Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Savor the Season

It's the week of Christmas! The tree is decorated, the groceries are bought, and the presents are wrapped. How are things at your house? Is the tea kettle on? Do you have a moment to sit and savor the season with a nice hot cup of Candy Cane Lane tea? 

I'm sitting down with a hot cup of tea to watch The Sound of Music movie on television. After all these years, it still takes first place as my favorite movie. Take a few moments to enjoy each element of the season!

Friday, December 20, 2013

There's More to Christmas

There’s More to Christmas…

There’s more, much more to Christmas
Than just candle-lights and cheer;

it’s the spirit of sweet friendship
that brightens all the years;

It is thoughtfulness and kindness,
It is hope that is reborn again,

For peace, for understanding
And for goodwill to humans.

Author unknown

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Opening Shut-up Hearts Freely

I have always thought of Christmas time as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.

Charles Dickens

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Child Again at Christmas

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. 

~Laura Ingalls Wilder ~

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mother's Steamed Christmas Pudding

During my teen years, mother decided that she wanted to start a Christmas tradition that was unique to her heritage. After much time spent going through food magazines and cookbooks, she used her skills in recipe adaptation to create a recipe for steamed Christmas pudding that the entire family could eat. Dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free; it met everyone's dietary needs. Not only that, but it was delicious! As grandchildren joined her family they enjoyed helping her make the pudding and prepare it on the stovetop, as it was steamed instead of baked. At serving time, sugar cubes were soaked in almond extract and brought to the dinner table in high flame. The children loved watching the flames slowly die as the extract was burned off. And how fun it was to eat something that had been presented with so much charm! Here is mother's recipe for you to enjoy as well.

Steamed Christmas Pudding

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup amaranth flour*
1/4 cup sweet rice flour*
1/4 cup garbanzo flour*
1/4 cup tapioca starch*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup grated raw carrots
1 cup grated raw potatoes
1/4 cup raw grated apple
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts, walnuts
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1/2 tsp. black walnut extract

Mix all ingredients together until moist. Place mixture in a prepared Pyrex bowl and cover with foil until secured. Put in a kettle of gently boiling water and cover with lid. Water should be 3/4 of the way up the side of the bowl. Steam for four hours, adding more water as necessary. Additional steaming is okay, but will result in an even darker pudding.

Serve with apple gravy (thickened apple juice concentrate with cinnamon added). To flame: soak sugar or sugar cubes in pure almond extract. Working quickly, place on top of pudding and light with a match. Take to table while flaming for a beautiful presentation.

*All-purpose flour may be substituted for the gluten-free flours given.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread boys and girls are a traditional Christmas 
cookie and bring much delight to those who eat them. 
Can you remember biting of a foot, arm, or the head 
first, and then laughing as you share in the experience 
with someone you love? What shall be the second bite? 
Today I'm sharing a gingerbread cookie recipe for those 
who are gluten-free. I don't want them to miss out on 
the experience! 

Gingerbread Cookies

2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups arrowroot, plus extra for rolling out cookies
1 1/2 cups amaranth flour
2 Tbsp (6 tsp) baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups Sucanat
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup safflower oil
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tbsp (6 tsp) vanilla
oil, for oiling cookie sheets


dried currants
dried cranberries
sunflower seeds
Decorator's Frosting

1. In a small bowl, stir together the brown rice flour, arrowroot, amaranth
flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and
cloves, and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, place the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Add
the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover
the bowl, place it in the refrigerator, and chill the dough for 1 hour or
more. Using a little safflower oil, lightly oil (or mist with oil) two
non-stick cookie sheets and set aside.

3. Sprinkle a little arrowroot over a work surface. Divide the chilled dough
into quarters, work with only one quarter of the dough at a time, and keep
the remaining dough covered and chilled until needed. Working in batches,
roll out the quarter of dough to 1/4" (6 mm) thickness, and cut into desired
shapes with cookie cutters.

4. Carefully transfer the cut cookies to the prepared cookie sheet. Bake them at
350 F (175 C) for 6 minutes (the cookies will feel slightly soft to the
touch). Allow them to cool on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes before
transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat the rolling and
cutting-out procedure for the remaining cookie dough. Store the cookies in an
airtight container.

To make Gingerbread People:

1. Cut the dough using a person-shaped cookie cutter. Carefully transfer the cut
cookies to the prepared cookie sheets.

2. To decorate them: use two dried currants for eyes, pressing them slightly
into the dough; squeeze one dried cranberry with your fingers to form it into
a mouth, pressing it slightly into the dough; and then use 8 sunflower seeds
to make the outline of a vest, or 10 sunflower seeds to make the outline of a
dress, pressing them slightly into the dough.

3. Bake as directed above.

TIP: The dried currants, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds can also be used
to decorate other cut shapes of cookies.

To make Glazed Gingerbread Cookies:

1. Cut cookies as desired and bake as directed above.

2. Prepare the Decorator's Frosting and use it to decorate the completely cooled
cookies, as desired.

3. Allow the frosting to set completely before transferring the cookies to an
airtight container.

Yield: 3 - 4 Dozen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Christmas Tea Poem

Christmas Tea Poem 

On Christmas Day, at half past three, 
brew yourself a cup of tea. 
I'll think of you and you'll think of me,  
While sitting around your Christmas Tree. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Snow on the Mountain


A time to wait
for spring
and all things new.

Pure and