All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quilting Weather!

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it was WONDERFUL to be snowed in,

sitting in my comfy chair (in my jammies, of course!) by the window and watching the snow while I quilted all day!!

Love, love, love those kinds of days!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fabulous Christmas Gifts

Love this....

Some wonderful quilting books...

A great garden photography book by Matthew Benson whom I fell in love with after hearing him speak at the Garden Expo this past February.

A fabulous tile of Tuscany....  Can I take this as a sign that I'm supposed to go to Italy????!!!!

Some PURE maple syrup...

and some fabulous and fun fabric for a quilt....
(My nephew tells me I use those "F" words too much!)

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Super Sausage Gravy

I finally found a good source of pork sausage (good meaning the pigs have been fed what they are supposed to eat, not what they will eat).  So, to celebrate, I thought I'd make some Sausage Gravy on Christmas morning to celebrate - a real treat, since I don't know when I last ate sausage....

Source:  adapted from Bob Evans

1/2 lb. bulk sausage
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. milk
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Crumble and cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat until browned.  Stir in flour until dissolved.  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook gravy until thick and bubbly.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve hot over biscuits or toast.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why Do I Bake Christmas Cookies??

A sewing customer stopped in today when I was in the midst of baking Christmas cookies.  The kitchen was a wreck (I did NOT take a picture for you!) - cupboard doors hanging open, the sink full of dishes, bags of groceries in the middle of the floor, the table piled high with containers, cooling cookies, ingredients, etc., etc.  She asked, "What time did you get started?  You've been at this all day??!  Are you almost done?  Oh my, you always have a project going, don't you?"  All of a sudden I felt embarrassed.  I knew she didn't get it, and answering her questions wasn't going to help her understand this deep need inside me to bake cookies every Christmas.  I felt a little like my nephew, who just told me that he pretends he doesn't believe in Santa Claus so the other kids at school won't pick on him.  My heart broke for him, and a bit for me as well....

Why do we have to be embarrassed about such things??  Why do we respond in shame?  I love food, I always have, and I love to cook.  Yet I hesitate to talk about it in certain circles because it has this "Becky Home-Ecky" or better worse, "Martha Stewart" connotation.  What exactly is that all about??!!!.  What has happened to our culture that women respond in embarrassment about the enjoying the fundamental skills of food preparation that other countries value?  Why do I have to be ashamed to admit that I love Martha Stewart Living magazine (she has fabulous local, in-season recipes, doggone it!)?  Or, why do I feel like I'm from outer space when I mention that I used lard in my pie crusts this Thanksgiving, and that lard from good pigs just might be better for you than commercial butter??

No, we don't all have to be good cooks.  And no, not everyone of us will enjoy cooking.  But, the feminist movement did a great disservice to far too many woman and robbed them of the simple joy of cooking.

So, why do I bake Christmas cookies every single year that I am physically able or have the money to buy the ingredients??
Because I feel like I'm carrying on a long line of tradition.  I feel connected to my great aunts who were wonderful cooks and loved to have us for dinner to shower us with delicious meals.
I feel connected to my mother who baked sand tarts every Christmas and finished the job, even though we kids petered out and left her to finish up, and even though she didn't really like to bake or cook.

No, Christmas cookies aren't good for your health, absolutely not!  Eating sugar on top of sugar will never be good for your health, but it does wonders for your soul,

like when I use the same cookie cutters my mother used over 40 years ago. 

Or the same Tupperware container with the adhesive tape label that my Great Aunt Mary Kinsey used.  Or when I use the same recipe for Sand Tarts that my mother used, her yellow Pyrex mixing bowl, or her Chex Mix recipe from the 60's.

I fully believe that there's something magical that happens when we actually use our hands to create food vs. doing the quick-and-easy or even cheaper approach to food.  I believe we were meant to participate in food preparation vs. eating ready-made food most of the time.  I feel connected to my Creator, feel like I'm partnering with Him when I do the Slow Food thing, feel like I'm honoring Him by spending time with His produce or at least putting some ingredients together.

So, I'm going to keep talking about food, even in circles where I'm viewed as a little extreme.  But, I'm determined to find ways to talk about where I can inspire, encourage and motivate people to return to their food roots.  I'm going to continue to expose my nephew and other younger folks to the wonders of food and food preparation.  And, I'm going to ENJOY food and cooking, no matter what others think!

OK, now that I'm done ranting and raving(!), below is the list of cookies and candies I strive to make each year, as well as the links to the recipes.  I thoroughly enjoy sharing them with friends and family who get the same thrill out of them as I do. 


Sand Tarts
Pecan Tassies
Crunchy Fudge Sandwiches
Molasses Crinkles
Peanut Blossoms
Mini Black Bottom Cupcakes
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Strawberry Cream Cookies

Chocolate Covered Candies
Chocolate Pretzel Fudge

Chex Mix
(I'm not including a link to my mom's recipe because, for the life of me, I can't get it to taste like hers!  I get a little closer each year, but still haven't nailed it!)