Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

On Monday, we celebrated St. Nicholas Day!

We began on Sunday by baking our traditional German spice cookies, supposedly a recipe of Marian Von Trapp's, found here. We use all butter and sub Sucanat for the brown sugar, usually. Here is the original recipe:

St. Nikolaus Speculatius (Kris Kringle) Cookies

(German Spice Cookies)

Here is another variation of the European spice cookies so popular for St. Nicholas Day—this one has sour cream and finely chopped walnuts. This recipe is also given by Maria Trapp, of the Trapp Family Singers, in Around the Year with the Trapp Family. Makes a tasty thin, crisp cookie.

1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup dairy sour cream
4½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup finely chopped walnuts

Cream shortening and sugar; blend in sour cream. Mix and sift dry ingredients; add slowly to creamed mixture. (Do not use electric mixer if dough is too stiff.) Stir in walnuts. Divide into 4 portions; wrap each portion in aluminum foil; chill several hours or overnight. Work with one portion of dough at a time, leaving the others in the refrigerator. Roll out very thin, cut with St. Nicholas cutters. Bake at 350ยบ for 10 minutes. (Roll scraps into a ball; refrigerate briefly before re-rolling.) Frost and decorate as desired.

Cecilia got a rare chance to help me on her own in the kitchen while Chris took Caroline with him to run a few errands. Cecilia and I started with the rolling and cutting, knowing it would take quite awhile... we ended up with almost 60 St. Nicholas cookies (and it's a pretty large cookie cutter, too!)!

Here's Caroline joining us...

The dough is great for kids to work with since it contains no raw eggs, but it does require a good deal of flour sprinkled over the slab and the top of the dough to prevent it from sticking.

A parade of St. Nicholases...

This baking project helps teach the children the words "miter" and "crozier," which are used by bishops. We (I mean "I," after the kids were in bed!) used royal icing to decorate them. I can't wait until they are old enough to really be able to do some decorating! As it is, my pastry bag burst and I ended up using a plastic baggie, which kept opening and icing oozed all over the place... I never have figured out the best way to use pastry bags without it all coming back out the top!

The girls left their shoes out, as the tradition goes, since Nicholas was said to have thrown bags of gold coins through a window or down a chimney, where it landed in the shoes/stockings of three poor girls whose father didn't have enough money to provide for their dowries.

In the morning, they found golden (chocolate) coins filling there shoes, along with a few new holy cards, an empty little manger (the baby Jesuses will appear in them on Christmas morning!), and sacrifice beads (which Caroline was thrilled to get!). Beside their shoes, the girls found two new books (Advent/Christmas season-related), an ornament of the Holy family, and a bowl of nuts with our nutcracker alongside!

Here's a close-up of our coins... Jessica at Shower of Roses made a document with these St. Nicholas images, which are sized to fit the large chocolate coins perfectly! She generously shared the file on her blog, and I printed them off and glued them onto our coins - what a nice little touch!

Here's the bowl of nuts, with a new St. Nicholas holy card on top!

Some photos of the girls discovering their filled shoes on Monday morning:

Caroline holds her tiny manger... I found these at the gift shop at the shrine of Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine, Florida... they were only a couple bucks each, so I picked them up to be stocking stuffers. Then I decided to have the mangers go in their shoes on St. Nicholas Day, and then the baby Jesus figures will probably be found at the bottoms of their stockings on Christmas Day!


Candy Cane Coffee Cake (recipe found here at Catholic Cuisine)... well, it is supposed to be candy-cane shaped, anyway, as a reminder of the shape of the bishop's crozier! We also talked about how candy canes are shaped like the letter J for Jesus. I made a basic dough recipe I like to use for this kind of recipe, and I found a combination jam of cherry/strawberry/currants/some other red fruit, and I used it instead of cherry jam... yummy!

We had German Chocolate Hot Cocoa (the girls still aren't too "hot" on hot chocolate, for some crazy reason, but Chris and I enjoyed it!!) and oranges along with the coffee cake. I used the nutcracker to distribute a few nuts at breakfast but stopped after taking down one of our St. Nicks with a flying piece of shell!

The nut-cracking commenced on the kitchen floor... until the nutcracker broke! Those were some tough nuts to crack! ;)

~St. Nicholas Crafts~

The girls colored this page and made these St. Nicholas figures to be centerpieces at dinner, both from St. Nicholas Center.


St. Nicholas Pork with Mustard and Apples, herbed popovers, pasta, and salad - yum!

Hope everyone had a great St. Nicholas Day!


Xhonane Olivas said...

Erin, what a wonderful celebration!! I would love to link to you next year! May I post your first picture? Have a blessed Advent!

Erin said...

Sure Xhonane, you may use my photo if you credit it to me.

I was looking at your ideas on your blog for Our Lady of Guadalupe - I love the script for a play about Our Lady appearing to Juan Diego! We plan to celebrate both feast days with friends on Friday!