B is for Baking


Cooking all manner of things has become more and more enjoyable to me within the last several years – baking feels among the most artistic forms of creating food, one that I seem to enjoy the most at Christmastime.  I have memories of making sugar cookies as a child with my mom, mixing up the dough, waiting impatiently for it to chill in the fridge, rolling it out on the counter, eating bits of it raw.  Then we’d cut them out, bake them, and mix up different colors of powdered sugar icing and art them up.  We also made peppermint bark, english toffee, fudge, Russian tea cakes, and for Christmas morning, a gooey cinnaman and sugar pull-apart.

Chris has memories of his Grandma’s Spritz cookies.  Enjoy the recipe!

Grandma Esther’s Spritz Cookies

¼ lb. margarine
¼ lb. butter

½ c. sugar
1 egg yolk
2 c. flour
1 tsp. almond extract

Cream margarine, butter and sugar.  Add egg yolk and then flour.  Add almond extract.  Put through cookie press.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Makes 6 dozen.

Baking feels like the cooking version of crafts.  Add this and that and the other thing, put it in the oven, and you have something that is sweet, tasty, and pretty.  A few sprinkles here, a dollop of colorful frosting there.  Yum.  I will so enjoy it when my son is old enough to start baking our favorite Christmas recipes with us…


A is for Advent

I love Advent. I actually don’t recall ever having an advent calendar as a child – you know, those paper posters with the little cardboard doors that you got to open once a day starting in December, with a little piece of chocolate hidden inside. And I must have totally missed it when our church did the readings and candle lighting for the Advent Sundays, because I don’t remember them. It wasn’t until college when I started being exposed to different family traditions and religious celebrations that I recall realizing what advent is. Holly says I’d enjoy being catholic or Lutheran, because I love calendars and seasons so much. And I really do. I have such a hard time tracking one moment to the next that I love any period of focused thought or introspection on a particular subject or season, leading up to a final event or celebration. It helps me to focus. Maybe because was never forced to do such a thing as I child, I love such tradition now.

Anyway, I love Advent. I love to be able to check off a day, and anticipate opening some little door, or peeking inside a little envelop, or hanging some sort of little object to count off the days leading toward Christmas. I also love all the different kinds of advent calendars out there. The photo above is just a smattering of different personal takes on the calendar idea that came up when I searched on flickr. I can’t wait to make my own someday. I’m taking forever to decide what to do, because I love so many different ideas, I can’t possibly limit myself to one. Although, who says you have to have just one? You can have more than one, couldn’t you? I think so. There aren’t any rules, I don’t think!

I also love the Advent Sundays in church. We have finally decided on a church to attend, since we have moved out of Snohomish. The decision was an agonizing one, since we have grown to really love our little Snohomish community church, but since we no longer live in that community, and likely won’t for several years, we felt it was important to attend one closer to where we live and work. We have decided to join our very best friends at their church, which is in the same community as the store. What in the world can be better than attending church with your best friend, and watching your kids grow up together in the same nursery and Sunday school? I’m very excited. This Sunday is the first Advent Sunday, I think – this first Sunday is for Hope.  Each church likely will have its own readings for that day, so we’ll see what we see tomorrow, but one thing I think of is the familiar poem by Longfellow – its message of hope has struck a chord with me, and has become one of my favorite carols:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!