Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

How does time get away from us? Imagine my surprise (and guilt) when I connected here to discover that the last time I had posted was February 12th, and here it is March 26th.

Shame on me.

A lot has been keeping me busy. We had the Memorial for Sackett Man’s grandmother. Another grandparent had to go to the hospital, as did another, and two of them moved into a nursing home. I’m doing preschool at home with Roman, James outgrew his clothes and I had to go burrowing into boxes in the basement to find any that did fit, and Rose is crawling, walking along furniture, and getting into everything. I’ve written 13 chapters in a ff story, and have been arranging babysitting services for our kids during a business trip Sackett Man and I are taking in April.

But I’m still ashamed. So forgive me.

On the other hand, I’ve had lots of wonderful recipes I’ve been making, and let’s just say that life with children 5 and under is a huge adventure. And we’ve gotten more snow. Again. And again.

I’ve consoled myself by baking desserts for the family and pretending that Christmas is coming twice this year.

Spring is here at last! Can't you tell?

Spring is here at last! Can’t you tell?

Mom and I are also going through the seeds we’ve got waiting in a bag in the fridge, and planning our two big gardens. We’re going to create some mounds in the snow for the squash, watermelon, and potatoes, and we’re going to plow some nice long rows and plant the seeds in the snow. Then the summer thaw come and we’ll sigh as we watch our frozen seeds get washed away in the snow melt. By midsummer we won’t dare mow because there will be little tiny plants sprouting up everywhere in our yard EXCEPT in the nicely plowed garden, and Mom and I will be wandering around with our heads to the ground trying to identify what’s growing and if it’s edible, and hoping that the whats-its and whatchamacallits ‘bear fruit’ before the Autumn snows.

Okay, not really. By May (I hope) there will be bare ground to plant in, and God willing we’ll have a fantastic harvest of squash, melon, potatoes, kale, swiss chard, tomatoes, onions, peppers, green beans, beets, and herbs. Among other things. But right now I feel like Mrs. Beaver stuck forever in a never-ending winter.

On the Plus Side, the cliffs and mountains of snow lining our driveway are glorious in size, and during the few days it’s warm enough our two boys and Sackett Man enjoy going out and digging tunnels through the packed giants. By the time Spring is actually here, we’ll have the BEST ‘underground’ tunnel system.

I, in the meantime, have been indulging in cooking and baking. I made a cake, for no reason at all, and took Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.00.31 AMan entire afternoon on it. Yep. I baked, I cooled, I stacked, I frosted, I decorated. It was pretty, and it was delicious. Raspberry Silver cake with a lemon butter frosting. Mmmm… I love making cakes. I never have the time I would like to do all of the ones I want to do, but then again I guess that’s a good thing… Sackett Man and I have no desire to match our sons’ growth spurts; two inches every two weeks would put us in dire straits!

The ‘flowers’ are supposed to be purple. I’m not sure what happened in the photographic translation… I also decided I need more practice at making flowers. Professional I am not. But the family sure enjoyed it. It was gone in two days.

I also made molasses cookies. These are some of my favorite cookies, but then I’m a big fan of molasses. Rich, dark, deep tones tantalizing the tastebuds… Try a tablespoon in a cup of milk. Yum!

Anyway, I creamed the butter and the sugar and the egg. Then I added the molasses and creamed some more. (Thank you Mom and Great Grandma for teaching me how to cream with a wooden spoon!)

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.04.48 AMAnd this is how I do dry ingredients. I like to sift it all through my mesh sieve. It takes the lumps out of everything (like the baking soda) so that it is all fine and fluffy and partially mixes everything for you. Then you can finish mixing by hand.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.05.00 AMAfter combining the dry and wet, I ended up with a VERY thick batter. Time to taste test. Yes? No? Not sure? Taste it again. And again. I think three times is the required number.

Mmm!

Roll by the Tablespoons in sugar and line them on your Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.05.09 AMpan. Little brown, sparkly balls of goodness just waiting to be eaten! Just make sure you bake them first. That’s a very important step.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.05.29 AMEight minutes later you will have beautiful brown, sparkly balls of slightly crispy, beautifully soft goodness just waiting to be eaten! And it’s okay, because now they’ve been baked. There’s nothing to stop you now. There was certainly nothing to stop me.

Many of them did make it into my apple cookie jar, I am proud to announce. My self control kicked in soon enough!

This is a family recipe. It’s been made many, many, many times.

~ Molasses Cookies ~ Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.05.38 AM

  • ³/8 C. Shortening
  • ³/8 C. Butter
  • 1 C. packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ C. Molasses
  • 2 ¾ C. Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger

Cream the Shortening, Butter, Sugar, and Egg. Add the Molasses.
Stir in the dry ingredients.
Scoop by the Tablespoon and form into balls and roll in white sugar. Place on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350º F for 8=10 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

So this Christmas is a cheaper one, primarily because we had a lot to fix on the house this year after we moved in, and Sackett Man needs surgery on his knee. One of the hazards of being a plumber; so many years spent kneeling and crouching to fix sinks, tubs, toilets, broken pipes, etc. takes its toll.

With all of this in mind, we knew we had to tighten up our financial belts and soldier forward. However, I am an avid gift-giver. I LOVE giving gifts. I love shopping for them, I love making them, I love finding them, I love discovering the perfect gift for that perfect someone… so I was determined that, money or no money, Christmas was NOT going to suffer. Amazon has been my friend. Pinterest has been inspiring. And with the crazy mix of wonderful people in our immediate and extended families, there has been an unlimited amount of ideas to ponder and sift through.

One of these ideas is the gift of Chai. Perishables are a great gift idea for adults, because let’s face it… at a certain point, how much more ‘stuff’ do you really need? I personally always have things I would love, but I also adore food. Cooking it, eating it, looking at it. Food is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind; otherwise He would have just given us broccoli and beans and water and called it good.

I am so very, very glad He didn’t.

So again, on to Chai. There are many tea drinkers in my family. (And if any of them are reading this post, no, don’t try to guess who’s getting this for Christmas. My lips are sealed.) So I thought, what about a homemade Chai mix? I started doing some research, but there are TONS of recipes out there. Most of them require powdered milk, powdered creamers, etc., but I don’t stock those things in my cupboard and was looking for something I wouldn’t have to go buy special ingredients for. So I looked at the spices and the different amounts, and then I started experimenting with a creamer free, dairy free, sugar free Chai Spice Mix. After two days and many, many cups of Chai Tea, I have found what I think to be a very yummy blend.

The best part? It’s SO easy.

Chai Spice Mix

Chai Spice Mix

Chai Spice Mix

2 tsp Ground Ginger

2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Ground Cloves

3/4 tsp Ground Cardamom

1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg

Thoroughly mix all of the spices together into a container with a lid (for easy storage).

Serving size: 1/2 tsp

When you want a delicious cup, put a bag of your favorite black tea and 1/2 tsp of Chai Spice Mix into your cup. Add the boiling water and let steep for 4 minutes. Remove the tea bag, then sweeten to taste (if you want) and add your milk or cream. It is fantastic!

If you are not a black tea fan, you can just make your cup the same as above, but without the tea bag. You won’t suffer any lack of deliciousness, I promise. (I would still let the spice mix steep for 4 minutes to get the full flavor.)

Try it and let me know what you think!

~ Mary