If you are going to start baking cookies for Christmas, begin with this one. You will thank me. I begin thinking about my holiday cookies in mid-October. That's when I go a little hog wild and pretend the world will end and that I must own every cookie baking book on the planet to stave off the perils of living in chaos without proper sustenance. I don't know about you, but we could live off ginger cookies. They come in every shape, size and texture and I think I've baked them all until a new recipe emerges, I step back in amazement and proclaim: Yet another awesome ginger cookie--I rock!
The cookie book I turned to for inspiration this go-around is, Great Cookies by Carole Walter. I had to hunt down this cookie book. It took me months to finally decide I'd found a seller on Amazon who offered the book for a fair price--used, no less. I wore out my check out times at the library for three years pulling this book off the shelf, keeping it three weeks, then returning it, only to repeat the whole ordeal again and again.
So to bring you all up to speed. Yes. I was out during bloody Black Friday in the wee hours of the morning. But not in the way you might imagine. I was there in the midst of HD trolling for a not-to-be artificial Christmas tree. (The current tree we have stands four feet tall and has fifty lights on it. It's my homage to Charlie Brown.) I'd decided it would suffice as "our tree" after purchasing it during an after Christmas sale many moons ago. This year, my sister is visiting. I thought getting a proper sized tree, maybe six-footer, would be nice. (Though given the size of our house, I'd have to probably move furniture to make room.)
I have an entire storage chest of Christmas ornaments that have not seen the light of day for nearly four years. (Dr. Thyme and I married in December and asked for Christmas ornaments as wedding gifts.) So this year, I wanted a bigger tree. Well the fifty dollar Black Friday deal for a Martha Stewart Christmas Tree at HD, as I said, was not to be as there was a line of hopefuls awaiting door opening by four in the morning! The sales lady I always talk to warned me. Come early. Stand in line. Or no tree for you. I refused that insanity and instead opted for sleeping until my own personal menopausal alarm clock went off (five a.m.) and headed on down the street. Sure enough. No tree for me. However, I was already awake, already in the store--I hadn't even let the dogs out! (They were still asleep.) I wasn't sure how I drove there either. I did a double take at my feet once inside to make sure I wasn't wearing my slippers. My thinking after discovering I had missed the real bargain, the REAL reason I was stumbling through a packed store at five a.m. was for not. I then justified my momentary lapse with sanity and thought, I was there, I might as well shop. And four poinsettias, three Frazier Fir wreaths and five ropes of white pine garland later, I was headed out the door. Back home. Exhausted. And it wasn't even six-thirty yet.
Here's the cookie breakdown.
Cream together your sugar and butter. Add your egg replacer and molasses. In another bowl, sift together your flour, baking soda and cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg and salt. Add the dry stuff to the wet stuff until it looks like the picture above. Then, put a 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl for rolling the ginger balls in. I just dipped one side of my cookies in the sugar. I thought it'd shave off a couple of calories if I did it this way.
Place the balls on your cookie sheet spaced apart like so. These will spread a bit, but depending upon how big you decide you want your cookies to be--I opted for "little giant" cookies--you then bake them for about 12-15 minutes.
On the knitting front, I had yet another Black Friday trip to make: to my LYS. Two words: Yarn Sale! And I support local whenever I can. I noticed my stash getting lower and lower recently, too. This makes me very uncomfortable and a bit sad. The yarn store post-Thanksgiving was more busy than I had ever, ever seen it. But it was also soooo fun! All these yarnbies. All in one place. As much as I am usually annoyed by too much social interaction. For some reason being around other knitters in a complete state of frenzy somehow calmed me.
I've just finished a Christmas gift. I can't tell you what it is. Can't even show you the full picture. But can share just a teeny corner of it. I loved knitting this up--it took a week or so. And was great TV watching knitting. I hope she likes it. Now I want to knit one for myself.
Here lies the three-year man sweater project. I am finally on the sleeves. The husband tried this on the other night and we nearly laughed ourselves into a blackout. It looks absolutely ridiculous on him. For now. And I then had to explain the process of "finishing a knit"--that there is MUCH to be done here. Buttons applied. Blocking. Neck and sleeves finishing. So what if it resembles a yurt on him. He's getting this damn sweater and he's going to LOVE it. Nuff said.
Oh my. What have we here? Well. It's mink. Mink. Yarn. And before you go all PETA on me (like I nearly did), might I explain. When I came across this lovely cowl in the yarn store and wrapped it around my neck, I couldn't help but wonder, what have we here? This feels like a cloud! I asked this aloud and was given a quick answer: It's mink. I said, What?! And quickly placed it back where I'd found it. Staring lovingly at this luscious yarn, I read the label just to be sure. (Not that I didn't believe her. I was stunned to hear mink had found its way into yarn. That'd be the same as her telling me, It's Great Pyrenees dog hair. Which I could believe because I brush a dog and a half of fur from our kids every week.)
Regardless, I admired the lace and cabling and thought it was just a gorgeous cowl. But I left the store without the yarn, determined to find out just how in the heck said mink yarn is made? Is mink critter harmed in any way. I searched the yarn manufacturer's name and yarn as soon as I got home. Yep. Real mink are used in spinning this yarn. And no. Mink are not harmed in acquiring fur for spinning. HOWEVER, mink are not fond of being brushed. So careful attention must be paid to the brushing of said creature as they have VERY sharp claws and teeth and can bite. Mink brusher must wear over-sized leather mitts to handle the critters as brushing occurs. Well. Okay. The rest is history. I am knitting myself a mink cowl. And I LOVE it. (My grandmother had a mink stole and I paraded around in the silly thing All. The. Time. Perhaps I am somehow channeling those fond childhood memories through this cowl.) Only this time, no critter harm is done. If you are interested in this pattern and yarn, the cowl was designed by one of the LYS associates and the pattern can be found here.
Vegan Giant Ginger Molasses Cookies
Adapted from, Great Cookies by Carole Walter
*makes about 24 cookies
6 tablespoons unsalted vegetable margarine
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup molasses
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour or spelt flour ?(*I added a bit of health to the original recipe by incorporating whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients and set aside. Mix butter, shortening and sugar together in medium mixing bowl. Blend until creamy. Add egg replacer and molasses to butter mixture. Mix until well blended. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients--adding flour in thirds and mixing just a bit after each addition--don't over mix it. Place 1/3 cup of sugar in a small bowl for dipping the cookies in off to the side. Take about a tablespoon of dough and shape into a ball. Dip top of ball in sugar, then place on cookie sheet--leaving about 3 inches between each cookie. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes on cookie trays, then remove to a cooling rack. After cookies are completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. You can freeze these cookies as well. *If you wanted even bigger cookies, you can scoop up about a 1/4 cup of dough, but remember to adjust the baking time.