at home while away

1 sprinkler small4.5 gavin cookie counter5 allium6 cemetary stones8 ricotta10 old souls9 coffee12 folded map13 to river14 iris close drops15 breakfast16 cherry gelati17 earth photosThese 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!

molasses cookies with black cherry gelato

My mom’s cousin from Texas commented on my recent use of molasses: “A staple in every Hoosier’s kitchen!” On that note, I hereby declare a week of molasses recipe-sharing at These cookies come by way of my Great-Grandmother’s Sister-in-Law, Aunt Velma. Though I never knew her, I cannot mistake the smell of these cookies baking in the oven: the combination of cloves and molasses warms the soul.

When I was little, my mom would let me roll the dough balls in a bowl of sugar before placing them on the cookie sheet. For this batch I used some pretty big sparkle sugar, and the added crunch and shimmer was a delightful result (don’t be fooled by the crunch though, these cookies are also soft-middled). Usually paired with a glass of milk or mug of tea, this week at the store there was a bargain on black cherry gelato. Together with that blackstrap molasses cookie, the gelato was transformed into a black forest trifle of molasses sorts. I like to think of it as Blackstrap Forest.

Aunt Velma’s Molasses Cookies

Preheat Oven to 375-degrees

Mix together:
3/4 cups shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
about 2 cups flour

Roll in balls “the size of walnuts” and dip in sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes.

signs of spring in philly

It seems as though the minute I landed in Philadelphia, it was Spring. The past few days have been unseasonably warm. I ate a Geno’s cheese steak in 70+ degree weather! The outdoor basketball courts and city playgrounds were packed. Fruit lined the narrow city streets of the Italian Market. On a conference break, I had Chocolate Peanut Butter Ripple ice cream in a pretzel cone. Pretzel cone, more on that later. Spring bulbs were in bloom by Independence Hall, Rocky and “The Thinker.” All pleasant Philadelphia Spring surprises.

pink snow float

Do you have a tree-gazing beverage of choice? You know, a special drink to sit and sip once the tree is decorated and lit. Mine is a pink snow float. Assembly involves a few scoops of peppermint ice cream drenched with ginger ale (of course, if tree decorating is extra-challenging, a splash of gin may also be appropriate). Once the ginger ale is poured, a frothy pink bubblemound will appear at the top! Ginger and peppermint are as easy on my taste buds as they are on my tummy.