Ginger Snaps

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These are so delicious. Soft, chewy, and spicy.  Just thought I would share one of our favorite autumn and winter cookie recipes. These are what I’m giving our neighbors for Christmas this year.

(I adapted this recipe from online years ago, so forgive me for not giving due credit!)

Ginger Snaps

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup molasses

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

~Beat butter and sugar together. Add egg. Stir in molasses. Add dry ingredients. Roll into balls. Roll in sugar. I like to use parchment paper on my pans. If you double or triple this recipe, be careful with the molasses. I actually use 3/4 cup of molasses on a doubled recipe.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until firm. These are good warm, but GREAT second day, cooled and chewy. Great for dipping in coffee or milk. 🙂

Yum!  🙂

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Story

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Stories are beautiful. The Bible is the ultimate Story of God’s Love and redemption for mankind. The glorious Psalms full of pain, realness, and praise. The thread of promise woven throughout the Old Testament. The joy, love, and light stirred underneath the persecution and suffering in the New Testament. Have you ever thought about how important story is to our lives? Jesus used story often when sharing truths with the disciples and the crowds that surrounded Him. Nature often tells a story if we quiet ourselves,.pay attention, and listen. The beauty and depth to poetry often astounds me.

I am so blessed and encouraged by the beautiful truths and goodness in countless books, essays, and in this modern day, some blogs, social media. I can’t imagine the days when many couldn’t even learn to read, much less touch a real book.

We’ve been busy here with the beginning of our big extended family holiday celebrations. My mind is overrun with ideas, thoughts, themes, and yes, stories. I yearn to put them down in my journal, or here, or anywhere, but alas sometimes we must set aside what we want to do for the urgency of the immediate. Seasons.

The truth is that relationships are what truly matter this side of heaven. I must continually remind myself of this…it is a weary, thankless job at times.  All the investing, patience, selflessness, and giving that relationships demand. Our relationship with God needs our purposeful attention, space to listen, learn, and converse. It is truly the most important thing we can do with our time. Next comes the people in our life. These relationships are so beautiful and so draining, but every hug, every meal, every listening ear, matters. It does. Don’t let culture or lies tell you it doesn’t. You are part of God’s amazing story and you are writing a beautiful line of it with your life.

Just think of it. Your life is a story. How will that story turn out, what will the next page contain? You hold the ink and quill in your hand. Choose wisely. May I choose wisely.

~

Fun way to make Story apart of everyday life:

We enjoy what I like to call “literary feasting”. One of our most favorite book series is The Chronicles of Narnia. The cookbook is so fun and after we checked it out from the local library, we started making a Narnia Meal.

Narnia Meal

425 degrees

Chopped veggies you have on hand. This is wonderful for using up bits & pieces you have in frig. Chop up summer sausage or kielbasa. Toss it all in your favorite oil, salt & pepper, and spices of your choice (I usually just use garlic salt). Place on large baking sheet and cover lightly with foil. Roast for 1 hour. Serve with fresh bread, rolls, or whatever side you wish! Sometimes we get cider to go with!  Light some candles and imagine yourself in Narnia with Aslan…

 

 

November Days

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The morning suns greets my eyes. I slip on my glasses and glory in the view. The old house creaks a bit and I walk pass the piles flooring we have yet to put in upstairs. I stumble down the ancient farmhouse stairs, dreaming of a steaming cup of coffee. Perhaps I should set up a coffee maker in my room? Maybe that is a bit extreme. 🙂 The chatter of voices greet me. “Hey, Mom. Guess what my dream was?” and “What’s for breakfast?” and “I’m cold, Mom! Where’s my sweatshirt?” all sing out as I grab my package of coffee from the freezer and start my Nectar of Life a brewing. My son begins making oatmeal for everyone, which usually ends up somewhere between water-y porridge or rock hard cement, but we all love it with brown sugar, walnuts, and a dash of milk. Some add a twist with a bit of peanut butter.

I am a huge fan of the author Gladys Taber. Have you read anything by her? She wrote extensively on her farm, Stillmeadow. As I pour my coffee, I take in the scene around me and begin to compose it, in my head, attempting to grasp the charm that Gladys always seems to find as she pens her normal days around the farm. Of course, Gladys lived a different life than me. She worked outside of the home for a time and also ends up having more dogs than children. Yet, I feel a kinship to her, leaning back against the cupboard, sipping, and taking in the beauty of the daily mundane doings and yes, chaos.

“Good news, Mom! Gandalf’s pink eye is clearing up!” is the glad shout I hear next from a precious child. Yes, go ahead and chuckle. Gandalf is our barn cat, so I guess creatures do have a part in my life, Gladys.

We move on through our day, alternating between discussions, chores, and books, with a few fights over stuffed animals and whose scissors the purple ones REALLY are. (They’re actually mine.) Ahh… glorious books. We have chosen to live life with our children here at home, learning together. Gerald Johnson takes us through early American history, we laugh at Ogden Nash’s poetry, and giggle as Louis the Trumpeter Swan learns how to play TAPS on his new trumpet. We write some, do a little math, make some caramel corn, and breathe the fresh, albeit tinged with burning leaves, country air. Someone is always asking me when’s the next meal. My crock pot definitely earns its keep.

I gaze at the steam rising from my coffee cup. Sigh. “Mom, the sewer guy is here.” My romantic ruminations are ruined. Reality stinks a bit, doesn’t it? 😉 I watch the fellow from my window, what a job, huh? He is stooped and haggard looking, I’m thankful for him, he makes my job a bit easier.

A few loads of laundry swirling around, blankets on the line. The scratching noise of pen on paper, drawings and journal entries being created. An old, petrified apple core peeks out from under the couch at me. Ahh. These November days. I get “questioned out” at about 4:00 pm, is there really still 4 or 5 hours till bedtime? Yet, I love this life I’ve been given. So, like Gladys and everyone before and those to come after, I rustle up some ingredients and go about thinking supper thoughts. I sneak in a few minutes of reading in my “garrett” as my daughter calls my bedroom, where I like to hide as frequently as possible. “You can’t just stay up here in your garrett all day, Mom, like Jo March!”

I cave in and put on the electronic babysitter. They have chosen the 1935 version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream with James Cagney and Mickey Rooney. It’s a bit creepy and weird, but I hear a laugh. A Puck-ish laugh, come to think of it.   Later the candles are lit, we began our supper with prayers and because it’s the season of thanksgiving, we purposefully go around sharing what we are thankful for today.

I’m thankful for all the November days days I’ve been given, for little blonde girls who shared their drawing with me, “Here’s what I drawed, Mom.”. I’m thankful for grins after a resolved fight over Nutella, and the piles of books to dig into soon. I’m thankful for the beauty of life. And maybe I DO need that coffee maker in my garrett.

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A favorite recipe for you!

Skillet Sausage and Mushroom Penne

*adapted from original recipe from December/January 2014 Cook’s Country magazine – I use things I have on hand and I’ve doubled the original recipe here for my crowd.

1 pkg sausage of your choice (I use breakfast sausage )

fresh mushrooms, chopped – (I use half to a whole package)

4 cups chicken broth

1 can diced tomatoes (sometimes 2, depending if I feel tomato-y or not)

about 1 1/2 packages penne, this is like 18 oz?? I think

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I actually use half n half, because I rarely have cream on hand)

Parmesan cheese (being the gourmet that I am, I use the green can shake cheese, I know. The horror. You are welcome to use freshly grated.)

  1. Cook sausage, breaking it up, until no longer pink, add in mushrooms. Cook together till brown. Transfer mixture to bowl, set aside.
  2. Return skillet to heat, add broth, tomatoes and juice, pasta, and cream. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring often, until pasta is al dente. (I actually use a pot, because of the doubling of the recipe!)
  3. Stir sausage-mushroom mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan into pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with other 1/2 cup of Parmesan, cover, and remove from heat until cheese is melted.

Enjoy! I serve it alone for quick lunch or add a salad as a side for a bigger dinner.

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Soup

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(Chicken & Veggie Soup)

I am always so happy when autumn rolls around. Simply because it is the beginning of three delicious seasons of soup. Here in the Northern Midwest, autumn, winter, and spring are all soup weather. I have such a hard time knowing what to feed my hungry crowd during the summer. My life becomes easier by this humble dish and it is a lovely way to use up what is sitting around my kitchen and stretch what we have on hand. As I’ve been chopping, stirring, and watching this autumn’s batch of soup simmering, something has come to mind over and over again. Of course, the feelings of warmth, home, and family meals, but something deeper even. Our lives are made up of many bits and pieces, simmering and very often tried over fire. My faith challenges me to believe that all of these parts make up a complete whole. Each part of soup and life is important to the finished product. If I just threw one onion into a pot, it would not come out well, if I do not wait patiently for all the ingredients to be added, slowly, and patiently cooked, I would not have a glorious meal worth sharing at the end.  The wafting scent lingering in the house and the savoring of soup, crackers or bread in hand, bring to mind all that the Lord desires for our lives to be. One of wholeness in Him.  I want to stew 🙂 on this more, but it is an important lesson for me.

Our current favorite soup:

(I adapted this from an online recipe YEARS ago, forgive me for not knowing the original source.)

Rosemary Potato & Ham Soup

(I often make this in a 7 quart crock pot, but it can be done quickly on the stove also)

Favorite potatoes, chopped. I don’t peel the potatoes, but you can if so desired.

Small ham piece, chopped.

Chicken broth to cover, about 6 cups.

A Bay Leaf, or two.

Rosemary.

Salt & pepper to taste.

1/2 stick of butter

Crock pot: Layer alternating chopped potatoes & ham. Sprinkle a little bit of dried rosemary every other layer. Throw in bay leaf. Dot top with butter. Add s & p. Cook on high for 5 hours or till tender.

Stove top: Throw everything together in a pot, simmer.

Serve with crackers or fresh bread.

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