Nosh

Peppernuts…spicy little morsels of my childhood!

40254BEA-FA8F-4C1D-AE1F-D4A41EAAF483

Peppernuts or Pfeffernusse are coin-sized cookies that pack a lot of punch.  Spicy notes of cinnamon, anise and black pepper hit your taste buds with a ton of flavour.  The smell of these little treats alone bring me back to christmases of my childhood.  My grandma made them every year at Christmas…the time she spent in her kitchen had to have been unreal!  They are crunchy and sweet and delicious.

DFA6FBE2-3C7C-4DD4-99BB-14767832FD91

The recipe for these German-mennonite cookies is easy to follow.  Although a bit tedious they are fun to make and share.  Fill up mason jars, coffee mugs or dessert tins and pass them around this Christmas.  I love them with a steaming mug of black coffee or tea.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground star anise
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp canilla
  • 8 cups + flour
  • In your mixer or with an electric beater, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the syrup and spices along with the vanilla.  Add in the flour and baking soda gradually until a soft dough is formed (much like a sugar cookie dough).
  • Roll into ropes (the thickness is up to you, I rolled mine 3/4-1 inch thick). Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.
  • Slice into thin coins while still frozen and bake on parchment lined baking sheets at 350* until golden and crisp.  Let cool (they’ll crisp even more) and store in airtight containers.  (This recipe makes 6-7 pan full, I’ve halved it many times as well when I’m not as energetic for a full batch!!)
Advertisements
Mom-ing

What is Christmas?

F048068B-3438-4C2B-BB69-4230AD63AFDD

What is Christmas to you? Is it the hustle and bustle? Is it finding that perfect gift and wrapping it up for under your tree? Is it church and candles and the blessings of God? Is it family and food and gatherings after gatherings? Is it cringing and wishing it was January? Is it loneliness and heartache? Is it cinnamon and pine? Shopping lists and concerts?  Is it snowflakes and hot chocolate? Children laughing and counting down till Santa? Is it just another day?

Here’s the thing…This year has given me a rude awakening.  I’ve been thrust into a realm of self-analysis.  I have been left questioning myself, my worth, my life and my why in ways I haven’t had to in a long time.  I cracked, I broke, I cried, I lost some faith, I healed, I grew, I learned, I studied, I laughed, I loved and I changed.  With all that change and growth came a new sort of Christmas for me.

This year I’ve really tried to make the moments matter.  The day to day events as well as the bigger occasions have brought forth new meaning.  We truly are here for such a short amount of time and every second is important.  I want to breathe in every last drop of E and his childhood.  He grows so fast.  Time is always a bit of a villain.  I don’t want to waste anything where he is concerned.  I want him to grow up with so much love he pukes on it!  Memories Matter!  They matter so much.  I reflect on happy times a lot more these days (perhaps that’s the meds talking but either way I do!) and cherish my own childhood memories even more.

This holiday season, in a world of so much chaos, I especially wanted to put more effort into spreading cheer and kindness and love and less effort on ‘the perfect holiday’ and the commercialism of Christmas.  Within this effort I’ve let my house get messy.  I’ve danced in the kitchen to jingle bells a million times a day with E.  We’ve covered our windows with home-made santas, angels, reindeer and snowflakes.  We’ve made snowmen, foraged for greenery, sipped on cider and hot chocolate, made dozens of cookies, visited with friends and loved ones and created crazy chaotic memories.  I wanted to spend more time and less money! In an effort to do this I created a tradition I hope to carry forward for many years…Cousin Christmas!

Right now I have 6 nieces and nephews…they range in ages and interests alike…I wanted to have a day with each of them individually to do some sort of Christmas activity so that they’d get to spend more time with E and to give them a bit of a treat. (Little did I know that I would in fact be given the best gift.). We made an array of projects…bath bombs, grinch cookies, birdseed ornaments, Christmas tree sugar cookies decorated with Christmas light sprinkles, tractor track wrapping paper, and apple cinnamon garlands.  (The youngest of said cousins will hopefully get to partake in these memories next year once he’s a bit older plus I’ll have a brand new niece or nephew to spoil next year too!!!). E loved these days…having kids over to play with him is always a highlight and he really likes project days! Perhaps the kids got a wee bit spoiled…more sugary treats than normal and less rules than usual…(shh don’t tell) but I hope more than anything they had as much fun as we did.  These days were action packed and filled to the brim with a lot of excitement and some chaos.  I’m not gonna lie, they definitely tired me out! But they also gave me a serious dose of reality.  Of learning what Christmas in fact means to me.  It’s the moments.  It’s being IN THE MOMENTS.  It’s taking time for each other.  It’s letting some of that OCD slide and falling into childhood again. It’s family. It’s kids and creations.  It’s anticipation. And it’s Love.

I’m encouraging you all to find YOUR meaning of christmas.  Get inspired by random acts of friendship and love.  Take time for each other.  Don’t waste what little moments we have here and now worrying about perfection.  Be Christmas.  Be Love. And be what you can when you can.  Giving memories and giving of yourself is so much more than anything that you can buy and wrap in sparkling paper with ribbons and bows. Once again it has hit me that simple really is the best.

Nosh

Ginger Cookies with a Split Twist

I’ve waited patiently for the beginning of December to let myself truly explode Christmas!! (Ok that’s a lie, I haven’t waited patiently…I haven’t even exactly waited as we’ve already done some Christmas activities including decorating the tree…oops!)  I just honestly can’t hold in the excitement! This time of year makes me feel closest to the magic of childhood!  If unlike me you are just letting yourself get into the spirit I hope to give you some easy inspiration to take your traditions to the next level this Christmas or inspire you to bring in some new traditions!

F35084B0-4182-45F8-A8F6-37392F6409D8

In this post I’m showing you how to elevate an already favourite ginger cookie recipe (or use mine) into something super decadent and fun.  This is an easy decorating technique that your kids or grandkids (or nieces or nephews or even the neighbor’s kid) can get involved in easily as well.  Share the gift of baking with your loved ones!

Ginger Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Cream the butter and sugar then add the molasses, spices and vanilla.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  • Drop by scoopful on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375* for 10-12 mins (rotate your pans if you are baking them together on convection.)

For the decorating:

  • Melt 3/4 cup white chocolate discs over a double boiler.
  • Dip each cooled cookie into the melted chocolate to cover half and then lay on waxed paper.
  • Sprinkle with your favourite decorations!  We used gingerbread man sprinkles and Christmas coloured little ball sprinkles.
  • Let cool to set the chocolate then share!
Nosh

Caramel Corn Craziness

3063F50E-FB0D-43FF-BB88-ED03A52D7EFA

I’m a theme fanatic and I live for traditions. Halloween is one of my favourite holidays for getting full-on themed and I love that it’s all for the kids!

On E’s first halloween I dressed him up like a bucket of popcorn and hubby and I sported fancy bow-ties as the concession workers.  Of course we had to make caramel corn for our treats to give out on halloween night.  And we made oodles and oodles of caramel corn… (three batches to be precise)…caramel corn craziness!

 

 

I had a deep craving and perhaps a bit of nostalgia so I whipped up a batch today so we can munch on it and share on halloween (if there’s any left!!)

Here’s the recipe so you can partake in the feasting too!

  • 16 cups popped corn
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • sprinkling of salt (optional for that salted caramel hit!)
  • Pop your popcorn and lay it out on parchment paper on cookie sheets (I use 3)
  • In a large sauce pan bring the butter, syrup and sugar to a boil and let bubble for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Take the caramel off the heat and add vanilla. (Be careful as it may splatter)
  • Divide the caramel over the pans of popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as best as you can.  Put the sheet pans of caramel corn into a 250 degree oven and every 15 mins for 1 hour remove the pans and stir to coat the popcorn.
  • Once baked for 1 hr sprinkle with salt and let the popcorn cool.  I like to go through it and remove any of the kernels that didn’t pop.  Store in air tight containers or bags.
  • You can also add nuts to the popped corn before coating with the caramel sauce or finish with sprinkles for a fancy flair!
Create

Fall Foliage…

BA2233F1-9003-44D9-A647-D74190046793

Here’s some rainy day fun to do with your littles this fall.  It’s an easy craft that lets them explore texture and color (and make a bit of a mess too!).  I find that E and I are constantly talking about the scenery whenever we’re in the truck together and as the seasons change we are both captivated by the beauty of nature and all the colours in our valley.  Next time you’re out and about stop and take in the fall display (I know that far too soon it’s going to be covered in white!) and then gather up some on-hand supplies to make your own snapshot art of the season!

All you need is some paint, paper, markers and then whatever interesting forms of texture you can come up with.  We used q-tips bundled up with an elastic, corks, and bunched up tin-foil.  Let your little draw a tree trunk with marker and then dip your “paintbrushes” in an array of fall coloured paint to create the leaves! So easy and so fun to see the colours mix and the textures blend.  E has his artwork tagged to go to his Noma  & Bubba and Grandma & Grandpa Stew (and I’m hoping one for me too!!).  I can see this being a fun project to complete in every season!  I’ve always had an adoration for the simplicity of a lone tree and love my little’s spin on it!