Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Kippels

 This is how I spent my day yesterday.  Kippels are a labor of love.  They take time but they sure are worth it.  I have not eaten one xmas cookie so far but I will eat one of these eventually.  They are my favorites.

 These actually get a bit better as they age.  Do you have a special family Xmas cookie that you make?  You can find the kippel recipe on my sidebar.

Teddy thinks she can fly!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Eggnog Cookies

I made these cookies yesterday.  If you like eggnog, you will love these cookies!

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • Frosting
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 - 5 Tbsp eggnog
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
 
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon for 30 seconds, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in egg yolks blending just until combined after each addition. Mix in vanilla extract, rum extract and egg nog. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Scoop dough out by the heaping tablespoonfuls and drop onto parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 11 - 13 minutes. Allow to rest on baking sheet several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely then frost with Eggnog Frosting and sprinkle tops lightly with nutmeg.
  • For the Eggnog Frosting:
  • In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter until very pale and fluffy. Add in rum extract and 3 Tbsp eggnog and mix in powdered sugar. Add additional eggnog to reach desired consistency.
I have been so busy I almost forgot to put a post up today.  I have been cleaning up this dollhouse.  I'll be delivering it to a very special little girl on Xmas eve!

Last week, two homeless 18 year old kids were found living in a park nearby.  The girl was 9 months pregnant.  A friend of mine found a room for them to stay in.  The girl had the baby a few nights ago.  What a way to start out life.  I've been hitting thrift shops looking for baby items they will need.  I had no idea the wonderful bargains that can be found when it comes to baby shopping in these places.  I found all of these onsies in perfect shape, not even a stain and they were between 49 cents and 1.99. 

I found this 'like new' Graco stroller for 14.00!  These kids have a rough road ahead of them but at least they will have a few things they need.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nonstop Cookie Baking

Hey look...a reindeer.
 Pecan shortbreads.

 Endless cutouts which take forever to frost.


 More empire biscuits.

Christmas tree cookies.  All of the recipes are on my sidebar.  Back to baking!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Poverty

 Teddy waits patiently as I bake each day.

Thank you for all the comments on my last post.  I am not doing anything so special.  I am just trying to understand life a bit better.  What I have come to realize is that I truly did not understand poverty until recently.  I mean, we hear about it constantly.  Like many things, I think it becomes background noise and we tend to tune it out.  I always assumed that if anyone wanted an education and worked hard enough, there are scholarships to be had.  This is not the case.  In some areas, like this small town we've adopted, there are none at all.  How does this impact these areas?  Well, if there is no chance of attending college, why would anyone work hard in high school.  If no matter how hard you work and how good your grades are you still can not go to college, why put any effort into it at all?  This explains the high dropout rate.  And why knock yourself out to get a minimum wage job when welfare pays you almost the same amount of money.  This explains the fight to get the minimum wage raised.  If you could make significantly more money at a minimum wage job, you are likely to get off of welfare.

 Maybe the dishes need a little puppy cleaning?

The people I've met in this town don't even think about their future.  They literally just try to get through each day.  They struggle to find food to feed their families.  The Blog Tech took cases of soup along with baby food to the town the other day.  We do this each week.  Again, I didn't give it much thought, I just knew it was needed.  He came back and told me that one of the young mother's thanked him profusely and told him that she got two cans of soup the week before and she and her kids ate it for three days. She has three kids.  How in the world can four people live off of two cans of soup for three days?  It's just not right. I guess when we see the 'cans for the needy' donation carts at the checkout, we shouldn't pass them by.  I don't want to sound preachy, I am just passing on what I am learning.  Especially at this time of year, I am really appreciating my life.

Someone told me this recently:

Poverty kills your long term vision, which is the biggest challenge when motivating young people and getting them on track.

So so true.

 Anyway back to the blog!  I have jumped into the bone brodo (broth) craze that has hit the culinary world.  I've been making pure, clean, flavorful broths using all organic ingredients.  I just put organic bones in a pot with all sorts of vegetables and herbs and cook it all day.  Then I strain it and season it.

This particular beef brodo was served with mushroom raviolis.  You can serve it plain or add any kind of pasta to it.  It is delicious and very good for you too.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Came Early This Year

 I made an igloo cheese ball for my little friends.  One of them said he wants to take me to show and tell at his school.  Ha ha!

I have a little story to tell you today because Christmas came early to a bunch of us last night.  About 7 months ago, I decided to change my will.  I thought, why leave money to people that are living good lives and not wanting for much?  Instead, I thought, why not try to make a change and do something different.  So, I picked the poorest community in our area and designated them as the beneficiary of a hefty insurance policy.  Unusual?  Yes!  But it worked.  For the last 6 months, very dedicated people worked very hard to find matching funds from organizations and last night it all came together. We were able to make all of this work to a great advantage.  Last night, a vote was taken and a group of compassionate people unanimously voted YES!
 
 Teddy's normal morning position in front of the stove, praying something drops to the floor.

As of today, students living in this small impoverished town will now be eligible to receive full scholarships to colleges or trade schools.  All they have to do is keep their grades up. There is no time period either, this goes on indefinitely.
 
 These kids had no hope of finding funds for college before.  Many of them gave up and dropped out of school altogether.  Why work hard at getting good grades when there is no hope for attending college?  Now they have a chance.

Sometimes thinking outside the box is a very good thing.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Cookie Baking



 This time of year is pure madness.  Between decorating, shopping and baking there is not much time for anything else.

 Each year I bake over 1000 cookies to pass out to the elderly in our neighborhood and to the homeless in the city.

 I bake them and then put them in containers in a cold place to keep until I make up the cookie trays.

I usually make the usual family Xmas cookies but each year I add a few new ones.  These chocolate peppermint cookie sandwiches are new this year.

I am about a third of the way through my cookie baking.  Full speed ahead!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Christmas Front Door

 I didn't get too fancy on the front porch this year.

 I wanted a simple natural feeling for my decorations.

 I hung icicles from the top garland.


 And used mirrored bulbs on the wreath. I added spruce and eucalyptus and pine cones.


 It's hard to get a good photo of it but at night it twinkles.

Just a simple theme this year.