PANETTONE … Italian Christmas Bread

 

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I have been making this gorgeous Italian bread every Christmas for more than thirty years.   Panettone is a sweet bread filled with candied fruit and raisens. Our son  would not consider it Christmas unless this gorgeous bread appeared on the breakfast table Christmas morning.   Terry’s chocolate orange in his stocking is the other most have.  One year when I thought perhaps he had grown too old for this tradition of the chocolate orange I didn’t tuck one into his stocking.  That will NEVER happen again.

If you have a stand mixer this bread is not difficult.  You must allow yourself time so start it early in the day.  Otherwise you’ll end up baking it at midnight. That happened to me one Christmas eve but it did fill our home with the lovely aroma of baking on Christmas eve.

Panettone keeps well and is delicious toasted.  Serve it with a dusting of icing sugar and a little marscapone cheese and you have a heavenly dessert.

This recipe for PANETTONE is so superior to the package product seen in the shops at this time of year you will be happy you have it in your apron pocket.

 

 

 

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MAX AND THE FORGOTTEN CHRISTMAS TREE

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It was two days before Christmas.  In the deepest darkest part of the coldest night Max heard a woof  and slipped out his bedroom window onto the back of  Summer the Flying Horse.  Summer and Mocha, the dog with the magic ears, lived together on The  Enchanted Farm.

Mocha’s magic ears could hear cries for help; cries no one else could hear.  Those who truly believed in magic could  hear Mocha speak.   Summer was no ordinary horse.  When the sky became dark and the stars came out Summer would fly through the sky on enormous wings.

“In a far away place there is a sad, forgotten Christmas tree.   When the trees were  gathered to be taken to the city this tiny tree lay unnoticed in the snow. We must find it so it can have a happy Christmas.” said Mocha .

 

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With one gigantic leap Summer soared into the sky, Max and Mocha riding safely on her back.  Mocha listened for the tree calling for help and gave Summer directions.  They flew over the sleeping city.  Max looked down.  He could see his street.  He could see his house.  Then the city disappeared and they were flying north over white fields of snow with black ribbons of highways and roads.

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“We’re almost there.” cried Mocha.  Suddenly the sky became white.”Snow Dragons.  Snow Dragons.  They will try to stop us.  We must fight them off.”

The sky was filled with fierce dragons who breathed snow.  So much snow they could not see .  They were in a blizzard.  Summer, who had been flying quietly, gently through the sky began to furiously beat her wings.  Faster and faster.  The air became warmer and warmer, much too warm for the snow dragons.  They melted away.

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Then far below Max saw the forgotten tree.  Summer swooped low over the field and Max reached down for the tree.  He hauled it up onto the flying horse  then up , up, up high into the sky they flew.  They flew so high they found themselves among the stars.  And as they flew the sad tree became happier and happier.  It reached out and caught the stars to decorate its branches.

You could just see little edges of morning light in the dark sky when Summer flew up to Max’s bedroom window.   Max slid into his warm bed and was fast asleep before you could count ten.

In the morning Max’s mother called him to come and see what someone had left on their doorstep.  It was a tiny Christmas tree decorated with glittering stars.

“I wondered who could have givens us such a wonderful gift” said his Mother.  Max just smiled and spread more jam on his toast.

 

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Mocha and Summer truly exist.  They live on the farm and I can see them from my window as I write this tale.  Max is a real boy.  He is four years old and he is my great-grandson.  Max asked me to write this story.  I wrote it for Max and I wr0te it for Alice and Eleanor and Charlie, his cousins.  I write it for those who are young at heart.  I write it for those believe in magic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A LITTLE HOUSE IN PARIS IN DECEMBER

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Her favorite painting.  It was the view from her bedroom window.   Snow covering the rooftops of the city and blanketing the streets.

“It’s time” she thought.  “Time to be there”.

Then she disappeared into the painting.

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She hurried along the quiet street to her little house.  Past the bright lights of a neighboring bistro.  Past the little market on the corner.

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A few snow flakes drifted down and caught in her hair like diamonds.

 

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She filled her basket with glittering glass balls.

Tangles of shimmering angel tinsel.

A tarnished vintage star.

 

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She filled her basket with  armfuls  balsam boughs.

Boughs to make into garlands.

Fragrant boughs to fill every room with their incense perfume.

 

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Rooms leading one to the other, enfilade.

Rooms with ancient wooden floors that creaked and complained.

 

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She would take the shimmering tinsel and form it into angel wings.

Delicate creations to catch the light.

 

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Fantasy angel wings.

Fashioned for each window overlooking her tiny garden.

 

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Nothing would be forgotten.

Even the ancient fountain heads would be crowned with garlands of balsam.

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Carrying armfuls of happiness she hurried through the pristine snow covered streets leaving scarlet footprints in the snow.  Her ruby slippers were taking her home.  Home to her little house in Paris.  Une petite maison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MAGIC TOY CUPBOARD

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Afterwards –  in the times to come she remembered

the toy cupboard.

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The fierce dragon guarding the castle.

The swashbuckling  wizard carrying a watch to make wishes come true.

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The Hussar with the fierce and splendid mustache

riding to the castle

to rescue  the princess.

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It was always in vain.

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Afterwards in the times to come  she remembered her sailor doll.

Worn with love.

He sailed away in a beautiful pea green boat.

But he always came back.

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The china mouse wore lace and a pink velvet jacket.

He fell in love with the china doll.

She only had eyes for the dashing firemen.

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Afterwards, afterwards in the times she remembered.

The fire engine raced to rescue the tumbled soldier.

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Her Okasan whispered  haiku and

flung words into the sky.

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Afterwards, afterwards  in the times to come

she remembered Hans.

Hans who Christmas after Christmas

kept the memories together.

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Afterwards, afterwards in the years to come

she collected the toys.

Put them in the toy cupboard.

But each Christmas she shared her memories of joy

with the young and the young at heart.

ABOUT ANGELS AND THE PUTTI (cherub) WHO ALMOST GOT AWAY

 

Meet the angels in my life.

I have a  love affair with angels and putti(cherubs).  Their faces  intrigue me.  Late one  Christmas Eve I was shopping for flowers on South Granville in Vancouver,  and discovered this putti .   White plaster waiting to morph into something wonderful.  I  painstakingly gold leafed her.  It was time-consuming work but I was so enchanted with her face it was a joy to bring out her beauty.

You can’t see this putti’s face but he has an adorable tummy and dimpled knees.  Another white plaster  cherub that I found in a thrift shop.  I painted and aged it until it looked like perhaps, just perhaps, I have found it in an old casa in Italy.

 

 

 

I found this putti with downcast eyes and a sad expression in a Thrift Shop.  She was a little battered so I gave her a face lift with a marble finish.

 

 

I plan to fill the urn these cherubs are holding with lavender.  Another white plaster object that I gave my “famous” French finish.

 

 

More faces, more tummies  and another of my antique, distressed paint creations

 

 

It was the week before Christmas.  Market day forty years ago  in a remote village in Mexico.  Beautiful Daughter and I were shopping.  She bargained for a tin lantern and I found these rustic angels.

 

 

This angel is  Matilda.  A gift from Titan haired daughter-in-law.  Her job is to guard my sewing room. She makes me smile.

 

 

An angel from Italy.  For years she graced the top of our Christmas Tree.  I couldn’t bear to continue to  hide her beauty in a box for eleven months of the year.  Now she guards my book.

 

As for the putti who almost got away …

 

This is Francis.    Francis was plain brown paper mache when I discovered him.     I created  several looks  for him.  The first year he was aFrench putti,  pale gray brushed with white.  The next year he took on a new persona and I gave him a marble finish.   The following year I thought something rustic, something to wreath with pine boughs. and holly, and a few white roses.   So Frances was painted an earthy ocher.   I hung Francis on my front door for several  Christmases.

Last Christmas I wanted a wreath lush with pink and scarlet roses,  and velvet ribbons.  There was no place for Francis.  Perhaps it was time he returned to the Thrift Shop, and a new adventure.

I was unloading him from the car to take him into the Shop when The Good Husband asked what I was doing.  I told him.    “No” says The Good Husband, “No angel EVER leaves our house”.  So dear friends that’s the story of Francis the putti that almost got away.   It’s also the story of  a man who is gentle, caring, loving, and who can always find room for one more putti.