Monday, October 26, 2009

Bachelor Button Cookies ... and the evolution of the Rice Krispy Oatmeal Cookie revealed!

I know, I know. I should really hold off on this one and post it more toward Christmas (or at least after Thanksgiving), but I just couldn't help myself. As long as I'm on the topic of cookies, I have to say: The "Bachelor Button" cookie recipe has been found! I don't know where this original recipe came from ... and the handwriting is not my mother's. I have a feeling it may have been given to my mom by one of her friends (I'm remembering one, particular friend who was a fabulous cookie baker). At any rate, this cookie recipe is one that my mom submitted whenever there was a call for recipes. I recall seeing it with her name on it in one of those spiral-bound collections that are put together for fundraisers. Personally, I never, ever remember tasting it. The recipe calls for maraschino-cherry halves to be put on top before baking. I'll have to bake up a batch just to test it out (leaving off the cherries, of course). I think you can read this one fairly well, despite its age, and the vanilla- extract and coffee-ring stains. As you see, there are no Rice Krispies or oatmeal appearing in these; however, later on, my mother would add a red and green candied cherry half to the non-coconut Rice Krispy Oatmeal cookies and call them Christmas Wreaths. I must tell you that we, as children, hated the addition of the candied cherry. It's sort of like getting that dreaded pickle on your Chick-fil-A. Even after you remove it, the bun is soggy and pickle tainted. Same thing here with the cookie. Take off the candied cherry and you get a soft, cherry-tainted spot underneath. Ick. They do look festive, though, I'll give them that.

NOW, Just to make things a little more confusing, there is an actual "Christmas Wreath" cookie recipe (below) that looks suspiciously similar to the recipe found on the Rice Krispies website (the one that does have coconut in it), only this one calls for finely cut candied cherries added to the dough before baking. I don't remember eating these at all. However, the recipe looks very worn (just take a look at all those vanilla-extract spots), so it must have been used quite often! (Maybe the cookies were given away?)

My sister and I decided that my mother must have changed the original recipe to omit the coconut because my father insists that he hates coconut... and we hated candied cherries, so she omitted that, as well ... thus, THE Rice Krispy Oatmeal cookie was born!
Now you have several variations you can try ... with or without coconut and with or without cherries!
Note: I must add that if there's only a coconut-cream pie available for dessert, my Dad has been known to eat it and even, perhaps, ask for seconds. He doesn't like butterscotch, either, but if you should call it "caramel," instead, he'll dig right in.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tastes of Fall ...

Maybe it's because the house is finally clean ... or maybe it's the chilly air with that pungent aroma of freshly-turned earth ... or maybe it's because the leaves have gone from green to red and gold and now come floating down from tree branches like soft, colorful snowflakes, each one beautifully unique ... or maybe it's all these things mixed together that make me remember Fall from my childhood.
When we'd get home from school and open the door, the house would be warm and smell of cinnamon and molasses ... ginger and cloves. It was the best smell! And waiting for us would be plates of the best cookies I've ever tasted. My mom's favorites to bake were Rice Krispy Oatmeal Cookies and Molasses Cookies. While sorting through my mother's recipe envelope, I came across her original Rice Krispy Oatmeal cookie recipe! As you can see, it's well worn! With lots of grease stains and bits of flour still clinging to it! I don't know the original source. Maybe it was on the back of a Rice Krispy box years ago? I found this website that has a recipe, Copyright 2006 by Kellogg NA Co., which is similar, but not exact. My mother never put coconut in them! I must also note that using butter in this recipe is not as good as using margarine. I don't know why. Most cookies taste much better with butter, but for some reason, this one will get too hard and not be as tasty at all. Try margarine, instead. I would think that butter-flavored Crisco might work, as well.

I also found this, her original Brer Rabbit Molasses Cookie recipe taken from the label that was around the bottle. It's seen better days! It obviously got too close to the stove one day and actually has burnt parts! Somebody had the presence of mind to put out the flames and rescue it!
These are fabulous. They get wonderful crinkles in them and the dough is one of the richest I've ever tasted (and believe me, I've consumed LOTS of cookie dough in my day)! Do you know they still make Brer Rabbit Molasses? It's produced by B&G Foods, Inc. and they have lots of great recipes posted on their website. To go there now, Click here

The other recipe my mom would bake for dessert was Apple Crisp. This recipe is in my sister's handwriting. She must have written the ingredients down so we wouldn't forget them. I always felt like maybe my mom made it from memory. I really don't know where she got the recipe in the first place. Maybe Quaker Oats had it on their canister? Here's the link to the Quaker Oats website and they do have several Crisp recipes. Wherever this recipe came from, I can remember my mom sitting at the kitchen table peeling apples, with a newspaper spread out to catch the peelings. I loved to pick up the apple cores and glean the rest of the apple off! This tastes really good when it's still warm, with ice cream melting on top, but I have definitely eaten it cold and it's still wonderful.

Since the time and temperature to bake is on the reverse of this card, I'll add it here: "375 degrees for 30 minutes or until apples are tender."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Workroom" actually has room to work!

Anybody who knows me, knows I'm not a very good housekeeper. It's not that I don't want to be a very good housekeeper, it's just that I have so many projects I'm working on, as well as finishing these last years of homeschooling our youngest (who happens to be celebrating his 16th birthday TODAY!!!) ... along with trying to make sure my elderly parents are doing okay ... which leaves me little time and even less energy to tackle the usual household chores that other people seem to do without a thought.
However, after starting my new routine of walking and swimming, I've gotten a burst of energy that doesn't seem to fade! It's fantastic! While this last week was exam week for my son (yes, can you believe it? It's the end of first quarter already), I was able to get to each room, one by one, and really clean it. The house feels so good now. I'm giddy with excitement! Really, I am! Even after a long, bad, tiring day, I know that when I open up that front door, it's going to be clean in there! And smell like spiced cider and pumpkin candles!!! (Because they have a great fragrance, even if you don't light them!)
Yesterday, I was able to clean the worst room of all! My little workroom. I can't call it a studio ... or even a junior studio, you see, as it's a very small room. It's just an extra bedroom that used to have a double bed in it for guests. I suppose the guests (when we have any) will have to make do with an airbed on the living-room floor or they can stretch out on a family-room couch, perhaps. Oh well, I'll worry about that later! (We don't get many guests, so it really shouldn't pose a problem.)
Now, before you look at the following photographs, you have to bring your expectations down a great deal. I don't have built-ins. I don't have lovely spool holders for all my threads and floss. In fact, it may not look like much to you, nor will you think it's even that tidy (it's still in progress, mind you!), but for me, it's like a little slice of heaven.
I first bought about six rubbermaid-type storage bins and sealed all my stuffing (both the polyester and the kapok), wool roving, and bits and pieces of cookie cutters, felting needles, etc., into these. I then invested in some GIANT (and I mean GIANT) zip-lock bags and stuffed all my non-wool yarn into these. (Why, oh why do I have so many skeins and balls of polyester-blend yarn???) I piled all the bins and bags into the closet and still was able to shut the doors! Okay, it's not perfect. I mean, I will have to drag these bins out every time I need something, but at least everything is in a bin!
I bought wire, stackable crates from Target, which are great for yarn ... and moved the big teacher's desk, some bookcases and the glass-top patio table (that had been at my parents' house), as well as an armchair into this room. It's a lot of furniture for the space, but I need it!

Here's a glimpse of the glass-top table. It's perfect for projects! Now I won't have to mess up the dining-room table anymore! Notice the doll house in the background. I always loved it more than my daughters ever did so now it has a permanent location in here. It's great for inspiration.

Here's a better view of some of the crates. I'm still sorting yarns ... but at least I know all of these are wool, so I won't ruin my felting projects. (Been there, done that and it's not fun.) Note my large gingerbread man. I've had him since kindergarten! He's one of the few stuffed toys that survived all the many moves with me during my childhood.

Here's the teacher's desk we bought at a school auction years ago. It's got plenty of room in the drawers for more things! I love having the old computer in here. Even though it's painfully slow, I can still type away in relative quiet.
I've put some of the old children's books I'm collecting here, as well as my gumball machine. Yes, I have consumed nearly all 10 pounds of gumballs before I even had a chance to put them into the machine!!! Must order more! I only have white ones left (and a few green). Ugh.
This is the Raggedy Ann door stop my sister gave me when I was 11 years old. She's the official greeter. The white board and the bulletin board beside her I hung last evening. They'll be my project-idea boards.
Here's my comfy chair! Perfect for knitting on a rainy afternoon! The plastic drawers in front of the closet have wheels, so I can move them out of the way. Right now, the mermaids are on top, waiting for me to finish them.

So there it is. My workroom in a nutshell!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jolly Gumdrop Dolls: New Christmas 2009 Pattern Preview

Here's a preview of some of the new patterns I'm designing for Christmas 2009. This is the first in my Jolly Gumdrop Doll collection. She's fresh out of the washer, has been stuffed and is drying. She'll have "candy" hair and a tiny "candy" face ... she'll be joined by her Jolly Gumdrop brother, their snowman and, of course, Santa, himself! Stay tuned ...