Monday, November 17, 2014

Sugar and Spice Cookies

Let me start with a disclaimer: we have actually been really healthy eaters as of late. I have mostly limited my baked-good making to healthy muffins and breads. I feel all warm and fuzzy when I send Jeffrey off to school with a blueberry oatmeal muffin or pumpkin pancake rather than a poptart. True, we usually add chocolate chips to the pancakes, but still...

Yet this recipe is definitely a dessert, no other way of looking at it. Yet it's also a wonderful, Christmasy cookie, and ever since our storage unit got flooded, prompting me to put up our Christmas tree several weeks early, Christmas has been on my mind.

Now, Jeffrey isn't usually much of a cookie-eater, but this recipe is possibly his favorite. It comes from his childhood best friend's mother, and it is super quick, easy, and delicious. AND it makes your house smell wonderful! So without further ado:

Sugar and Spice Cookies

Look at me! I totally did one of those "I'm going to take a picture of all the ingredients" pictures! Mostly I wanted to take a picture of the shortening sticks to comment on how I LOVE that they exist! I don't often bake with Crisco, but I would never use it if I still had to scrape it out of the giant tin cans.

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp cloves
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Cream together the first 4 ingredients: shortening, sugar, egg, and molasses (isn't molasses gloopy?)

Sift together the dry ingredients and then add to the creamed mixture. Combine well. (Full disclosure here: I rarely actually sift the dry ingredients together. Ergo there's no picture. I just added them individually to the same bowl. I just haven't ever noticed a difference from when I do sift and don't, you know?)

Form into walnut-sized balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes. If using a dark or coated pan (like I did), reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Actually, I reduced mine to about 360, which was perfect. But since when does a recipe ever tell you to bake things at 360? Never. Better not start now. Something drastic could happen.

They should come out cracked on the top and soft. I removed mine fairly promptly from the pan to cool, and they came out perfect. This recipe usually yields 20-24 cookies.

They're so good, I promise, and are disappearing embarrassingly fast from our house. Mmm...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Soy Wax Emergency Candles

Last weekend the four of us got together for our annual "Girls' Getaway." It was sooooooo much fun. The agenda included yummy food, a Christmas craft, a bit of singing, a couple of sappy movies, a lot of talk and laughter, a mini book club, some family history, and soy emergency candles. Soy emergency candles, you ask? Why, yes! Delys found a great "how to" website, and we thought we would give them a try.

I will include the link to the original site at the end of this post, but just to show you how easy it is, we will walk you through the process.

You will need soy wax, candle wicks, heavy duty glass jars (pint size or smaller), a glue gun and glue, a #10 size can, and a roll of masking or painter's tape.

I purchased the soy wax and wicks from Amazon. They were much cheaper online than at any of the local craft stores I checked--even factoring in coupons. We used a variety of jars. I already had some small canning jars and purchased others from a thrift store for 25 cents a piece. We also used some empty salsa and pesto jars that I had saved. The key is making sure that they are thick enough to withstand high heat, first when the hot wax is poured into them and then later when the candle is burning.

To make a pouring spout in our large can, we simply put it on the floor and stepped on it gently near the open end. It wasn't elegant, but it worked :) We filled a large pot about half full of water and then, using an old measuring cup, we scooped the wax flakes into the can. When we placed the can in the water, it tried to float. so we wedged a jar between the side of the pot and the can to hold it in place. We set the stove at medium high heat.

While the wax melted on the stove, we used the glue gun to anchor the wicks by placing a dab of hot glue on the metal bottom of each wick and then sticking it quickly to the inside bottom of each jar.

When the wax was ready, we carefully filled each jar, leaving about 1/2 inch of room at the top of the jar. (Be sure to use hot pads; the can is hot.) To hold the wick upright while the wax cooled and set, we tore a strip of masking tape long enough to go across the top of the jar, taped it in place, made a small slit in the tape where the wick should go, and then threaded the wick through it.

Once the wax was cool and hard, we removed the tape and trimmed the wicks. We put lids back on the jars to keep the candles clean until they are needed. The website we used said that candles made in 1/2 pint size jars should burn for up to 50 hours. We didn't test that, but we did light one of ours and loved the fact that it burned clean--no odor or noticeable smoke.

Kind of a nice thing to have around on a dark night when the lights go out. . . .

Here is the link to our inspiration site: