Friday, July 6, 2012

It's "Christmas In July" & A "Raspberry Trifle" To Keep Cool

It has been extremely hot across the country this summer so far. Everyone is wishing for some relief from the heat. Aren’t you? As we think about the fall and winter with those crisp cool nights we know we can‘t change the season, but we can dream of “Christmas in July!” That is what many people do year after year. It’s an unofficial holiday which refers to a Winter-Christmas-themed celebration held in July.

The specific beginnings of the “Christmas in July” tradition are not very clear, but it is believed to have started in Europe, as a way to celebrate Christmas in the summer. It is often said that a group of Irish tourists who went on vacation in the Sydney’s Blue Mountains in the summer months of July in 1980, were overjoyed at the sight of snow there. It is believed that these travelers convinced the owner of a local hotel in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales to hold a party called “Yulefest”. The idea was an instant hit and now each year in July they hold a Christmas Party. Hence forth “Christmas in July” became a tradition and continues to this day with a festival and many celebrations.

In the Northern hemisphere there are parties that are given in July that mimic Christmas celebrations, bringing the atmosphere of the holiday but with warmer temperatures. In the midst of the scorching summer months, people have parties which may include Santa Claus, ice cream and cold foods. In the United States, this festival has become highly commercialized. It is used more often as a marketing tool than as an actual unofficial holiday. Many retail stores offer special “Christmas in July” sales that started in about 1950. Restaurants offer special discounts and even television stations show re-runs of Christmas specials. The shopping networks like QVC and the HSN have also included shows that are titled “Christmas in July”. This is mainly because most retailers tend to sell Christmas items in July to make room for next year’s inventory and before the “Back to School” shopping period begins in August.

Some families love this concept of “Christmas in July,” especially if their family members are scattered across the states, because it is easier for them to have a get-together in July when the weather is more favorable for a vacation, rather than in the freezing winter months when long distance travels are really hard. Celebrating “Christmas in July” can take place at any time during the month of July. At the Bakken amusement park in Denmark, Christmas is celebrated in July for three days and witnesses the annual World Santa Claus Congress, attended by Santa Clauses from all over the world, accompanied by their wives and elves. Then, there are those individuals that choose to celebrate “Christmas in July” just because it is a transparent excuse to have a party.
My readers know that I love Christmas! This concept is a wonderful way to spread cheer and have fun in the summer no matter what way you celebrate “Christmas in July”. It is a great way to deal with the heat of the day. My recipe this week gives us the opportunity to celebrate the summer and “Christmas in July” together. It is called a “Raspberry Trifle”. This recipe is from Taste of Home magazine. You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate so it is nice and cold, especially for summer parties. Each spoonful is a bit of heaven as you can taste the sweet berries, mixed with the tart and a creamy texture all wrapped in one simple bite. Enjoy and try to stay Cool!

Taste of Home
Raspberry Trifle Recipe
Prep: 20 minutes & chilling
Yield: 12-15 Servings

1 loaf (10-3/4 ounces) frozen pound cake
1-1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup of sugar, divided
2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 packages (10 oz) frozen sweetened raspberries, thawed
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 box of fresh raspberries
1- 3-quart glass trifle bowl

Slice cake into 18-20 slices about 1/2 inches thick, set aside. In a bowl, beat cream with 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat cream cheese, lemon juice, vanilla and the remaining sugar. Fold in 2 cups of the whipped cream; set aside for topping. Drain raspberries, reserving juice; set berries aside.

Line the bottom of a 3-quart glass bowl with a third of the cake slices. Drizzle with some of the raspberry juice. Spread with a fourth of the cream cheese mixture. Sift a fourth of the cocoa over the top. Sprinkle with a third of the berries. Repeat layers twice. Top with the remaining cream cheese mixture, whipped cream and sifted cocoa. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Till Next Time.............
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