In December each year, Castle Valley speaks Christmas. I was 13 years old when our family celebrated our first Christmas there. First of all, my father gathered the family into his trusty old International pickup truck and proceeded to Black’s Christmas tree farm in Solebury. There, after much-heated discussion, a single beautiful evergreen tree was selected, paid for and brought home in the International. It was stored on the front porch until Christmas Eve. Only then was it brought into the house, put up and decorated. Homemade cider and cookies were served and enjoyed while admiring the beautiful tree. Cocktails may or may not be served where appropriate. My father’s favorite was either a cold German beer or rum in tea – or correction, tea in rum!

Speaking of food, there was always lots of delicious food. My mother loved to serve really festive food over the Christmas holidays. One of our very favorite was homemade German potato salad served with a standing rib roast and a horseradish and whipped cream dressing. Dessert was always served. A German favorites is Poppy Seed Cake (Mohnkuchen mit Eierdecke) – recipe below.

If the Neshaminy Creek was sufficiently frozen, there was usually ice skating with the neighbors and friends joining us. There also were lots of neighborhood or family cats and dogs always present ready to eat any tidbits or tasty food droppings.

Gifts were many and popular. My least favorite was a pair of pajamas. My most favorite was a skunk hat! I even wore it to bed. But, of course, there was no BB gun. Maybe next year …

The voices of Bing Crosby and Perry Como filled the air. Even Frank Sinatra was heard. And – Charlie Brown’s Christmas may even pop up!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Poppy Seed Cake (Mohnkuchen mit Eierdecke)



  • 14 tbsp butter (salted)
  • 2 cups CVM Spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 egg yolks (whisked with 2 tbsp. water)

Poppy Seed Filling:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup CVM Oatmeal – ground fine
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup poppy seeds (ground)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 egg whites (stiffly beaten)

Sour Cream Topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Spelt Flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • Several drops of lemon extract or vanilla, to taste

Make the Crust

  1. Cut butter into flour, sugar, and orange zest until pea-sized crumbs form.
  2. Quickly mix in the egg yolks and form a smooth ball, without kneading too much.
  3. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

Make the Filling

  1. Bring milk, sugar, and vanilla to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat, pour in oatmeal, stirring constantly, then poppy seeds.
  3. Place back on heat and boil again, briefly.
  4. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down.
  5. When still warm, stir in butter until melted.

(Do not beat the egg whites until you are ready to fill the crust.)

Make the Topping

  1. Beat all egg whites until stiff.
  2. Mix all the sour cream topping ingredients together except the egg whites, until smooth.
  3. Fold in half the egg whites.
  4. Fold the other two egg whites into the cooled poppy seed mixture.

Assemble the Cake

  1. Roll out the crust.
  2. Divide dough in half.
  3. Roll one-half out into an 11-inch circle and cut to fit the bottom of 11-inch springform pan.
  4. Roll out 1/4 of the dough into a rope and flatten into a 1 or 1 1/2 inch rim.
  5. Press around the edge of the springform and attach to the base with a little water or egg white.
  6. Continue with rest of dough.
  7. Trim crust evenly for a nice presentation.
  8. Fill crust with poppy seed filling and then top with sour cream filling, making sure to cover to the edge of the crust seal.
  9. Bake at 350 F for 50 to 60 minutes or until cake is browned and firmly set.
Written by Bob Fischer