Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Holidays Are For Eating



Cold-weather holidays are especially enjoyable around the Hall family because we keep alive an old recipe from my Armenian grandmother. Unfortunately, my German side is only represented by a strong appetite for veal bratwurst and German-style potato salad... maybe some sauerbraten... but that's not too bad in the summer.

But, back to the recipe.... It is quite simple:
  • very thin dough
  • lots of butter
  • chopped walnuts
  • honey
Putting it together is the hard part.

I used to roll out the dough the traditional way... on a broom handle. That consisted of a small lump of very rich dough [eggs, butter] rolled out paper thin. I've gotten lazy as I've gotten older and the family has gotten larger ... and the amount of pastry I have to make has gotten proportionally larger.

Now I use Greek Phyllo dough.... After chopping the walnuts and melting the butter, I lay out four sheets of dough and spread the butter with a small brush.

Then sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the buttered dough.

and "accordion" the dough as shown below.

Arrange several sheets as shown below...

and cut carefully. A very sharp knife can be simply pressed downward to make the cuts.

Place the cut strips into a baking pan. I use some old, heavy-gauge, stainless-steel pans that heat evenly and don't warp from the heat.  Four sheets of dough will fill one row of the pan.

Note the presence of a large spatula which is needed a little later.

Pour the melted butter over the pastries so that the dough is wet, but not swimming in the butter. Usually, this is about 1 to 1-1/2 cups for the 12" x 18" tray.

Bake the pastries about 14 [13-15] minutes at 330°F. This is about right for our electric oven, but gas ovens may get hotter and cook quicker at that setting. You'll have to adjust for your own oven. Ideally, the dough should be lightly browned... just starting to crisp up, but still flexible. [NOTE THAT COOKING TIMES MAY BE LONGER FOR THE INITIAL PHASE IF YOU PACK THE PIECES TOO TIGHTLY].

Then carefully tilt the pan and hold the pastries in place while you drain the excess butter from the pan. About 1/2 minute of draining should be sufficient.

Then put back in the oven for 4 [3-5] minutes until the pastries are golden brown and repeat the draining of the butter until most of the excess is drained. That may take a minute. It should look like this.

Let the pastries cool down and then drizzle honey over the strips in the pan.

Serve and enjoy. It won't matter if you are Armenian, German, Irish, African or whatever. You will love this.


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
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“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)