Tess on the Town: Christmas heats up the ovens of popular bakery

It’s like a Fantasia for those with a sweet tooth. A fix for sugar fiends. A playground for kids with lollipop eyes.

I thought I’d stop at Home Style Bakery, 924 N. Seventh St., on a Tuesday morning when business was slow. Instead, I was met by a bustling stream of customers, picking up orders and just eyeing the goods.

“From now until Christmas, it’s 11-, 12-hour days,” said Jan Wilke, owner of the bakery. “And I have banker’s hours.”

She and husband, Donald, have owned the bakery for 36 years.

Wilke shared with me some of the most popular Christmastime items at the bakery.

Gingerbread houses. Catering to customers’ wishes, the little and not-so-little masterpieces come completely made, or assembled but not decorated, or in pieces. Some families like to buy the pieces and finish them at home with the kids.

French bread shaped like Santa, a Christmas tree or a Teddy bear. People throwing parties scoop out Teddy’s enormous belly and fill it dip, Wilke said.

Pull-away cinnamon rolls in the shape of a Christmas trees.

French pastry trays with petit fours, cream puffs and éclairs.

Decorated butter cookies.

Yule kage, a Danish sweet bread with cardomon, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Cannolis and Florentine cookies for those with a little Italian blood still coursing in their veins.

German stollen bread, packed with nuts and candied fruit. On my recent visit, someone from the German-American Club was picking up 80 stollens for a gathering.

Challah bread. It’s great for French toast, Wilke said.

And, the punchline. Fruitcake. “It’s no joke,” Wilke said, “We well hundreds of pounds every year.”

IT’S A HIT: Phil Lempert, food-trends editor for “The Today Show,” recently singled out Palisade Peach Jalapeno Jam as a winning product in his “Hits and Misses” segment.

On a scale of one to 100, Lempert rated the Alida’s Fruits jam an 88, which he defines as a “hit.”

Alida’s also makes other jams with hot peppers, including raspberry, blackberry and strawberry jalapeno jams.

Another favorite is Alida’s Smoked Applewood Butter. It includes barbecue sauce, a hint of liquid smoke and jalapeno.

The food guru said the jam “has a terrific flavor with a clean burn.” He suggested pairing it with broiled fish.

Alida’s Fruits operates retail businesses in downtown Grand Junction and East Orchard Mesa. For information, call 434-8769 or email farmerbob@alidas fruits.com.

To see more of Lempert’s food picks, go to http://www.supermarketguru.com. Click on “New Product Reviews.”

LIVING WITH LESS: With Greece’s economy in a shambles and an unemployment rate just shy of 20 percent, Greeks are in a serious belt-tightening mode.

Hence, the popularity of the new book “Starvation Recipes,” The Associated Press reported.

Author Eleni Nikolaidou pored over documents from the period of Nazi occupation during World War II to collect the tips and recipes from “survival guides” printed in Athens newspapers. Mass starvation during the war killed 300,000 Greeks.

No meat? Push an eggplant through the grinder instead. Make coffee from dried chickpeas. Chicory has long been used to make coffee go further. And don’t forget to sweep crumbs off your table and into a jar.

While these suggestions sound extreme, “It’s all about getting by with very little,” Nikolaidou said.

Here’s one recipe from the book:

Bulgur Wheat “Meatballs”

Boil bulgur wheat until tender and mixing with grated onion, parsley, spices and egg. Gelatin sheets can be used for binding if no egg is available. The wheat is rolled in flour or breadcrumbs and fried in olive oil.

QUOTE: “Older people shouldn’t eat health food, they need all the preservatives they can get. ” — Robert Orben

Send tips and ideas to Tess.Furey@ gjsentinel.com.


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