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Holiday Rum BallsOne Christmas I compiled some family recipes into a book for my grown kids Caitlin and John, and John’s wife, Mollie. I wanted to put all the family favorites in one place, so my “kids” would no longer have to call me on Thanksgiving morning to be reminded of how to stuff a turkey, for instance, or have to rummage through the disorganized mess of my loose miscellaneous recipes, one day when I’m no longer here, as my own mother used to forewarn. I perused my mother’s old stand-bys, cooked them again—family favorites—and ones I hadn’t tasted in a long while. I took photos, reminisced about the memories the food conjured. Add a teaspoon of desire, memories become poems. Writing them was easy; the recipes were there, the memories were there. All I had to do was put them together. It was meant to be a cookbook, spiced with a few poems. I started writing and I kept writing. One poem provoked another. Christmas came. I compiled the book through The kids loved it, with all of its homegrown feel and typographical errors and fuzzy photos.

I kept writing. And revising. About a year later, I realized I was in the midst of a book of poems, inspired by the recipes, rather than a cookbook interspersed with a few poems. As it now is, Take This Spoon is a book of poems in seven sections, each section introduced with a recipe from the original cookbook, that will be published by Main Street Rag Press in 2014. I’d still like to share the fifty other recipes that didn’t make it as far as the printer. Won’t you help me?

Look in your cupboards. Find a family favorite recipe and cook it again. Then sit down and write something about it and submit it to this blog. Or just send in the recipe. I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s a holiday favorite in my household, from my original cookbook, Marian’s Kitchen.

Rum Balls

This is my grandmother Wendell’s recipe, that originally appeared in The Pottsgrove Cookbook. My kids still beg for these cookies; Christmas just isn’t Christmas around our house without them. They joke that they can get drunk eating them, and it’s true: I always put about half again as much booze in than the recipe calls for, which makes them moister, too. You can also substitute bourbon, but my family has a penchant for rum, so rum balls it always is. The one must is that you let them ferment for at least 24 hours after you roll them, before eating, which is difficult to do (wait, that is). Be patient, enjoy, and don’t eat too many at one time!

2 T cocoa 2 T light corn syrup

1 cup powdered sugar 2 ½ cups crushed vanilla wafers

¼ cup rum (or more!) 1 cup pecans


Crush vanilla wafers and pecans in Cuisinart or blender.

Sift cocoa and sugar together. Add rum mixed with corn syrup, crushed vanilla wafers and pecans. Roll into balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Keep in an air-tight cookie tin for longer lasting, moister rum balls.

Mrs. John Potts Wendell, from The Pottsgrove Cookbook, published by The Pottstown Historical Society, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, 1960.

If the spirit moves you, send my blog a holiday favorite recipe, or a poem, or both. Happy Holidays!

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