Memories of Christmases past

<strong>Penny’s Pantry</strong> Penny Case

Penny’s Pantry Penny Case

It’s snowing as I write this, but only on and off. What do we expect? It’s that time of the year — time to snuggle up in a warm blanket in front of your television and drink a hot toddy.

Our Ohio weather is so unpredictable. It was just 70 degrees and now it’s in the 40s. Put on a pot of good chili and just relax and enjoy a day of peace and quiet (that is, if you don’t have children).

I really miss those days. There was never a dull moment at my house when my kids were growing up. They kept me on my toes. Not too long ago, my daughter Tonya told me about one day when she was in her early teens. We’d gotten into a spat about something; she went outside and I went looking for her and couldn’t find her. I yelled and finally gave up. Now she tells me that all that time I was hollering and looking for her, she was up in a tree sitting and watching me. I couldn’t believe it. My son Philip said he did the same thing.

They also told me one Christmas, while I was working, they opened all their gifts that were under the tree and re-wrapped them. On Christmas morning, they all acted surprised. I told them that if I knew that then, they wouldn’t have gotten a present that Christmas. They pulled a lot of pranks on me.

When I was growing up, my siblings and I were always horsing around. I remember when we trimmed our tree, which was a real live tree. Mom would pop some popcorn so we girls could string them into a garland. Sometimes we’d put cranberries between each popcorn piece. We made a lot of our ornaments to hang on our tree, as well as chains out of red and green construction paper to decorate our tree, or strings of cranberries alone. Then we’d all sit around and mom made us hot cocoa and cookies while Dad turned on the lights on our beautiful tree.

It was so cozy just sitting around and admiring our wonderful job of trimming our tree. We would sing Christmas songs. Sometimes Dad and Mom would tell us their childhood stories.

My mother made the best dinners on holidays. She made this lettuce fruit salad with sweet homemade dressing. She would have me crack open English walnuts to put into it. It also had fresh orange slices, red grapes, bananas, and apples. It was best to eat it all in one day as the lettuce would wilt if you didn’t. Dad was also a great cook. He made the best baked beans from scratch in his slow-cooker. He didn’t use canned beans, he used either great northern or navy beans he cooked himself.

I miss my parents so much but I have good memories of them both that I’ll always remember. I also miss my wonderful husband and daughter. The good memories I have of them will always keep a smile on my face. Holidays are very sad for me, but I keep a smiling face on for the sake of my children.

Until next time, enjoy these recipes.

My Sweet Mom’s Sweet Potatoes

• 3 cans (17 oz. each) whole sweet potatoes, drained (sometimes I put in a few more potatoes)

• 1 can (21 oz.) apple pie filling

• 1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling

• 2 tbsp. butter or margarine, cut in small pieces

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• 1 tbsp. brown sugar

• Bag of small marshmallows

• Dried apricots and raisins to taste

• `/1 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a greased baking dish, layer the sweet potatoes with the apple and cherry pie filling. Dot with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon, add the dried fruits and marshmallows, and sprinkle brown sugar over the entire mixture. Begin to layer the dish by repeating the above then pour maple syrup over all. Bake for about an hour or until the marshmallows melt or bubble. (If you see this burning, cover with tinfoil during baking.)

Fried Dressing

• 1 loaf bread (fresh or stale)

• 1 medium chopped onion

• 1 cup chopped celery

• 1 egg

• 1 tsp. sage

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. pepper

Crumble bread. Add remaining ingredients. Use chicken or turkey broth to moisten. Drop by tablespoonfuls in a frying pan coated with vegetable oil. Fry until brown on each side.

Dressing Casserole

• 2 cups diced celery

• 1 clove garlic

• 12 cups toasted bread cubs

• 4 cups cubed corn bread

• 1/2 tsp. pepper

• 4 cup chicken or turkey broth

• 1 1/2 cup chopped onions

• 1/2 cup butter

• 1 tbsp. sage

• 2 tbsp. salt

• 1 (13 oz.) can evaporated milk

• 2 eggs slightly beaten

Cook celery, onion, and garlic in butter until light brown. Crumble bread cubes and corn bread in large bowl. Add sage, salt, and pepper. Stir celery mixture into bread cubes. Add milk, broth, and eggs; mix well. Pour mixture into greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Five-Bean Casserole

• 1 lb. hot sausage

• 2 large chopped onions

• 1 can green beans

• 1 can wax beans

• 1 can lima beans

• 1 can kidney beans, drained

• 1 can baked beans

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 2 tbsp. mustard

• 1 can tomato soup

Brown sausage and onions; drain and mix in all beans. Mix together and add brown sugar, mustard, and tomato soup. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for one hour.

Penny Case is a lifelong resident of Wellington who loves to cook and share recipes. Send recipes to her at 22 Johns St. or at

Penny’s Pantry Penny Case’s Pantry Penny Case