Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Wishes

What is Christmas all about?  Little Linus tells it best.

From my heart, God bless you all.  I thank all of you readers for sharing my life by reading this simple blog.

We had another full house today, and everyone is comatose.  I will leave you with a short prayer: "Peace Be on Earth and Among All Things."  Please say it often -- the world needs it.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas is Coming

The first week of December I went to Family Dollar and bought everything I needed for Christmas baking.  I baked and baked and baked.  Ed helped me; he loves sampling! (Lara preferred to listen to the cooks on tv instead.)

Czech checkerboard cookie dough

Drop butter-butterscotch chip cookies

Ed helping out
 There is Nutella fudge and cheesecake (I used crushed gingersnap cookies instead of graham crackers for the crust); double chocolate chip cookies; plain and raisin/craisin oatmeal cookies; drop butter cookies with butterscotch chips; orange, almond, lemon, and chocolate shortbread; raspberry/black currant, apricot, and cream cheese kolackys (see my kolacky recipe on the right hand side of this blog); gingerbread; Czech checkerboard cookies; and a plate of Alton Brown's truffle recipe.  The freezer was duly stuffed. Yum.

Wouldn't you know it, when I got home from taking my ham radio exam I went to the freezer to get me a piece of shortbread to celebrate my passing the exam with and found every last piece of shortbread in that freezer gone! And the empty bags were left in the freezer with their crumbs.  I couldn't believe it! The gnome who lives in the chicken coop must have gotten hungry and sneaked into the house while I was gone . . . . The oatmeal cookies and kolackys are about done for, too. 

Good thing dark pfeffernuesse takes a week to make. (I use the recipe in the Meta Givens Cooking Encyclopedia -- best cookbooks EVER!)  I finished it on Sunday afternoon and dutifully put it in the freezer.  And I always leave the Christmas morning cinnamon sticky buns till last to bake.

Here's a picture of the gingerbread house I built this year with Ed.  The store manager at Family Dollar where I bought the candies for decorating the house wants a picture of it to send to corporate.

As I am in "food mode", I decided to try making some preserved lemons from the wonderful Nourished Kitchen web site.  I found a neat old Atlas canning jar and was able to put 8 pounds of lemons in it.  I can't wait to try them.  The kitchen smelled so good while I was tamping them down in the jar.

Preparing lemons to preserve in salt

Fermenting lemons in antique Atlas canning jar
Our family has always been big on gathering around the table for occasions of all kinds.  Food is a great medium for communing with people.  One of the things I've noticed this year is that most of the gifts I bought for people this year was food of some kind.  Maybe subconsciously I'm equating food with comfort.  There are so many people all over the world who desperately need comfort in these awful times.  As you take care of your family this Christmas season, please also remember others less fortunate than you both in your words and in your deeds.  


Finally, the computer is not acting so badly and I can actually get a blog post up!  The Internet has been horrible lately.

Ta Da! To paraphrase Professor Higgins in the movie My Fair Lady, "I did it. I did it. I knew that I could do it, and, indeed, I did!"  I am now W9SCF/AG. (At least until I show up in the government database.)  Yep.  I drove down to Wisconsin Rapids during a short break in the snowy weather this past Saturday, and I passed the upgrade exam to obtain my General class ham license.  I was ecstatic!  There were three guys beside me taking tests.  I also took the Amateur Extra exam and although I did not pass it, I did get 22 questions correct, and the examiner told me that I know more than I think I do.  All of the examiners gave me some tips for studying for the Amateur Extra exam.  I was feeling great!  I didn't even mind the 3 1/2 hour horrible drive home (the snow had started up again and the roads were re-freezing).  

When I got home I tore the house apart looking for my Gordon West Extra class book to start studying again.  I'm currently reading the Emergency Power for Radio Communications book to figure out what off grid power system I want to build and how long it's going to take me to squirrel away the money for it.  When I finish reading that, I'm going to try taking some of the free FEMA courses, too.  Those should take about 3-4 hours each to finish, so I think if I dedicate one full week to those classes I should complete them all.  It would be nice to get into some sort of public service. 

With all the snowing and blowing and absolutely frigid temperatures, it is nice to sit inside and dream.