Drop in and Decorate Monday December 20, 2010

Thanks to all involved, particularly Lydia Walshin of Perfect Pantry--(check out her blog) Drop in and Decorate is her brainchild and is now a nationwide cookie-baking and decorating effort to help wonderful things happen in our local communities.  It’s a tremendous way of doing a little bit of good and having a great time while you’re doing it.  Who doesn’t like cookies?  And why shouldn’t they bring us together?  You can host your own event (not just in December, either)…check out the info on Lydia’s blog.

Our cookies are on their way to The Bridge, Assisted Living Center in Colorado Springs.

You Don’t Need a Cookie App or The Only Fig Newton You’ll Ever Need

 Don’t forget Drop in and Decorate:  Monday, December 20, 4-8pm……….………

Watch this space…throughout the season for the recipes for these cookies.

  Are you really carrying your smart phone to the store and searching your cookie app for ingredients?  I’d like to know.  Are you deciding which cookies you’ll make based on which cookies are on your app?  Or is this just a cool thing to look at on subway or while you’re waiting for the dentist?

I mean, it sounds kinda fun.  Maybe.  Squinting at a screen while in the grocery…trying to remember what you already have at home…bringing the recipe up over and over as you move from aisle to aisle or while you argue with your toddler or husband.   How about stopping in the midst of the Christmas grocery crowd and actually writing a list down?  How’s that goin’?  Is a smart phone dictating your Christmas cookie list?  Now, now, now.  I have to know.

New recipe;  Oatmeal cherry chocolate almond….Coming soon!

Maybe it’s like watching Food Network.  Of course, I watch Food Network.  Where would I be without Ina?  How would I make (ok, Dave make) Christmas dinner without Tyler?  And how fun has it been to leave the tv on in the sunroom while I cook during the day.  I can’t see it, but I can hear the pitter-patter of Jadey’s little feet or the whirr of Ina’s electric juicer.  I can get the hell out of dodge whenever the Neely’s show comes on.  Or, as one person wrote, “I have an incredible urge to smoke a cigarette whenever Neely’s comes on.”  Yes.  Me, too.  And I don’t smoke anymore.  (6 1/2 years now)

But if you keep your eyes on this blog (I’d like that!), I’ll give you the recipes for the cookies on the tray at the top of the post.  One or two at a time.. or what I have time for.  We’ll start with

The Only Fig Newton You’ll Ever Need

The Only Fig Newton You’ll Ever Need or How Alyce Conquered The Fig Bar
makes one 9×12 pan of cookies


 2 c dried figs, stems snipped, chopped (I do it in the food processor w/ a little flour)
1 1/2 c brown sugar, divided
1 c water

2t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract

1 c unbleached flour
2 c oatmeal, uncooked
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

  • In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil figs, 1/2 c of the brown sugar, and the water.  Reduce heat and simmer about five minutes.  Remove from heat and cool a little while.  Add vanilla and almond extracts.
  • Combine flour, oatmeal, remaining 1 c brown sugar, the baking soda and salt, stirring and tossing them together.  Add melted butter and mix thoroughly.  
  • Press half the mixture into the bottom of the 9×13 pan.  Spread with the cooled fig filling.
  • Sprinkle filling evenly with rest of oatmeal mixture.  Press it gently into the figs.
  • Bake about 30 minutes or until gently golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a  rack.  Cut into squares the size you like.
  • Store at room temperature 2 days or in refrigerator 1 week.   Can freeze for up to 2 weeks. 
These started out as Fanny Farmer date bars…nice morph, huh?

Sing a new song; bake a new cookie;
Come listen to “my” choir sing their Christmas cantata this Sunday at 10.  In fact, if you read well, come to dress rehearsal on Saturday at 1pm and sing along.  Blessings if you’re moving through Advent right now..walking down the path, following the light, squinting into the distance…


Two-Dog Kitchen Returns:  (Skippy Jon Jones, grown up, reappears this weekend for a month.)

Resting while mom bakes!   Tucker (left),  Gabby (right)


When: Monday, December 20

Time: 4pm-8pm (anytime/come and go)

Where: Alyce Morgan’s house,
              719-635-1799 rsvps helpful!!

What’s up: Stop in and decorate a few cookies Alyce has baked up. Stay for a bowl of soup and eat any cookies you messed up. Sing or play a carol or two or twenty. All ages welcome.

What happens to the other cookies? The other cookies, the ones you didn’t “mess up”, go to The Bridge Assisted Living Center on December 21

Hope to see you come sing a new carol or decorate a new cookie,

Pumpkin-Ginger Bread–or Alyce Tweaks the Pumpkin Bread One More Time

Muffin version in front of my winter herb window



One or two things I make during the holiday season go from September-January.  Pumpkin bread is one of them.  If you know me well, you’ve eaten my pumpkin bread.  I have several versions and every one is different and unique and yummy and… special.  I kind of work of it from year to year.  My choirs eat it; my husband lathers cream cheese on it.  I make it into muffins; my friends husbands say to their wives, “Why don’t you make anything like this?”  (Mostly because they’re eating cake at dinner.) 

This year, I had sweet ideas. Whoa:  Candied ginger.  Black pepper.  Cayenne.  Pumpkin seeds.  I tried it out.  Twice. Increased the ginger the second time.  Passed it around at home and elsewhere.  I took some to St. Paul, where we visited for Thanksgiving, froze our butts off, made it through a job interview (me-whewgladitzovah), 13 houses,  and came home drop-in-bed sick from.  We ate it there for breakfast.  Every day. Ah.  Thanksgiving time!  So I’m keeping this version.  It seemed to go over well, even with Sue’s friend Gladys, a top-notch cook and baker at 91.  She did say, however,

“WHAT is in this?  I don’t like eating stuff when I don’t know what’s in it.” 

I think it was the candied ginger and the cranberries.  Of course the black pepper might have done it, too.  Or the cayenne.  Well.   I like pepper in bread; sue me.  And I’m gonna go right on making it. Like that. It does make super gifts and can be made as tiny loaves, muffins or big loaves.  Maybe even T-tiny muffins for a buffet.  Try it; you’ll like it.  Everyone else did.  Better make a bunch.  (Provenance:  I think the original recipe for this came from THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK.)  Freezes well.  (No longer than 2-3 weeks, though)

Pumpkin seeds.  Use some in the bread.  Eat the rest.  Good for you.  Great in bread!

Alyce’s Newest Pumpkin Bread Featuring Candied Ginger and Black Pepper.  OH, and Cayenne, too.

  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1 c boiling water
  • 2/3 c butter, soft (to cut fat, use half apple-sauce–no more than that)
  • 2 c pumpkin ( a can is 15 oz now; add applesauce to complete the  2 c)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c candied ginger, minced
  • 2/3 c evaporated milk, low-fat or fat-free  (can use regular milk instead)
  • 3 1/3 c unbleached white flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t salt  (sorry, left out of original post–corrected  11/18/11)
  • 2t Chinese or Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1/2 t freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4-1/3 c salted or unsalted pumpkin seeds (I like salted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F for bread or 400 for muffins. Grease and flour pans.  For muffins pans, grease only.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together cranberries and boiling water.  Set aside.
  3. With hand-held electric or standing electric mixer, beat together in a large bowl butter, pumpkin, applesauce, eggs, sugar and candied ginger until light and fluffy.  Beat in milk until well-mixed.
  4. On top of the wet ingredients, measure dry ingredients:  flour, soda, baking powder, spices.  Carefully mix just the dry ingredients with a spoon or rubber spatula, trying to avoid mixing the dry ingredients into the wet.  Using electric mixer, beat wet and dry ingredients together until just incorporated.  Don’t over beat.  Drain cranberries well and stir into batter gently.
  5. If desired, sprinkle pumpkin seeds into bottom of prepared pans (9×5) or baby loaf pans (3×5 or similar) or muffin tins.  Use ice cream scoop for muffins. 
  6. For loaves or baby loaf pans, bake at 350 for about an hour or half-hour, respectively.  Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer; it will come out almost clean when the bread is done.  Leave in pans 5 minutes.  Bang bottoms of pans on board, floor or counter before turning out on to racks carefully to cool completely.   If sticking, use thin, sharp knife to go around edges.  When absolutely cool, wrap well in foil.  Store on counter 1-2 days, in frig for 2-3 days, and in freezer up to 2-3 weeks.
  7. If in muffin tins, bake at 400 F for maybe 15 minutes or until nicely browned and firm to the touch.  Turn out immediately onto metal cooling racks.  Follow storage instructions above, though muffins store well in large plastic containers that are freezer safe.

This is a great pumpkin bread pan loaf.  Pan available at Williams-Sonoma.  (Design changes year to year.)

Just thought you’d like to see the options….

Bake now while it’s quiet one night.  Wrap up your treasures carefully in shiny foil. You can even put ribbons on them before you put them in the freezer.  Be ready as you move through Advent into Christmas.  Or as you hit the second day of Hanukkah.  Breathe and study.  Live and love.  Don’t get crazy over what you’re supposed to do.   Or as you live through another day…
Don’t let the light go out (see and hear song, LIGHT ONE CANDLE)  and, while you’re at it, pray that I see the the path where God is undoubtedly shining it if I just could only be aware enough…

Drop in and Decorate for Mother’s Day

Lydia Walshin, of theperfectpantry.com, is up on top this spring, encouraging blog readers and writers to participate in a
Mother’s Day Drop in and Decorate.   If you’re interested, you can email Lydia at:

lydia@dropinanddecorate and get all of the info….

It’s a great and wonderful opportunity.  Just invite a bunch of friends over for a morning, afternoon or evening, make a mess of cookies, and let them decorate.  Deliver the cookies to a non-profit organization…..

What could be more fun?
Let Lydia know if you’d like to participate this spring.

Drop in and Decorate





SOUP BREAD BUTTER WINE (vegeterian lentil and chili con carne)


What a great time we had! We began decorating at 4pm and the last neighbor wandered back over for one more glass of wine about 9. We had

Three kinds of cookies:

Three kinds of icing (with food coloring for lots of colors- if you desired)

Regular (buttercream)
15 sprinkles (maybe more) We even had pearls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Crushed Peppermint
Grated Chocolate
Altogether, we decorated about 14 dozen cookies for “The Bridge,” an assisted living community here in Colorado Springs. Cookies will be delivered tomorrow.
Pics posted and then, loved ones, I’m in bed and ready for a 6am departure to Florida.

Gabby had a great time. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………………………

Merry Christmas! Enjoy!!
Eat a new cookie,

Drop in and Decorate! Monday, December 14, 2009


What an incredible evening! Fun, Friends, Food……. and COOKIES, CAROLS & COOKIES!!!

Here’s a sampling of COOKIES and food::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

We will decorate three types of cookies:

Plain old Sugar Cookies from Fannie Farmer’s Baking Book
Gingerbread People (from same) and Chocolate Cutouts (Martha Stewart)

We have several colors of icing and 15 different “sprinkles.” We’ll even have “pearls.”

Cookies are to be donated to The Bridge (Assisted Living Center).

Please take a few to someone you know who no longer bakes. I have cellophane bags available.

Dinner: Your choice of Chili or Vegetarian Lentil Soup
French Bread from MARIGOLD’S CAFE
Wine: A-Z Riesling (Oregon)
Zinfandel (California)

Cocoa and
Coffee with, what else for dessert, your own decorated cookie!

Is there anything like a decorated cookie? Or any cookie cut into shapes? They’re just plain old fun. Enjoy the following poem………… It makes me think of Christmas Cookies.

Animal Crackers became such a part of American life that Christopher Morley (1890-1957), American humorist, playwright, poet, essayist, and editor, wrote the following poem:

Animal Crackers
by Christopher Morley

Animal crackers and cocoa to drink,
That is the finest of suppers I think;
When I’m grown up and can have what I please
I think I shall always insist upon these.
What do YOU choose when you’re offered a treat?
When Mother says, “What would you like best to eat?”
Is it waffles and syrup, or cinnamon toast?
It’s cocoa and animals that I love most!
The kitchen’s the coziest place that I know;
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see
The cocoa and animals waiting for me.
Daddy and Mother dine later in state,
With Mary to cook for them, Susan to wait;
But they don’t have nearly as much fun as I
Who eat in the kitchen with Nurse standing by;
And Daddy once said, he would like to be me —
Having cocoa and animals once more for tea!

I’m on the way to Florida on Tuesday to bake with my sister for a few days. I’ll be back in time to make my wine group brunch, to do a clam sauce dinner for close friends, cassoulet on the 24th and so on. I’ll attempt to blog it all, but probably won’t accomplish it! Enjoy your holiday baking and cooking; it’s no chore. Share it all, my friends.

Until then, enjoy your Advent journey………
Walk, don’t run, to the stable. You’ll have more time to pray.

Sing a new carol………….Listen to all of the old ones……Plan on church for Christmas Eve……