Punch Bowl Pointers

At a Christmas party, a bridal or baby shower, or even an elegant afternoon tea, it is customary to serve a festive fruit punch in a lovely glass punch bowl.

How does a hostess keep this pleasing party beverage frosty and cold during the party?

Make a Nice Ice Mold

A solid ice ring will sit nicely in your party punch bowl, keeping your festive party drink chilled and delicious.

Take a gelatin ring mold (preferably a plastic one). Fill your gelatin ring mold with fresh water. Add a bit of food coloring to match your party decorations and colors, if you wish.

Cut-up strawberries, blueberries, or even citrus fruit may be added at this point depending on your punch recipe.

Freeze the gelatin ring mold for several hours (ideally, overnight) before the party.

Slip Ice Out and Serve

Just before serving your party punch, slip the pretty frozen ice ring out of the gelatin mold, and place it in your punch bowl.

Pour your prepared party punch over the ice ring.

The ice ring will float in the party punch and keep your lovely beverage both cool and refreshing. Every physical science student knows that heat naturally rises, and cold descends, so your punch will be chilled well by the pretty ice ring you have made.

Also, as your invited guests ladle their own servings of party punch from your punch bowl, they will not have to slosh through loose ice cubes, which tend to melt and dilute your delicious drink.

Super-Easy Punch Bowl

Do you need a pretty punch bowl for your party?

Fancy glass punch bowls can be quite pricey. With little ladles and matching punch cups, a punch bowl set can cost a pretty penny. Why shell out plenty of cash for a punch bowl, when you can improvise a bit and create your own?

Here’s a simple solution. If you have a glass-domed cake platter (with a pedestal base), you can make your own pretty punch bowl in a moment. (Glass-domed cake platters are available at discount department stores, and they are considerably less costly than punch bowls.)

Flip the pedestal cake base over on your serving table, so the pedestal portion is facing upwards. Invert the glass dome cover, and set it on top of the pedestal cake base.

Voila! You now have a lovely, party-perfect punch bowl. (This trick also works for seven-layer salads, trifle desserts and other showcase recipes requiring a footed serving bowl.)

Pennsylvania Dutch New Year’s foods

The Pennsylvania Dutch are people who are of German decent who came to the York, Lancaster, Lebanon and surrounding areas of Pennsylvania during the 18th century. William Penn’s Quakers offered other groups religious freedom when they moved here. The first group of Germans to come to America didn’t really get along with the English. However, they eventually accepted each other and the Germans were much help during the revolutionary war.

The Pennsylvania Germans (also known as the PA Dutch) contributed a lot to the culture of central Pennsylvania. The PA Dutch language blends several dialects with English and standard German.

PA Dutch foods are diverse and include bits of North German, Southwestern German and also Swiss fare, but transformed into essentially American.

The Pennsylvania Dutch have many long standing traditions, one of which is the meal served on New Year’s Day. Pork and Sauerkraut are served for prosperity in the New Year. As the saying goes, “A pig roots forward, but a turkey or chicken scratches backward.” Pigs are also associated with getting plenty to eat and plumpness. Sauerkraut is for wealth and cabbage is for luck.

To make the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Pork and Sauerkraut you will need the following for a meal for six people.

A pork roast of four or five pounds, two jars of sauerkraut, salt and pepper to taste.

Depending on your preference, some people add an apple or one to two tablespoons of brown sugar to make the sauerkraut not as strong. Something else that can make a difference is the type of sauerkraut you use. The canned type is usually the strongest and the bagged sauerkraut is typically the mildest. Silverfloss is a great choice.

The meal itself is relatively easy to prepare. You can make it in a crock pot or in a soup kettle on top of the stove. Fill the crock pot or soup kettle half full of water. Put in the pork roast and sauerkraut. If doing it on the stovetop cook over medium heat for approximately four to five hours. If doing it in the crock pot (on high), cook it for about six to eight hours. If you prefer sour sauerkraut, don’t add it until the last two hours of cooking.

As the Pork and Sauerkraut are nearing the end of their cooking time, you can prepare the mashed potatoes. You will need 2 1/2 pounds of Russet potatoes, about a 1/2 cup of milk and 2-3 tablespoons of butter.

Peel the potatoes and wash them off with cold water. Dice potatoes and add to a Dutch oven or similar sized pot. Cover the cut potatoes with cool water. Bring them to a boil, then reduce heat to continue with a low boil for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes and put back into the pot or another container you don’t mind using an electric mixer in (no metal utensils in non-stick pans). Add the butter and mix for several minutes, then add milk and continue to mix until smooth. Try not to over-mix them as they get a gluey texture.

When the Pork and Sauerkraut are finished, you might need to remove the pork and use a fork to pull the meat apart. You can add it back to the sauerkraut or put in on a separate plate. Dish the potatoes out accordingly and put the sauerkraut on top.