November 27, 2012

Christmas Scents - Christmas Memories

Thanksgiving to Christmas our house has always been filled with aromas of baking.  Spices, chocolate, sweetness.  The counters overflow with baked goods cooling, piled on plates, and carefully layered in airtight containers. The freezer becomes a booby-trapped appliance with bags and containers of goodies shoved in every available space.  

The wonderful smells mingle with pumpkin pie, turkey, ham and at Christmas the tang of pine and cinnamon.  I’ve heard it said smells can trigger memories. Any time I smell the nostril-tingling scent of cinnamon I’m taken back to the two story farm house my parents, siblings, and grandparents lived in when I was young. My grandmother’s claim to fame at Christmas was her cinnamon candy.  Here is the recipe:

Old-fashion Cinnamon Candy

1 pint Karo syrup

2 cups sugar

1 bottle cinnamon oil

6 drops red food coloring

powdered sugar, desired amount for coating



1)      In a sauce pan, bring syrup and sugar to the hard- crack stage—about 300° to 310°.

2)      Add cinnamon oil and food coloring.

3)      Stir quickly and pour into a well greased cookie sheet.

4)      Let candy harden.

5)      Crack into pieces and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

In my Christmas Story, Christmas Redemption, the hero has been in prison for ten years for something he participated in as a young man. When he returns home to confront his father, he finds his mother in her kitchen baking. The smells take him back to his childhood.

Blurb for Christmas Redemption:

Van Donovan returns to Pleasant Valley, Oregon where twelve years earlier as a boy of fifteen he left in handcuffs after standing guard for a bank robbery. He's learned a trade and excelled at it and is ready to prove to his father and the town he can amount to something.

Upon his return he learns the fate of the daughter of an innocent man who died in the robbery crossfire. To make amends he takes her out of the saloon and gives her a job, not realizing she'd been squatting in the very building he'd purchased for his business.

Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives?

The leafless cottonwood trees appeared stark and ominous hovering around the farm house. The two-story structure held pleasant memories. His mother’s cooking and laughter. Would she welcome him back or follow her husband’s lead? His stomach knotted, and he once again wished Tessa were by his side.
A multi-colored mutt ran out of the barn barking. Half-way to the wagon he stopped and looked back toward the barn. A girl of about eight strolled out of the building wrapped in a heavy coat, scarf, and mittens.
“Button. Stop barking,” she said when he stopped the wagon in front of the house. His mother’s eyes stared at him from the child’s face. This was his sister Grace.
“Is your ma or pa home?” he asked uncertain what to do. He wanted to pick her up and hug her, but reasoned she wouldn’t care for a stranger grabbing her.
“Ma’s in the kitchen. Christmas is coming.” She put a hand on the dog’s head.
“It sure is. How about you take me to the house then rustle your ma out of the kitchen so I can talk with her?” He started walking to the familiar front door.
Grace grabbed his hand. “We can’t go in that door. Ma doesn’t like snow on her wool rug.” She tugged him to the back of the house.
Van smiled and allowed his sister to haul him around to the back of the house. The garden patch looked larger. And the cellar which he’d help dig was grown over sprouting pale weeds through the six inches of snow.
Grace pulled the screen door open, then shoved the door into the kitchen. Familiar aromas wafted around Van’s head. He sniffed and savored each spicy nuance.
His ma turned. “Grace, shut the door, I have bread ris—”
Ma was the same other than gray wisps in her dark brown hair. She blinked, and her hands clasped in front of her chest.
“Hello, Ma.”
“Van?” She took a step toward him. He smiled and nodded, and she lunged into his arms, crying.
He hugged her tight as tears burned his eye sockets. His heart, that had been torn in two when he never heard from her, slowly melded back together. “I’ve missed you,” he said, holding on, wishing he had all those years back.
She drew out of his arms and studied him. “My, you turned into one handsome man.” She wiped at the tears on her face with her apron. Then motioned to Grace. “Come say hello to your big brother.” His mother’s smile warmed him like a toasty fire on a cold day.
“My brother? I thought pa said—” Grace stared up at him quizzically.
What scents trigger memories for you? Leave a comment to be entered into the nook HD drawing and for the daily prize.
BUY LINKS FOR CHRISTMAS REDEMPTION:  Amazon             Nook             Smashwords

Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently ranch 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

You can learn more about Paty and her books at her blog;  her website; or on Facebook;!/paty.jager and twitter;  @patyjag.


Caroline Clemmons said...

Nice post, Paty. I've never made cinnamon candy. Thanks for the recipe.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Caroline! If you do be prepared for the strong scent of cinnamon. It was one of my favorites at Christmas. I don't have the knack for getting it brittle enough. Or peanut brittle. I stick to the soft candies. LOL

Cynthia Woolf said...

My husband loves cinnamon. I'm going to have to try this recipe.

Kathy Ivan said...

What a lovely excerpt Paty. And the recipe sounds delicious. Thanks for posting this.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Cynthia, It's really good! Thanks for stopping in.

Hi Kathy, You're welcome.

Amy S. said...

The recipe sounds good. My mom makes peanut butter fudge and buckeyes each Christmas.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Amy! After attending a reader conference last year in Ohio I know what your talking about when you say making buckeyes! I'd never heard of them until then. I also tasted them. I'm not a peanut butter fan so they were just okay for me. Thanks for commenting!


Hi Paty, I don't remember this candy that OUR grandma used to make, but as Mark reminds me, you were around grandma a whole lot more than me! Sounds yummy & I am gonna make it for our Montana Christmas! Love, Terri

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi, Paty. I tried to post from my phone, but the phone or network wouldn't let me, or I'd have been here earlier. Thanks for being my guest today and sharing your family recipe and book info. Both sound great!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Cuz! Yes, you had her for Christmas when she lived in California and I had her the rest of the years in Oregon. Good luck with the candy. Let me know how it turns out.

Anna, Thank you for having me.

Katy Beth McKee said...

I like the scent of pine. Even though we have an artificial tree.

Barbara said...

Your book sounds lovely and the receipe delicious, but it's not a candy I can have success with. I'm even 'iffy' on simple fudge :)

Elf2060 said...

Vinegar and soy sauce remind me of the dishes my mom and her aunt used to make, warm chocolate chips always give me a happy feeling because I remember making cookies as a child. Thanks for the recipe.

Jennifer Mathis said...

i love cinnamon candy but have never made it myself ... thanks for the recipe

Roxy Boroughs said...

Cool recipe. Thanks for sharing it. I did a school program one and we made taffy with the kids. It's surprising I can still eat the stuff.

Anonymous said...

I love the baking smells, but their is nothing like the scent of the pine filling the house!

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

I forgot to add my scent memory. It's not so much Christmas, but the smell of tea with milk reminds of the time I spent in Finland back in high school.

Paty Jager said...

Katy Beth, Pine is a wonderful scent! But it reminds me of summers spent riding my horse on the mountainside.

Barbara, like not everyone is a baker not everyone is a candy maker. I have a niece who requests fudge from me every year but last year wasn't my year I couldn't make a good batch to save my soul. I finally gave up. I'm hoping my fudge karma is back this year.

Elf, it's amazing the scents that bring back memories.

Jennifer, You're welcome!

Roxy, I tried taffy once it is not an easy candy to make! But I can imagine all those hands in it! Oh my! LOL

blacksnake, Pine is awesome!

Anna, that is a scent that takes you back to a good time in your life.

Becky said...

Great post! Reading this recipe reminds me of when I was a teenager and made of this time of candy. I will have to give this a try and see if it is like what I remember. I enjoyed reading Christmas Redemption. Christmas Redemption was a story that I couldn't put down until I finished it.
Thanks for sharing the candy recipe with us!

Judy Baker said...

Enjoyable post to read this morning. I have some memories that are triggered by smells. One is apples and oranges. My mom filled the house with fruit all during the holidays and started baking for Thankdgiving thru New Year - lov those memories. Thanks for sharing yours.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Becky! It's a tasty candy if you like cinnamon. I'm glad you enjoyed Christmas Redemption.

Hi Judy! Thank you for stopping in. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and a walk down memory lane.

Carla Buchinger said...

I've tried making hard candy before, without much success. Your recipe seems a little easier than the ones I remember and we LOVE in cinnamon candy

Paty Jager said...

Carla, Hard candy is the hardest to make. The crack stage when cooking has to be just right. Good luck!

Paty Jager said...

Jennifer Mathis is the winner of my post. I'll be contacting her about her prize. Thank you all for commenting!

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Lovely post, Paty!

Cinnamon treats-- this is a new recipe. My husband loves anything cinnamon. I might have to try this one. :)

Paty Jager said...

Hi Karen! It is a good one if you are a cinnamon fan.