Let’s have a sit by the fire

December 15, 2006 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Christmas, country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, Holidays, knitting, pumpkin recipes, recipes | 24 Comments

Fireflys Iced Pumpkin LoavesDoesn’t that pumpkin bread look tasty? Let’s pretend …

You just came to my door, I welcome you inside. “Coffee?” I ask, and you reply, “Yes, thank you.” I grab two cups of steaming brew and hand one to you. We head for the sitting area by the fireplace to enjoy a cup of coffee and some of this tasty, moist pumpkin bread together.

A warm fire is crackling, and you can see our barn outside the windows on either side of the fireplace. Handmade Christmas stockings for my husband, myself, my daughter, son, and parents hang from the mantle. My little caroling critters are on one of the window sills, with little votive candles adding a warm glow to their little bodies and hand knit scarves. Other candles of various sizes are scattered around on the hearth, the coffee table, the stone window sills, and the mantle. The candles add their dancing flames to the warm scene.

Fireflys Barn in December with SnowThe coffee is perfect and warms our hands as well as our hearts. You have a couple of slices of pumpkin bread, and so do I. Christmas music plays softly in the background … and what is that I see outside, why I believe it is starting to snow. Doesn’t the barn look pretty in the snow fall? The farmer came early this year, so the corn fields are all plowed now. I would have liked for you to see the fields when the corn was still standing there all golden. Oh well, we wouldn’t want things to be too perfect I guess.

Last Saturday my husband and I spent the day with his sister and her husband baking Christmas cookies. We thought the day would consist of my sister-in-law and I making cookies while the men read, snoozed, sampled, and went on a manly shopping trip without us. My husband took his slippers and a bag full reading material he wanted to get caught up on while we were there. I had this image in my mind of him in one of their reclining chairs, snuggled up in slippers and fleece shirt, reading and enjoying cookie samples all day long as they come off the baking sheets.

We started by making cut-out sugar cookies, a tradition in their family since they were children. I don’t ever recall doing sugar cookies with frosting in our family, but I might be wrong. Certainly it wasn’t a tradition, if it ever did happen. We had other traditions though, like making candles in quart-size milk cartons using crushed ice and melted wax colored with crayon shavings. Every year my mother would make at least one beautiful Christmas candle that way … it was magical.

As for cookie baking this past Saturday, as it turns out the men worked with us … it was wonderful. Her husband manned the ovens, while my husband helped with the cut-outs and later, drop cookies. After all the cut-outs were complete, we started in on the peanut butter maple cookie dough I made ahead of time. After that, it was pecan pinwheels she had prepared the dough for ahead of time, and then we ended off with ginger snaps of mine. The guys helped us with it all.

When we were finished, we all took off for a town down south of Buffalo to an amazing restaurant they knew of. We had a delightfully scrumptious dinner … mine was grilled veggies seasoned with chipotle and garlic over a bed of rice pilaf; relatively healthy and very, very tasty.

Next we went to a place called Gander Mountain to do a bit of Christmas shopping … my husband and I both found things to buy one another there (but I can’t say what, because he reads my blog … hi honey).

Fireflys Critters are Singing AgainOn the way home we stopped on the main street of a nearby small town and took a walking tour in icy cold wind to see the vintage window displays that were resurrected there this year in all the store fronts. They were so fine, so beautiful. Characters of all kinds engaged in a myriad of wintry and Christmasy activities, dressed in impeccable costumes with lots and lots of fake snow. The back drops in the various scenes were as fine as any stage decoration I’ve seen at a live play. My husband told me the displays were wonderfully magical to behold when he was a child and toured that same street with his family. I was grateful to have had a chance to see some of the magic he witnessed so long before I knew him.

One night this week my husband and I put icing on our portion of the cut-out Christmas cookies. It was a pleasant evening, sitting together at the kitchen table chatting and icing the cookies. Yesterday morning I used some of the left-over icing to decorate some petite pumpkin loaves I baked this week. They are ready and waiting for the family to arrive next week.

Yesterday I also baked up a batch of one of my favorite cookies featuring oversized bittersweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, oatmeal, and brown sugar. On Monday I will post my recipe for them, as well as the peanut butter maple cookie recipe I just developed.

By the way, I found the recipe I used for Ginger Snaps in The Joy of Cooking. I had never made them before, but I love the recipe. Everyone agreed they are wonderful cookies. They were a little too good, and now they are mostly gone so I will need to make more for next week. They have that wonderful cracked surface of ginger snaps you buy at the store, but they are soft rather than hard as bricks. Quite delicious. If you have the Joy of Cooking, or can get it at the library, the recipe is called Ginger Snaps. Very excellent and I recomment it as a wonderful surprise Christmas cookie.

I haven’t done this much Christmas baking in quite a few years. I am enjoying it so very much, here in my new home on the farm.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing a cup of coffee, a sit by the fire, and a couple of slices of pumplin bread with me. It will be a holiday memory I will treasure.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend … we certainly plan to.



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  1. Your baking day sounds just perfect. If I lived a little closer I would definitely take you up on that offer for coffee by your fireplace. Sounds heavenly.
    – Stephanie

  2. Funny…I saw the feed to your new blog entry pop up on my LiveJournal friends page, and before even reading it, I thought to myself, “Firefly has a new journal entry…time to go make some coffee”. And so I did. I’m enjoying Trader Joe’s winter blend, which is a nice medium roast spiced with cinnamon, pepper corns, and cloves. It’s a whole-bean (and spice!) coffee, so all those wonderful spices smell heavenly when you grind it. It sounds a little strange, but it is so yummy and wintery!

    I’m trying to build my own holiday traditions. For various reasons I don’t have my own and it’s difficult for me to build them (long story), but I want them very much. The one tradition we do have is meeting up with my best friend to bake cookies together. We’ll be doing that a week from Saturday. I’m *so* looking forward to it.

  3. I have had Trader Joe’s Winter Blend, when I lived in California. Mmmm … sounds good Lisa. Glad you joined me!

    It is beautiful building up your own Christmas traditions … it is a journey of discovery!


  4. Coffee and pumpkin bread delightful. You must come visit me and have some hot choc and mince pies
    Amber in a wet Scotland

  5. My Christmas baking will be – ginger shortbread, snicker doodles and oatmeal casserole bread. May I have tea? Strong, hot, with a splash of skim milk will be perfect. The Pumpkin Walnut Bread looks yummy.

  6. Thanks for the coffee, pumpkin loaf, chat and Christmas music and laughter! Thanks also for reminding me of the Christmas candles made with crushed ice, crayons, paraffin wax and a clean milk carton. We have been hit with another storm of wet snow, but south of us it was very windy and nasty! I like your touch of snow, but not this heavy wet stuff! I’ll drop by again and try you ginger snaps. I have had to have my copy of the Joy of Cooking rebound, so you know I like it!

  7. I’m so hungry now. Yummy!

  8. I made some of those candles with my mom when I was in kindergarten. We added a cinnamon scent and I swear I can still remember that smell.
    Last night I did my holiday baking, jam thumbprint cookies, chocolate crinkles, lemon bars, molasses spice cookies, and brrrownies (brownies with peppermint patties baked in). I didn’t do any baking last year, so it was nice to find the time this year to do it.

  9. I have to go make pumpkin bread when I’m done reading. I love your teddybear christmas tree in the previous post, It is so true what you said, that we plan so many things for christmas, when it really is about what’s inside, and our loved ones.

  10. SCRUMPTIOUS looking goodies. Yum. I’ll be right up to join you!

  11. thanks for inviting, I had a nice time and a nice cuppa along with you!!xoxo

  12. Yes, yes, the Joy of Cooking ginger snaps are the best! And the peanut butter cookie recipe is, too, although I am really looking forward to your peanut butter maple cookies. It’s funny…I grew up with this cook book, and after trying so many recipes from the web I still go back to old faithful. I think it reminds me of my mother. Thank you so much for the coffee and pumpkin bread and mostly for your warm friendliness.

  13. i am loving your holiday posts! i am so jealous of anyone with a home to decorate and a kitchen to bake properly in, living in a pint sized studio in manhattan does not allow for much decorating or baking! but luckily i live vicariously through you!
    ps- bully hill is such a nice little operation isn’t it? my grandma lives in that town and we go for lunch there and buy some wine every time i visit!

  14. I was dreaming away while reading you’re story…
    The warm coffee, the tastfull pumpkin bread ( I never tasted it) The fire, music and outside the snow…. mmmmm I wish I was you’re neighbour!


  15. Gander Mountain! Home of hiking boots and fishing rods, tents and cookstoves, camouflage and longjohns! What a great place to shop (I did my Gander Mtn gandering in Wisconsin). Oh, and I think gingersnaps are divine, and I have used the Joy of Cooking recipe for nearly 40 years. Have yet to screw ’em up. I’ll be making some today to take to Colorado for Christmas.

  16. Sounds wonderful! I’m still a little off as you can see. I missed my visit by 2 days! I hope the time spent with your families these coming days are treasures in the making:)

  17. Wow, I became instantly relaxed just reading that post. And hungry!

    By the way, I have “invited” (not tagged, much nicer than tagged) you to do a meme over at my blog. Reply only if you want! No pressure. And enjoy your holidays!

  18. I love reading about other peoples’ Christmas traditions. Cookie baking is a tradition here too, though I have never tried the Joy of Cooking ginger one; I’m only allowed to make my grandmother’s ginger cookie recipe(!).

  19. I’m having a nice cup of coffee by the Christmas tree since I don’t have a fireplace.

    We used to have sugar cookies with different coloured coarse sugars on top every Christmas. I think I’ll have to make some this year.

    Women in the kitchen and men reading by the fire sounds nice and traditional but, that picture will always be eclipsed by men in the kitchen with the women. Men always seem so much more masculine when they are helping with the baking or cooking.

  20. Oh, I wish I were your neighbor! ☺ Your preparations and baking are wonderful – very good for inspiration and spreading of holiday cheer. Thanks!

  21. Hope I’m not late and you girls saved some pumpkin bread for me. I have had some trouble posting comments lately, so I had to take a bit of a hiatus.

    The bread looks wicked yummy and you have inspired me to perhaps do some baking of my own this weekend!!

  22. I could’ve sworn I had posted a comment @ least on this blog post! I read this one while I was visiting my family over the holidays. I love that your husband and your bil helped bake too! Oh and the bread looks delicious–too bad we can’t yet just reach into a screen and grab whatever we want!

  23. hello, have nice day

  24. […] and went teasel testing on the way home. (Teasels, if you recall, are the main ingredient of my Thistleonian Critters. We have been tracking their development this year to try to determine the ideal time to harvest […]

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