Now it is December and it is darkening

We have had our first small snow and the driveway is sloppy. It is getting dark so early now, that all the candles are out and winter lights surround my living room windows. My spare bedroom has become the repository for boxes and bags of things I am collecting for gifts. Everyone is into the holiday spirit, with lights up and gift lists and cards in the works. I am planning my holiday cookie baking and thought I’d add part of a story about this below. I wrote this story in August 2020 but the Christmas story was hardly read in the heat of that summer. It will be part of the upcoming book about my cooking life.

A homemaker to aspire to

There were many things about Elsie Feldeisen that were different from my mother. One of the good things was that she did enjoy cooking, and made really good meals, with seasonings (tongue-in-cheek, here) and other interesting ingredients in them. She had a garden and cooked fresh vegetables and make pickles and jams. She loved to pick berries and make things with them to preserve for the winter.

And she made the most wonderful Christmas cookies and breads. Her cookies were a big production. She had more than a dozen cookie tins, marked with the name of the cookie they held. She had a routine for when she made which kind of cookie. When they were all done, she could put out a plate of cookies that held a dozen or more different kinds of cookies, pretty and delicious. She would package them in decorated coffee cans or aluminum pie pans covered with plastic and a bow and take them to certain relatives or neighbors, every year. She would have a plate on the table at Christmas breakfast and after supper and get them out when people dropped over during the holidays. This is how I imagined a real homemaker- like those ladies in fancy dresses and aprons in my childhood cookbook- would live. This is something to aspire to!

I began collecting her recipes, for the cookies I especially loved. There was Kipfel, made from a yeast pastry rolled out super thin and filled with a cooked raisin filling. I was fascinated by these, enjoyed eating them at her house, but somehow never got around to adopting this giant recipe that seemed to take days to make. But I liked the Springerle made with lots of eggs and and flavored and rolled out with a special decorative rolling pin. She gave me a Springerle rolling pin for Christmas one year since I kept borrowing hers.

Then there were Date Squares, a thin and moist date-filled cake cut into squares and rolled in sugar. Peanut Blossoms were a peanut butter cookie with a Hershey’s Kiss stuck in the top, favorite of my daughter who ate the chocolate kiss and left the cookie behind. Sour Cream Cutouts were a rolled cookie, cut with cookie cutters and decorated with silver dragees and colored sugar.

There were quite a few more, another soft Date cookie, thin and crisp Oatmeal Cookies with red sugar on them, and others. Though she added new ones some years (Fudge Bars), or omitted less popular ones, the basic cookies remained the same for many years.

In Cooking This Week

Recipe of the Week: Risotto in the Instant Pot

My new favorite comfort food

After our big feast last week and the days of leftovers and turkey soup, it is hard to find something to eat that doesn’t feel like a burden.

We had several meals of soup. One night we ate a salad with sauteed scallops on top. And one night I made this great risotto which is my recipe of the week. I have come to love risotto since realizing it could be made in the instant pot rather easily. I defrosted chicken broth in the morning and quickly whipped it up at 4 so it would cook while we played Yahtzee and then sauteed some fish to go with it along with a few brussels sprouts. (P.S.)I Love love, love the Instant Pot)

Then we ate the rest all week in the form of rice cakes scooped out with a cookie scoop and fried

Risotto in the Instant Pot

Instant Comfort Food

2 cups Arborio Rice, rinsed and drained
4 cups homemade chicken broth, or vegetable broth
5 tablespoons butter
5 shallots, chopped (can substitute mild onions)
3-5 cloves -depending on size and your taste for it-garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry sherry
kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
At the end-
1/4 cup or more heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Optional add ins–roasted asparagus, peas, or sauteed mushrooms

Heat the instant pot and add butter to melt. Stir in shallots and cook for a few minutes then add garlic and cook, stirring another minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine smell is gone and it has mostly evaporated. Add the broth and rice. Season with salt and pepper. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes. Use a quick release. If the risotto is too runny use the saute setting to cook until you reach the desired consistency. Stir in cream and cheese. Stir in any vegetables you would like to add. Taste for seasoning. This is great leftover and sauteed in little patties to have for breakfast with an egg or as a side dish.

In Writing This Week
My biggest thrill was to–finally– have a poem published this week. If you’d like to read it, follow this link to my name and you should be able to pull it up. Woo Hoo!
After Thanksgiving
Eating After Thanksgiving is a Challenge — Your Innards Can Only Take So Much
Read the story here
A Seventyish Woman Suggests Three Ways You Can be More Content and Stop Postponing Happiness During the Holidays
Read the story here
Warning From a Seventyish Woman — Five Ways You Should Never Start a Sentence
These can send you sliding down a slippery slope to old age
Read the story here

Rather Have an Autographed Paperback Copy?
Sure you can get my book on Amazon as an ebook or paperback. But if you’d rather have me autograph it, I will mail you a paper copy. Just $20, postage included. Email me at for info.
Here’s the Amazon link to Dear Milly
Dear Milly: a love story ’til the end of time’

I wish you joy every day of the holiday season

Dear Milly: A love story til the end of time

Published by Jean Anne Feldeisen

I was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey to Mildred Shropshire and Theodore Felsberg Jr. I was raised in Galloway Township and graduated from Oakcrest High School in southern New Jersey in the Sigma 67 Class in 1967. I attended Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, and graduated from Stockton University in Galloway, NJ, in 1974 with degrees in Philosophy, English Literature, and (almost) music. After that, I taught piano to local children and adults in the 70s and 80s, had a catering business, "Jean's in the Kitchen," from 1980 to 1992, then went to graduate school at Rutgers Camden to obtain my Masters's Degree in Social Work. Since 1996 I have worked as a therapist and counselor, first in New Jersey for five years and then, when our family moved to Maine, in Augusta, Maine, for five years. For the past 17 years, I have had a private psychotherapy practice in Gardiner, Maine, During the pandemic, I packed up and moved my office home to Washington, Maine. On the year of my seventieth birthday, I decided to write and self-publish a memoir about our parents' World War II romance, Dear Milly. I began blogging on Medium in earnest in 2020 and have posted more than 265 stories, including a block of stories about my catering career which I hope to turn into a book in the next year. I have been writing and collecting poetry since childhood but never showed it to anyone. Recently, I learned how valuable it could be to join a group for feedback and support for my writing. I have taken several courses and written many poems, and recently had several poems accepted for publication. Off in a new direction, again.

2 thoughts on “Now it is December and it is darkening

  1. Love the cookie making. It was never part of anything I knew as a kid or early adulthood. You are the one that taught me about such things! Fun.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Yes. It was Don’s mother who had made it into an celebratory ritual. But I forget that my mom tried. We had a cookie press and imagined fancy cookies but the thing never worked right. They always fell apart or were misshapen. Too much colored sugar. Never “just right”


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