Saturday, December 18, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

I must confess, I have for a few years now yearned for a more eco friendly lifestyle.  I was prompted by a wonderful book I read titled "Serve God, Save the Planet".  I will not try to make excuses about why I am so stinking slow in making progress in this area I will simply try, one small step at a time to do better.

My first step.....finally I am recycling, I know that is pathetic.  We have never had curbside pickup, oops that was an excuse, but now our town does have a dropoff site not far from me.  I have been reducing for a while but that's relative I know.  Reusing I'm pretty good at as long as I'm not expected to wash ziploc bags, that I will not do, sorry.

My quest for a Green Christmas starts with this.....our tree.  After searching very long and hard I finally found a potted tree worthy enough of my decorations.  Okay honestly it is terrible, my poor kids and hubby are NOT happy with the tree.  However, my plan is to keep it on the patio all year and groom it, then bring it in each year.  Eventually it will be glorious.  Her name is Bertha, named by Jackson, and I am hoping she becomes a shining star on our quest towards being "green" Greens.
My favorite ornament.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Louisiana Snowmen Sugar Cookies

Corbin celebrated Christmas with his class Wednesday and these were our contribution.   I saw a picture of these on and had to recreate.  We have actually had a little snow in Louisiana a couple of times in the last few years but when we do it is quickly melted.  This recipe is perfect for those of us that don't like to spend hours decorating cookies, the imperfection of the snowmen is what makes them so perfect.

Louisiana Snowmen
1 1/2 cups softened butter
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs, try to allow them to come to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix flour, baking powder, and salt then add to creamed mixture.  That is the easy part but to get perfect cookies follow the rest of the instructions carefully.  

30 large marshmallows

I do not chill my dough ball.  Very liberally flour your work surface, I use a big marble slab.  Place half of your dough on the counter and cover with flour.  Press out a square until it is 2 inches thick.  Flour your rolling pin well and begin rolling.  Try to keep your shape somewhat uniform.  Roll until they are 1/4 inch thick.  I use a 3" diameter round cookie cutter but use whatever you like.  Cut and use an offset icing spreader to very carefully move to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Place leftover dough to the side to be rolled again.  Continue with other half of dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, I put them in overnight.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Bake aprox. 12 minutes, be sure to use a timer, overcooking is death to a cookie.   When cookie is done place a large marshmallow a little off center and place back into the oven for about a minute or until the marshmallow starts to barely puff.  Take it out and use your fingers to lightly press down just a little.  Ice these while they are still warm.

Sugar Cookie Icing
I like this recipe b/c it is so easy to adjust the consistency
4 cups confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
Food coloring
Mix everything together except food coloring.  Drizzle white icing over entire cookie using a spreader to move it around if necessary.  Allow to harden, will probably take 30 minutes to an hour.  Next add a little powdered sugar to icing to make a bit thicker and color a little with red and little with black.  Use a ziploc or piping bag with a little hole snipped to pipe on the red scarf and black face and buttons.  Allow to dry before packaging.  

*Advice for baking perfect sugar cookies*
You do not want brown edges or a brown bottom.  If you look at the top of the cookie it should not be shiny, like raw dough, just a matte finish.  I know that sounds crazy but trust me on this.  Let them cool completely on the pan, never move your cookies to a cooling rack.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We are what we create.

I heard a statement recently that really struck me as truth...."you are what you create".   I began to think of how it applies.  Years ago I would not have considered myself a very creative person but even then I was creating.  I was creating meals, a home for my family, friendships, etc..... we all create.  I couldn't help but to think of the people, at times myself included, that create chaos, drama, stress and determined that I do NOT want to be that kind of creator.  I have so many creative intrests that I want to pursue and have to a small extent but more than anything I want to create a peaceful home that my family can retreat to.  I want to cultivate a loving spirit that my husband never dreads spending time with.  I want to create a countenance that my friends are drawn to.  Even more than those I want to allow the creator of the universe to create in me a clean heart that comes from knowing and living for Him.

A few things I have created.

Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake

Shrimp and Grits, I'll try to post this recipe soon.

My daughter in laws lingerie shower.

A healthy summer dinner for me and my love.
Okay I didn't create this alone but I am soooo thankful for a loving, fulfilling relationship!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kombucha Tea

As some of you know, although I love good food and often post not so healthy recipes, my family puts effort into our health.  Matter of fact I am a few weeks away from opening my own little "health" store.  A quaint little place filled with herbs, vitamins, natural bath products, and all the information you care to hear from me.  One of the things I use to promote good health is making and teaching others to make Kombucha Tea.  This is a crazy tea made from a bacterial mushroom thingy, don't worry it's the good bacteria.  Loaded with probiotics, enzymes, and other good stuff.  Google it and you will find a wealth of info out there.  It tastes like nothing I have ever had before, I guess it would be closest to a light sparkling wine.  Don't worry it has less than 1% alchohol, you would have to drink a gallon to be affected very much.

All your neccessary ingredients.

First you need a "scoby".  Don't go and buy one like I did for $20 puleeze.  Simply buy a bottle of mass produced Kombucha pour it into 2 or 3 mason jars, cover with a coffee filter and put just the ring around.  It needs air.  Let it sit in a dark closet for a week or so and you should see a film forming on top.  You now have a "scoby".  Yummm, haha.  Not really I know it sounds gross.

The grape juice I love to add.

Get a gallon glass container, a pickle jar would work or you can look at the pics for what I use which I bought at Walmart.  Make a gallon of sweet tea, I use one cup sugar and 10 tea bags.  It is a good idea when you are making such a healthy product to use organics.  Pour your tea into your glass container and add your "scoby".  Your tea should not be hot just room temp.  Cover with a paper towel and rubber band. Sit in a dark closet for a week.  Your scoby will reproduce during this time, share it with a friend or google some ideas of how to use it.  I have read you can feed it to animals.

My finished product.

Next you need some jars, I use bottles that I have saved from other products just make sure they are really clean.  Use a funnel and plastic ladel and fill your bottles, leave a little room and you can add flavorings.  The tea tastes great with nothing added but you can be creative.  I personally like to add organic grape juice.  Just a little for flavor.  Put the lid on your bottle and put back into the closet for 3 more days, this will cause it to get fizzy, be careful not to leave it too long or it will get REAL fizzy.  Place it in the fridge and enjoy for up to a year.  Mine doesn't last long so I usually have a batch going.

Another thing I love about Kombucha is that it curbs your appetite so if you are trying to lose weight it's a great support item.