Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Holiday food

Jerry Stratton, April 5, 2023

March 27, 2024: Easter Candy-Cane Ice Cream
Peppermint ice cream with peanuts: Peppermint ice cream, from the 1928 Frigidaire Recipes, made with candy canes and sprinkled with peanuts.; peanuts; ice cream; Frigidaire; candy canes; peppermint sticks

Peanuts and peppermints was probably a song in the sixties.

As regular followers of Mimsy Were the Borogoves know, I have a tradition that spans from Christmas to Easter. I keep the candy canes from Christmas and make a dessert from them to help celebrate Easter Sunday.

There is a spiritual meaning to the ubiquitous Christmas candy cane. Whether that meaning was part of their invention or not, we don’t know, but as Catholics often do, we have invested this celebratory food with spiritual meaning. We just don’t know if that meaning was part of the candy cane tradition from the start. Once you see it, however, it’s hard to forget: the candy cane is a shepherd’s staff. The next time you see a nativity painting, take a look at the staffs the shepherds are holding. Very likely, they’re going to have the same shape as a candy cane.

Even today, the curved shepherd’s staff is ubiquitous in Catholic ritual. Every bishop has one. Their crozier is a shepherd’s staff, and it has the candy cane loop.

St. Patrick stained glass window: Stained glass window at Saint Patrick’s church in San Diego, California.; San Diego; Catholicism; stained glass

At St. Patrick’s in San Diego, St. Patrick bears a shepherd’s staff.

Candy canes also—turn one upside down—represent the letter “J”. Of all the symbolism attributed to the candy cane, this, I’ll admit, is most likely to be ex post facto.

The white and the red, much like a barber’s sign where the colors represent blood and bandages1 represent Christ’s blood and purity.

October 25, 2023: Salted, roasted, pumpkin seeds
Jack shows he’s got guts: Jack-o-lantern: “Jack shows he’s got guts.”; Hallowe’en; pumpkins

The process of making a jack-o-lantern is truly a gory one, well-suited for Hallowe’en. Depending on your proclivities, the most gorious is that all of Jack’s slimy viscera must be removed, usually by reaching in and tearing them out by hand. It’s a messy process, but without it your jack-o-lantern will rot much faster, and won’t be able to hold a candle securely or keep it lit.

But Jack’s innards don’t all have to be tossed. When looking for a good use for pumpkins this year, I was surprised to find that I hadn’t already posted this recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. I love pumpkin seeds, and this recipe is so good and so easy I use it year-round for other squash seeds, such as the butternut squash I made yesterday as I write this.

Pumpkin seeds are the best of squashes for edible seeds. They’re a great size and have more meat. All of the seeds from inside the pumpkin should be kept for this great salty snack.

Clearing the seeds off Jack’s gut-strings is a further mess but well worth the work. The easiest way I’ve found to clean them is to put the guts into a big bowl, cover them with water, and then remove the seeds by hand. Many will come out easily; others will have to be pulled loose from the wet, stringy entrails. The seeds usually separate easily by squeezing them at the point where they attach to the strings.

When I wrote last year that “I’ve taken to carving two Hallowe’en pumpkins so that I have more body parts left over” a good part of it was so that I’ll have more pumpkin seeds. It’s very easy to go through an entire pumpkin’s seeds very quickly.

You’ll need to carve the pumpkins at least a day ahead of when you need the seeds: the critical step in this recipe compared to more complicated recipes is that the seeds need to be soaked in very salty water overnight. This, I suspect, tenderizes the seeds as well as infuses them with flavor. Previous recipes I’ve tried tended to make chewier pumpkin seeds with less flavor, even if they used more spices.

June 28, 2023: A Bicentennial Meal for the Sestercentennial

America’s Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. With the declaration, we were independent in spirit, even if a lot of work still had to be done to force the world, especially England, to recognize our independence.

As 1976 approached, people began making plans to celebrate our 200th anniversary. The freedom train traveled coast to coast and a wagon train from every state traveled to Pennsylvania. Tall ships were prepped for public viewing in Operation Sail.

And a lot of albums of patriotic songs, products in patriotic colors, and magazines with patriotic themes, hit the supermarkets, newsstands, and record stores. I still remember fondly checking out Dallas Corey’s record album from the library several times, to listen to “The History of the American Revolution” in song. Because of that album, when I saw Mel Gibson’s The Patriot I knew immediately it was partly based on the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion. Musical history does help!

Sadly, very few movies celebrated the bicentennial. 1776 the Musical was a 1969 movie release. But there were attempts at short animation and films. And television got into the game with shorts such as The Bicentennial Minute.

Johnny Cash was Grand Marshall of the U.S. Bicentennial Parade in DC, and there were parades and fireworks in towns and cities and villages all across the United States. My mom dressed us up as Uncle Sam, and my dad got his old Model T working well enough for us to ride in the village parade.

April 5, 2023: Candy cane oatmeal crispies
Candy Cane Crisps: Candy Cane Crisps, from Eva Lawson’s 1985 Homemade Cookie Book.; cookies; peppermint

Lacy peppermint taste explosions.

I have a tradition that I thought I’d shared on this blog before, but I can’t find any reference to it. I save some of my Christmas candy canes to make something bright and celebratory for Easter Sunday. Literally, celebrating Christ’s resurrection with something saved from the celebration of his birth.

These cookies come from Eva Layson’s eclectic The Homemade Cookie Book, a 1985 volume of recipes she’d collected over years entertaining in the Foreign Service. She advertises it as having “only those I think unusual and exceptionally good”.

I myself am unusual and… never mind. Wrong quote. Apparently there were several volumes in the series, for One-Dish Meals, for Chocolate, and possibly others. None seem to be as available as the Homemade Cookie volume, which itself is pretty rare. This is the first (and at the moment only) cookbook I bought in 2023. I’m trying to focus more on using the cookbooks I have than on accumulating more. But I couldn’t resist when I saw this book at a local Goodwill. Randomly opening it several times, it really does deliver on providing unusual and exceptional ideas.

These cookies are a very good example. They are, in my experience, unique candy cane snacks. All of the other snacks I’ve made that call for candy canes, use them as decorations on top. Avanelle Day and Lillie Stuckey’s spiced peppermint crisps in their Spice Cook Book are great cookies, but they’re cookies, and then decorated with crushed candy canes before baking. Similarly, the moron brownies in The Deplorable Gourmet are great brownies, but they’re brownies, and then decorated with crushed candy canes before baking.

  1. <- Ice cream
  2. Breakfast lassi ->