Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday is here and it's hard to believe. The few days since Christmas have been quiet, except for the sounds of Kleenex being ripped from the box and the constant honking of me blowing my nose. Last night was the first night in a week I slept through the night without being up every hour like a child checking to see if Santa had come! But today seems to be the beginning of the end of this cold, I'm thrilled to report.

This morning we are at 31 degrees, right now, at 9am. I am sure we were in the 20's overnight. Silly has bravely gone out to sit in the sunshine, so she must think things are improving.

Not much is happening, here in this lull between Christmas and New Years. I have not been out to the stores to see any of the sales, and doubt that I will. Rebecca went out yesterday to return things that didn't fit, and even thought I didn't feel well, I don't think I could have braved that chaos even if I had felt up to a trek to the mall. I know she was gone longer than she thought she would be.

Today we are going to change out a ceiling fan in the Florida room. One night about 6 weeks ago one I could hear this loud humming in my sewing room. I checked out all the electronic things in the bookcase, and the sound wasn't coming from there. I went into the living room and figured out it was the ceiling fan. During the yearly warranty period an electrician was here for another reason (bathroom light) and he told us it was the fan itself. Eric had already checked the wiring and thought the same thing. So, on the word of the "electrician" when we called the fan company they agreed to send a new fan. So today is the day. I get to hold Eric on the ladder .... hopefully this will be a simple task!

I can also report that the squirrel has managed to climb to the top of the bird feeder. He does lovely flying lunges from it to the pole. So far, he seems most content to eat off of the ground. If he gets too greedy then we will try the soda bottle trick. At least all the birds and the squirrel are keeping Silly occupied in the morning. She sits and supervises them quite well.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Family Recipe for Friends - Coconut Macaroons

We are having guests today, Jennifer from Baltimore is coming and bringing her friend Chris. Since this is Christmas, I decided to write to Jen's mother Linda and see if there was something I could make that would surprise Jen, something that was a family favorite. Linda responded immediately with the following recipe. Linda said this is one she made every year, and in fact was from her own teenage years in 4H. I admit, I had never seen a recipe for Macaroons with corn flakes in it, but in spite of how it might sound, they are delicious and easy to make too!

Coconut Flake Macaroons
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups corn flakes
Add the salt to the egg whites and beat until foamy. Add sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue beating after each addition. Beat until the egg whites form peaks that tend to bend over a little when you draw out the egg beater. Fold in flour and vanilla. Add the coconut and fold in gently. Add corn flakes and mix in lightly. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in at 325 degrees about 20 minutes. They should be a delicate brown. Makes about 30 macaroons.

Birthday - Birthday

Today is a double Birthday, two special people in my life celebrate today: Madeline (Maddie), my grand-daughter, and Sally, my sister-in-law. Maddie will be three today, and Sally 29 or something! Sally and her family celebrated earlier this week, as Brian and Christine and Michelle were in Florida visiting. Maddie will have her family party today at two. So Happy Happy Birthday Birthday, to both of you! Here's a look at Maddie, taken about a week ago. I promise a birthday shot or two later!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cookie Exchange

It's always reassuring to know that you are doing something fun, and not totally "old fashioned". According to Google, where there are over 250,000 hits for Cookie Exchange, and our local paper, Cookie Exchanges are all the rage. Last night I held my holiday cookie exchange with my friends. It was lots of fun, and we had an amazing selection of cookies to share with each other. There were no duplicates, and each kind is just begging to be tasted. We had iced cookies, chocolate (dark and light), cookies with and without nuts, and cookies with and without fillings. Just too yummy. We had a fine evening, sharing stories and experiences, and of course, exchanging our cookies!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Toffee Almond Sandies

Today was my baking day for the cookie exchange I am hosting on Wednesday evening. We are each bring Six dozen cookies to exchange. I chose to make Toffee Almond Sandies, a recipe I received from Julia the day we tied the quilt at Meadow Farm. This recipe came from Taste of Home, 1999 (page 127) and as promised by Julia is delicious. I must admit, my sampling proved her right. Here's the recipe in case you would like to make a few .... which the way I made then turned out to be about 10 dozen.

Toffee Almond Sandies

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
2 cup chopped almonds
1 pkg. (6oz) English toffee bits
Additional sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add oil, eggs and extract; mix well. Combine flours, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in almonds and toffee bits. Shape into 1-in. balls; roll in sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheets; flatten with a fork. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: about 12 dozen

My variations: Roll some in ground almonds rather than sugar, also into center of some, press an M & M.

Blog News

Blogger has added new features, and changed some things with the new Beta Version. I am not sold on every new change, and think it will take awhile before I learn how to do some of the things that no longer seem to be available. Nothing new is without some difficulties though! One new feature you will notice in the sidebar is LABELS. If you click on a label, you will be able to bring up all the posts that I have tagged with a label. Obviously, since this blog has lots of posts, I may not go back to the very beginning to label each and every post. However, I am labeling each new post, and have added labels to the most recent posts. How does it work? Click a label, like cooking, and you will see each posts that have something to do with food, cooking, recipes, etc. Looking for something specific about family, then click on family! Simple, right?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Making Cookies

Wednesday kept us busy, making and baking Christmas cookies. We did Eric's favorites, snickerdoodles, sand tarts, and candy canes. Next week, I will make date nut pinswheels, and a new recipe, almond toffee cookies. Don't these look good? Come on over and we will be glad to share. In fact, my cookie exchange is on the 13th, 7pm. Bring 6 dozen of your favorite cookies and we will swap!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Decorating for Christmas

Monday night I hosted the monthly Bunko group that I joined. With lots of help from DH Eric, we docorated the house for this event and to start the holiday season off. This weekend we plan to add the tree and then we will be finished unless I decided to change some of the houses into table top displays. We are really enjoying our new house, and the chance to celebrate the seasons.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Caramel Corn

1. Popcorn, 2. Syrup, 3. Caramel Corn

We have had a busy week, Eric and I. Monday (day after tomorrow) is Bunco night and my turn to host the other 11 ladies who play once a month. Getting ready for company is not a big deal, as the house is still pretty straight from Thanksgiving. However, there are things to be tidied up, and on top of that is decorating for Christmas. And food, food for 12 ladies. The past months of Bunco have seen lots of different senarios as far as food is concerned. Some have obviously worked for 3-4 days cooking up things. Others have taken a more simple route. I am somewhere in between, choosing a simple menu of snacks and finger foods. After all, the main reason we get together is to play Bunco, food is a sideline. The picture above shows the magic progression of sugar and popcorn into caramel popcorn. I had truly forgotten how good the recipe I have is. It's one from Onva, a friend on my mom's. Eric popped up the corn, and I cooked and stirred, and we have a wonderful batch stashed away. We had to hide it, because it might not make it to Monday if we kept in reach.

Later this week I'll attempt to show our decorations outside and in. So far, we think the holly tree with the red and green lights is our best effort.