Let’s have a sit by the fireDecember 15, 2006 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Christmas, country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, Holidays, knitting, pumpkin recipes, recipes | 24 Comments
Doesn’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.
The 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).
On 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.