Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Cookies



These are a favorite cookie that I blogged about a year ago and are shown above from Valentine's Day.

Nonie Cookies Revisited

I thought I'd share with you my family's favorite cookie recipe. This was my great-grandmother Eleanor's recipe for sugar cookies. They've since come to be called "Nonie Cookies" since she was "Grandma Nonie." It is a classic cookie recipe, enjoyed all year long. I like them a little thick, while my Mom likes them thin and crispy. See what you think.


NONIE COOKIES

Mix together 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar and a dash of freshly ground nutmeg. Make a well in the center and add 1 cup shortening, 1 egg, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well.

Roll half the dough on a floured cloth or board. Sprinkle with sugar and roll it in gently. Cut with your favorite cookie cutters. Bake at 350° until lightly brown. Roll and cut remaining dough. You can use colored sugars if desired.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cocoa Drops with Browned Butter Icing


My nut roll turned out very nice. I probably should have baked two at a time instead of crowding them all onto one sheet, but it is delicious! I made the gingerbread, but haven't decorated it yet. It is quite tasty, especially with the fresh lemon and orange juice and zests!
I also made Cocoa Drops, which are a family favorite. They are frosted with Browned Butter Icing and it really makes it a stand-out, or outstanding cookie! This is a big batch. Feel free to make a 1/2 batch.

COCOA DROPS

Mix together 2 cups Crisco shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat well. Add 4 eggs and mix well and add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Add 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well. I use a small cookie scoop, but you can drop by tablespoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 12 - 15 minutes. Frost when cool.
BROWNED BUTTER ICING
Brown 1/4 cup butter, add 2 cups powdered sugar and enough milk to make the right consistency. (Make sure to really brown the butter. You want that toasted flavor, but not burned.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh Nuts!

The Nut Roll dough is rising and the filling is made. I followed this gingerbread recipe and the wet ingredients are cooling. Oh my it smells so good with lemon, orange and spices! Watch this short video to see how fantastic this gingerbread looks.
http://www.hulu.com/watch/104296/food-network-originals-gingerbread-cookies
Now that I'm waiting, I think I'll bake some mini loaves of Aunt John's Nut Bread. Yes, her name was Lucille, but everyone called her John. I miss my Grandma. She used to whip up a loaf of nut bread in no time. I think I was about 11 or 12 when I wrote this card.
Note...there's no butter or shortening in this recipe. I have called my Mom several times to make sure I wrote it down correctly. It is simple and tasty.
More no-nuts recipes in the coming days!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

White Christmas


Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. Since we've no place to go.... Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!!

Looks like we're going to have a White Christmas this year! I was just looking at some pictures from last year and remembering that we had no snow. Next week's forecast is promising!

There's still time to order some last minute gifts to snuggle up in...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rugelach and Nut Roll Cookies


These are Ina's Rugelach from Food Network's 12 Days of Cookies newsletter. Rugelach have cream cheese in the dough, and a fruity filling.
My father-in-law gave me this recipe for Nut Rolls. It's a yeast-based dough that you roll out small balls, fill and roll individual cookies in sugar. (Make the dough the night before!)

NUT ROLLS

1/2 # melted butter
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 can evaporated milk
1 package dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 - 5 cups flour

Mix dough and put it in a greased, covered bowl. Refrigerate for 12 hours.

Filling: 1 cup ground nuts, 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, 1/8 cup water, 1/6 cup dark Karo syrup, 1/2 cup hot milk. Stir and cook filling to boiling point. Add one beaten egg and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Cool to room temperature.

Take a small ball of dough the size of a walnut. Roll thin in granulated sugar. Fill, roll and shape into a crescent. Bake at 350° 20 minutes...more or less.

Tasty Cookie Mishap


I wanted to make a shortbread style cookie with a chocolate disc on top...kind of like the Peanut Butter Kisses, but I didn't want peanut butter and all I had were the chocolate discs.

I found a recipe that used Hershey's Hugs and you made half the dough chocolate and half white. I just left it all white and thought it would work. Well, as you can see, it didn't.
The cookies spread too much. They taste good, but it's like a sugar cookie with a chocolate center.
I'll try again, but definitely need a shortbread recipe.
Happy baking!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'll Never Buy A Nut Roll Again

I made a terrible mistake the other day and actually bought a nut roll at the grocery store! It was so tempting since I've been way too busy and nut roll is one of my favorite things at the holidays.
I am digging out my nut roll recipe to share with you since I vow to NEVER buy one again. The hollow, dry, flavorless dough is not worth the price. Yes, it takes awhile to make these, but you'll have extra for yourself, or to give as a gift. They freeze well...if you don't eat it all!

I haven't researched the history of the nut roll. I do know that it's an Eastern European recipe that is sometimes filled with a fruit spread or poppy seed instead of a nut filling. It's sometimes called Kolachi or Potica and comes from Poland, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovak recipes.
Take time to make these yourself. You won't regret it!

NUT ROLL
Makes 4 loaves

2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
2 cups warm milk
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 egg yolks
8 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm (not hot) water. In a large bowl mix the flour, butter, shortening, salt and sugar. Add the milk, egg yolks and dissolved yeast. Mix well and knead about 5 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic and doesn't stick (adding more flour if necessary). Place in a greased bowl and cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap that's been sprayed with cooking spray. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 2 - 3 hours).
Make the filling...
2# ground walnuts
2 cups sugar
12 oz. evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup butter
4 beaten egg whites to stretch the filling, if desired

I like to bake these on parchment paper, but I still spray a little bit of cooking spray on the paper. After the dough has risen, divide it into 4 pieces. Roll each piece to 1/8 to 1/4" thick. Spread with cooled filling. (Some recipes spread melted butter first, then the filling. Others spread the filling and drizzle with honey and/or cinnamon.) Roll it up like a jelly roll and place seam-side down on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with a light towel and let them rise for 1 hour.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350° for about 30 - 40 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

*** "Hungarian Nut Rolls" are a little different. They're more of a roll and fill cookie and I'll share that recipe with you next.***

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Illustrious Yule Log



The holiday baking season, along with the release of "Julie and Julia", reminds me of watching Julia Child and wishing I could make the illustrious Buche de Noel or Yule Log. I can still hear Julia saying "Buche de Noel!" My childhood love of HoHo's had me longing for this rolled chocolate spongecake with chocolate ganache. Yum!
Last year I finally decided to try it. I don't have any Julia Child cookbooks, but I did have a hand-written recipe card in my recipe box for many years. When I was in my teens, I wrote down a lot of recipes from my Mom's recipe box, but I never knew her to make Buche de Noel. So, who knows where this recipe came from.Well, it ended up being a total flop! I was interrupted too many times with people and dogs and who knows what. The cake was over-mixed and was a rubbery mess, despite the long time it took to make the filling and frosting and assemble it.
I won't be trusting that old recipe card, if I even kept it! There are several online sources for Buche de Noel (or Yule Log) recipes. Some trustworthy, tested sites are the JoyofBaking, Food Network, Epicurious, and, of course Martha Stewart. I'm not sure yet which I'll try, but will take a look at the different styles, techniques, and ingredients to see what suits my tastes.
I am not a gourmet chef, but I do love to bake. Some tips for a sponge cake like this are, get yourself a jelly roll pan, don't use it for anything other than sponge cakes, and don't use waxed paper. Some recipes call for using waxed paper on the pan and I just can't get that smell of melted wax out of my head. While I use parchment paper for most other baking, I opt for aluminum foil for a sponge cake. It forms to the pan. You can grease and flour it easily and the cake comes off clean.
I hope this inspires you to make a Yule Log or Buche de Noel this year. Heck, I may even try the little marzipan mushrooms! Just keep in mind that looks don't matter as must as taste.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

DATE NUT CAKE

There's no time to bake this week, but I wanted to share some recipes to start off the holiday season. I'd also love to hear from you. If you have a family favorite, a traditional seasonal dish or story to tell, feel free to share!
We baked a lot of goodies at Thanksgiving. Sarah and her cousin, Emily, baked two pumpkin pies from one big can of pumpkin. I opened a small can to make a quick pumpkin roll that morning and, not wanting to waste what pumpkin was left, we made a batch of cookies with frosting. Lots of pumpkin, but it was delicious! One tradition that was missing was the date nut cake. My grandmother's German background influenced many family food traditions, this one included. The Amish have a date nut cake recipe that's more pudding-like. This one is a moist cake with a warm sauce. I didn't make date nut cake this Thanksgiving, but it was traditionally served at both Thanksgiving and Christmas for as long as I can remember.

DATE NUT CAKE

Put 1 cup of chopped dates in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and add 1 cup of hot water. Let stand.
Cream together 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 cup sugar, and 1 egg. Mix together 1 1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Alternate adding the flour and date mixtures to the creamed butter and mix well. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 cup chopped walnuts.
Bake at 350° in a greased and floured tube or bundt pan until it's done (time will vary depending on the pan size).
Cool completely.

SAUCE FOR DATE NUT CAKE

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil 1 cup hot water and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Mix a cornstarch paste with a little cornstarch and water. Add to boiling pan and stir until thickened. (Don't make it too thick.) Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Serve warm over date nut cake.


Stay tuned for more holiday recipes and food traditions and be sure to send me yours!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Colorful Rush

I was thrilled to see snow on my way to the show Friday morning! I love snow and knew it wasn't enough to make the roads bad, but just enough to make people happy.
I had a great show at the Creative Gallery in Hudson. I need to fix my display a bit before my last show next Saturday. My crooked sign and crooked rack reminds me of a limerick. (You can see Chronology clocks in the background! We had a lot of fun with lillyella too. Click to see their pretty shops.)I'm making a mad dash to finish some custom glove and hood orders. I want to felt a few pieces today to get that out of the way. The dark plum will be a cloche and I'll make a button clutch in red. I haven't decided yet, what color hats to make, but I got these gorgeous flowers from TrulyRuby. Some are clips so they could be interchangeable with several colors of hats and/or headband ear warmers. The ideas are racing. It promises to be a colorful rush to the end of this holiday season!If you're near Cleveland, please stop by and meet some creative people from Cleveland Handmade. We'll be at the Wooltex Gallery on Saturday, December 5th from 10 to 6.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Featured EtsyBlogger for November...

Congratulations to Becky, of The Fab Miss B! I've chosen a few Thanksgiving-themed items that I would love to have from her shop. You can find unique vintage aprons and knick-knacks at thefabmissb.Etsy.com as well as ornaments, prints, cards, and original artwork at beckykazana.Etsy.com.

I have an apron collection, most of which were my grandmothers. I love the colors of this one...


And, wouldn't this make a fabulous addition to the Thanksgiving table? So pretty!

The EtsyBloggers Team is having a holiday sale this weekend! Check out the list of participating shops at Etsybloggers.Etsy.com.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Warm Woolen Mittens


I just LOVE the way that Cascade Eco Wool felts. My husband has had a pair of Dachstein mitts for 30 years. They were popular among mountain-climbing outdoor adventurists, but they don't make them anymore. (I couldn't find them anyway.)
I had some wool leftover from making the hooded capelet below and thought I'd try to felt a pair of mittens. Felting (or fulling) can be quite challenging. You don't want to waste precious wool if you misjudge how much your project will shrink during felting. So, I took my time, felted a swatch and then one mitten. It turned out perfectly, if I do say so myself! Today, I felted the second mitten, along with a hat and matching pair of mittens in a mauve color. The trick to mittens is to check them often and to keep the thumb open. If you just let it go until it looks the right size, the thumb will felt together.
Mittens make a great gift. I especially like to wear mittens when skiing. So, when it's really cold, skip the gloves and wear your wool mittens!

Check out the Fiber Arts Friday post at http://www.alpacafarmgirl.com/

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's That Time of Year

It's that time of year again. The time when all my crafty friends are so so busy. I have to take time to stop and enjoy the season, before it's too late! Christmas comes and goes so quickly. The EtsyBloggers are already discussing which holiday movies are their favorites...and it's not yet Thanksgiving!
A favorite Thanksgiving tradition in our family has always been to watch the parade. It was my grandfather's favorite thing to do on Thanksgiving and he didn't want to miss a beat. The bands were always his favorite, and, the bigger the better! Check out this fun link to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and be sure to click on "Parade History" for a trip down memory lane (or 42nd Street) with "76 Trombones"!
http://social.macys.com/parade2009/

My favorite holiday movie is "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Yes, even at my age, it is a must-see. We look forward to it every year. My kids didn't get it at first. They were like, Mom, we've seen it over and over. Now...they get it. They share in my excitement whenever it's on.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
-Luke 2:8-14

Friday, November 13, 2009

Win a pair of Fingerless Gloves from me, LazyT!!


It's my turn for the Cleveland Handmade giveaway! Every week, one of our artists from the ClevelandTeam on Etsy is donating an item for the team giveaway. I'm donating a custom pair of fingerless gloves or arm warmers to one lucky winner. Just in time for gift-giving. You pick the color and style. It's easy to enter! (U.S. only, sorry. See complete rules for details.) Be sure to stop by for more from Cleveland Handmade. If you'd like to order a pair for yourself, or as a gift, please contact me through my Etsy shop at www.Etsy.com/shop/LazyTcrochet. Thanks!

Enter to win by Wednesday, Nov. 18th Noon EST....
www.ClevelandHandmade.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Holiday Vintage Finds


Whether you shop eBay or Etsy or your local thrift or resale shops, now is a great time to pick up some vintage Christmas goodies! I stumbled upon a new resale shop in my hometown yesterday. It's been there since June. Can you tell that I don't get out much? LOL
Here's a sample of some of the goodies I found. And I only spent $2.00!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What's New...'tis the Season!

'Tis the season for gift-giving. I've been busy creating custom designs on Etsy, as well as preparing for the many local shows that I've signed up for.
Custom orders are great, but it can be tricky scheduling time between shows to finish items on time. My tip would be to not take on more than you can handle. You still need to have time for yourself (and to finish all those handmade gifts that you've been planning to make)!Here's a recent design I made for a client. She wanted something to wear to Dicken's Fair. Apparently there are a lot of different Dicken's Festivals around the world. They take their attire very seriously! Here's the capelet I made, plus a matching pair of arm warmers (although they probably aren't true "period" attire). I thought it was a nice Victorian-style cape.
In keeping with the theme, I have plans to make more Victorian-inspired capes, hats, and a muff or hand-warmer. Something wooly and warm.

Staying true to my funky side, I have these new designs as well. Busy busy busy!

(See more Fiber Friday posts at http://www.alpacafarmgirl.com.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

...and Everything Nice



Repost from July, but I wanted to share this recipe with you again.
These are my favorite cookies from my Grandmother's recipe box!

SUGAR AND SPICE COOKIES

Cream together 3/4 cup Crisco shortening and 1 cup sugar. Add 1 egg and mix well. Add 1/4 cup molasses. Mix together then add to egg mixture: 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Mix well and chill dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Form dough into balls and place on baking sheet. Dip the bottom of a flat glass in sugar then gently press the cookie to flatten slightly. (Double dip for a little extra sugar.) Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until brown on the edges.


Having a cookie exchange this season? Visit my friend's blog and see these sweet invites!
http://www.boulieblog.com/2009/10/c-is-for.html

I've decided to post lots of cookie recipes this holiday! I plan to include some other family favorite feasts as well. Stay tuned! Looking for a recipe? I'm a recipe hound. Have a favorite you'd like to share? I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fabulous Felted Headband

Cleveland Handmade is hosting a giveaway to thank all our wonderful supporters and customers, as well as give you the opportunity to check out the high-quality handmade art in member shops. We’re giving you the chance to win this Carmen headband in red generously donated by Cleveland Handmade member la petite libellule.

Visit ClevelandHandmade.com to enter. Check out the rules HERE. It's easy to enter! (Currently open to U.S. residents only.) Enter by Wednesday, October 21st at noon (EST).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October's Featured EtsyBlogger is....

MadeByMelissa!
And, in keeping with the spirit, I thought I'd show a few of the Halloween-themed items from her shop. I love this star-shaped baby blanket, and to make it in orange and black is just perfect for Halloween! How creative!
There are earrings and necklaces and some great vintage finds. And there are some fun amigurumi toys in her shop, like this sneaky snake named Gary!
Congratulations to MadeByMelissa for being the EtsyBloggers Team Featured Blogger for October! Stop by her shop at www.MadeByMelissa.Etsy.com and be sure to visit her blog at http://madebymelissa.blogspot.com/.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Spirit Continues...


I mentioned my brother's art work in my previous post. He sent me some pictures from the many pieces that adorn his walls. Mixed with the monster collection, horror movie posters, Pabst Blue Ribbon and rock 'n roll ephemera are hundreds of guitars, line drawings, paintings and ceramic pieces like these. I picked my favorites to show you here. Chris is also designing and building handmade guitars in his spare time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

In the Spirit of Things

I've been so busy making things for the many shows that I have planned that I haven't taken time to decorate for Fall or for Halloween. Today, I am setting aside some time to clean and put up a few fun things to spook the kids and kick off the spirit of Halloween.
My favorite Halloween decorations are the black lights that I hang in the window and the vintage jack-O-lantern that is missing the clip-on light, but I put it over a basic candle lamp. There's something about things that glow that make this time of year special. For me, it's kind of a transition as the evenings get darker and calls for candles at Thanksgiving and twinkle lights at Christmas.I also love these two handmade pieces from my brother, Chris. I'm always encouraging him to create more. His love of guitars has taken over the creative side of his brain lately though. He has always been a big fan of Halloween and has a huge monster collection. He painted this fun sign on a piece of slab wood. This skeleton is a sample of the many skulls and Frankenstein masks that he's created over the years. There are so many gorgeous pieces on his walls and I really think that he should open a museum! (Perhaps we should collaborate and create a book of monster art or something.)I am also mesmerized by the art of Jack & Cat Curio. Something about Frankenstein in art always grabs my attention, but when I saw the beeeswax dripping from this Halloween collage, I had to ask them about it.
I asked Jack & Cat Curio to tell me a bit about themselves...
"We are a couple that love to stay up late creating mixed media pieces. We specialize in encaustic/beeswax collage. We compile different imagery and ephemera and then put it all under several layers of beeswax. Sometimes we use colored wax to achieve a certain look, other times a heat dye. Sometimes we stamp, imprint, and graph the wax.
We also specialize in digital imagery,trinkets and do-dads. Lesley also creates confectionery goods when not crafting with beeswax. We also travel and teach several workshops and classes on these topics."
I did look up "encaustic" and read that it was a technique using hot wax with pigments and that it was first used in Greek ship building to seal cracks in the ships and evolved into an art form from there.
You can visit JackandCatCurio.Etsy.com to see more of their beeswax collages, altered art, mixed media, and prints. I encourage you to visit their blog as well at http://JackandCatCurio.Blogspot.com. I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to their "Art Makin' Blues" playlist while writing this. I may just keep it playing and dance around as I decorate this morning! And, if you're in the Phoenix area, check out the class schedule as posted on their blog.
(Special thanks to Mike and Lesley from JackandCatCurios.Etsy.com!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

So Refreshing!

I was awakened to the fresh scent of lemon....and something else too. Oh yes, it was a wonderful lavender-fresh scent. It took me a moment to realize that it was very early in the morning and my husband was in the shower. The fabulous aroma was coming from the fresh, organic Lemon Chamomile soap from Mirasol Farm. They were so kind as to offer a sample since I blogged about their organic soaps the other day. I must admit that I probably wouldn't have chosen lemon if I had ordered, but WOW...I love it. I'm more familiar with lavender and that is the first scent I recognized when the package arrived. It is wonderfully smooth and works up a nice lather, but the aroma is just fabulous! What a wonderful way to start the day!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yarn, Yarn, Everywhere Yarn...

"Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind!"

To blog about my workspace is laughable since I can pretty much work anywhere and take yarn with me everywhere I go! I do a lot of work at my desk, which is actually the family computer table. I often have piles of yarn, needle and thread, and buttons galore, mixed with bills, checkbook, gaming microphones and tangled headphones! (I was going to ask Martha Stewart for a suggestion on how to organize all these cords since everyone has their own favorite headphones or earbuds. What a tangled mess sometimes!)

When I saw that Lion Brand Yarn had desktop wallpaper, I knew that would be perfect for me. The gorgeous pile of colors and textures looks like my desk anyway, so I thought I would add it.
Check out the fun screensavers and wallpapers available at Lion Brand here. And, while you're there, look at this beautiful Nature's Bounty Afghan in Tunisian crochet. One of these days I'd like to take the time to make this. It's just gorgeous. They also offer free knit or crochet e-cards and printable cards for prayer shawls as well.

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