Christmas Baking

Friends often give me their parents’ cookbooks, knowing that I will love any cookbooks that pre-date the 1960s. I recently was given a gold mine of early cookbooks by my friend Anne whose mother passed away last year.  My heart was racing as I loaded up the car knowing I’d have many hours of fun reading these gems.

But the most intriguing to me was a newsletter called Cook and Tell mainly from the 1980s-1990s and a bit into the early part of this century. The newsletter was the brain child of Karyl Bannister whose address on Love Cove, Southport, Maine gives you an idea of the hominess of the newsletter.

Karyl wrote her newsletter long before the rage for food blogging. She writes about her newsletter that it “is dedicated to fun in the kitchen. I think food should be reasonably wholesome and taste good.” And indeed all the recipes are super simple and those I’ve tried so far are excellent, though many are too heavy with sour cream and cream cheese as was popular during this time period.

Karyl’s other main attribute is that she’s an excellent writer. Her monthly letters immediately pull you into her quiet life filled with cooking on the coast of Maine. After reading many of the newsletters, I feel as if I know Karyl and her family.

Here are three Christmas desserts all of which came out splendidly.

Apple Cranberry Crisp

  • 4 medium-sized apples, peeled, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon


  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. chopped walnuts

Toss apples and cranberries with sugar, flour and cinnamon in a 2-quart baking dish

Make the topping by combining flour and sugar

Cut in the butter

Stir in oats and nuts

Strew this topping mixture over the apple mixture

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 350 degree oven (the dish should be bubbly and golden brown)

She suggested serving with vanilla ice cream or cream

This receipe is from the Oct. 1998 issue.

Eggnog Muffins

  • 3 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c. eggnog
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1 c. candied fruit (I used dried cranberries)

Spray a standard muffin pan with cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg

Combine the eggnog, egg and cooled melted butter

Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry mixture and blend

Fold in the fruits

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full

Bake for 25 minutes

Very yummy and a great way to use left over eggnog! From the December 2003 issue.

Cranberry Bars

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 apple with peel on, chopped fine
  • 1 c. cranberries, chopped fine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/4 c. of the flour and 1/2 c. of the sugar and the butter

Blend with a fork or pastry blender to fine crumbs and set aside

In another bowl, mix the fruits, eggs, vanilla and lemon juice

In a cup, mix the remaining 1/4 c. flour, the remaining 1 c. sugar, and the cinnamon and add to the fruit mixture, mixing to blend

Press half the crumb mixture firmly in a 9 x 13 pan

Spread the fruit mixture over it, leaving 1/2″ margin all around              

Sprinkle remaining crumbs lightly over the fruit and a little more around the edges

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or till golden brown

Cool before cutting into squares or bars


I took these bars to a party and they were a huge success! The recipe is from the June 1996 newsletter.

Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, I love cranberries!

One Response to “Christmas Baking”

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  1. Beverly Duell-Moore says:

    Boy the crisp looks really good! I’d be willing to try that. But, the muffins, no way! Neither Meg nor I like egg nog.
    I yhought maybe Aunt Lil was done in the kitchen. Great to see her back!

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