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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lavender Sugar Cookies

1 stick of organic butter (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup fair trade sugar
1 organic (local, if possible) egg
1 tablespoon organic milk
1 1/4 cups organic, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons organic dried lavender flowers*
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
a pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cream the butter, then gradually add the sugar, beating until light. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, the beat until thoroughly combined.
Mix the flour, lavender flowers, salt, and baking powder together, then add this mix to the butter mixture. Blend well. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheets covered in parchment, about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.

You can decorate them with a simple icing.

Pour a 1/2 cup of boiling water over 2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers. Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain, then add 4 tablespoons of the liquid to 2 cups of powdered sugar, blending until smooth. Add coloring to tint, if desired, and decorate with colored sugar sprinkles.

*You must use culinary grade lavender, so as to avoid any unwanted chemicals
recipe source here

Why Do We String Popcorn on The Tree

Have you ever wondered why we string popcorn on the tree?? 

Christmas trees of today normally have electric Christmas lights, store bought and homemade ornaments and an angel or star on top of tree. Christmas trees of the past in the United States were often decorated with fruits and other items. Stringing popcorn and cranberries into a garland that wrapped around the tree. 
Fruit was used on trees as the dominant religion in Europe often included pagan rituals. A live evergreen tree or branch in the home was popular in pagan times. Whether it was wishes of prosperity and luck with the harvest or to celebrate the name day of Adam and Eve (Dec 24th) the pine was present. Paradise trees were decorated with apples in honor of Adam and Eve

Paradise trees would grow into Christmas trees. Germany all ready decorated Christmas trees and when they came to America they brought the tradition with them. It was Christmas of 1848 before the tradition of Christmas trees caught on. It just so happened that in the winter of 1848 The Queen of England married a German Prince named Albert. The Queen wanted to put a Christmas tree up as it was tradition of the Prince to do. The newspapers would capture the story of the Christmas tree. America would hear about this "Royal Christmas tree" and a tradition would begin. 

So that tells us how Christmas came to be decoration in the home at Christmas but we are looking for why we string popcorn. The origin may not be known but it may have come from necessity. Germans held a tradition of putting fruit on the trees and cranberries were harvested in November and popcorn is often a last of the season vegetable so the two were most likely strung together. 

You will need the following materials:
  • popped popcorn (unbuttered)
  • popped popcorn (unbuttered, of course!)
  • fresh cranberries
  • embroidery floss or other heavy thread
  • needle
  • Place the cranberries and popcorn into bowls to make it easy to access them as you string.

Cut the embroidery floss into 5-foot lengths. This makes it easy to manage. You can connect them later for longer garlands. Thread the needle with the embroidery floss (I used 3 strands), then thread one cranberry down to the end and knot the thread around it to make an anchor.

Thread the popcorn and cranberries in a pattern until thread is full (I did 1 cranberry, 3 popcorns, 1 cranberry, 2 popcorns, etc., but you can do whatever pleases you), avoiding any squishy cranberries

Leave enough of an end to tie another cranberry-knot when you’re done. If you would like a garland longer than 5 feet, leave a length of thread beyond the cranberry knot, which you can tie to the next garland.

When Christmas is over you can put the garland outside and let the wildlife enjoy it

Vegan Gingerbread Nicecream

8-10 frozen bananas
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 a batch of Gingerbread Cookies, crumbled

Blend everything except the cookies in a high speed blender or food processor until creamy and smooth.
Add 1/3 of the cookie crumbles. Blend briefly to combine.
Speed into a shallow pan or dish. Sprinkle more cookie crumbles on top.
Freeze for at least 2 hours.
Scoop into bowls, top with more cookie crumbles, enjoy!
Keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 days.

recipe source here

Happy Birthday National Guard:::: Thank You For Serving All These Years

December 13th is the day that the National Guard celebrated a birthday. The national guard is a part of the United States Army. Made up of citizen soldiers who hold down full time, civilian jobs, attend school or do both. They are available to provide support and protection to the states civilians or help the military when called upon.

Every state, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and territories of Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands have both Army National Guard and Air National Guard. The mission of the National Guard and those that serve in it is to serve both community and country. Responding to domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, counter-drug efforts, reconstruction missions and more. The guard always responds in timely manner, strength, and efficiency to help defend American freedom and ideals.

The National Guard originated before the American Revolution and have helped in many mission. While the guard was formed December 13, 1636 as directed by Massachusetts General Court it was prior to any official militia. All able bodied men from age of 16 to 60 were to join up and come together for battle. There were three regiments established that included the East, South and North. The guard is older than the United States and maintains its roots in Massachusetts. The East regiment is now known as 101st Engineer Battalion, the South regiment is known as the 101st Field Artillery and the North regiment is now split into the 181st infantry and 182nd infantry.

The national guard would grow as the United States grew. Each state would own its own militia as it was known until 1933. World War II  would see thee Air National Guard created to go along with the United States Airforce. Today more than 350,000 men and women serve in National Guard and the Air National Guard.

Root Veggies Help Stretch Your Budget

1 medium red potato (3/4 lb) $0.44
1 medium sweet potato (1 lb) $1.10
1 large turnip (1 1/2 lb) $2.12
1 medium yellow onion $0.70
1/2 lb carrots $0.54
4 cloves garlic $0.32
2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
1 tsp basil $0.05
1 tsp thyme $0.05
1 tsp rosemary $0.05
salt and pepper to taste $0.10
1/2 bunch fresh parsley (optional) $0.38

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the carrots, sweet potato, and the turnip (turnips usually have a thick wax coating applied before sale). Peel the red potato if desired. Cut all of the vegetables into one inch pieces (potatoes, turnip, onion, carrots). Place all of the chopped vegetables on a large baking sheet covered with foil.
Mince the garlic and add it to the baking sheet along with the basil, thyme, and rosemary. Drizzle the olive oil over top of everything and then use your hands to toss everything to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Spread the vegetables out so that they are in a single layer on the baking sheet, moving half to a second baking sheet if needed. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until soft and golden brown on the edges. Stir the vegetables half way through.
After roasting, transfer the vegetables to a large bowl. Roughly chop the fresh parsley and stir into the roasted vegetables. Season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm!

original recipe here

National Day of the Horse and a special treat recipe for your horse

There seems to be a day for everything. Holiday and / or observance days seemed to fill the schedule. Just take a look around our blog and you will find many great days. Whether you agree or dislike these holidays and awareness days. Since 2004 December 13 has been designated as National Day of the Horse.

Our regal animal friend the horse was recognized for many different reasons. The horse has contributed to man kinds history for centuries. Through history you will be able to see how horses have helped with economical, historical and the all together history of the United States. Today the horse continues to be a recognizable force as shown on the movie screen. Horses have given rise to the transportation system all over the world. Horses continue to work, provide companionship to their owners and contribute to the economy.

By many the horse is more than an animal, much more. Many would say they are objects of national treasure. To ensure that those that come behind up remember the horse we must preserve the history that was passed down. We must make sure that horses are treated humanly as they should be. They should not be used / sold as horse meat. The wild horses should be protected by the nation.

National Day of the Horse helps raise awareness of the contribution of horses and that we should preserve them as well. Spanish explorers are responsible for bringing the horse to North America. Horses that escaped helped the cause of wild horses to spread among the American Great Plains. The horses have helped to clear forest for farmland and offered a form of travel to pioneers.

Baked Carrot Crisp Horse Treats
(Preheat oven to 400 degrees.)
2 carrots, shredded
1.5 apple, shredded
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup bran
3/4 cup oatmeal
  • Generously grease a muffin tin.
  • Mix carrots and apples into a bowl with molasses, bran, water, flour and oatmeal. Mixture should have a thick and doughy consistency. Add more bran if needed.
  • Scoop dough into a muffin tin and bake in the oven for 30-50 minutes or until well cooked.

Set Up A Hot Cocoa Bar

Classic Hot Chocolate

7 c. milk
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Winter-White Hot Chocolate

7 c. milk
1 lb. white chocolate
1 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For either variation, bring 7 cups of milk to a simmer in a small pan over low heat, then whisk in the remaining ingredients.

Great list of Hot Chocolate Mix ins include:

  • Hot Cocoa (mix, packets, K-cups)
  • Marshmallows (mini, Mallow Bits, peppermint, french vanilla, sugar cookie, caramel – any variety!)
  • Chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips, butterscotch, peanut butter)
  • Candy canes – whole for stirring, crushed for srpinkles
  • Caramel – sauce or Kraft Caramel Bits
  • PEEPS Marshmallows (they are an adorable hot cocoa topper!)
  • Toffee Bits
  • Cookies – Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes are a nice choice
  • Pretzel rods
  • Cinnamon
  • Finely chopped nuts
  • Ovation Chocolate Sticks
  • Whipped Cream
  • Flavored syrup
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Sprinkles
  • Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua or other favorite spirits
  • Pretty straws or spoons
  • Mugs
  • To go coffee cups (not with the adult hot chocolates please!)
  • Tea, Coffee or Cider are nice options to have
Now that you have everything together you simply set out your favorite hot cocoa and fixings, mugs, and a way to heat up your milk or water, and let your guests create their own, delicious, custom drink creations!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Birthday UNICEF

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund or UNICEF as it is popularly known celebrates a milestone of sorts today. UNICEF was organized to provide humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing country. UNICEF responds to any emergency no matter where in the world it would arise. Many war torn countries, areas of natural disasters and / or disease outbreak are all areas where UNICEF has helped.

UNICEF was created on December 11, 1946. Children affected by World War II were in need of help. The war had left areas in devastation and there was a growing need for emergency assistance for those affected by World War II. The individual credited with organizing UNICEF , Ludwik Raichman, was a Polish bacteriologist. Raichman served as UNICEF chairman from 1946 to 1950.

Good Old Mountain Cooking::: Pinto Beans, Collard Greens and Cornbread

In the good old days a mess of pinto bans, collard greens and cornbread was a welcome treat. Mom or Granny would start the meal by soaking the beans overnight. She then would give the beans a good washing off. The beans would be boiled in enough water to cover beans. One tip I like to do that adds a bit of flavor is to add in a few bouillon cubes. After boiling the beans the heat would be lowered to medium. Add some fatback or meat that has been pre-browned would be added into the beans.

Prepare a mess of collard greens is easier these days as you can purchase greens that are all ready washed and cut. In the past you would pick, sort and wash greens and this was not always easy as greens are not the easiest things to clean. Greens should be boiled for about 30 minutes. Again adding a few cubes of bouillon while boiling adds more flavor. After the 30 minutes drain the greens. Frying up some fatback or bacon slices offers you a bit of grease to fry the greens. You can then add the bacon or fatback to the greens. Season the greens with salt and pepper. Spice it up a bit if you choose or leave it as is.

Buttermilk Cornbread
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add a handful of chitlins or pork skins (if you like them) for a crunch.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt butter in an 8-inch iron skillet (or square metal pan).  Melt butter in the skillet.  Remove about one cup of the butter and pour in a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar and quickly add eggs, and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour and salt (and chitlins if you choose) until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the warm skillet with melted butter. 
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Rolo Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
48 rolo candies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl mix sugars and butter until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs, beat well.  In a small bowl mix flour, cocoa and baking soda.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined well.  Cover batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes for easier handling.

For each cookie, roll just enough dough to cover a rolo completely in the batter.  Sprinkle sugar on each ball of dough and place cookie balls 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 7 minutes.

Non Dairy Noodle Ring

The original recipe is from the Kosher Palette Cookbook.

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine, melted
Vegetable cooking spray
1 (16 oz) package extra wide noodles
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine pecans, brown sugar, and margarine and spoon into Bundt pan coated heavly with cooking spray. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and transfer into a large bowl.
Add eggs, sugar, salt, and cinnamon, stirring well. Pour into noodles. Mix well with spoon. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out into a serving plate.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Trivia Time and a Christmas Recipe

Trivia Time: Are you ready???

What food originates in Poland and was created for lent?? 

The name of this food originates from the Yiddish language. The definition of this word means ring or bracelet.

This edible object was brought to the United States by Jews from Poland

Three brothers are responsible for the automatic production and distribution of the frozen form of this unnamed food item. The Lender brothers started their business in 1960s. 

Can you name the food item we are talking about?? If you said bagel you would be correct.

Now to put more of a Christmas flare on bagels: 

10 mini bagels )or use round crackers)
1 c. cream cheese (or use this recipe for Herbed Cashew Spreadable Cheese
sliced veggies to decorate
cucumbers for the tops
toothpicks for the hooks

Slice the mini bagels and lightly toast.
Slather each half with cream cheese.
Decorate with thinly sliced veggies.
Place the cucumber on top and place a toothpick through to keep it together.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

How Do Libraries Keep books organized

For a short time while I was in high-school I worked in the library. It was a learning experience to say the least but it was also lots of fun. With so many books it was quite a job to find books that were requested, reshelf books that had been returned and to simply keep it all together. 
Have you ever wondered how libraries keep all the books organized?? One main way is via the Dewey Decimal system. The system is a library classification of sorts that was invented by Melvil Dewey. Dewey was born on December 10, 1851 all these years later we still celebrate December 10th to honor Dewey and the Dewey Decimal system. 

Melvil Dewey was a simple man and he liked it that way. As an American librarian he used library science to create the Dewey Decimal Classification system at the mere age of 21. Dewey established library standards and advanced library education. He would later develop the American Library association as well as found and edit the Library journal. As his side job he would sell library supplies. Melvil Dewey would also establish the first library school in New York City.
The Dewey Decimal system has been in use since 1876. Dewey an American librarian developed the system and helped establish it to be used as a classification system in libraries. Over 100 years later the system is staying up to date with modern technologies included. A schedule of expansions and revisions help keep the system current and progressive. The Dewey Decimal System is used in 135 countries around the world and translated into 30 different languages. 

Gift In A Jar

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup toffee bits

In a quart-sized glass jar, lightly pack the brown sugar into the bottom. Sprinkle the chocolate chips into an even layer over the brown sugar. Spoon in the flour gradually and smooth into an even layer. Add the baking powder and salt. Add the pecans or walnuts on top. Finally add the toffee bits. Fasten a lid and ring to the jar. Attach the following instructions.
To make the blondies, in a medium bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs, 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add the contents of the jar and mix well.
Lightly grease an 8X8-inch baking pan and spread the batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until baked through (don’t overbake!).

Holiday Fruit Soup

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup peach juice or nectar (like Kern’s brand)
3 1/2 tablespoons minute or quick-cooking tapioca (not large or small pearl)
1 1/2 cups orange juice
2 cans (11 ounces each) mandarin oranges, undrained
1 quart bottled or canned sliced peaches, drained (cut the peaches into smaller chunks, if needed)
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup blueberries

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, peach juice/nectar, and tapioca. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 12 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl or other container. Stir in the orange juice and cover the dish. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours until completely chilled or up to several days.
Stir in the mandarin oranges, sliced peaches, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Chill until ready to serve (no longer than an hour or so once the fresh fruit has been added).

Use fresh fruit for the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries but you could definitely try subbing frozen fruit. You could also change up the fruit you’d like to use. My sister-in-law, Erin, loves to add bananas and I believe she uses frozen raspberries which gives the soup a pretty red color.

The base of the soup can be made several days in advance and refrigerated. Simply stir in the fresh fruit before serving. Also, the overall sweetness of the soup will be determined by the peach juice/nectar you use as well as the type of fruit (and how ripe or in-season it is). I’ve reduced the sugar from the original version but if you feel like it may not be sweet enough, up the sugar to 3/4 cup.

If you want a thinner consistency, cut the tapioca down to just 3 tablespoons and/or add additional peach nectar or orange juice at the end.

Be Aware of Each Other

December 10th 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950 all states and organizations were invited to observe Human Rights Day on December 10th. Since that time each year on December 10th Human Rights Day is observed.

The various freedoms that we have been guaranteed is what Human Rights Day is all about. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. Our daily existence is determined and demands our human rights. Today's world many do not have freedom to be their selves. With nearly 20 million individuals being modern day slaves, another million have no access to clean water. With so many advances in this would you would not think those numbers possible, but they are. Likewise there are 2 + billion lives including children that do not have adequate sanitation One of the saddest facts is that 22,000 + children under 5 die each year due to simply being under the poverty line. 

These number surprise me. Maybe years ago, but not today, not in the world that I am included in. The sad thing is that many may know the facts and choose to ignore them. They choose not to know facts about those different than them. With differences both physical and behavioral choosing to love one another is a big deal. There are those that feel they must bee in charge for one reason or another. Whether it be political, cultural, religious, gender, race or ability that makes one feel they stand out that gives no one the reason to not honor the human rights of others. 

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. We are all one family created in my humble opinion by our God. We are in this world and should learn to live as one. 

Tater Tot Casserole

6 eggs
1 lb ground sausage
1 cup milk
16 oz pkg frozen tater tots
2½ cups shredded cheese
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 13X9 baking dish.
Brown your sausage, drain grease and spread in bottom of baking dish.
In a large bowl, beat together milk, eggs, salt and pepper.
Cover the sausage in the casserole dish with the egg mixture.
Cover with one cup of cheese (If you will be serving this the next morning like I did, cover and refrigerate at this point, you will be performing the next steps in the morning).
Spread 16 oz of tater tots on top of the cheese.
Add the remainder of the cheese on top.
Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Let cool for 2-3 minutes then serve and enjoy!