Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas A to Z Letter T

Welcome Back to Christmas A to Z
T …is for Teddy Bear, Torrone and Trains
Teddy Bear
Since 1902 the Teddy Bear has been a favorite Christmas gift for young and old alike. In Germany, in 1902, Margarete Steiff’s nephew, Richard, designed the world’s first toy bear with jointed arms and legs. The bears were made from mohair plush. In 1904 the Steiff bears were brought to the United States, and in 1906, they sold under the name, “Teddy Bear”, after President, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
At the same time in 1902 Morris Michtom along with his wife Rose ran a Novelty and Candy Store in Brooklyn, New York. Rose had been making toy bears for them to sell in their store, when Morris got the idea to send one to the then American President, Theodore - Teddy - Roosevelt. Morris asked Mr. Roosevelt if he could use the name –Teddys’ Bear- for his cuddly products, and he said yes, making history.
The softness of a teddy bear can provide comfort. Teddy Bears have their own quiet way of saying “I love you”. Even though the teddy bear has exceeded its 100th birthday, its popularity still endures provides joy at Christmastime and through the year.
Toy Trains
In the mid-1700s, the Moravians (Protestant Christans) settled in the Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem, where they set up elaborate Nativity scenes in their homes called "putzen" -- the German word for decoration around the holidays.
The displays were enlarged year after year to include biblical scenes. In the mid-1800s, people created villages at the base of the tree with items such as model farmhouses fashioned after their own dwellings set atop burlap or moss. Cast-iron trains toys emerged toward the late 1800s and earned a presence under the tree.
TorroneWhen I was young, a neighbor had Christmas parties at their home. She had lots of goodies, one of which was Torrone.
The term “torrone” probably comes from the latin verb “torrere,” or to toast, referring to the toasted almonds. Today, there are many different types of torronne available—some soft, some hard and some with chocolate—not just in Italy, but worldwide.

This treat, found in Italy is usually sold in long rectangles—a light-colored confection with sliced almonds visible throughout—like an oversized candy bar. In all of its forms, Torrone is beloved all over Italy. The best honey candy, however, is made in Sardinia, Calabria, Sicily and Abruzzo—anywhere the best almonds and hazelnuts can be found.

I will always remember this delicious candy, and still to this day enjoy it during the Christmas season. Should you want to try your hand at a home- made variety here is a recipe for you.

1 1/2 cups good-quality honey
3 cups peeled almonds
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 egg whites
1 lemon
1/2 orange rind, grated
DirectionsPour the honey into a double boiler and simmer for 11/2 hours, stirring repeatedly with a wooden spoon.
Toast the hazelnuts and almonds in the oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove and transfer to a bowl. 10 minutes before the honey is ready, put the sugar into a small pan with 6 to 8 tablespoons of water and cook until it caramelizes.
Beat the egg whites until a small teaspoon will stand up on its own in the center—and then slowly fold them into the honey. Mix well for 5 minutes. Add the caramelized sugar and mix again.
Add almonds, hazelnuts, grated lemon and orange rinds; mix well for a couple of minutes. Pour the entire mixture into a rectangular low baking mold or Pyrex pan lined with paper-thin wafers (“hosts”)—called “ostie” and easily found in Italy, but perhaps requiring a bit more effort in the US. Otherwise, rice paper or buttered baking paper will also work. Cover with wafers or rice/baking paper. Press and level the mixture with a metal spatula.
If possible, place a weight on top of the entire torrone, and set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.
Turn upside down on a board and cut into small rectangular pieces. Store the candy in a suitable container with wax paper in between.
I hope you will join me again tomorrow as the Christmas Celebration continues…
Carolyn and the Bears

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