Valentine’s Day brings back memories of making Valentine’s Day cards, making and eating sweet treats, and enjoying wonderful dinners with those I love. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an expensive, extravagant day. It’s really about being with or talking to those you love. I often express my love through cooking, as my Mother did.
These colorful cookies were fun to make, to share and to eat. Share a batch with those you love and enjoy the day!
VALENTINE’S DAY M&M COOKIES
8tablespoonssalted butter,melted 1/2cupbrown sugar 1/4cupgranulated sugar 1largeegg 2teaspoonsvanilla extract 1 2/3cupsall purpose flour 1teaspoonbaking soda 1/2teaspoonsalt 3/4 cup Valentine’s mix M&Ms
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (I used a Ghiradelli white chocolate bar, chopped)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until well combined.
Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
Dump in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Dough will be soft.
Stir in the candy and white chocolate chips.
Use a large cookie scoop to scoop out 12 balls of dough.
Bake for 10 minutes exactly. Do not overbake. Cookies may look a bit underdone, but they will set up as they cool.
Let cookies set on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before eating.
Easter 2020 will be like no other. Most Americans will be home, distanced from family and friends. Our family will be doing the same but plan to share food and get together on Zoom for a short visit. Saturday we will be doing porch pickups of 1) homemade rolls, 2) Fresh Peach Cobbler…summertime favorite (using frozen peaches from last summer), and 3) Scotcheroos…Easter tradition. We will each cook our own dinner and enjoy a bit of what the others have made. It won’t be the same, but it will be an Easter to remember.
Today is the 26th day of self isolation and I am so blessed to be doing well, keeping in touch with family and friends and checking items off my ‘to-do’ list. Cleaning closets and recalling memories is part of the experience. While selecting books to read to my grandchildren, I found one of my childhood Easter books now very tattered but well loved. One of my daughter’s remarked that the bunny’s red eye creeps her out…I never even thought about that!
The pictures and stories are charming and would spark my childhood imagination. Here are a few pages:
‘Helping One Another’ is something we need to do all of the time, but especially now. ‘Jack In The Pulpit’ takes me back to springtime in Iowa and wandering the timbers with my Mother gathering Morel mushrooms and seeing Jack In The Pulpits, bluebells, Johnny Jump Ups, and many other wild flowers.
This week I also rediscovered my childhood bank, a bunny so sweet and tender. She was manufactured in the 1950s by Knickerbocker Plastics in North Hollywood, California. My mother saved her for many years, but why have I stored in the basement all these years? It’s time for her to shine her pretty little face again.
Memories are a wonderful thing…to be treasured and shared.
May your Easter be joyful…May your blessings be many. Happy Easter!
Halloween on the farm was a far different experience than my current city experience. Childhood costumes were simple, always with a hot plastic or rubber mask. Note our fancy trick or treat bags! We couldn’t run from house to house but instead our parents drove us to our neighbors farms. We collected wonderful home-made goodies while our parents visited for a while. At the end of the night, we visited 6 to 8 houses but came home with luscious home-made popcorn balls, cookies, caramel apples, and full size candy bars.
My children never experienced the wonders of home-made goodies, ruined by the scare of Halloween candy tampering. None-the-less, they had a wonderful time running from house to house in our suburban neighborhood yelling ‘trick or treat’ and collecting their Halloween bounty. Masks were not a favorite (thank goodness) but costumes were pretty traditional and fun. Our AT&T office hosted a family Halloween party letting the kids gather treats at each office and cubicle. Good times!
Fast forward to 2015 and grandson, Evan’s, Halloween experience. His favorite character today is from the movie FROZEN and we were fortunate enough to find the darling OLAF costume on Amazon.com.
Evan has been to his first corn maze and is in awe of the amazing (and sometimes scary) Halloween decorations. He’ll be out gathering treats in the neighborhood and celebrating with his little friends. As his little 3 year old girlfriend says, they’ll be out ‘Candy Tricking’. Love this age!
Next Halloween we’ll have a baby girl in our family joining the Halloween fun. We’ll anxiously await the arrival of ‘lil pumpkin in November.
Kitchen Memories started to flood back to me as I looked at my kitchen for the last time before the cabinets were removed. So many conversations took place in my kitchen with our girls from babyhood to teenage years to adult years. Meals were prepared for many loved ones, some of which are now gone.
When we first moved into our Smurf blue house in 1988, the kitchen had brown, patterned kitchen carpet, one of the worst ideas on the planet. The Cherry Cabinets were quite nice and the Columbine (Colorado’s State Flower) tile was fitting of the ‘country’ craze at the time.
This kitchen became the heart of our home. Weekday mornings were frantic as Karl and I prepared for work so the girls would often gather on the floor of the kitchen as I prepared breakfast and our lunches.
As I look at the kitchen for the last time, a stream of memorable movies play in my head, including:
Homework, Science experiments, crafting
Holiday meal preparations
Meal preparation while the kids often sat on the counter to chat and share
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks from the high point of celebrating my Aunt’s 100th Birthday with family in Iowa, to returning home to a call that my husband had been rushed to the hospital and passed away that afternoon.
These are the times that we take stock of what is truly important in our lives, today. Not tomorrow. The thought of writing about something delicious or witty is escaping me now but I will return in a few days or a few weeks. In the meantime:
Those we Love remain with us,
for Love itself lives on.
Cherished memories never fade,
because a loved one is gone.
Those we Love can never be,
more than a thought apart.
For as long as there is a memory,
they’ll live on in our heart.
I only celebrated 12 Father’s Days with my Dad since he died in a farm accident my 12th year. His death was a great shock and loss to our entire family. I often wonder what it would have been like to know my Dad as an adult, to have him hold my children in his arms, to talk to him about his life, his experiences and to hug him once again.
What I do remember, with tremendous fondness, is…
riding in the back of his Turquoise Chevy pickup letting the wind blow on my face and hair
following him around the hog house and watching him do never-ending farm chores
riding to one of the small farming communities to visit the grain elevator, hardware store or local gathering place
building a cage and capturing a pigeon for me to take to school for ‘show and tell’
caring for baby bunnies that had been abandoned by their Mommy
his love of Adolph the cat and our good old farm dog, Skipper
hanging a tire swing for me and his grandchildren to enjoy
watching him crank the old home-made ice cream freezer as I anticipated the luscious results
riding on the tractor with him
feeling very grown up filling the gas tanks of the car or truck
going on picnics and fishing
watching favorite TV shows together including Bonanza, Lassie, Daniel Boone, Ed Sullivan, etc.
the piano he bought for me at the State Fair a month before he died
laughter and teasing (with love)
He was a good guy with a wonderful sense of humor and a dedicated, farmer’s work ethic.
Sunday Night meals, on the farm, were typically sandwiches enjoyed on TV trays in front of the TV watching Lassie, Ed Sullivan, and Bonanza. It was the only night of the week we ate outside of the kitchen but it was a treat. Often the sandwiches were a result of leftovers from the tremendous Sunday Dinner (noon meal) my Mother would make of Roast Beef, Roast Chicken, Pork Roast, Ham, etc. She would often grind the leftover meat on her Universal Meat Grinder and add onion, pickle, mayonnaise.
Ham Salad is still a favorite and I make it rarely but since it was a Sunday and I was reliving the Sunday Night Farm experience…I ate a Ham Salad Sandwich in front of the TV (sans TV tray) watching 60 minutes instead of Lassie. Oh, sweet memories!
OLD FASHIONED HAM SALAD
2 cups ground ham (I chopped mine in the food processor)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup dill pickle relish (or sweet relish)
1 teaspoon mustard
2 chopped, hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Combine all well. Serve on good bread or roll and enjoy!
Aunts and Uncles are a bit like Grandparents. They get to spoil the nieces and nephews, shower them with affection and love, and leave when they are amped up on sugar and fun. It’s a good gig! I was an Aunt at age 7 and grew up with my niece and two nephews. It was wonderful having playmates and helping out my older sister and brother. A highlight of every year was when they came to stay with us and go to Bible School at the rural Carlton Brethren Church, a half mile from our house. There were sticker charts, ice cream, indoor picnics, dress-up (sorry Jeff and Duane), and so many stories!
After college I moved out-of-state and was always sad not to be closer to my family but treasured each of the visits back to see everyone. I was very fortunate to have wonderful Aunts and Uncles as well. Not all of them lived close but my siblings and I always knew we were loved with the hugs/kisses that went with their visits.
At this state of my life, I have 3 Aunts and 1 Uncle. Uncle Jack will be 90 this month and planning a big celebration. Aunt Joyce (Jack’s wife) turned 86 in February. Aunt Lora (also my Mother’s BFF in school) turned 94 this year. Aunt Wilma will turn 100 next June. From these wonderful people I learned the importance of family/loyalty, laughter, music, traditional dishes prepared for holidays and family gatherings.
Several years ago, when camcorders were new to the market, we traveled to Iowa with our newborn daughter to celebrate Christmas. Christmas Eve day several of my family members were visiting at my Mother’s House.
We turned on the camcorder asked our family members ‘what is your favorite Christmas memory?’ I tear up just thinking about it. The heart-warming, loving, funny, and sarcastic stories were great at the time but are true treasures now.
This holiday season let’s spend our time BEING PRESENT and sharing stories for our children and grandchildren to treasure. Break out the smart phone and make a video, perhaps the best PRESENT of the season!
What was my favorite breakfast growing up? It was a great day when my Mom made a peanut butter bacon (PBB) sandwich paired with chilled Welch’s grape juice. It was breakfast for champions. This favorite comfort food has been on my mind and I HAD to have it, only this time for dinner.
After cooking the bacon in the oven (so much easier than on top the stove), I toasted two pieces of bread and generously spread peanut butter on the toast while warm. I topped with cooked bacon. Next, I poured a nice tall glass of cold Welch’s grape juice.
NOTE: My best Golden Retriever buddy, Joe, decided to eat 3/4 of the bacon while I stepped outside for a moment. He evidently prefers his bacon straight-up.
Yum…yum…yum. Memories of bacon & peanut butter moments dance in my head.