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My joy of Baking

At 91 dozen cookies already, and a whole slew of baking still needing to be done, I am either crazy or in love with baking. The answer is both. I am crazy in a good way, a God way, at this time of year. For me, baking is as important to the Advent season as my nativity sets or the candles at worship. It's like music for me, something which simultaneously feeds me and can be shared with those around me. It’s also the most firm link I have with women I love, miss and remember with Gratitude for the quiet, intangible gifts they bestowed without me realizing.

Growing up, cookie baking was serious business. Mom baked all the time, but at Christmas everyone had their favorites and she delivered with aplomb. Most of the recipes in my personal cookbook are cookies and they are from my mother, grandmother or great-grandmother. I was small when I began helping her, and by the time I left for college, the need to bake at this season had firmly rooted.

While I might bake close to 150 dozen this year, (that’s 1800 individual cookies, if you cared to know) the majority are given away. We go to parties or holiday functions and I’m always asked to bake cookies. I have family members and fremily (our friends-come-family) members who wait for their box. I give them to people I care about as thank-you’s for what they do for us during the year. Once we are done packing them up on Christmas Eve, our family has about 2 dozen of each of the 11 different kinds I make left.

Being a United Methodist, we don’t have a whole lot of ‘rules’ of faith. John Wesley the founder wanted us to do all the good we could, whenever we could, however we could, to whomever presented themselves; and we needed to pray unceasing. Because I was raised by two people who were lifelong Methodists, this behavior was modeled to me for as long as I could remember. Hence, my faith is an organic thing; I open myself to God and I ask God to use me. My prayer life is like a long, open ended conversation. It reminds me of talking to my best friend, we just pick up wherever we left off.

Baking is an expression of this too. The action of dumping, creating, rolling, scooping, baking, decorating and packaging cookies is a prayer in action. I listen to carols, thank God for the gift of the incarnation of Christ, linger in the memories of those who have gone, and the abundant love I have in my life. I pray for those I know will eat the end-product, as well as those who will enjoy them that I don’t know. All I can ask is for God to act in their lives as needed.

I also believe it is an act of rebellion against the commercialism of Christmas by our society. Sure, flour might be put on sale, but honestly not much press is given to it. There are not stores actively trying to entice me to shop there based on their “black Friday flour sales”. The one splurge is on sprinkles. I collect them throughout the year. I have an on-line pastry supply company bookmarked so I can make sure my stock is prepared before the late-fall, early-winter crush of cookie baking. I have just about any cookie cutter I could ever want, I need the sprinkles to match. Because baking is a slow process, and one that can’t be rushed, I need to be slow and deliberate about my time. Sure, I bake, write cards or wrap while things are in the oven, but I must be in my home and at least taciturnly monitoring my oven.

So to those who ask me why I bake so much, now you have the answer. I do it as a living memory, as prayer, as rebellion and because I can. God bless you all as you prepare for the Christ child.



Response to cookies

Apparently cookies are a beloved thing with people. Can't believe how many of you are ready to hear about my baking. This isn't a post about baking, although I plan to bake tomorrow. This is a post about saying goodbye to the holiday season. Today is the end of Christmas, the 12th day, Epiphany. I was so ready for the holidays this year, now I'm glad to see them go. I am feeling a great need to put my house in order, and while I can't do anything about the missing floors, baseboards and unusable first floor bath (which I miss more than words can tell); I can put the village and trees away. My nativities will need to wait, as they are in the very back corner, burried behind furniture and books relocated from elsewhere. Perhaps that's a good thing. Can't get enough of the baby, the incarnate God who came to show us the path to live on. God Bless, and the baking will commence soon. If you've read to the end, I make this offer -- anyone want to be a taste-tester?


Beginning 2016 Baking Challenge

After over 2 years I'm back, and I'm planning on baking a new kind of cookie each week. Now, we still have quite a few cookies from Christmas around the house, but cookies are always a good thing.

I'm doing this because I see so many new cookies I want to make for Christmas, and I can't make them all. Also, we will always have snacks I can pronouce everything in.

Stay tuned for updates!


Halfway done

I have made it to the middle point of the baking -- 100 dozen down, about 85 dozen left to go. This batch is for our Open House tomorrow night, as well as some gifts. Round two will constitute more gifts as well as being for our family use (isn't it nice, I'm going to let the family eat some of these cookies they've been smelling!). Enjoy the picts.


Ben's Favorite Molasses Cookies
Festive Holiday Layer Bars
Red Velvet Drops
Traditional Shortbread
Merry Mocha Mint Bars
Peanut Butter kisses (I use light and dark chocolate)
Almond Spritz

And finally...Everything baked already, ready to be eaten!

Pictures and Trees

Hi, no baking today (thank goodness) but instead we're decorating the house for Christmas. To say that we decorate is a bit of an understatement...we go nuts. We have 10 trees, maybe more if you count the 2 foot ones. We're decorating the TARDIS for the front upstairs window. As I said, nuts.

Pecan Sandies

Apple Pie

Pecan Pie (Sank a little, but I've never said pies were my thing.)

Happy Black Friday, or as it's known in our clan, Tree Decorating Day!

An Attitude of Gratitude

Many talk about being thankful on Thanksgiving, it's in the name after all; but I want to be grateful today. The modern definition of grateful is to have a feeling or show appreciation for a kindness; but the word used to mean to accept something with gratitude or to welcome it. I can be thankful for many things, and when I go to bed at night I list five. There are days where my thankfulnesses are as small as the wipers not being stuck to my windshield. Being grateful, welcoming something or accepting it with gratitude is a much harder thing.

This year has been a challenge to have this attitude. No one wants to hear their younger sister needs a pacemaker and that her heart is at least 50% older than she is. It is hard to welcome when the pacemaker is put it that it doesn't hook correctly, and that she will need the surgery over again. I didn't welcome the news that my Dad had a pulmonary embolism and that even with treatment there was still deep strain on his already weak heart and lungs. I resented the news that my joints had deteriorated so greatly they needed to be repaired or replaced -- all 6 of them; this on top of the loss of feeling and muscle control from the Lupus.

No, when the news from any of these things, and several more, came to my doorstep I did not step aside and welcome them in; but in the moment of my greatest need, I was never alone in accepting them. Yes, my sister and her husband were through so much this year, but they have each other, and the family around to support them. Even though I couldn't be with my sister when her heart was worked on, we became closer than we have been in decades. Regardless of what the world throws at us, I have her back and she has mine.

I am grateful for my father's illness and subsequent long hospitalization. Because of his dedicated team, he's in better condition now than he was been in 18 months. He was also able to qualify for services to make his life better which he wasn't quite ill enough to have before. I truly believe in silver linings.

As for me, I live everyday now in wonder. If I can get out of bed, God is good. If I can do things I want, God is good. If I can drive or bake or clean the house or do laundry, God is good. And even if none of those things happen, God is good. Submission has been the greatest gift of my life. I do not need to worry about tomorrow, God will. I am still responsible for doing the things I need to for my health; it's a partnership with my family, growing team of doctors and surgeons, and God to do the best for me; but what will come is not mine to worry over.

So today, I challenge you to be both Thankful and Grateful.

Peace and Cookies,

Day 12 -- Let's add some pies too!

I started my baking work at 9 today, frosting the sugar cookies for Thanksgiving dinner. We had planned to head to my hometown in NY, but the weather changed our minds. I bought a turkey and the fixings yesterday, and then the weather changed its mind. Now, we have at 21 lb. turkey thawing, a daughter's boyfriend who has never had a proper Thanksgiving dinner coming over, so we're still not headed north. Might be in hot water for this one, but we made the best decision for us at the time. On the docket for today: Apple Pie, Pecan Pie, Pecan Sandies, Spritz (which I keep putting off for some reason) and if there's time, Molasses cookies. Pictures to come later or tomorrow.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers, which I still think I could count on one hand.



Day 11

Hey all, back again, and this time with pictures. Another 5 dozen today,which brings my total to 50 dozen so far. I used to be happy when I reached 100 dozen, now I might be looking at over 250 dozen this holiday season???? I am crazy!!

Oatmeal Currant Bars
Oatmeal Currant Bars

Sugared Sugar Cookies (These are the Thanksgiving ones).

Snickerdoodles (all dressed up for the holiday season)

Oh, and the ONLY time of the year when the hill behind our house looks lovely:


Day 9 -- Meanwhile, back in the kitchen...

So, I've been gone for 6 days, but alas I have not given up the baking. I simply needed a short break from the computer. I had a few days where I was on my feet more than I should have been, and by the time we left church yesterday morning, I couldn't stand or walk without great discomfort. Yesterday I did nothing but watch sappy Hallmark channel holiday movies (the one with Cameron Mathison and Kellie Martin was really good. A woman who wants nothing more than to make cookies all the time is my kind of woman). Needless to say, I didn't bake yesterday. I'm doubling up today and tomorrow to catch up. I did however, bake on Thursday and Friday, which produced another 18 dozen sugar cookies in both Thanksgiving and Christmas motifs. Some of these were for the church Cookie Walk, and by the time we got there on Saturday morning (11 am) all of the cookies I'd taken were gone, which made me feel good.

Today I'm doing a dropped cookie and a bar one, Snickerdoodles and Currant Oatmeal Bars. I also make the Oatmeal ones with Date filling, which are wonderful too. I'll have pictures of all the cookies up later today.

Wondering if we're going to make it to Mom and Dad's for Thanksgiving or not. I don't mind driving in snow (hubby and I were born in the snowbelt and learned to drive in it) but I do not do ice. If they forecast sleet or freezing rain (which is a possibility) then we will remain nice and warm and safe at home, and I can bake even more!!!!!!

See you later today,

Day 3

Hi again. No baking today as my schedule has been screwy; but that doesn't mean that nothing has happened in the kitchen. I've been working on my baking shopping list. This year I will need:

10# Butter
45-50# Flour
15-20# Regular sugar
6 dozen eggs

light and dark corn syrup
dark brown, light brown, confectioners and demarra sugar
pecans, almonds, peanuts and walnuts
mini, light, dark and butterscotch chips
unsweetened chocolate squares
andes mints
hershey kisses
chocolate melting wafers
unflavored gelatin
twelve different spices, most of them freshly roasted and ground for that particular cookie

and lets not forget the twenty-two tubs of colored sugars, sprinkles and edible decorations of all sizes for making things festive!

Have more pictures and such tomorrow. If you want a recipie, just message me. I'm willing to share!

Oh, and for anyone interested, I had another 2100+ word day, getting me closer to being on time to finish the National Novel Writing Month. A few more days like this and I won't just be on pace, I might even pull ahead.

Peace and Cookies,