Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CLOSING DAY OF 2013


As the year 2013 is coming to a close, I thought I would post pictures
of things that were totally new to me this past year.
The choice is unequivocally the cruise to Alaska.
Here is the cold water with swirling waves beside the small boat we
were on watching for whale sightings.


A rich blue poppy growing in Juneau .. so lovely.


There it is ... exciting!
A whale doing what whales do in the pristine waters along
the Alaskan shoreline.


Halted at Tracy Arm Fjord .. so remote .. so still.
What words do I use to capture this majestic wonder?
Sounds of song rang out .. 'How Great Thou Art'.
I felt like I was standing on 'holy ground'.


This massive wall of ice in June .. how fierce must it be in December!


'When I in awesome wonder,
consider all the worlds they hands have made'.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to see more of
God's almighty hand in creation during 2013.
It was a memorable blessing along with many other 
little blessings that came my way throughout the year .. 
too many to count.

Thanks to all of you that stop by to visit my blog.
May God richly bless you in the coming year.
I pray God becomes more real to me as well as to you.
It is an honor to be counted as His child!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, UNWANTED GIFTS



Unwanted gifts?  
You know the ones .. wrong size .. wrong color ..
not the perfect choice.
We've all had those.  Not a big deal. Just exchange.


We don't need big elaborate gifts anyway.
A box of homemade cookies from Gram .. packed with love.
Can't go wrong with that.


An invitation to brunch with good friends .. the made-at-home kind.


Less fortunate ladies in the inner city treated to a beautiful
meal complete with homemade dessert.


Yes, these are the gifted offerings that bring us happiness
and feelings of good will.


My feathered friend was limping today.
Notice one foot up off the ground.
I felt badly to see how his handicap restricted his movement.
Is it painful? Quite likely.
Which reminds me of a book by the late Dr Paul Brand,
'Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants'.
Without pain we would not know something was wrong.


Quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada, regards her wheelchair and
recent cancer as a gift, for they have 
"pushed her deeper into God's embrace'.
She would rather be in her chair knowing Him,
than on her feet without Him.
A gift few of us would want to receive.


I want to introduce you to the young married couple
in this picture.. Marcus and Maryann Kauffman.
Two weeks ago they returned to their home in NC after time
with family for Thanksgiving.
A strange car was at their house so Marcus drove to a friend's
place to drop Maryann off.
Upon his return he realized that there was a burglary going on
and called 911.  His call was cut short by a bullet to his head.
A request went out on Facebook asking for prayer.
And God's people responded ..  oh did they pray and pray..
and intercede on behalf of Marcus and Maryann and their unborn child.
Thousands of God's people united in hope.
The family kept vigil for two weeks .. waiting and hoping.
Deep in God's embrace in the midst of their pain.
A gift they would never desire.
This beautiful surrender was written on their site.


Yesterday God came and flooded us with peace. Even hope. 
  1. This morning the test results came back. We are choosing to bless God and let go of our dear Marco, for it seems God is calling him to Himself. Words fail, but through our pain and tears, we bless God.
    We worship Him.

    While we certainly would not have written the story this way, we know God is the Master Author, and He makes no mistake...s. And in light of eternity, we know this parting will be only a moment in time. Soon we will all be gathered around the throne of God, together forever more, worshiping our perfect and holy Lord.
    With Marco.

    We need your prayers now more than ever. For God's supporting hand to carry us through this valley of the shadow of death. For wisdom and grace. For continued forgiveness and peace. For the ability to rest in God's perfection. To see through eternity's eyes.
  1. Marcus burst into heaven at 12:52 PM. Our loss is so painful, but we know this was gain for Marcus. 
  1. Tears and grief are eased by the gentle hand of God, holding us, carrying us, wiping our tears.

    As for God, His way is perfect.
             Heavenly Father, at this Christmas season, I pray a special 
           covering of your mercy and comfort on the Kauffman family.
     Because of the wondrous gift of your Son, they have the blessed hope
            and assurance that they will meet their loved on in eternity.
             






Thursday, December 19, 2013

NUT HORNS


Today was my first experience with a traditional Hungarian 
cookie and I was quite impressed with these nutty little horns.
The dough is very flaky and crisp on the outside. With the combination of nuts 
and in some cases jelly, they melt in your mouth.


In what way are these cookies different or unusual was my question?
The dough calls for a small amount of yeast although there is
no rising prior to baking.
The addition of egg yolk and sour cream to the butter/flour mixture
is also unique.


The dough is rich but not moist.  I had to sprinkle a tiny bit of ice water
on the mixture to make it form into a dough.


Roll out ¼ of the dough on a surface heavily coated
with powdered sugar.


Cut circle into 12 sections; spread with hazelnut filling.


Roll up toward the narrow point.


On this portion I added ¼ tsp. raspberry jelly to the almond filling.
Not only is it colorful but the combination of flavors is wonderful.


On the second almond circle I spread out the jelly first before
adding the almond filling.
Which one would you think would be the better choice?


On the left are the spread-jelly rolls and on the right are
the ones I placed the jelly on the filling without spreading it on.
I prefer the latter method because the jelly stayed neatly 
tucked inside.  No change in deliciousness either way .. 
but I like the presentation better.


These were popped into the freezer until such a time as
I want to share with company in the next few days.
Looking forward to the blessed times around the table!

NUT HORNS

2 cups all-purpose flour 
¼ tsp. salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in butter until mixture
 resembles coarse crumbs. (I used a food processor)

1½ tsp. dry yeast
½ tsp. sugar
3 tbsp. warm water
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tbsp. sour cream 
½ tsp. vanilla
powdered sugar

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in sugar and warm water.
Stir yeast, egg yolk, sour cream and vanilla together.
Mix into flour mixture until a dough is formed.
Add a few drops of ice water if necessary to form dough.

Divide dough into 4 portions.  On a work surface heavily coated with
powdered sugar, roll one portion into a circle (approx. 10-inches).
Cut into 12 wedges.  Spread 1 teaspoon filling over each wedge; 
tuck in edges of wide end and roll up toward narrow point.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling, adding powdered sugar as needed.
Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes or
until lightly browned.  Remove to wire racks to cool.
Garnish with melted chocolate if desired.
Yield: 4 dozen small horns.

FILLING

2 egg whites
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup toasted ground hazelnuts (filberts)

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat
in sugar, 1 tbsp. at a time, until stiff peaks form.  Beat in vanilla.
Fold in nuts. This is enough filling for one recipe.

Note:  I divided the beaten egg white mixture in half and added
hazelnuts to one half and ground almonds plus 3 or 4 drops almond flavoring
to the second half.  I also added the raspberry jelly to the almond circle as
you shown in the pictures. It is more work but I wanted the two flavors in
one batch of cookies.






Sunday, December 15, 2013

A FOREVER FEAST, CRYSTAL WONDERLAND

 Southern Alberta.
Monotony would not describe your weather patterns.
Temperatures played musical chairs all week scaling
up and down in unison to the whims of strong fierce winds.


Cutting cold on Tuesday..  mild on Wednesday.
Snow flurries and wintry cold overnight.
Thursday's offering ... a crystal extravaganza extraordinaire!


Freezing .. warm .. piercing chilliness ... come ...
leave your beautiful imprint behind!


The magnificent beauty of hoarfrost. 


Snowflake upon snowflake .. wind-formed into a glacial bank.


Weathered .. broken .. embraced by history ..
a jewel of bygone times .. touched on this morning by 
a timeless loveliness.


Who can understand how He spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion.
Job 36:29


Who crowns a cluster of ordinary brown twigs into breath-taking
beauty with a coating of crystals?


Who forms common branches into a glassy etching?

He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
Psalm 147:16


He says to the snow, "Fall on the earth,"
Job 37:6


The breath of God produces ice ..
Job 37: 10


Have you entered the storehouses of  the snow ..
Job 38:22


Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens ...
Job 38: 29


'Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you ---
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?
Exodus 15:11 NIV

For unto us a child is born,
to us a son is given, 
and the government will be upon his shoulders.
And he will be called
WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD,
EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE.
ISAIAH 9:6 NIV

Friday, December 13, 2013

POTATO SKINS


Baking sweet things have their place but I also crave the non-sweet
nourishing bites during cookie making days.
Something quick to make are potato skins.
I used Pioneer Woman's method and loved the ease of preparation
and the delicious taste.
Are these appetizers or are they more than that?
I made a meal out of these along with some vegetables .. yum!


This will be more of a how-to rather than a regular recipe.
Wash as many russet potatoes as you will need.  Brush the skin
with canola oil and place on a baking pan.
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 1 hour or until fork-tender.


Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the inside
of the potato, leaving a small margin of potato in the skins.
Save pulp for another use.
Brush inside with canola oil and salt generously.


Turn potatoes cut side down and brush outside with oil.
Salt skins and return to oven; bake for 7 -8 minutes.
Flip to the other side and bake for an additional 7 minutes or
until skins are crispy.


Remove from oven.
Sprinkle about 2 -3 tbsp. shredded cheese into each potato skin.
Return to oven just until cheese melts.
Remove from oven;  top with bacon bits, sour cream and 
sliced green onion.


Or serve with bacon bits, sour cream and caramelized onions.
Either way ... this is classic .. savory and satisfying.
I plan to make these for guests during the coming days
perhaps adding some other choices for toppings.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

GINGERBREAD CHILDREN


Hello from my workshop where tradition has it that I 
churn out dozens of pretty mouth-watering cookies for children.
I was about to type mouth-watering children .. but that 
didn't sound right ... right?
The gingerbread is delicious!


A recipe for these Gingerbread Children is already on my blog
and you can find it in the Christmas Cookie section if you need it.
Some of the gingerbread family starts here.


It keeps expanding.


And expanding some more ...


...  and some more ....


I wish I knew ... but I forgot ... to count them.
I do know that it took me most of the day to put the finishing
touches on the cookies I baked the previous day.
It was a lot of fun .. happy sigh when it was done!


Not everything always goes perfectly well .. the royal icing left
some tails so not all the eyes are perfect.
That's all right .. gives my girls personality.
I really like the snow-parka look on these gals.


This group looks very sweet and happy ..
sorry they are not upright.


I have baked nine of my traditional Christmas cookies and the 
recipes are already blogged ... now it is time to try a 
few new ones.
From my cookie kitchen to yours... have fun baking!