As you would expect, palm trees and sunny skies do not evoke Christmas for East Coasters. Other people are happy at the beach – jumping into the ocean waves, picnicking on the shore, chatting on their cell phones as they soak up the UV Rays – but not necessarily because it is Christmas.
What gives me nostalgic cheer? Those old movies – The Christmas Story (“You’ll shoot your eye out”), It’s A Wonderful Life (“Every time you hear a bell, an angel gets its wings”), reruns of Julie Andrews in Sound of Music. No popcorn for me – only egg nog and fruit cake – both soaked in rum – with a few rum balls on the side. Now if only it would snow.
In the eggnog, soaked in the fruitcake, between the layers of an Italian sponge cake – rum is the defining ingredient for me at Christmas. A home ec major – they don’t have those anymore – introduced me to rumballs, and they became the family project every year.
Gingerbread houses could fall, sugar cookies might not make it out of the cutters, but rumballs always were a success.
And, if they were a little dry – just add more rum…
Ta Rum Pa Pum Pum – Recipe for Rumballs
- 1 box vanilla wafers crumbs – crushed in blender or whacked in plastic bag
- 1 bag chopped pecans (at least 8 oz – could go to 16 oz if you like nuts)
- 1 box powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- about 3/4 cup white corn syrup (I know it’s bad for you, but you’re only going to use it this once)
- about 1/2 cup or more of good quality rum
Mix the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the middle and pour in the corn syrup and rum. Mix well. If too sticky, add more powdered sugar. If too dry, add more rum. Roll into small balls; dip into powdered sugar or chocolate sprinkles.
Store in a tin and refrigerate for up to a month.
Best part – licking your hands and fingers when done.
Listening to my favorite Washington D.C. radio station online turned out be just the tonic I needed. Not only great music, but when the baritoned announcer mentions the one lane traffic on Route 50 and the temperature as 29 degrees, I can be oh-so-nostalgic for an East Coast Christmas –
as I watch the warm sun rise over Diamond Head.