Monday, October 26, 2009

Cookies with Nana!

Tommy and Nana baked Ginger Snap cookies together yesterday. The house smelled wonderful and we wanted to share this delicious recipe with you! These cookies are crisp on the outside, a bit chewy in the very center, and absolutely beautiful rolled in sparkly sugar. They are a family favorite during the holidays and are surprisingly easy to make. (And very simple and fun for children to help with!)

First, Nana made the cookie dough.

Cream the following ingredients until fluffy:

¾ cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 egg

Sift the following ingredients together and slowly add to the wet mixture:

2 ¼ cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 ¼ tsp. ground ginger
1 ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. cloves

Once the dough is mixed, form into balls. You can make these any size you'd like, but you may need to adjust the baking time a bit so small cookies don't overcook, and large ones are done. The baking time below is for a tablespoon sized ball.

Tommy helped Nana form the mixture into balls, but he wasn't sure he liked having sticky dough on his hands.

Roll each ball in sugar. We used a large crystal sparkly sugar for this batch, but the cookies are very festive with red or green decorator sugar, and just as tasty with regular table sugar. Arrange the sugar covered balls on a baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 12 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a minute to firm up, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool.

I hope you'll give these delicious cookies a try and let us know how you liked them!

Slow Cooker Taco Filling

This is the second of the 'recipe repeats'. I do hope you'll enjoy it!

ver the past few months,
I've been doing a lot of cooking. Found a half pork roast in the freezer that needed to be used up, so I decided to make slow-cooker taco (or burrito, enchilada - you get the picture) filling. This is the easiest recipe yet, and I tried it the next week with chicken breasts and it was great like that too. Next is to try beef - might try a chuck roast if it goes on sale soon. Otherwise any good roasting type of meat would work.

Approx. 2 lb. meat ( I cut the loin into 1 inch slices so I could brown it a bit for the extra flavor. Chicken just gets thrown in as is. I think I'll brown the beef in slices, makes it easier to break apart later)

2 cans petite diced tomatoes with green chiles - I use the original Ro-Tel, but I know there are other brands out there too.

1/2 - 1 tsp chili powder (amount depends on how spicy you like it - my folks are good with 1/2 tsp - I could go a bit hotter. I used Chili 3000 from Penzeys)

1 medium onion, chopped.

That's it! Just mix it all together in the slow-cooker, and leave it alone. I start my cooker on High to get it going, and then turn it down to Low for the rest of the day. Follow the instructions for your cooker .
When the meat has cooked for several hours - usually 5 or more, break it up into shreds with a wooden spoon. If it seems a bit too watery, you can leave the lid open a crack to dry it out.

Serve as tacos with cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. Also especially yummy atop a salad, or stuffed into enchiladas. You can use it anywhere you'd use taco meat.

This is really easy and yummy in anything - I think I'm going to try beef soon and try to make an enchil-lasagna with it...


Perfect Guacamole

I am revisiting a couple of recipe posts from my personal blog, A Little Grey Hare, so that I can share them with you. The first one is a delicious guacamole recipe I worked to perfect over last autumn. It's delicious with chips, or as a spread. I hope you'll try it and enjoy it!

I have tried a bunch of guacamole recipes since I moved here to AZ - it amazes me that some of them call for things like mayo (which I can't eat anyway - but why would you add something that's just fat and eggs to an already creamy, healthy fat?) I played around with one recipe that I found and tweaked it to not be too garlicky (for Mom and Dad) with a touch of heat (for me) I had some Penzey's ground chipotle in the fridge and no fresh peppers, and actually, I like the slightly smoky heat better!

Hope you try it and also that you enjoy!

3 ripe avocados, peeled
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 medium garlic clove - minced or crushed
1/2 cup diced onion (I used yellow, but red is really pretty)
scant 1/8 tsp ground chipotle (depending on how much heat you like)
1 roma tomato - 1/4 inch dice

Using a pastry blender (this works REALLY well!) or a fork, mash two on the avocados with the lime juice, salt, and chipotle powder until mostly smooth. Stir in the onion and garlic. Cut the other avocado into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces and add, along with the tomato. Fold in until mixed together, but preserving the chunkiness.
this is good right away, but the flavors blend if you make a bit ahead an store in the fridge - to keep it from darkening, I place in a small plastic storage container, smooth the top, and press a piece of plastic wrap right onto the top, sealing out the air. Each time you spoon some out, smooth it and recover with the plastic. It actually will stay green for a couple of days this way!

I love this with black bean tortilla chips!


Monday, October 12, 2009


Hornbooks originated in England in the mid 1400's. In children's education, they were used as primers for study. Printed paper or parchment was attached to a paddle-shaped piece of wood. A thin sheet of horn, made by soaking animal horn in cold water to remove it from the bone, and then boiling to soften, was attached to the board using tacks, or a thin strip of metal that was tacked around the edge. The horn served to protect the paper from grubby fingers and wear. Usually a hornbook was printed with the letters of the alphabet, the vowels in a line, and the vowel combinations with the consonants in a tabular form. The Trinitarian formula - "in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" and the Lord's Prayer were commonly found following the letters. Occasionally, the arabic numerals appeared as well.

On English hornbooks, a cross appeared before the first row of letters, this was called 'Christ's Cross' and came to be known as the 'criss-cross.' A pupil was expected to cross himself before beginning the lesson. American hornbooks generally lacked the cross, as the Puritans objected to the use of the symbol of the cross.

Often, a hornbook had a hole in the handle for a cord so that the student could wear the book around their neck or attached to a belt. Hornbooks were sturdy, and there is evidence that they were used as bats when playing.

Our newest frame is a hornbook frame - it is finished in a primitive, worn-paint finish. This example has a golden yellow undercoat, but could be done in any color undercoat to complement your work. We have a few ideas that we'll be working up soon for a sampler for this frame as well, and we hope to have one finished and available soon.