Thursday, December 22, 2011

a time to be thankful

as this holiday season winds down, i wanted to take a moment to talk about how thankful i am for all of the wonderful parts of my life that help me to wake up with a smile in the morning.  i am writing to remind everyone that while there are undoubtedly frustrating parts of the holidays, whether it be the family member you have to see that you don't get along with, or maybe it's the gift you wanted but didn't receive, or perhaps it's the 2011 new years resolution that was never accomplished, whatever it may be, this is not the time to focus on what we have lost, but instead a time to focus on all the things that enrich our lives.  the next time you are faced with a challenge this holiday season, i invite you to think of just one thing or one person you feel fortunate for in your life.  then i want you to think about someone out there that has gone through a recent loss and will have a void in their holidays this season.  be thankful for what you have and try to make the best of every situation. 

perhaps instead of going out to eat one night, you can help out a recent widow who is struggling to pay their bills and donate to the Liz Logelin Foundation.  or maybe you are an animal lover like me, and then i advise you to donate to your local animal shelter.  even if you buy a bag of dog food to donate, it's the small steps that make the big difference.  almost all animal shelters have a list of items they need year round.  there are many families that cannot afford dinner and will have empty plates this holiday season, so please think of places like the Los Angeles Mission, where just $38.57 can help to feed 19 people.

if you don't have money to donate this year, then volunteer your time if you can.  i have had many rewarding experiences through volunteer work.  i also want to mention that i received a gift last year that a donation had been made in my name to an animal shelter, which truly touched me, and for all of you last minute shoppers out there, this is a wonderful gift idea.

happy holidays everyone :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

the great food blogger cookie swap !

so i decided to participate in the great food blogger cookie swap this year, which i found out about through the lovely blog love and olive oil.  i've been following this blog for quite some time now and when lindsay posted about a cookie swap, i had some hesitations because i know how busy december can be, but after talking with my friend jessi, i decided to participate with her help.  we both love baking so it seemed like a natural fit to do this together.  after looking around for cookie inspiration, we ultimately decided to stick with what we know, or rather what jessi knows, and made her grandmother's buttermilk lady locks.  jessi just learned how to make these not too long ago and she said they were a lot of work, but i figured she was exaggerating and we would be finished in a couple hours.  this is not true, these cookies are A LOT of work and we spent the bulk of our friday making them, but it's work well worth it for the final product.  i should also note we took a two hour break that friday to eat indian for lunch & decorate our shipping boxes.  so here is the recipe:


2 cups flour + more for rolling out dough
1/2 lb soft margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream

-In medium bowl cut margarine into flour and salt mixture.  In large bowl mix buttermilk and sour cream together.  add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture.  refrigerate overnight or for at least three hours.  divide dough into 3 parts.  roll 1 part at a time into a rectangle and cut down the middle horizontally, lengthwise, across rectangle.  cut strips 1 inch wide.  wrap strips around foil covered clothespins, overlapping slightly

-bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins or until light brown.  remove pins right way and cool before filling.  dust with powdered sugar.  

Icing Filling:
1 cup milk
2 tbs corn starch
-mix in pot and cook until thick.  remove from heat and allow to cool

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup crisco
-cream together with beater

pour cold paste into creamed mixture and beat together for a long time.

*this recipe is exactly as grandma told jessi via the phone, so yes it is a bit short and lacking the modern detail of other recipes, but that's what makes it great.  as we were making the cookies, jessi actually said she wasn't sure she was doing any of the steps right, she was just doing what she thought was right, as her grandma did not actually show her how to make them
so here are some things we noted to try for next time or to keep in mind for next time:
-we think we would use butter instead of margarine next time.  my aunt makes a delicious frosting very similar to the filling for the lady locks and she uses butter, not margarine, so we thought it would be worth trying out.
-investing in proper lady lock rolling devices.  we used clothing pins like these covered in foil, which worked okay but we found that after a few uses the clothing pin foil started to come off.  i googled what other people used and i found the ones below.  i think it would be worth the investment.  jessi said it was a real pain in the butt to make the foil clothes pins as well.
-the other thing we did not do was dust them with powered sugar at the end.  i thought they were plenty sweet as is without the dusting, but i tend to like a bit of salt with my sweet, so keep that in mind.

for the cookies i received i shared with jessi of course, and we got an adapted thomas keller cookies (chocolate chip, almond & marshmallow), peanut butter chocolate cookies & white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.  they were all really great :) i would definitely participate again next year!