Saturday, November 26, 2011

Anna Sultana's Turkey Roasted with Bacon - A Maltese Thanksgiving by Margaret Ullrich


On Thursday we enjoyed the U.S. Thanksgiving experience.
The Macy Parade, followed by the dog show, followed by the Miracle on 34th Street movie, in black and white.
And, of course, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

We had a lovely time.
And the dinner was excellent.
If I do say so myself.
And I do.


During the parade, Macy announced that this was their 85th parade.
And that night they had a special to show a few highlights from past decades.
It was fun reliving Thanksgivings through the years.


One of my facebook friends lives in Malta.
He likes to post about Maltese recipes.
He recently posted that he had enjoyed a Maltese favorite: roasted pork with bacon.
He also included a picture.
Which reminded me of Thanksgiving, 1961.


Holidays are a funny thing.
It's almost like time traveling.
I mean, you know you're in the present, but your mind wanders to other holidays.

No, Ma didn't cook roasted pork with bacon for Thanksgiving, 1961.
She cooked a turkey dinner.
But it had a Maltese twist to it.


Turkey is not a regular holiday treat in Malta.
The first few turkeys Ma had cooked came out kind of dry and tasteless.
At least that was what Pop had said.
But Ma had been told we had to eat turkey for the holidays.
And Ma wanted to follow the rules.
We three were still filing Alien Registration cards every year.
If we didn't, we'd be booted back to Malta.


So, Ma went back to an old Maltese tradition to fix the new American tradition.
She placed a few slices of bacon on the turkey.
Pop said the turkey was just fine with the bacon. 
The turkey was more juicy and the meat had a familiar tang.


We enjoyed our bacon turkey holiday dinners for the next seven years.
Our holiday dinners were just fine until 1961.
That year Ma's brother Charlie got engaged to an American, Liz.

Ma wanted to make a good impression on her soon to be new sister-in-law.
She spared no expense, or bacon, to make our dinner a feast.
Instead of laying 4 slices of bacon over the top of the bird, she used a dozen.
They were layered like roofing tiles over the turkey.
As an extra touch, Ma gift wrapped the legs in extra bacon slices.

If Liz liked bacon, she was going to be able to eat all she wanted.
There was more than enough for everybody.


Well, Liz was an American. 
And she expected to see - and eat - an American turkey.
A non-baconed turkey.
Liz just stared at the gift-wrapped bird while we drooled.
Ma offered Liz her choice: breast, leg, thigh, wing?
Liz just stared.

Ma asked if Liz would like a bit of each.
Oh, and how much bacon would she like?
Liz gulped and asked for a slice of skinless breast.
No bacon.
She then explained how Americans cooked turkeys.
As an afterthought, Liz asked where the cranberry sauce was.

No bacon?
Cranberry sauce?

We ate that meal in silence.
Ma was wondering what else she was doing wrong.
She'd never heard of cranberry sauce.
She'd gotten her menu from a second-generation American in-law. 
Aunt Betty had been born in New York.
No Alien Registration cards for her.
Aunt Betty was secure enough to leave out the cranberry sauce.

Ma wasn't so secure.


That Christmas Ma cooked a baconless turkey.
She also opened a tin of cranberry sauce.

After Charlie and Liz had left, Pop said he was glad he'd planned ahead.
I'd been born in Malta.
He hadn't paid the extra $10 to have me made an American citizen.
I was still a British subject.
I was his ticket back to Malta.


Pop had always had a few doubts about New York.
He didn't want to be trapped there.

A roast without bacon?
What else did Americans expect him to give up?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cloves / Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend and Pomander - Margaret Ullrich


Cloves is the strange cousin of the spice family.
It's not an old stand-by, like pepper.
It usually just gets trotted out for holidays.

But, then the oddball becomes the life of the party!



If you're not a 'turkey for the holidays' type, you probably had ham for Thanksgiving.
And what's ham without pineapple rings?
And those little spikey things holding the pineapple slices in place.
See, you do like cloves.

The name cloves is from the Latin, and means nails.
I guess the Romans used them to hold things in place, too.

Cloves are the strongest of all aromatic spices.
It takes from 5,000 to 7,000 buds to make a pound of ground cloves.

Ground cloves are great in fruit pies.
Also in cakes and puddings, especially chocolate cakes and pudding.
Add a pinch to honey and spoon the spiced honey over sliced oranges.

Ground cloves can be used as a garnish on mashed sweet vegetables such as 
beets, turnips, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
It's also nice on onions.
Or you can add a dash to baked beans, chili sauce, or split pea soup.
Just remember a little goes a long way.
Like time spent with that strange cousin.


Okay... now you know what to do with ground cloves.
But, you bought a jar of whole cloves to hold the pineapple in place.
And you don't eat ham every week.
No problem.

A cold winter night is the perfect time for spiced tea, cider or wine.
Just drop a clove in a cup of tea.
Or add a few to the pot of mulled cider or wine.

A few whole cloves can also add a certain something to a chili con carne.


Want to spice up your closet?
Place a few whole cloves in a fine mesh bag and attach the bag to a hanger.

Need a Christmas gift idea?
Take a small orange or apple and insert the cloves into the fruit.
Completely cover the surface.
Cover the studded fruit with ground cinnamon and let it age.
By Christmas you'll have a lovely pomander.
It won't guard against infections - people used to have some strange ideas - but 
it will smell nice.


Are you afraid to buy a spice you don't use very often?
Don't be.
You can make your own spice blends.

Yes, you can.

Here's an example, using your new friend, Cloves.
Do buy the ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice, too.
They'll be covered in future posts.


Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 Cup ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoons ground allspice

Makes a scant 1/2 Cup

Pumpkin Pie Spice would also go nicely on the mashed sweet vegetables.
And the onions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Wishes & A Turkey Tale From The Gentle Barn

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

****
From The Gentle Barn:  A Turkey Tale

Twelve years ago a man approached The Gentle Barn and said that he purchased a turkey for Thanksgiving and was planning to raise him and slaughter him for the holiday, but when it came time to do the deed, he could not do it. So he wanted us to take the turkey and give him a home. 

He warned us that the turkey was very mean and aggressive and that I should always carry a rake with me so I could protect myself if he should strike. He also told me that he was as dumb as a box of rocks. I never had a turkey before so I believed the man and agreed that I would use caution.

I named the turkey Tommy. That first night I told Tommy that he was safe at The Gentle Barn and I would take great care of him, always making sure he had plenty of good food, clean water and love. He listened intently and seemed harmless to me, but what did I know... this was my first turkey. The first night he was with me I showed Tommy where he would eat and sleep. He went into the room easily without protest and seemed to understand that I was helping him be comfortable for the night. 

The second night I remembered the man telling me that Tommy was not smart, so I went to find him to show him again where he would eat and sleep. I looked all over the barnyard and could not find him anywhere. Finally I found him standing in front of his door waiting for me to open it for him. 

Oops, maybe turkeys are not so dumb after all?

For weeks I carried the rake around with me, feeling somewhat silly, in case Tommy wanted to attack me, and for weeks he would just watch me as if he was thinking, 'what is with the chick and the rake?" Finally I realized that he was not going to hurt me and I put down the rake. 

I had Tommy for 2 and a half years and he never, ever hurt me.

Tommy was not a cuddly sort of guy, he preferred to show off and have folks admire him. He had little time to be pet as he was too busy showing off, although he did enjoy a good conversation and was an excellent listener. 

One time Tommy hurt himself and I had to clean his face and put medicine on it. It was near his eye and he had to stay very still, otherwise it might get into his eye. I explained the situation to him and asked him to stay perfectly still. Tommy knew he had been hurt and knew that even though he was a tough guy, he needed help from his mommy. Tommy did not move a hair (or rather a feather) and allowed me to clean his sore and put cream in it every day until it healed. Once it healed he went back to being a macho man, but I will never forget the time he allowed me to care for him.

One day a little girl came to visit and Tommy loved her right away. I don't know why. He just chose her for whatever reason. Tommy went over to her and put his head on her tummy and just stayed like that. They cuddled like that for about an hour, until finally the girl had to leave. When she tried to walk away he grabbed her sweatshirt and hung on to it, not wanting to let her go. It was the only time that he forgot about showing off and just wanted to cuddle.

It has been years since Tommy passed away, but not a day goes by without me thinking of him and being grateful for what he taught me. Tommy taught me so much about turkeys and even more about stereotypes! 

Tommy was not at all who the man who gave him to us saw him as. 
Tommy was kind, smart and a gentleman. 
We love to put animals in boxes: "Dogs are loyal, cats are independent, pigs are dirty, cows are dumb, turkeys are stupid." 
But the truth is that we are all the same inside, we just look different. 
The only difference between the species is our perception of them!

Thank you Tommy, you were a true gentleman! We love and miss you!

Sponsor a turkey for Thanksgiving, just a $7 donation per month. 
It makes a great gift for a loved one too.

Click on The Gentle Barn and sponsor a turkey today!

****
Looking for great gift ideas?
Want another turkey story?
Visit Winter at The Gentle Barn! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Unfriending Facebook - Margaret Ullrich


This has not been a good week for Facebook.

I had gotten an email: a senior citizen friend wanted me to see a Lady GaGa video.
I had to be over 18 to see it.
That part was easy.
But, one thing about being over 60 is you know your friends don't bother with things made for people over 18.
I didn't look at the video.
I mean, what could it possible show me that I haven't seen before?

Okay... she'd been hacked.
I changed my password.

Within 24 hours I got a note from another old friend.
You've got it - she wanted me to see Lady GaGa.

Okay... she'd been hacked.
I changed my password.
Again.

I flashed on 9/11.
When the first plane hit, it had to be an accident.
When the second plane hit, we knew something was going on.


On November 15, another friend posted a link to The Washington Post.
There had been a Facebook security breach.
Big Time.

Why do hackers do this?
Some want access to our private info.
Private info is handy for identity theft.
Other hackers have said that they wanted to "take down Facebook".
Seeing your family's pictures is just an extra treat for them.


Daimon Geopfert, a security expert, said this was one of the largest Facebook attacks he's seen. The scale and speed were “unprecedented”.

Experts said it was easy to imagine another attack on Facebook that would be worse: 
sending false messages to lure family and friends to malicious sites, where they might be tricked into revealing private information.
So much for user safety and privacy.

Many Facebook users twittered that they were thinking about shutting down their accounts.
Facebook responded by saying it was working to shut down the accounts responsible for the attack.
Facebook is a little busy right now.
It's near a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over complaints about the way it stores and shares user data.
Not exactly reassuring.


And me?
I'm deleting some "friends" I had accepted in more innocent days.
These friends most likely are nice people.
But, some of them have over 1000 friends.
How well could they know all of them?
And one of the 1000 could hack into my overly friendly friend's friends.
Like me.
Again.


I'm also going back to using e mails more.
I can handle the notes from Nigerian princesses.
The notes about needing my help to transfer $1,000,000. 
It's easy to delete them.

And they can't see my family's pictures.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fancy Peppernuts (Christmas Cookies) - Margaret Ullrich


Okay, you've just bought some citron for the fruitcake recipe.
Nobody eats fruitcake, but you'd better make it.
Tradition and all that.
Yeah, life is hard.

What to do with the leftover citron?
No, it doesn't go well with cereal.

Time to make some more Peppernuts.
With citron.
These cookies are soft.
Not like the Plain Peppernuts.

Serve both.
Something for everybody. 
Hey, they're not going to eat the fruitcake.

Small hint:
If the balls are small, they'll expand like mushrooms.
If they're too big, they'll flatten like regular cookies.


                        Fancy Peppernuts

Grease 2 large baking sheets

In a large bowl sift together
4 Cups flour
1 Cup almonds, finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large mixer bowl beat together until light and thick
3 Cups sugar
6 large eggs

Add the sifted dry ingredients.
Mix until blended.

Add
1 Cup citron, finely chopped

Store dough in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator overnight or longer.
This helps the spices to blend.

Take the dough out of the fridge.
The dough will be sticky.
Dip your hands in flour.
Roll a piece about the size of a hazelnut between your hands.
Place them on the cookie sheets.

Preheat oven to 375º
Bake 10 minutes until lightly golden.

Roll in
Confectioners' sugar
Place on racks and cool completely.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Plain Peppernuts (Christmas Cookies) - Margaret Ullrich


What would Christmas be without pepper?
No, I'm not talking about the dash added to the gravy.

Although that's good, too.


Pepper is something just about everybody has in the kitchen.
The salt shaker would look awfully lonely with its buddy, pepper shaker.

Pepper is a really useful spice.
You can crack or coarsely grind peppercorns to coat steaks or chicken breasts 
before grilling.

Freshly ground (or pre-ground) pepper has a few surprising uses:
Sprinkle strawberries lightly with pepper and balsamic vinegar
Try pepper on ripe melon slices or grapefruit halves
Add pepper to gingerbread or spice cookie dough 

Yes, cookie dough.

When I was a kid in College Point, a classmate introduced me to peppernuts.
It's a traditional Christmas treat.

The cookies are better if allowed to age a bit.

Some hints: the ropes of dough can be frozen.
Place 4 or 5 ropes on a cutting board and slice across all of them at one time.
The frozen dough is easy to cut into thin uniform-sized cookies. 

As the saying goes...
Good things are made with time.
Now is a perfect time to make a batch for Christmas. 


                        Plain Peppernuts

Grease 3 large baking sheets

In a large bowl sift together
4 Cups flour
3  teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a large mixer bowl beat together until light and fluffy
3 Cups sugar
1 Cup margarine (or lard)

Beat in, one at a time, until blended
4 large eggs

Beat in
1 Cup milk

Add the sifted dry ingredients.
Mix until blended.
Add enough flour to make a very stiff dough.
Knead thoroughly.

Store dough in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator overnight or longer.
This helps the spices to blend.

Divide the dough into thirds.
Roll a piece between your hands into a thin rope.
Slice with a sharp knife (dipped in flour).
You want pieces about the size of a hazelnut.
Place them on the cookie sheets.
Repeat with the remaining dough. 

Preheat oven to 350º
Bake 7 to 10 minutes until lightly golden.
Different degrees of browning changes the flavour and texture.
Transfer to racks and cool completely.

Keep them crisp in a glass jar or an airtight container.


Looking for something edible that mails well?
Boxes of peppernuts are ideal.
They don't crumble or dry out.

And peppernuts freeze well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Getting Spicy: Flavouring Oils, and Eating Dandelions and Weeds - Margaret Ullrich

Chicken isn't the only food that could use some spicing up.

For a flavored oil in your salad dressing, blanch the leaves, let them soak in your favorite oil for two weeks and then store the oil in the refrigerator.  

Think it's hard to grow herbs?
Nope. 
Many herbs are very resistant to garden pests.  You don't need to treat them with weed killers.  A good thing to remember, especially if you plan to eat them.  Confine mint, chives and parsley in pots by the back door so they can be used daily.  


Thyme, oregano, mint and fennel are weeds in the Mediterranean.  
But where would Italian cuisine be without them?  

The Manitoba weed, sorrel, can be used for soup and salad.  Fast growing nasturtiums have leaves that add a peppery flavor to salads.  Pot marigolds grow quickly and have been used as a food coloring and a remedy for skin irritations.  Their golden orange flowers can also be added to salads or substituted for saffron.
  
Dandelions, cursed by tidy gardeners, are rich in vitamin A and also contains vitamin C, calcium and iron.  
The crown is located between the roots and the surface leaves.  After cooking they can be eaten like the heart of an artichoke.  The sweet tasting flowers can be added to pancakes when the batter is on the griddle or dipped in batter and fried for fritters.  Young leaves can also be served as a salad.  

Dandelion roots can be peeled, dried, roasted, ground and used as a coffee substitute.  One teaspoon per cup is plenty.  Remember what we drank when there were high coffee prices in the 70s?  

If you overdo the dandelion coffee - you'll know because it has a laxative effect - brew a pot of tea from some raspberry leaves. 

Have dandelions?
Lucky you!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Scents and Aromatherapy - Margaret Ullrich

Different scents can help creat different moods.  There have been studies on the healing properties of aromatherapy, including one in the palliative care department at the St. Boniface Hopspital.  Lavender oil was misted from diffusers to make the air smell good and to allleviate stress.

But, you don't have to buy fancy candles or sprays.  
Just go to your garden... or spice rack.

Which scent does what?   
Clary sage is warming and reduces stress.
Peppermint stimulates the brain, nerves and metabolism.  It also relieves inflammation. 
Thyme and Rosemary are warming and refreshing.  
Rosemary also improves circulation and stimulates other bodily functions.  
Lemon reduces stress and sharpens the senses.
Orange is cooling and calming.
Lime and grapefruit are both refreshing.
Clove uplifts moods and is a mental stimulant.  It is also said to be an aphrodisiac and an insect repellant.
A little rosemary, basil or peppermint oil in an infuser can help you focus. 

Lavender is an herb which reduces stress and is also an insect repellant.  Its name comes from the Latin lavare, since it was a favorite bath water additive of the Greeks and Romans.  
Lavender has antiseptic qualities and can be used as an analgesic on cooled burns. 

Fresh aromas can help trigger memories and are less likely to cause allergic reactions than chemical room fresheners.

You can perfume your home in a variety of ways: 
spritzing essential oils into the air
tucking sachets behind the cushions 
rinsing your laundry in floral water     

  
Herbs are a natural remedy to help you achieve relaxation and restful sleep.  Scent your bedroom with bergamot, jasmine, lavender or marjoram.  
Taking an herbal bath, using lavender, chamomile, basil, geranium or marjoram essential oils, is an effective way to unwind.  

There aren't any side affects from smelling spices, and sage and rosemary also go great with chicken. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Herbs & Health - Margaret Ullrich

Many herbs have a long tradition as folk remedies.  

The leaves of the violet plant contain acetylsalicylic acid.  Violet tea was drunk in small doses for coughs and heart trouble. 

Pick mature white sweet clover flowers, dry at room temperature, and use to make a soothing tea, good for coughs, colds, bronchial and nervous condtions.  
The plant is a source of the anticoagulent, dicoumarin.

Sage tea is good for toothaches, asthma, sore throats and colds.  For throat and chest congestion, folks inhaled the fumes or used the leaves in a poultice.  
The leaves can be boiled then used in a bath for rheumatism.

A strong tea for colds can be made by simmering dandelion leaves for ten minutes.  Dandelion wine, made using only the yellow petals, has a pleasant, sweet kick.  Dandelion coffee, as well as yarrow tea, could help a mild bed-wetting problem. 


Confused by herbal lingo?
An ointment or salve is made by warming oil and mixing in the powdered herb or extracted juice.  Then it's allowed to stand for a few hours, strained and cooled.
Liniments were made by adding the desired plant part to rubbing alcohol in a closed container.  It's allowed to stand, with an occasional shaking, for two weeks.  Then it's strained and bottled.
A poultice is a softened mass of bruised fresh leaves which is applied externally.  It conveys heat and draws out inflammation.
A compress consists of an herb mass inside a cloth which is used in the same way as a poultice. 


Basic rules:
If using flowers, such as chamomile, dry the blooms at room temperature.  
If using seeds, such as anise, caraway, coriander, dill and fennel, pick the seed heads as they turn color but before they pop open.  
One teaspoon of crushed dried herb is equal to about one tablespoon of chopped fresh herb.
     

No kidding, herbs can affect you.  Never subtitute an herbal remedy for proper medical attention.  

And there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  
Garlic is a popular cure all.  While garlic does lower cholesterol, too much garlic will affect blood clotting.  People using blood thinners should avoid it.

It's important to remember that many plants are potent drugs.  Their active ingredients form the basis of many of today's medicines, from aspirin to morphine.  

If you have any questions or are on medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions between herbal remedies and prescription medicine.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Herbal Fun - Margaret Ullrich

You might have an aloe vera in your kitchen and use it as a burn soother.  But, you might say, what can I do with fresh herb leaves and flowers?

Boil a kettle of water, snip the leaves and flowers off the stalk, simmer in water for about three minutes, take them off the heat and let steep overnight.  Non-caffeinated herbal teas are great hot or cold.  
They can also be blended with classic 'teas', spices or fruit juices.  

Bergamot, a member of the mint family, has a strong taste similar to oregano.  Oil of bergamot is used to flavor Earl Grey tea.  

Let the kids make sun tea.  Just let leaves stand in full sun in a clear container of water for a few hours.  Then drain and serve, hot or cold.  The tea will be caffeine- and sugar-free.  And, since the kids made it, you know they'll drink it.

Why not try an herb theme garden?  Kings and queens grew herbs in formal gardens.  Early settlers brought medicinal and culinary herbs from Europe.  Healers knew all about herbal plants.  Remember the monk in Romeo and Juliet?  

Don't worry about your herb garden being just a patch of green.  There are deep burgundy basil varieties, as well as purple and red basil.  Thymus vulgarus is the best for cooking, while thymus serpyllum makes an aromatic ground cover between the stones of a path.  The flower of white sweet clover can be used to flavor cheese and to keep moths away from fur in storage. 

Chamomile is easy to grow and makes a soothing cup of tea.  A bit of trivia: in the ancient world it was the main herbal ingredient in the embalming oil used to mummify the Egyptian king Ramses II, who died in 1224 B. C.   

Mable grey geraniums and lemon balm have a scent like citronella.  That's handy in any Manitoba garden.


Herbs are a mild form of medicine.  And with all the recalls and warnings about prescriptions, they are becoming popular.  
Why not try spearmint for giddiness, sage for headaches, mint for nausea and headaches, ginger for tummyaches and mugwort for gout?

Be well!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Herb Gardening - Margaret Ullrich

I once attended a class held by David Hanson of Sage Garden Herbs.  

Along with the information, David gave everyone some rosemary and thyme cuttings.  I babied the cuttings in a small jar of water on my kitchen windowsill, potted them and they smell wonderful.  

I also enjoy using fresh rosemary and thyme in my cooking.  

Now, before you "poo pooh" herbs as a hobby-type thing, price fresh herbs at your local market.  Sure, they sell in small boxes for a couple of bucks.  
Do the math.  They cost roughly forty dollars a pound.  

If you really want to bring home the food budget bacon, grow herbs.  They'll give you more bang for the buck than tomatoes.
  
You know that by August you'll have a glut of tomatoes and zucchini.  By September you'll be sick of eating them.  You won't be alone.  Last summer my husband and I went to Morden for a day trip.  There, by the tourist information booth like a basket of unwanted kittens, was a box of zucchini, free for the taking.  And tomatoes can go for less than a buck a pound.  

But fresh herbs, like a GIC, are a safe investment.  They never crash and they give a steady return.

They are also compact.  
One of the annoyances about getting older is downsizing.  A smaller place is easier to keep clean, but often doesn't come with a large garden.  A variety of herbs can easily be grown on a shelf under grow lights or by a sunny window all year round.  

Just put the plants on a layer of pebbles on an old cookie tray and add water for a little extra moisture when the heating is going.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Anna Sultana's St. Martin's Cake / Fruitcake, Maltese Style

Lest we forget...
Today is Remembrance Day.


In Malta, November 11 is celebrated as the feast of St. Martin.
Il-festa ta' San Martin it-tajba lil kullhadd!

St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, was once a Roman soldier.  He is one of the greatest saints of France and the most celebrated Bishop of the fourth century.

He had a great love for the poor.  Legend has it that upon seeing a beggar, 
St. Martin stopped his horse, sliced his cape in two, and gave half to the beggar.  
That night St. Martin dreamed he saw Jesus wearing the cut half of his cape.

Ma made a traditional St. Martin's cake to mark his feast day.
It's a nice fruitcake that doesn't need to age.

Handy to whip up for St. Martin.
Or Christmas.
Or just any day you'd like a solid dessert.
Really. 

                             
                              St. Martin's Cake

Grease well a large oven-proof pot
Preheat oven to 325º

In a large mixer bowl, cream until light and fluffy
200 g butter
200 g sugar

Beat in
4 large eggs
4 Tablespoons milk

Fold in
400 g flour
1 Tablespoon allspice

Add
200 g walnuts (chopped)
200 g hazelnuts (chopped)
100 g almonds (chopped)
100 g figs (chopped)
100 g chestnuts (roasted and chopped)

Pour the mixture into the prepared pot.
Bake 1 1/2 hours or until golden brown.
Let cool on a rack.

Before serving, if you want, dust with
Confectioners' sugar