It happened again: lots of living and not much blogging. This summer has been adventurous and at times, delicious. I am grateful for the milestones we celebrated and the simple moments we savored. When I look at these photos I remember unexpected treats from this past season; wishing all of you those reminders of the good times. I sense a reflective autumn coming on.
These are a few pictures from the whirlwind Eastbound research & family road trip I took with my mom several weeks ago. Yep, that’s the trip I made the granola for; behold! it was a snack lifesaver after two engine-smoking tows and one hazy and stormy Hudson River migraine. We reconnected with family, made new friends along the way, and were introduced to new tastes like Scrapple, Water Ice & Custard, Reuben Egg Rolls, and fresh Sheep’s Milk Ricotta.
Little did I know the directions my life would be moving in when I took off in the car that May day. I did not mean to abandon this blog, but I did mean to enjoy life’s moments as they unfolded. For one reason or another, taking pictures and posting them in a blog article did not quite fit.
I am away from home again as I write, this time I’m in Chicago for a library conference. During these two trips I have been struck by the feelings of home I have felt while being away, away from my fairly predictable home base. These feelings are still difficult for me to articulate, but I am working on it. I do know that having people in my life to share these moments with, big and small, at home and away, makes all the difference.
So, hello again! and I hope that all of you have experienced those tangible and intangible feelings of home since I’ve been away from the cozywalls blog. I’ll be back sooner than later this time; I participated in my first-ever community food swap last weekend!
Shiny Brite ornaments were the most popular Christmas tree ornaments made in the 1940′s and 1950′s in the United States. I have an original box set that my grandma gave to me when I had my first apartment, and Christmas tree, of my own. Those ornaments hark back to the time when she and her sisters were the age that I am today. I always keep an eye out for them in antique stores, and it makes me wonder what will evoke memories of Christmases past when I am in my eighties.
It is easy to feel homesick around the holidays, because it’s often a mile marker for realizing that things are never going to be the same. For others, the times seem more joyous and precious than ever, and I need to keep that in mind. I am just missing people right now, but on New Year’s Eve, I’ll raise my cup to the shiny nostalgic memories and hopes for unexpectedly brite futures.
One of my dad’s hobbies is making paper models of historic homes. He gave a few of his prototypes to my niece to color over Thanksgiving, and here is one brilliantly surfaced product that she gave to me. I thought it would be nice to live there and be snowed in (a chimney implies a fireplace!). And if we were snowed in we might not so feel guilty watching college basketball and Christmas movies on TV for a day (a few of my dad’s other hobbies that I happen to enjoy). No snow here, yet.
It was never so easy to follow a diet. The day began with my sister’s eggnog pancakes covered in maple syrup. After breakfast, my niece and I unwrapped candy and candy canes to decorate a gingerbread house. And when we went to find Santa at an outdoor mall (unseasonably warm for December in Indiana this weekend), we found another jolly man making fresh kettle corn on the sidewalk (kettle corn will sub for candy corn here)! I have to tell you that I have never enjoyed kettle corn so much in life, then I realized that this was the first time I had ever had kettle corn when it wasn’t hot outside. With just the right amount of sweet and savory, popped to warm perfection, it reminded me of the hot chestnuts I ate on the street in Florence one chilly early January afternoon. The day of sticking to the four main elf food groups was also a day I will never forget — thank you Manges Family! Don’t worry, I am eating my fair share of broccoli today.
My niece and I warmed up a traditional sugar cookie dough recipe with pumpkin pie spice over the weekend. Inspired by the pumpkin pie fragrance, we decided to cut out little slices of dough in the shape of pocket-sized pie slices. Once the cookies were baked, we melted some butterscotch chips to spread on the cookies to look like pumpkin pie filling. Lastly, I made a fluffy meringue icing to pipe on for a whipped cream look on top. “Little pumpkin pies for my dollies,” my niece exclaimed! “Spicy butterscotch cookies are surprisingly tasty,” I thought.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Cut-Out Cookies
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
(In a separate bowl) beat together:
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Add wet ingredients to the rest of the mix until combined. Roll out dough with flour. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 6 minutes. Cool on baking rack.
Melt 1/2 cup butterscotch chips with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or peanut butter. Stir until combined and glossy, then spread over the tops of the cookies.
Fluffy White Frosting from allrecipes.com
In a saucepan, stir together 1 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.
In a medium bowl, whip 2 egg whites and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes.