Have you been humming Christmas carols since Thanksgiving? So have we : ) After all, there’s nothing quite like a Christmas classic to put you in the holiday spirit. Just for fun, we’ve created a short quiz to see how well you know some of your holiday favorites. So tune in and test your musical score with our Christmas Carol Quiz !
Archives for 2010
The BlueMountain.com Oil Spill Response team leaves for Bayou La Batre, Alabama Friday morning. Follow the team LIVE as they spread a little Christmas joy to families of Bayou La Batre!
Once an hour, the team will be posting an update on what they’re doing, what they’re seeing, who they’re with, and more! If you look at the top right of the blog, you will see a “Follow us in Alabama” link. Under this, you will be able to read the most recent updates the team is posting via Twitter.
If you would like to read more, you can click through the link to go to the team’s Twitter page to see all the posts.
Come along for the experience – it will be a Merry one!
Latkes, or potato pancakes, have been around forever. You may have a recipe from your grandmother – a recipe that she got from her mother or grandmother. This traditional Jewish dish, often served during Hanukkah, has found its way through the decades and into our hearts – many through old family recipes that are over 100 years old.
Latkes haven’t always been the same through the generations, though. Since potatoes weren’t available in ancient times, latkes were originally made with grated cheese, egg and then fried – the salty cake was served with wine. But with the introduction of potatoes to Europe, latkes changed forever and potatoes became “mainstream”.
Regardless of how they are made, latkes are popular for Hanukkah because they are oil-fried, commemorating the oil that provided light for eight days in the temple. The word “latke” has Yiddish origins and is thought to have its beginnings in Germany or Russia. When the Jewish people immigrated to the United States, latke preparation also found its way to the U.S. Thank goodness, because these treats are just as tasty as they are traditional.
Are you looking for an updated version of your old standard for Hanukkah? Please enjoy this yummy recipe from www.jewishmag.com! (We are not affiliated with this site.)
700 g (1 ½ lb) firm cooking potatoes (high starch potatoes such as russet or Idaho are preferred)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1/3 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp matzo meal
2 large eggs
30 g (1 oz or ¼ cup) onion, grated
Vegetable oil, butter or mixture
Finely grate potatoes. Line a large bowl with a kitchen towel and dump potatoes in center. Enfold potatoes in towel, and squeeze and twist to remove as much liquid into the bowl as possible. Set potatoes aside and let starch settle from potato liquid for 10 minutes.
In the meantime combine salt, pepper, baking powder and matzo meal in a second bowl, add eggs and beat lightly.
Carefully drain potato liquid but retain potato starch that settled to the bottom. Add this starch to the eggs with the grated onion and potatoes and mix well.
Heat a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat for half a minute and add a small amount of fat (oil, butter or mixture) to coat bottom. With a large spoon, drop several lemon-size latke doughs into the pan and flatten with spatula. Brown lightly on one side, then flip over to brown the second side. Continue with rest of latke dough. Keep them ready to serve on a plate in a warm oven. Latkes will not keep very long and lose a lot on reheating. Serve them very fresh.
You may serve potato latkes keeping the sour cream and applesauce tradition, or use any of your favorite toppings, such as marmalade, jam, yogurt, honey or sweet syrup. For a festive table, provide at least three choices of toppings.
Here is a new poem written for you by George Davis. We invite you to submit a poem you have written yourself in the comment section. Please note: though we will not be making use of your poems, except to share them here, please remember that anything you post is public. If your poem has been reproduced here without your permission, let us know by contacting us at the legal information page.
by George Davis
Created with purpose
Uniquely designed for a season
Conceived in the clouds
and set free from the sky
into the unknown
Born beautiful and alone
from the sea of souls
that awaits me
Yearning to be connected
yet set apart and cherished
I am not to be confused
with those who have been
For if you look beyond
You will see that I am
nothing like them
And there shall be none
like me to come
I am a snowflake
The fingerprint of an Angel
Floating towards the future
Waiting on the Sun
Happy Cyber Monday to our fans, friends, and loyal followers!
We have a special Cyber Monday treat for you. 🙂
Today only: Gift yourself or Gift a friend a 1-year eCards & printable cards membership at 50% off!
Until midnight tonight, start a membership to join the BlueMountain.com family or gift a BlueMountain.com membership for less than $0.85 a month – a fraction of what you would spend on Christmas card postage alone!
BlueMountain.com family members can:
- Remember every birthday, holiday, and anniversary with email reminders.
- Organize and be a Social Butterfly with our FREE downloadable, interactive calendar.
- Surprise them with new and beautiful eCard creations every month- for any reason.
- Delight them with paper cards you print from your own computer at no extra cost.
Click the button below to Gift Yourself or Gift a Friend a BlueMountain.com Membership at 50% off!
Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving, and the largest online shopping day of the year! Online stores across the internet notoriously give amazing deals this day, and this year, BlueMountain.com wants to be a part of the fun.
We are giving our BlueMountain.com fans, friends, and loyal followers a special Cyber Monday deal, available only on Cyber Monday!
At 12:00am EST on Cyber Monday, we will be posting our surprise deal on the BlueMountain.com Blog.
Of all the gifts you’ll buy, this is the only gift they’ll use all year!
This surprise offer will be available for one-day only. So remember to stop back on Monday for a gift for you or your loved that will bring joy all year long!
We present to you the “Blue Mountain Oil Spill Response Team” !
We asked each team member 3 questions:
- Why did you get involved with the oil spill response project?
- What is your Christmas wish for the city of Bayou La Batre, Alabama?
- What’s your favorite thing to do at Christmas/the Holidays?
Why?: There are many, many reasons I became involved with the oil spill response project. I always wanted to make a positive impact in the world somehow, and this is definitely my biggest opportunity yet!
Your wish?: My Christmas wish for Bayou La Batre is that they see many things positive come from something so negative – and in hoping that our help is not the first or the last of those.
Favorite Christmas activity?: My favorite thing to do at Christmas is sit around the kitchen table with my family and eat an amazing home cooked brunch.
I work in the Marketing Department here at BlueMountian.com and I enjoy practicing yoga, trying new and fun restaurants, and spending lots of time with friends and family.
Why?: I got involved simply because I wanted to help the families affected by the oil spill. The Gulf Oil Spill has affected, and will continue to affect, so many families and businesses and I’m so happy to be part of the oil spill response project.
Your wish?: I wish for Happiness and lots of smiles!
Favorite Christmas activity?: I love to make homemade pasta with my family (and then eat lots of it of course!)
I’m a native of Chicago and a lover of people…and a hater of oil! (just kidding)
Why?: The oil spill was a true tragedy for the Gulf Coast and the surrounding regions. When presented with the opportunity to go and possibly make a difference, possibly put on a smile on someone’s face, I couldn’t refuse.
Your wish?: My wish for the city is continued growth, progress, and prosperity. I wish they become an even stronger city than they were before the tragedy.
Favorite Christmas activity?: My favorite part of the Holidays is spending time with family. I don’t get to see them often, so anytime together is a great time.
I’m a web developer at American Greetings. In my spare time, I ensure far off planets have the benefit of stuffed animals and waffles.
Why?: Several months back, the notion of wanting to reach out hit me like lightning on the way to work. I felt it so strongly that I had to put the idea out there.
Your wish?: My wish is that Bayou La Batre knows there are people who care, and that they’re not alone… and that people are willing to extend a hand.
Favorite Christmas activity?: I love watching the snow fall at night with nothing but Christmas lights or candles lighting the room. I also love the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Setting up and then karate kicking snowmen is pretty cool too.
Why?: Volunteering is in my blood and making a difference feeds the soul. I’m a big believer that giving is far more rewarding than receiving. I really appreciate the opportunity to help those affected by the oil tragedy directly.
Your wish?: I wish that after this terrible tragedy, despite all obstacles, the members of the community continue to keep the spirit of Christmas in their hearts all year long.
Favorite Christmas activity?: I really enjoy the light displays around town with my family and of course eat lots of Southern cooking.
I’m a programmer, amateur music producer/rapper who enjoys being a Geek.
Why?: I want to help others. If everyone lived to help others then the world would be a better place.
Your wish?: Hope, Peace, and Prosperity.
Favorite Christmas activity?: I love finding something worthy (of being given this life to live) to do.… last year I adopted a cat from the local animal shelter.
I am a father, husband, and outdoorsman.
Why?: I got involved because I’m an environmentalist and a humanitarian.
Your wish?: In addition to a speedy economic recovery, the events of this year create a previously unforeseen opportunity for prosperity for the people of Bayou La Batre and the Gulf Coast.
Favorite Christmas activity?: Volunteering.
I’m a 25 year old Marketing Interactive Coordinator. When I’m not at work, I enjoy my time the most when spent with family and close friends.
Why?: I got involved with the oil spill response project, because knowing I could help make someone else feel better is very rewarding.
Your wish?: My Christmas wish for the city is for them not to feel any less fortunate because of the devastating oil spill that occurred.
Favorite Christmas activity?: My favorite thing to do during the holiday/Christmas season is to spend a lot of time with family, eat a lot and listen to tons of Christmas music!
A native Blue Ridge Mountaineer; I enjoy rock climbing, snow boarding and anything outdoors… I enjoy dancing and singing and being super random and goofy with my family and friends.
Why?: I got involved because I couldn’t sit back and watch another disaster occur on the coast and not at least try to do something to help out.
Your wish?: My Christmas wish for Bayou La Batre is that Christmas occurs in their spirits not just their living rooms this year. They’ve been through so much; my wish is for fulfillment, peace and hope of a prosperous future.
Favorite Christmas activity?: My favorite thing to do at the holidays is bake cookies and listen to Christmas music on snowy days.
The wishbone legend began with the ancient belief that chickens were fortune tellers. The tradition of wishing on their clavicle, or “wishbone” was passed down through generations and brought to America by the Pilgrims.
You can read the full story in our Wishbone Thanksgiving eCard.
When did you first realize you are an artist?
In grade school I did a bad drawing of an eagle but when I looked at the drawings the other kids were doing, I thought “wow, I guess mine isn’t too bad”!
What is your position at Blue Mountain and what is your background as an artist?
I’m a Senior Creative Developer. Growing up in Montana I used to paint landscapes and wildlife paintings, I also painted murals on the walls of businesses. At one point I even had a job painting decorative duck decoys at a log cabin in a very scenic mountain stream setting. A few years later, even though I knew nothing about computers, I landed a job creating electronic greeting cards while still going to art school. Nearly everything I’ve learned about electronic art has been on-the-job. I still love to paint with traditional tools as well as create art with the computer in my spare time.
What inspires you to create your designs and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?
Natural designs are amazing, I love to be in nature learning from masterful designs everywhere. The layers and movement of a landscape with plants, animals and people are inspiring. Recently I took a trip to the art museum with my family and realized all over again how the works of master artists across many cultures inspire me. I’m also inspired by the work of the artists and animators here at BMA. When things get tough in the studio I sit under my desk and cry. No, just kidding, I love a good challenge, it keeps things interesting and I’m thankful for the learning and growth that comes from trying to solve a difficult task.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
It would be great to still be creating art and animation with this excellent team. I keep hoping I won’t wake up from this dream job! I enjoy the work, the people and the atmosphere here at Blue Mountain.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Figure out what your passions are and then follow them. I didn’t realize that I could make a living as an artist so I just floundered for a while until the day I got encouragement from a wonderful family that saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and they guided me to follow my passion. Intelligently directed passion is the key ingredient for success. Two more important pieces of advice: Work hard and pray for guidance.
After the interview, we saw some of David’s favorite eCard creations, including ones he created for Thanksgiving. David was one of the creative masterminds behind’s this year’s Thanksgiving eCard headliners, “Magical Wishbone” and “Dueling Banjos.” He’s also animated such BlueMountain.com eCard favorites as “A Woman’s Heart” and “Heard it was Cake Time!” To read more about David, and see more of his beautiful animation work, visit his page in the BlueMountain.com artist gallery.
Thanks for a great interview, David!
After tasting all 25 chili recipes at the Chili Cook-off ranging from mild to wild, and everything in between, we’ve decided to share the mouthwatering, award-winning chili recipes with our Blue Mountain foodie friends. We hope you love making these chili recipes as much as we loved tasting them!
Prize: Best Chili Chef: Chris Pemlot
- 2 1/2 lbs. beef short ribs, bone-in
- 3-4 TB. CHILI 9000, divided
- 2 lb. chorizo sausage
- 1 large onion, minced
- 1 tsp. dry MINCED GARLIC
- 1-2 tsp. salt (to taste)
- 2 14.5 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
- 2 14.5 oz. cans puréed tomatoes
- 4 Cups water
- 1/2 Cup chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 375°. Wash short ribs, pat dry. Rub on all sides with CHILI 9000, using about 1 tablespoon. Place on a foil-lined baking pan. Bake at 375° for 1 hour. Remove the casing from the chorizo sausage and place in the pan with the short ribs for the second half hour of cooking. This removes a lot of fat from the meat and gives the chili great flavor. Remove the meat from the oven and place in a large stockpot. Add the onion, remaining CHILI 9000, GARLIC, salt, tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to break up the tomatoes. Spoon off the fat (if any) as it rises to the top. Half an hour before serving, remove the beef short ribs from the pot, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and place back in the pot. Discard the bones. Toss fresh cilantro into the pot for the final 10 minutes of cooking or top each bowl with a sprinkle. Serve with your favorite chili toppings. (recipe from penzeys.com)
Uncle Wilbur Scoville’s 6-Pepper 9-Spice Short Rib Chili
Prize: Creativity of Ingredients Chef: Deborah Smith
- 6-7 small dried red chili’s, seeded, and torn into rough 1-inch piecesFresh Chili’s:
- 3 Poblano chilies, seed and dice *
- 2 Anaheim chilies, seed and dice
- 2-3 Hot Cherry chilies, seed and dice*
- 2 Hot Banana chilies, seed and dice *
- 3 Jalapeno chilies, seed and chop finely (2 Jalapeno’s for Chili mixture* – 1 Jalapeno, for garnish
* keep pepper ribs and seeds to the side and add back to the chili, if you want more heat
- 5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed of silver-skin and excess fat
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 2 whole anchovy filets
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons whole cumin seeds, toasted, then ground
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, toasted, then ground
- 4 whole cloves, toasted and ground
- 2 star anise, toasted and ground
- 1 tablespoon extra-finely ground espresso coffee beans
- 1 ounce chopped unsweetened chocolate
- 1 large yellow onion, diced in large chunks (about 2 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar, plus more to taste
- 2 (16 oz. cans) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (16oz. can) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- Cayenne pepper
- Hot sauce, preferably Death Sauce
Toast the Spices: Put cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and star anise (broken into pieces) in a sauté pan. Heat until fragrant and toasted, stirring frequently. Cool the spices and then grind until they are a fine powder.
Add dried chilies to large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or stock pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until slightly darkened with intense, roasted aroma, 2 to 5 minutes. Do not allow to smoke. Remove chilies to small bowl and set aside.
Season the trimmed short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Add oil to Dutch oven and heat over high heat until smoking. Add half of short ribs and brown well on all sides (it will be necessary to brown ribs in batches, depending on size of Dutch oven—do not overcrowd pan), 8 to 12 minutes total, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke excessively or meat begins to burn. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet or plate. Repeat with remaining short ribs, browning them in fat remaining in Dutch oven. Once all short ribs are cooked, transfer all rendered fat into small bowl and reserve separately. Allow short ribs to cool at room temperature.
Meanwhile, return Dutch Oven to medium-high heat and add 1 cup chicken broth, using flat wooden spoon to scrape browned bits off of bottom of pan. Reduce heat until chicken broth is at a bare simmer, add toasted chilies to liquid and cook until chilies have softened and liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer chilies and liquid to blender, add anchovy, tomato paste, ground spices (cumin, coriander, etc. from above), coffee, and chocolate, and blend at high speed, scraping down sides as necessary, until completely smooth puree is formed, about 2 minutes. Set this chili puree aside.
Trim meat from short ribs bones and hand-chop into rough, 1/2-inch to 1/4-inch pieces (larger chunks are better), reserving bones separately. Add any accumulated meat juices to chili puree.
Heat 4 tablespoons rendered beef fat (if necessary, add vegetable oil to reach 4 tablespoons) in large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add fresh chilies, garlic, and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chili puree and cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pot until chili mixture begins to fry and leaves a coating on bottom of pan, 2 to 4 minutes. Add chicken stock, chopped beef, beef bones, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, scraping bottom of pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to lowest possible setting, and cook, with cover slightly ajar, for 1 hour. Add diced tomatoes, cider vinegar, and cook with cover slightly ajar until beef is tender and broth is rich and lightly thickened, 2 to 3 1/2 hours longer, adding water if necessary to keep meat mostly submerged (a little protrusion is ok).
Using tongs, remove and discard bay leaves and bones (at this point, any excess meat still attached to the bones can be removed, chopped, and added back to the chili, if desired). Add red kidney beans, black beans, vodka, and brown sugar, and stir to combine. Season to taste with cayenne pepper, hot sauce, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and additional vinegar.
For best flavor, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight, or up to 1 week in sealed container. Reheat, and serve with desired garnishes.
Green Dog Chili
Prize: People’s Choice Chef: Allison Jagunic
- 2 medium sized Butternut Squash
- 2 cans of Kidney Beans
- 1 can of Great Northern Beans
- 1 can of White Hominy
- 1 can of Petite Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
- 2 cans of Tomato Sauce
- 1/2 of a jar of Banana Peppers
- 2 medium white onions (not pictured here)
- Minced Garlic (not pictured here)
- Optional: Butter Beans
Step 1: Chop 1 Butternut Squash (leaving the other for later) – into cubes, salt heavily with sea salt, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, at 375
Step 2: Chop the 2 onions to desired size, and start cooking those over medium heat
Step 3: Chop the other Butternut Squash into cubes (should take you about 10 minutes)
Step 4: Add as much garlic (I used 4 heaping spoonfuls) and ALL canned ingredients to the onion mixture
Step 5: Add the chopped butternut squash (just the one – remember – the other squash is cubed and roasting in the oven ) to the onion/garlic/canned mixture
Step 6: Add spices. I used a very fair amount of cumin, chili power and garlic salt – and just a sprinkle or two of crushed red pepper
Step 7: Once the pot is squared away – start browning 1lb of lean ground turkey
Step 8: After the meat is browned – add it to the pot – give it all a good stir – and then bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce heat and let it simmer for another 20 minutes
Step 9: Right around then – the timer for the roasted squash should be going off! Remove the amazingly delicious looking squash from the oven
Step 10: Add the roasted butternut squash to the mix
Step 11: Let it sit overnight so all the flavors really meld, and then bring it in to your chili cook off at work – and WIN THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD!
Though the flavors of Chili Cook-off are long gone, their legacy will forever remain in our recipe books. Thanks to all our chili contestants and winners for a deliciously successful fundraiser and to our fabulous winners for allowing us to share their winning recipes with our favorite Blue Mountain friends.