Part of The Garden Plot never goes to sleep in winter. Green is my favorite color and we all need something green and growing all winter long. Green in the winter garden is highlighted by the Carolina Jasmine, mustard greens, Siberian kale, collards, purple top turnips, broccoli, cabbage, and onion sets.
It is always fun in the Christmas season to see something green in the garden.
The mystery of mistletoe
One of the mysteries of mistletoe is just the fact that it exists. It’s a mystery how it can propagate itself against such great odds even in this 21st century when many acres of trees are being bulldozed for real estate and business development.
It is also a mystery how it evolved into a decoration at Christmastime. Mistletoe its self is unique with its olive green thick leaves and semi transparent white berries that are so dainty with their tiny seed in them.
Mistletoe is a parasite that mooches off hardwoods to sustain itself. Mistletoe reproduces itself when birds peck or bury the tiny seed into the limbs and branches very high up in the trees. Mistletoe revels itself to us in very late autumn and early winter when leaves fall and reveal huge clumps of elusive mistletoe in the very tops of trees.
This brings us to another mystery: how did we avoid breaking our necks trying to retrieve it as kids back in the 1950s when almost every tree had a clump of mistletoe tempting us? We knew a kiss awaited if we could chase the girls at school and dangle the mistletoe over their head. I now believe those sweet fourth grade girls realized the risk involved in retrieving that mistletoe, or maybe mistletoe charmed them like it did the ancients over the centuries or maybe they really wanted a kiss! So every December we look for mistletoe in the forest and woodlands of Stokes County.
Country stores are special places
The spirit of Christmas past and some of the present is alive at the country store or at some extraordinary stores near you. It is there you can experience the sights, scenes, and smells of Christmas that will take you back in time.
There is Ronnie’s Country Store on Cherry Street in downtown Winston-Salem that features slabs of bacon, W.G. White old-fashioned country ham, assorted candies, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, hoop cheese and many traditional Christmas goodies. A little further up the hill at 516 North Trade street is Mast General Store, where they feature old fashioned items, candies, special treats, toys, gadgets, dolls and other special items.
At at 245 North Main Street in Kernersville there is Musten and Crutchfield Market, whete they feature homemade pimento cheese, chicken salad, bottles of old-fashioned soft drinks and fresh meats and vegetables.
Across the state line in Cana, there is Carolina-Virginia Produce, with huge aisles filled with wooden keys of old-fashioned candies especially. You can buy already mixed and weight out candies in plastic bags. They also have jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, pickled eggs, assorted meats, vegetables and fruits by the bushel or pound, plus fruitcakes and hard-to-find items such as dark chocolate drops, orange slices, ribbon Christmas candy, coconut macaroons, spice and fruit gum drops, and stick candy in all flavors.
Mount Airy has several blocks of wonderful specialty shops filled year-round and especially at Christmas time when Main Street is decked out. You can visit the ice cream shops, old hardwares and enjoy a pork chop biscuit at the Snappy Lunch. You can find hoop cheese, country ham, Jelly Bellies in all flavors, dill pickles and many other extra special items that will pave the way to an interesting day of shopping and fun as well as dinning.
Finally there are two legends in Stokes County: Priddy’s General Store on Shepherd Mill Road in Danbury and John Brown’s Country Store and Grill on Highway 66 in King offer a variety of candy in addition to many traditional foods and wares. So take the family on a shopping adventure this season.
Christmas ornament dough
Making your own Christmas ornaments can be fun and you can make many Christmas memories with your children and grandchildren.
3 cups plain flour
1¼ cups cold water
1 tsp. powdered alum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine salt, flour and alum and mix well. Add water and stir until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball. Knead the dough on a lightly covered wax paper-lined surface, sprinkled with flour, for five minutes until smooth. If dough is too stiff, sprinkle with water, or if it is too moist, sprinkle with flour. Form shapes of Christmas trees, Santa’s, snowmen, candles, stars, candy canes, and gingerbread houses with cookie cutters or by hand.
Bake for 10 or 15 minutes. Cool and paint with acrylic paints.
Extra dough can be stored in covered plastic containers. Use a nail to punch holes in the top of the ornaments for ornament hooks before baking. You can roll the dough into sticks and make candy canes for your old-fashioned tree.
Red Peppermint Julip
This is a very interesting pepper upper on a winter evening. Run a small bag of Starlight peppermints through the blender in “grate” mode and sit aside. Mix two packs of watermelon Kool-Aid, two cups of sugar, four cups of water, one tsp. peppermint extract, and a two-liter bottle of ginger ale. Mix together and add grated Starlight mints.
When I see a Christmas cookie, I hear two voices in my head. One voice says, “You need to eat that cookie.” The other voice says, “You heard him, eat that cookie!”