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Archives from month » December, 2011

Christmas Confections Sweeten the Holidays at Andrew’s Legacy

What is Christmas without its abundance of confections? We use the term to include all sorts of sweet delights like cakes, cookies and candy. Every year we make our traditional cut-out cookies, using our huge collection of cookie cutters, some of which are over 100 years old. Our Christmas favorites are painstakingly decorated for a fun festive touch. New traditions include a yearly red velvet cake served with homemade peppermint ice cream after the Christmas meal. And lately we have been making candy… candied tangerine rinds dipped in chocolate, fudge, pralines and peppermint divinity. Elizabeth’s late mother Belle loved divinity and always had the more traditional vanilla variety out around the holidays. Having divinity around during the holidays is one way we keep her memory alive. This is the recipe we have been using for the past few years. A word of warning, a heavy duty mixer is required. Don’t attempt with an every day hand-held or you will probably burn it out. I also recommend a candy thermometer.

Peppermint Divinity

2 ½ cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

½ cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract (this is what the original recipe calls for, but I use ½ tsp.)

2 or 3 drops red food coloring

1/3 cup finely crushed peppermint stick candy

Line the bottom of a 9×5-inch loaf pan with wax paper. Butter papper and sides of pan well. (this is if you are going to pour it out in a loaf and cut it up, we put dollops on wax paper and swirl them)

In a heavy medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Then cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 260 degrees F (hard ball stage.) Just before that temperature has been reached, beat egg whites with mixer until stiff. Slowly pour hot syrup into egg white as beater is going in a thin stream. Add vanilla & peppermint extract and continue beating until mixture just begins to hold its shape when dropped from a spoon onto waxed paper. Stop beating at this point and stir in by hand the crushed candy. Mix and ad drops of red food coloring and swirl for a candy cane effect. Too much mixing will turn the divinity pink at this point. Pour half the mixture into prepare pan, or begin to dollop and swirl tablespoons full onto waxed paper. Let stand at room temperature until cooled, then cover and chill.

 

 

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This is a more elaborate three tiered red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. Snowflakes are made using snowflake cookie cutters on rolled gumpaste. After they dry they are covered in water and sprinkled with clear decorating sugar for a crystalline look.

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Fruit becomes an elegant winter centerpiece when it is coated in sugar to create the effect of frost. Simply coat the fruit in a thin layer of egg white and roll in decorating sugar. After your party the fruit can be washed and eaten. The fruit is being displayed in one of three Victorian silver plated revolving buffet servers. These pieces are English, boiling water is place in the bottom, the food is suspended in the middle, the domed top retains the heat and revolves beneath the bottom to reveal the food dish. Although not intended to hold fruit, it does so very nicely when the center food tray is removed.

 

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Crushed candy canes give divinity a holiday twist , this batch is cooling on waxed paper.

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Here are some of the cookie cutters we use. You can tell which ones are old, the dancing man is one of the oldest, he is rarely used since he is almost a foot tall. The Hansel and Gretel set are from Elizabeth’s childhood.


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Flowers, Dried and Fresh Keep a Country Christmas theme at Andrew’s Legacy

In keeping with our North Fork Country Christmas theme, holiday decorations emphasize the use of flowers, dried and fresh. For the growing season we keep the B&B supplied in fresh flowers from the cutting garden in the back yard and also use whatever is offered at local farm stands. During this period we always hang a few hydrangeas and other flowers that dry well in the rafters of the shop to get us through the winter. Then there are plenty of dried flowers for decorating at the holidays. We use juniper, cedar, hydrangea, baby’s breath, poppies, yarrow and a few others that we grow, and purchase some exotics like pomegranates, pepper berries, lotus pods and canella berries for Christmas color. We create table arrangements, door swags and garlands with the dried flowers. And if it’s not the color we want we don’t have a problem using spray paint. Fat poppy pods spray painted gold look like Christmas balls, and lotus pods with glitter add pizzazz. We force narcissus and amaryllis in the greenhouse and purchase poinsettias at local nurseries to bring in more color and life. For parties and special occasions we add fresh cut flowers to the dried arrangements to give them a little punch.

 

 

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Every year a garland of dried flowers go down the bannister. This year it’s lemon leaf, hydrangea, dyed canella berries, pomegranents and glittered lotus pods.

 

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A fresh arrangement of Casa Blanca lilies, varigated holly, cannella berries and glittered feathers.

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Poinsettias, narcissus and other house plants surround the currently unused “Petite Godin” a French Parlor Stove in the living room.

 

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A dried flower sway over 6 feet long. The center is a paper mache gold painted head of a cherub, with okra pods, dyed cedar, eucalyptus, pomegranents, pepper berries and poppy pods. It is over the entry from the living room to the dinning room.

 

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Amarylis are traditionally forced and used as plants for the holidays, but they make a terrific and long lasting cut flower as well.

 

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The Christmas dinning room, set with Elizabeth’s collection of Ruby Glass around an elaborate Victorian silverplated fruit epergne filled with an arrangement of dried flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Christmas Tree Traditions at Andrew’s Legacy

The North Fork of Long Island is THE place for cutting your live Christmas trees. One of the ways we know this is because in early December, every other car on the road has a Christmas tree on the roof! There are so many great places to cut your tree, but we like the Dart’s Christmas Tree Farm. Our families go way back so fond memories of Christmas past make us partial to this farm. And what better way to create your own fond Christmas memories than to stay at Andrew’s Legacy and finish the weekend with a trip to a Christmas tree farm?

And while you’re at Andrew’s Legacy you can see our tree. As mentioned in our last blog posting, we go to a lot of trouble creating Victorian inspired ornaments for our tree. We also have been collecting hand blown and painted Old World Christmas ornaments. These ornaments are created by blowing glass into original German molds over 100 years old. We also use ornaments from Christopher Radko’s Victorian line, glass beads, Angel hair and real clip-on candles (we don’t light them though.) Our goal is to create a tree that captures the character of a tree that would have been in the house almost a century ago.

In the dinning room we have a goose feather tree that’s about three feet tall. These were the first “artificial” trees and were used in areas were real trees weren’t available or were too costly.

So come out to the North Fork and get a tree, celebrate Christmas this year the way it used to be.

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