I wish I could remember who introduced me to the idea of cookies for breakfast- I’d like to give them a big kiss! This may be the coffee and cookies I had for breakfast speaking:)
What makes cookies OK for breakfast? Well, these are lower in sugar and higher in fiber. And if I ever feel the need to rationalize what I am eating for breakfast, I can always point to Coco Puffs (full of nutritious vitamins and minerals) and suddenly feel superior.
One dark, arctic winter day my friend Miriam and I were restless with cabin fever, so we decided to try to make some chap stick (we used lots of that stuff in Alaska!) and we wanted it to be like Burt’s Bee peppermint lip balm. Ten minutes later we had 20 tubes of peppermint perfection at a fraction of the price Burt charges! This is much simpler than making soap- no chemical reactions to control- it’s just melt and pour.
There are many similar variations of spinach-artichoke dip out there, this one is my favorite due to lots of fresh garlic and real parmesan cheese. Last Christmas I decided to make a series of appetizers throughout the day- turned out to be more enjoyable and much less time consuming (as much of it can be done ahead.) Spinach artichoke dip tends to play center stage for such occasions as so many healthy additions can play along- raw carrots, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, apples etc. I confess this photo came from an evening when spinach dip was our main dish. Hey- I worked all day, needed a photo in order to write this overdue post and we ate lots of veggies with it. I’m shaking off the guilt as I type! Dare I admit that I took leftovers for lunch the next day and didn’t share? I might be in trouble now…….
Our neighbors are always appreciative of Grace’s impulse baking sprees- especially on a shortbread day. Four ingredients and a few simple steps is all that’s needed to mix up these melt in your mouth gems. Be careful- they are addictive!!
3 cups of flour (some recipes call for 1/2 cake flour, we just use general purpose)
1/2 cup sugar (my family recipe uses brown sugar, but Grace’s recipe is white)
1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) butter (NOT margarine)
2 tsp vanilla (Grace’s personal touch)
optional: 1-2 TBSP fresh lemon zest and lemon extract instead of vanilla
I always envied the fun moms (like mine) who loved to play, threw epic birthday parties and made ordinary days exciting, and I secretly worried that my kids were missing out due to my boringness. I much preferred to clean the kitchen or bake a pan of cinnamon rolls to being tortured with Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders. My children figured out at a young age that if they wanted to be with Mom, they had to come to the kitchen. As my first baby climbed on a chair and “helped” me do dishes, I decided to always encourage their presence, even if it meant a messy mop job after they “did the dishes.” This conscious decision has led to years of companionship and five children who know how to clean and cook- a very worthwhile investment! Thankfully, they had a playful father and grandparents to cover what I lacked in the fun department.
One of my favorite things about living in Alaska was the blueberries. Blueberry picking was like a liturgy for our family- every single year anticipating the trips to our favorite high places -secret berry patches I found in the hills as I scavenged the highways or begged favor from friends- worshiping God’s breathtaking handiwork as we picked, transported to a plane of peace and delight, never wanting to leave. During the few weeks of blueberry season we spent as many evenings and weekends possible picking berries before they were gone- usually in the company of good friends- or just soaking in some peace and quiet. It was an annual revival of the soul that helped me survive the winters. The only thing better than a bursting blueberry patch was catching a salmon run. I’m getting homesick just thinking about it!
This dessert is full of nostalgia for me. I was hooked the first time my new grandma, Josie, made this torte. At eight years old, I was and enchanted by her quiet, sweet ways ( not yet old enough to appreciate her wealth of wisdom.) When I married, she arrived a week ahead of time and quietly served- cooking, cleaning and doing dozens of other little jobs I wasn’t even aware of. We enjoyed some time in the kitchen as she coached me through four pans of blueberry and cherry tortes for the rehearsal dinner ( I baked bread and dessert- she did everything else.) She traveled up to Alaska and visited while I was pregnant with our first baby, disposing a little bit more of her vast knowledge of herbal remedies, gardening and natural medicine. I was just becoming interesting at this point, but sadly I didn’t get anymore grandma time- she passed away far too soon. I’ve missed her over the years and often yearn to enjoy another delightful and informative chat with grandma. After her death I was somewhat consoled by the introduction of Google- it wasn’t near as comforting as calling up grandma Josie, but at least someone could answer my questions!
I promised you a fun and easy recipe for leftover spaghetti sauce . Of course, you are free to use a jar of sauce as well (a little doctoring goes a long ways here- fry up some sausage or burger, garlic, onions and peppers…) I usually double the recipe and bake it in a 9×13 pyrex pan.
Most of my childhood, this was our Christmas eve dinner. I continued the tradition, many years bundling five excited children and a crock pot of spaghetti sauce for a long, cold car ride to our best friend’s home on Haystack mountain. Each year the children acted out the Christmas story as the eldest, Kristen, created last minute costumes and organized the chaos. The nativities began with one toddler and two babies between us, and now there are eight wonderful adults/teenagers. We live thousands of miles apart now and the children are scattering all over the country, but this thick and spicy spaghetti sauce brings us back together, if only in our hearts and bellies.
After a crazy day at work and then torturing myself with grocery/christmas shopping on the way home, I used my last fifteen minutes of stamina to make dinner. For real- it was fifteen minutes start to finish and then I immediately donned my fluffy pajama pants (wish I could live in them) and collapsed into bed to watched an episode of The Crown while slurping tea (like a good American) and munching Christmas chocolates (sorry sister- I opened your package early!) This is my idea of a perfect Friday night. I’m officially old.
Anyways, point of this story is that Indian tacos are not only delish – they are quick and easy which means you can put your pajamas on earlier! Yay!