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Is Rusty still in the Navy, Clark?

Spacer issue six, volume ten  


For many, if not most Americans, the Christmas tree is a fixture in their home from sometime shortly after Thanksgiving until New Year or even after. The entire "cycle" of the tree from acquisition through decoration to it's final disposition is rife with tradition. Growing up in Southern California, finding a tree Penguinmeant driving with my mother from lot to lot and comparing hundreds of trees before narrowing it down to the perfect one. That one tended to be huge, quickly losing needles (remember Christmas means weather in the 70s in SoCal) and with one big hole we would turn toward the wall. The decorations had been carefully collected over the years with special decorations belonging to each of us children. We in fact took a trip once a year to San Francisco and on that trip we would visit Podesta Baldocchi and each buy our ornament for that season. After Tracy and I met, I started buying trees with the Wood family and this really divides into two stages, SoCal and NorCal. In SoCal tree hunting was much like with my family but with the addition of a song. They believed in the one lot approach and once they had found one tree that they liked they Polar Bearswould have me stand next to it to be sure no one else claimed it. To the words of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" I began to sing "Stand by Your Tree". Good or bad it is now a tradition. In NorCal they began to cut down their trees on their property, but as their trees tended to be thin they had to lash two or three together to form one large tree. These "trees" were never stable and had to be tied to the wall to remain upright at all. More than once a fully decorated "tree" was known to take a tumble. As Tracy and I formed a household and began purchasing our own trees, Tracy's excitement over the season would get the best of her and she would purchase the tree earlier and earlier. As she was trying to purchase one in June I had to lay down the law: no Christmas tree could be purchased before December 11th. Over the years I have softened, of course. The earliest date now is the Sunday Snowmenafter Thanksgiving and I kind of look forward to the pine scent. Of a different scent entirely, but trees none the less are Woodhouse chocolate trees. For those who remember, Euell Gibbons once told us that pine trees are edible, but I think you will find ours' far superior: they are beautiful, come either decorated with ornaments or covered with "snow" and are delicious. We make lots of edible things for the holidays, but you know that or you wouldn't be receiving this post. Just remember as you consider your gifts, Oscar Wilde once said, "My tastes are simple, I am easily satisfied with the best". We like to think we could even satisfy Oscar. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays in general!

John Anderson

Blue Box


Serves 8

I LOVE bacon. I LOVE Brie. Bacon wrapped dates with Brie are a favorite of mine, but what a pain in the *#$ to wrap all those dates- and the bacon never gets done the way you want it. My solution (you might call it lazy, I call it efficient - nobody has ever accused me of laziness; I have too many things to do) is to chop it all up and bake it together. Quite honestly, this puts more cheese into the mix, which is always a plus and the bacon is done. Plus you get to balance all the yummy goodness with healthy cocoa! This is a quick and easy hors d'oeuvre to take to a holiday party. You will be very popular if you share this with friends and family. I promise.

For the Bacon:
6 slices of thick bacon (I use Daily's peppered bacon - I am shamelessly promoting this brand - we have never had any better.)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit erring on the 325 side. If your oven runs hot, go for 325. Line a baking sheet with foil, then place the bacon on the baking sheet - best if they don't touch. Put those suckers in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, turn the bacon with tongs, then bake until done. I know, everybody hates that, but honestly, everyone's oven is different. My best guess is that it will take another 20 minutes. (Every holiday I bake pounds of bacon this way, put it in the freezer and re-heat on the day. We have never had any left-over.)

For the Finale:
1 lb. Brie cheese (I usually get two wedges)
4 ozs. Chopped Dates
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
the Bacon, chopped

Put the chopped bacon and dates in a small mixing bowl, add the cocoa powder and mix together.
Remove the rind of the Brie - mostly. Don't get too fussy about it. Cut the wedge in half horizontally to create a square layer. put in a baking dish that is roughly 8X5 inches (I have an oval dish that I use most of the time- use what you have, the brie will generally melt out to cover it if it is not too big.)
Spread the bacon-date mixture over the bottom layer of brie. Cut the other wedge of brie in half and place over the bacon layer. Put back in the oven that is still on at 350, right? Bake for about 20 minutes, until everything is nice and melty, maybe just a little browned on top.

Serve with a sliced baguette or fabulous crackers. And the Happiest of Holidays to You!!!

Tracy Wood Anderson



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