shopping yesterday and although other shoppers were out & about, lines weren't long and I enjoyed it. Before heading home, I took myself out for a Mexican dinner. Tomorrow, I'll string lights on the little spruce and juniper in my landscaped area in front of the house (I planted everything this past May). They're little fellas, but they might as well get used to dressing up for the holidays. We're not down to the last minute details of this festive season, but I bet many of you are in the thick of baking, making gifts, wrapping them and organizing time to be spent with family & friends. Enjoy all of it ... savor the laughs, cherish quiet reflections and commit to memory those 'once in a lifetime moments'. What more can I say? Just two things. Please remember to pray for our fellow Americans serving in the military (many of whom will not be home for the holidays) ... and have yourself a peaceful and merry little Christmas.