Whenever Christmas threatens to overwhelm me with its busyness and too-much-ness, I sit down with my copy of “The Pioneer Lady’s Country Christmas,” by Jane Watson Hopping. It’s her memories of long past christmases when her family had little, but made a lot out of what they had. Homemade gifts, simple cookie recipes, and sentimental poetry–it may not totally translate to nowadays, but the message of simplicity and family love comes through loud and clear.
At any rate, when I laid the book down, I immediately thought: applesauce cranberry cookies! Then, cinnamon-frosted applesauce cranberry cookies! Maybe not your first thought for a Christmas cookie, but very much in the spirit of long ago days. The recipe comes from “Big, Soft, Chewy Cookies,” by Jill Van Cleave. I changed it up a bit by adding the cinnamon glaze. The cookies are moist and cake-like, with the tart chewiness of the dried cranberries. Then the cinnamon icing goes “pow!” So fun when frosting does that!
Cinnamon-frosted Applesauce Cranberry Cookies
1 cup dried cranberries
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup natural applesauce (no sugar added)
Soak cranberries in warm water for 15 minutes to soften. Drain well, and set aside. Combine flour, spices, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add applesauce and blend. (The batter will look a bit curdled.) Stir in flour mixture and cranberries. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Heat oven to 375 degrees, and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a large ice cream scoop (1/4 cup size), scoop out dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake for about 15 minutes. The cookies will puff up, and the surfaces will no longer look moist. Allow to cool.
Frost with the following: Mix until smooth 2 cups powdered sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon cinnamon and 2-1/2 to 3 tablespoons of milk, cream or water. The 3 tablespoons will make a thin glaze. Sprinkle with some chopped dried cranberries, if desired.
Baking notes: This is a big cookie–almost like a small cake. The cinnamon frosting is pretty intense, but it contrasts well with the moist cookie. You can use one teaspoon of allspice instead of the spices indicated. This is a simple cookie, easy to make, easy to eat!
Pictured below: ingredients, soaking the dried cranberries, draining them, the dough, scooping the dough, and the baked cookies.
Squirrel Christmas Garland
It’s no secret that I love squirrels (there are so many worse things to be known for), and I decided to make a squirrel christmas garland. I googled “images for squirrel silhouettes,” printed one off, and used it as a template.* I accordion- folded some thin paper, making the folds wide enough for the template and traced around the template. Then I cut it out and unfolded. The paper could be wrapping paper, newspaper, or any other thin paper.
* I would like to share the silhouette I used, but it turns out the pattern can’t be shown on another website. But there are plenty of patterns to choose from–just keep it simple.
Out and About in the Garden: Mr. Fluffy
In the kitchen yesterday, I heard the cries of alarmed sparrows in the garden, and rushed to the window. A hawk was in the garden! I ran out with my camera, and immediately christened the hawk Mr. Fluffy. What a noble creature! He is beautiful, but the sparrows thought otherwise. One look at his talons shows why.
Lastly, I looked up at the waning moon the other evening, and took this picture. It always makes me appreciate the Earth! Peace to you. Fran