Friday, December 18, 2009

The tree is up and baking goodies is on my mind. I love to make handmade things and goodies for the holidays. When I was growing up baking treats was always a Christmas tradition. My father was an elementary school principal and his teachers and students, actually, usually the mothers of the students, would give him some of the best treats for Christmas. Lucky for us, we also typically got the recipes, too.

But it really all started with Grandpa and Grandma Hopkins, as far as I can remember. Grandpa Hopkins owned Hopkins and Son grocery store in Decatur, Illinois. He served as a cook in WWII on the ship Dakota and when he came home from the war became a pastor. His best job was being Grandpa. He spoiled us when we spent the night. Breakfast was always his homemade doughnuts. He made us french fries and hamburgers for lunch. It was heaven to be at his house. Grandma taught me how to crochet and they where always doing crafts.
So when Grandpa and Grandma Hopkins came for the holidays they would bring treats. One of their best was their date bars, which I am making tomorrow.

But today was all about the stollen. This is a German bread made at the holidays. I was first turned on to the recipe by, no, not Julia, but my other favorite diva, Martha. This was way back when I was just married about 6 -7 years. She demonstrated it on her show and I had to make it. This would truly impress my inlaws who had never really taken me into the fold. Don't be sad; they didn't even take they own son into the fold, either. Well, anyway, I made the stollen and to my surprise the Bula family loved it. What?!? They hate everything I do. Well, to find out years later, Joe's dad was Polish even thought he told me early in our marriage that they were Italian and, of course, I believed them. Why would he lie? Joe said he didn't know what his ethnicity was. so, as always, I believed.
Well, years later, like 2008, while doing a little genealogy, I found out that Joe is German and Polish and stollen is a traditional holiday bread. Aaarrrgh! All after becoming the best Italian cook around! So, today I made the famous stollen. Joe's parents are no longer with us but I make it in honor of finally finding out what the heritage of my only child and the man I love is.
By the way, the date bars I thought Grandpa Hopkins made that we all loved were Grandma's doing all along.
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