Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Day Off?

Well, I finished all the shopping today including what I needed for Sunday's dinner.  I think that folks who don't work in retail do not appreciate the quiet that comes with shopping early in the day.  I left the house at 8:45 (which to be honest was a bit later than I had originally planned on) and hit Marshall's, Kohl's (I had never been in one before but I have to say it was pretty nice), Dick's Sporting Goods, Dillard's, True Value Hardware (it's not Christmas without something from the hardware store), Publix, Big Lots, Piggly Wiggly and arrived home before noon.  That's the way I shop, I get in get what I need and get out.  I cannot wander aimlessly around a store looking at stuff..I just doesn't interest me enough to do that.  All the presents are wrapped and all the cookies are made.  All I have left to do is some housework and we will be all ready to relax and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.  Oh, I also have to do the cooking for the pot-luck at work on Saturday.

I think it's time for a nap!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bears New Toy

This is Bear's newest toy and let my ears tell you he lovesssssssssssss it.  He lays there chewing carefully on it, the chicken making a high pitched bawking noise and Bear singing along.   He even adds a howl at the end just for emphasis!  He has been playing with it for the past hour since I got home from work and I must admit I am thinking of trying to hide it from him about now.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cookie of the Day Off and the Wonderous Mirro Cookie Press

Of all the cookies (all 3 of them so far) Spritz Cookies were the only ones that my mother ever made.  She would try a few new things now and then but these were an every Christmas kind of thing and they are for me too!  One of the interesting things about these is that they are made using the Mirro Cookie Press

This is of course not my own Mirro Cookie Press

Every year my mom and my brother Dan (I suspect the others eventually joined us but I for some reason don't remember them) and I would gather together in the kitchen and make these tasty cookies.  The only problem with them and the wonderful press is, the cookies look nothing like what they are supposed to and they still do not to this day.  A few years ago I misplaced the booklet that came with the cookies and have tried many other spritz cookies, none lived up to the ones we would make in the kitchen in Bayport (if there was any cookie dough left to bake).  Through the wonder of the internet all I needed to do was type in Mirro Cookie Press Spritz Cookie Recipe and viola!  So here it is in all its glory (and total lack of shape).

Not my cookies!
2 1/4 cups sifted all purp flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together.
With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until mixture has very small lumps. It will resemble pie crust but not as coarse.
Measure the egg in measuring cup - add water up to 1/4 total volume. Add egg and vanilla and beat mixture very well.
Fill Mirro press - form cookies on ungreased pan, bake (375degrees) for 10-12 minutes. Remove at once to cooling rack.
Shortening of course means butter to me!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cookie of the Day Off

Well today is my day off and time to post another cookie recipe!  That is not to say I have finished making the Rum Balls from last week!  They are at the moment in the fridge.  Yes Jen, either there will be or we will make some more when you get home next month!

These are one of my youngest daughters favorites.  I have been making them for years but it took me a while to figure out to bake them on parchment paper...

This recipe is from The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook.  I was given this cookbook by my wonderful Ex-Mother In Law Virgina King.

Lace Cookies

Set the oven at 375.  Mix in a bowl
2 1/4 cups oatmeal
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3 Tbls flour
1 tsp salt
Stir in
1 cup melted butter or margarine
Add 1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Blend well.   Arrange by teaspoonfuls, at least 2 inches apart, on heavy cookie sheets (with parchment on them).  Bake until lightly browned (about 7 minutes).  As soon as firm enough, remove from the cooky sheets to a cooling rack.

These cookies will stick together careful when packing them in containers.

I discovered while typing this that somewhere since the cookbook had been published  (1959) and now the spelling of cookie has changed.  In the cookbook it is cooky which spell check tells me is wrong....

Oh Christmas Tree

Last night we decorated our Christmas tree.  It is filled with so many memories as a great many of the ornaments belonged to my grandparents and parents. My grandmother told me a story about the tree being knocked over so they sent my Papa and my grandfather (a whole other story) out to buy some more ornaments.  They were not big drinkers but for some reason they stopped in a bar and had a few then off they went to buy ornaments.  Many hours later they returned home with the ornaments, there were many boxes of identical ornaments and we still have many of them to this day.  We try to keep them up higher on the tree out of tail wagging space, each time one breaks my heart does a little bit too.  Michael and I have added a few more in the years we have been together but each ornament has memories! 

I wonder how many have a baby Jesus in a walnut shell?  I believe this was my moms......

ps.  Yesterday Michael came home and found the tree skirt in the middle of the living room and Bear with a guilty look on his face.  I quess he thought that looked more comfortable than any of his dog beds.  The strange thing is that this is the 5th Christmas we have had Bear and he has never done this before.  Either he has been planning this a long time or one of the foster dogs suggested it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eight Working Days Before Christmas and Other Random Stuff

In years past I have tracked the last weeks before Christmas by keeping track of my days off...btw there are 3 between now and Christmas.  Last week I decided to change the way I think about it and it's really paid off for my piece of mind for some odd reason.  Perhaps it is the realization that it really is not a long retail work season even though my body feels like it is.

Today is my brother Dan's birthday!  I am not sure where he and my beloved sister in law are right now (they are hard to keep track of) but I will try to get hold of him later today...just in case he reads the blog this am.  He is the brother you want to have and of all the brothers (there are 5) he is the one I feel closest too...that might be because we are only 16 months apart.  He is smart, sensible, a voice of reason but most of all because with all his steadfastness, he is a ton of fun! 

I am in the middle of my whirlwind week-o-stuff to do!  The Holiday Parade in Mt Pleasant for the Elks was a huge success but I do not think I want to spend an entire day doing that again.  It was cold and windy out (at least by South Carolina standards).  The Boston Brass Christmas concert Monday night was fantastic!  If you get a chance listen to some of their music!  Last night was our Elks meeting...enough said about that.  Tonight, well tonight we are going to decorate the Christmas tree.  It has been sitting naked in the living room since we brought it home on Friday and putting up the decorations might help our holiday moods!

Who knew you could buy a Christmas tree at Costco?  We were afraid that not going to the tree lot or cutting it down ourselves would decrease the enjoyment but when we went to said tree lot to check out the trees we saw how expensive they are this year.  Do I really need to part with $60 for a tree?  NO!!  The man at the tree trailer was wonderful (thank you Davis!) and helped us select a wonderful tree and for only 29.99.  Michael had to cut the bottom off himself but it was worth it!  Pictures of the naked tree and the decorated tree probably tomorrow am!

I really enjoy getting up early.  The house is quiet and I get to read all the silly things on AOL before any one wakes up (other than Bear who anxiously awaits anyone to make a move that even remotely resembles getting up)

I think that's it for is 6:08 and I have to be at work in less than 2 hours. 

Have a great day!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Pioneer Woman

I was reading The New Yorker the other day and there was an interesting article about The Pioneer Woman.  I first read this blog about a year ago and was amazed with the photography and the style of writing.  I probably need to admit it helped me get over my fear of blogging.  Anyway in the article it states that the blog gets 23.3 MILLION page views a month.  I'm thinking that Ree doesn't check her blog stats 6 times a day to see if anyone is reading it and she certainly doesn't check Google analytics as many times. 

The article was both depressing and uplifting.  Depressing because I get no where near that many hits but uplifting in the fact that she started the same way the rest of us do and she did it and so can we!  We just need to keep typing away and insert more pictures (that seems to do part of the trick) of the dog.  People love pictures and stories about dogs...oh dogs and cooking!

I am hoping that Santa has a new camera for me that I promise to not drop in the sand at the beach attempting to take pictures of Bear in full joyful leap while frolicking in the ocean!  Actually I saw a Fisher Price kids camera on TV, they showed it falling down a full flight of stairs..perhaps that's the camera for me...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When Did We All Become So Afraid?

Late one evening last week I stopped at the gas station down the street.  Michael has asked me repeatedly not to go there as there are what he calls some unsavory characters but, on occasion I do go anyway.  As I was walking in I noticed a lady by the door, we exchanged hellos and I went in.  On the way out the lady approached me and introduced herself, her name is Mary Smith and she is 60 years old.  Someone had dropped her off at the gas station and she needed $11 for a cab home, she only had $2 and could I spare some money.

I have to tell you that in the past I have had a very soft spot, if someone asked me for money and I had it, it was theirs.  How many folks at gas stations who need to take a cab home, gas for the car to get to the funeral of a loved one...the list is endless.  Mary touched a place in my heart but how could I tell she really was stuck there?  She certainly looked like a respectable enough person and I was thinking what if I was in that same spot?  Would someone give me money or would they just pass me by without even saying hello?When I gave her a couple of dollars she asked me if I could spare a cigarette so I gave her the rest of my pack and a lighter, Mary of course thanked me and that was all I needed.  It wasn't much and I certainly am not looking for the money back or kudos for helping her.  I think of her all the time though....I wanted to give her a ride to where ever she was headed and thought seriously about doing so.  I wonder what happened to her and know that our paths will probably never pass again.

What worries me is when did we become so afraid of helping someone in need?  Why do most of us turn away and not even acknowledge the person standing there?  Why do we not think "There by the Grace of God go I"?  I often see older folks on the side of the road waiting for the bus and want to stop and ask them if I can give them a lift...I fear they would be just as afraid of me as I am of them.

When the girls were younger and we lived in California I had picked one of them up at the movies late one evening.  At the enterance to the parking lot there was a homeless lady with a sign asking for money,  the girls and I drove home, made her some sandwiches, some tea, grabbed some blankets and drove back to give them to her.  I was shocked when she refused the sandwiches and the tea but took the blankets and then she explained that sometimes people will put things in the food which sadly enough made sense.  So there was this person who couldn't take what we had to offer for fear. 

When did we all become so afraid of one another?

Counting Down

Here it is a little over 2 weeks before Christmas and I have not started making my cookies yet.  I make the same cookies each and every year some my mother made (with the trusty Mirro Cookie Press) and some I have added.  I was thinking of doing Cookie of The Day Off recipes since I obviously need to make these on my days off.  The trick will be hiding them from Michael.

The first recipe is rum balls.  I found this many years ago on I believe Epicurious, thank goodness there is a handwritten copy in my recipe file because it is no longer posted.  These are a favorite with family and friends and there is a list of people who request them each year! 

Rum Balls

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
3 Tbls light corn syrup
1/2 c rum
2 &1/2 c finely crushed vanilla wafers (basically one box)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, whisk in 1/2 sugar and corn syrup.   Remove from heat add the rum, pour mixture over vanilla wafers in bowl and mix well.  At this point I put the whole thing in the refrigerator for an hour or so to cool down and get a little hard. 
Roll mixture by teaspoon full into about 1 inch balls and roll in sugar.
I keep mine in a somewhat airtight container in the fridge (usually the back so they are not found!)

My first rum ball experience was when I was much younger and our Uncle Ray made them and brought them to Mom's house.  This is not the exact same recipe but it is close enough!  I measure the rum and then usually wind up adding a touch more since it never looks like enough.....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Somethings Up

I am trying to figure out what is wrong with my blog.  I have lots of visitors but no read posts are showing up...I fear I may have been hijacked.  I am going to try to figure out what is up so please bear with me whilst I do this!