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Mrs. Sundberg's Recipe Collection - 12 tried-and-true--one for each month of the year--featuring an introduction and tips from Mrs. Sundberg herself

In the Spirit of Gathering

November 27, 2006

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It left me in the spirit of gathering and I love that feeling, and it was appropriate as Mr. Sundberg and I were to have wine and hors d'oeuvres with friends at 6:30 but I couldn't bear to miss the last half hour so I told him to drive slowly which wasn't a problem. I don't think Mr. Sundberg has once in all his years exceeded the speed limit.

So we arrived a bit late at the Gales', where Bob and Lorraine greeted us at the door. They'd been planning for weeks. The windows had been cleaned and there were lit candles all 'round and pine boughs on the windowsills. I gave them my plate of Rum Truffles and they handed us each a glass of a sweet German wine. The Stevensons were cutting up chicken and Gustafsons were singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" while Ms. Abelfee, the children's choir director, played the piano. Her lively personality is requested at most gatherings in town around the holidays, and the fact that she's never married and likely never will is not an issue. Her calendar is always full and hers is a good life of music and golf outings and dinner or two each week over at the café.

Oh, gosh, was there food to eat. We stood in the kitchen and talked about books we've read lately and recipes we'd like to try while Lorraine went around with trays of amazing things — asparagus and scallops soaked in melted cheese, fried mozzarella topped with sweet figs, and marinated steak on skewers. We ate steamed shrimp dipped in Wasabi and strips of chicken rolled in egg, peanuts, and coconut and fried in peanut oil. Ella Fitzgerald played in the background and later on we sat in a circle and drank ice cream drinks in fancy glasses and told stories about the holidays of our childhood. Ms. Abelfee had the best stories about the sled run that went from the back door of her home down through the forest all the way to the shore of the river where she would meet her friends and dance with boys in the snow on a wooden dock to Bing Crosby music. She blushed while she told the story and spilled a bit of ice cream on her lap and giggled. We noticed she'd kicked off her shiny black heels and her toenails were painted a lovely holiday red with a tiny silver star smack dab in the middle of each big toenail.

Well, before we knew it, it was midnight and we were home. I couldn't quite get to sleep and got up and sat at the kitchen table and looked out the window for a while. Nothing extraordinary had happened, mind you; it had been a perfectly ordinary evening with friends, and that's the beauty of it. So there I sat drinking tea by the window, thinking it doesn't matter much how it happened, in the big scheme, but that it did, that I ended up in this town with these people on this particular snowless November night.

This recipe was originally called "Fudgy Rum Balls," but I prefer "Rum Truffles" out of respect for the sheer elegance of both their taste and presentation. But you can call them "Fudgy Rum Balls" if you want to.

Rum Truffles

2 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

12 oz. chocolate chips

3 c. unsifted powdered sugar

3-4 T. rum (I use 4)

Mix and set aside:

2 T. cocoa

1/2 c. powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese and chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave on high 45-60 seconds. Stir well, and microwave another 15-30 seconds as needed to melt chocolate. Mix until smooth, and add 3 c. powdered sugar and the rum. Mix some more, cover with wrap, and refrigerate 3 hours or so. Roll into balls, and coat with the powdered sugar/cocoa mixture. Place on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper and refrigerate until firm.

Mmm! Enjoy!

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