Melt In Your Mouth Dutch Letters

In my previous post I mentioned that I was going to make Dutch Letters.  Well, I did just that and they are as good as we remember them to be! I thought I would share the recipe and the process for making them.

First, in a large mixing bowl stir together flour and salt. Cut cold butter into 1/2 inch thick slices, then add to the flour mixture and toss until butter slices are coated and separated. (I had a little challenge with this, because of the warm, humid weather. My butter softened way too fast, but I just had to work with it.)

Second, in a small mixing bowl stir together egg and ice water.  Add all at once to your flour mixture.  Using a spoon, quickly mix.  The butter will remain in chunks and the flour will have  a lot of dry spots.

Third, turn your dough mixture out onto a floured surface.  Knead the dough about 10 times, pressing and pushing dough together to form a rough-looking ball.

Shape the dough into a rectangle.  If, at this point, the butter is getting too soft, chill for 15 minutes or so.  On a well-floured surface, shape dough into rectangle, about 15″ x 10″.  Fold the short sides in half together, rotate and fold in half again. Repeat the rolling and folding process, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.  Repeat the rolling and folding process 2 more times, and chill for another 20 minutes. (I had to skip much of the rolling and folding, due to warm weather, but they still turned out okay. 🙂 )

 Using a sharp knife, divide dough into four equal parts. Wrap 3 portions in plastic wrap and put in fridge.  On a well floured surface, roll 1 section into a 12″ x 10″ rectangle.  Cut rectangle into five equal-sized strips.

For the filling, in a small mixing bowl mix together the egg white, almond paste,  1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Divide into four equal parts. Divide the one of the four sections of almond paste mixture into five parts.  Roll each part into a 9″ rope and place it in the first dough strip. Roll the dough around the rope, pinching the edges to seal them. Moisten the ends of the dough with water and pinch to seal the ends.

Shape strip into a letter (traditionally the letter “S” – why, I do not know.) Brush with water, sprinkle with additional granulated sugar (I used light brown).  Repeat process with remaining strips and filling. Repeat with the remaining 3 sections of dough and filling.  Bake at 375 degrees (F) for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Ration carefully to family members!

Dutch Letters

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups cold butter ( 1 lb.)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 8 oz. can almond paste
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar

 

December 25th, 2011|Categories: In the Kitchen|Tags: , |0 Comments

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It’s Tradition!

I find it enjoyable to learn about the traditions of different families.  Families have traditions for various occasions, such as when a new family member comes into the world.  Some families have special traditions to celebrate each person’s birthday or graduation. Traditions, particularly family traditions, are often the threads that help keep a family woven together.  They make us feel like we belong.

This time of year is particularly full of traditions.  Many families like to make certain kinds of foods, perhaps a favorite family recipe. When two people marry, hopefully there is a complimentary blending of traditions from both families, as well as the making of new traditions.

One tradition that has been passed down through the Jensen family during the holiday season is to make sugar cookies.  These aren’t your typical sugar cookies in shapes of Christmas trees and snowmen, but cookies in the shape of animals – an elephant, a cow, a pig and a swan.  These patterns, dating back to the 1870’s,  have been passed down from family to family.

A holiday tradition from the Jackson side of the family is coconut cake and boiled custard. Oh, so good! After we moved to Iowa, we started a new tradition, that of making Dutch Letters, a delicious Dutch pastry.  Since moving to Africa, I’ve not been able to make them every year, because it calls for almond paste.  I have one can of almond paste that I’ve been saving, which I plan to use tomorrow. 🙂 Dutch letters are melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Never mind that the recipe calls for a pound of butter.

I’d love for you to share some of your favorite family traditions. 

As heart warming as they may be, these kinds of traditions are simply human traditions.  They are fun, they are often delicious and they make great memories, but they are not mandatory.  Hopefully I won’t get excommunicated from the family if I fail to make sugar cookies one year.  If so, I’d be in trouble!

There is, however, another kind of tradition that we are required to keep. These are Divine traditions (teachings) set forth in the Scriptures, from God.  “So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.”  2 Thess. 2:15.  Whether or not we keep these traditions IS a matter of life and death. On numerous occasions Jesus had to reprimand his fellow Jews because they rejected the commandments of God, in favor of their human traditions.  We must guard against doing the same.

As we all enjoy various family traditions, let’s remember to keep things in proper perspective. What really matters in the grand scheme of things, is our faithfulness in keeping the Divine Traditions; that is, being obedient children of God.

December 23rd, 2011|Categories: Family Matters, In the Kitchen|Tags: , , |1 Comment

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Grasshopper Eating

Here is a link to our travelblog, if you’d like to read about and see some pictures  of the grasshopper eating fest. I was conspicuously absent. 🙂

http://www.travelblog.org/Africa/Tanzania/Centre/Iringa/blog-673172.html

December 20th, 2011|Categories: Missions|Tags: |1 Comment

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The Beginning and the End…

My day began with four-legged creatures, two legged creatures, and who knows how many other legs.  It all started when I came into the kitchen area and saw something dark streak across my pantry floor.  I thought it was a rat.  The evidence behind the fridge and freezer indicated something much bigger than a mouse. EW!  It still could be a rat, for all I know, but after Jacob helped me move the fridge and freezer, we found a big gecko hiding under the fridge.  Jake tried to get it…and missed, all except the tail.  That’s too bad, because now it will continue messing under the fridge and freezer.

Once the fridge and freezer were moved away from the wall, I swept up the stuff.  Then off I went to retrieve the mop off the back porch.  At that point I saw the pile of termite wings that had blown in during the night. I swept those up. Then, as I opened the kitchen door to retrieve the mop, a grasshopper flew on me.  I got that off of me and then picked up the mop, which, by the way, has a 2 ft. broken-off stub for a handle. When I brought the mop inside, I had to pick a few grasshoppers out of the mop, and then discovered that it was full of nairobi flies.  Not good. 

Nairobi flies are not truly flies, but beetles, and they don’t even fly. However, they are wicked. They do not bite or sting, but they are full of toxin.  If one is smashed on your skin, it will do give you something akin to a chemical burn, like this:

Fortunately, I did not get any on me, which is amazing, considering how many there were.

Needless to say, the the first half of my day was a little…challenging.  George, being the nice husband that he is, took us out to lunch.  After we came home, I noticed that nairobi flies were coming into the kitchen. Upon investigation, we found that hundreds more nairobi flies were swarming around a couple of plants that were outside, near the back porch.  We moved the plants and worked to clear out the mess.

Earlier in the day, George got a call from Carey, asking us if we had a bunch of grasshoppers.  You see…Editha, Charles’ wife, loves to eat them.  Carey was calling on her behalf.  Well by this time there weren’t many around that we saw, so we didn’t have enough to bother collecting. Well, wouldn’t you know it, they found plenty and cooked them up this evening.  They were so kind to share. To make a long story short, George, Jacob, Luke and Lindsey tried them.  Yuck is all I have to say about that. Pictures will be posted on our travelblog tomorrow.

The sun has long gone down, and my day ends with the flying creatures who’ve come back in force.  Flying termites are swarming the back porch and making their way under the door,  grasshoppers are flying around in our house, and the termites that have lost their wings and are crawling around on the floor.  We simply cannot keep up with killing them all. Oh…and there are some other kind of flying beetles that crawl around for the most part, but once in a while decide to fly and dive bomb someone. Don’t forget the mosquitoes!

I give up.  I’m going to go crawl into the safety of my mosquito net-covered bed and take refuge.  I hope all of these creepy crawlies have the decency to at least let me be while I sleep.  Seriously!

December 19th, 2011|Categories: Missions|Tags: , , |6 Comments

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