Monday, December 31, 2012

Snow Angel?

What is that?  A miniature snow angel?  On the way out to the barn for morning chores Spark and the Dad were greeted by several of these interesting "snow glyphs".

We were puzzled at first, by these strange designs.  Obviously a bigger bird had landed there but why?  The are hawks and eagles around all winter but there were no rabbit or squirrel tracks by any of these landing spots.  A bird of prey wouldn't waste it's time and energy landing around the yard for fun.  After wondering for a few minutes we remembered throwing some stale dinner rolls out for the goats the previous afternoon.  We were throwing them from the deck and the wind blew some of our tosses wide of the mark.  Looks like some crows noticed our poor aim when they stopped by the next morning.  Whew, mystery solved!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Can We Talk?



All this sweet talking with Dad is so that he will do this, give her a full back massage.  Of course he makes her beg a little bit first.  If she thinks he just isn't "getting it," she sticks her nose under his arms or lifts up his hands to give him the idea.  She knows how to get what she wants!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve

The men make the Aebleskiver.

After dinner, present opening!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Picture

Our first Christmas stop of the year was at Grandma Shirley and Grandpa Bob's house.  We brought with camera to take some pictures because whenever we get together we are always wondering if this will be the last time before something happens and they are not able to be living on their own. 
However, with all the goings on in the house we forgot about it until we were walking down the sidewalk on our way out.
Dad got the camera to take the picture, and he did.  There picture taken, let's go.  But the only one who was even in proper posed position was Spark, Grandma wasn't even there yet.

Okay, everybody look - click - there picture taken.  We still didn't have time to get short Grandma in the front but at least you can see our smiling faces.  He did take a few others with us lined up but I think I like this one best.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hanukkah Study

Part of our homeschooling this year involves studying Jewish religious holidays and traditions and how they compare/relate to Christian holidays.  This month we talked about Hanukkah.
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication, remembers the rededication of the Holy Temple after the revolt by the Maccabeans.  The law required a light to burn in the temple all night but there was only enough purified oil to burn for one night.  Miraculously, the oil burned for eight straight nights.  It took seven days to make a new supply of purified oil.
In memory of how important the oil was, traditional foods for Hanukkah are fried in oil.  We made potato latkes for our celebration.
Here are four large potatoes shredded.  We didn't have any Russet potatoes on hand so we used red potatoes. 
Squeeze as much water out of the potatoes as possible.
Discard the water but add back in the potato starch that separates from the water.  Add a medium sized grated onion, three beaten eggs, 1-1/2 tsp salt, two tbsp. of flour and mix well.
Form the mixture into balls the size of a large egg.  Place in hot oil and flatten with a spatula.  Fry about four minutes, or until nicely browned and crispy, on each side.  Remove and drain.  You can keep them in a 250 degree oven, on a draining rack, until ready to serve or eat them as they get done. 
Check out the nice crispy, crunchy edges.
Serve the latkes with sour cream and apple sauce.  The outsides are nicely browned and the middles are soft like mashed potatoes.  Here the latkes are being served with a jelly filled doughnut, another traditional oil fried treat for Hanukkah.  The jelly filled doughnuts are called sufganiyah in Israel and are popular around Hanukkah.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Candy

1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup chocolate chips
Mix together butter and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add vanilla.  On low speed add 1 cup flour, then the sweetened condensed milk and the last 1 cup of flour until blended.  Add mini chocolate chips just until mixed.
Line 8X8 pan with parchment paper.  Press the cookie dough into the pan, cover with saran wrap and refrigerate until firm - about 3 hours.
Topping - melt peanut butter and chocolate chips.  Spread over the cookie dough.  Chill until chocolate topping is firm - about an hour.
Now for cutting. 
Having a bad day - don't bother, just grab a spoon, sit down on the couch and dig in. 
A friend over for a good talk - cut it in half.
Trying to control yourself with the pan - cut into 16 pieces, take one out and hide the rest.
For a Christmas cookie platter - cut into 36 pieces. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ugly Sweater Contest

Did Spark win?  Yeah-a he did!

Gingerbread Houses - Yeah, About That

There was an insane amount of candy and sugar for the houses.  This was just some of the candy for decorating.

Spark's house is really shaping up and he is working hard on it.

Dancer's house while it was still going well.  After this picture it was all down hill.  No matter what design she tried it just kept collapsing so she gave up and we used the chocolate cheat molds.   
Dancer got some help from a mom who decorates cakes professionally and she got a house that not only stood together but, she was able to add some decorations on it.  Her old house turned into a fence for the back yard.

With the help of a cookie sheet from the church kitchen she got it home in one piece. 

Spark's house was a different story though.  Oddly a lot of the kids at his table took their houses home in a Ziploc bag.  Later, I found out it was because they sort of frosted their houses and then lobbed the candy at the houses to see who could get the most candy to stick to the roof and walls, which then turned into bombing the houses.  Whatever, it is a Christmas memory, not a neat and tidy one but, one I will be able to tell his kids about :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Paper Clip Angels, Beaded Candy Canes & Caroling

Some of the families from our Monday homeschool co-op went caroling at a nursing home this morning.   We got there just as a couple ambulances were pulling away so the staff said that our timing for a little cheer was well timed.  When one of the moms called to set up our time she asked if we could bring anything.  They said that the people who live there really don't get much for Christmas so even a card would be highly appreciated.  We decided that each family would bring some handmade ornaments. 

Our first ornament was these super simple paper clip angles.  The four of us, well mostly Dancer and I, sat down one night and made 50 of these in about 20 minutes.  The only reason it took us that long was that we had such a time getting the ribbon through the head bead. 

Spark took over this project of beaded candy canes.  He used the tri-shaped beads on a pipe cleaner.  Slip the beads on, fold over each end of the pipe cleaner so they can't come off and bend into the candy cane shape. 

We got a lot of smiles, don't know if it was from our singing or the ornaments!  Maybe a little of both.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Krumkake Recipe

1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs well beaten
1/2 cup butter melted
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla or lemon or almond extract
Add sugar to eggs and beat well.  Add melted butter to mixture; add flour and extract.

These have to be made on a Krumkake iron but, these are so good if you find one it is well worth the price even if you only make them once a year.  This an electric iron, I have my mother's old one that goes on the stove top but I have a glass top stove it doesn't work well. 

Put about a tablespoon of batter on the iron.  Close the lid, the batter will fan out from the pressure.

After the first few you will know just the right setting, mine is about 3 on the dial.  Keep peeking until it is this dark.

The second it is done lay it on a flat surface and roll it up on the cone.  Do not put new batter on your iron before rolling it or this one will be too cold and will crack as you roll it.  This is a really good two person job and since each Krumkake takes about two minutes to bake you can get some good conversation in between each one. 
Fill with whipped cream and enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Pretzel Candy

Spark says these are "Crazy yummy!!"

2 cups creamy peanut butter, divided
3/4 cup  butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
4 cups  broken pretzels, divided
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips, divided

Line a 9X13 pan with parchment paper.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Bean 1 1/4 cups peanut butter and butter until creamy.  Gradually beat in 1cup powdered sugar.  Add in remaining 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 cups pretzel pieces (I whirled them through the food processor until they were really, really small) and 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.  I used mini chocolate chips so that they would hold together better but regular chips would work fine.

Put in pan and press down flat.  This does not spread very easy so use a piece of saran wrap to flatten while keeping your hands clean.

Melt 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and 3/4 cup peanut butter just until chips are melted.  Spread on layer in pan.  Press remaining pretzels into the top of the chocolate.  Refrigerate until hard or put in freezer.  Cut into 60 pieces.  Yes, 60 pieces, these are sweet!  Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy St. Lucia Day & Swedish Christmas Traditions

St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith in 304 A.D.  The most common story told about St. Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city.  She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things.  Lucy means "light" so this is a very appropriate name.

St. Lucia day is celebrated on December 13th with the oldest girl in the family playing St. Lucia.  The girl dresses in white with a red sash around her waist and a crown of candles on her head.  She has saffron buns for the family for breakfast.  Schools normally have their own St. Lucia and some town and villages also choose a girl to play St. Lucia in a procession where carols are sung. 

A tomte is a mythical creature of Scandinavian pagan folklore, believed to take care of a farmer's home and barn and protect it from misfortune, in particular at night when the house folk were asleep.

In the 1840's he started delivering gifts on Christmas if he wasn't mad.  To keep him happy children would put out a bowl of porridge for him.

The Christmas goat, called Julbuk, guards the Christmas tree.  The Julbuk, and many other decorations, are made of straw to remind them that Jesus was born in a manger.

On Christmas Eve, always from 3:00 to 3:05 p.m., over 50% of the Swedish population watches Donald Duck.  This tradition started in 1960 and it is always the same episode.   The Swedes call the program Kalle Anka (pronounced kah-lay ahn-kah) after the star of the show's second animated short, a 1944 cartoon called Clown of the Jungle

The Smörgåsbord - Smörgås meaning open-faced sandwich and bord meaning table.  Some foods found on the smorgasbord that we love are bread dipped in ham broth, ham with mustard, small meatballs, sausages, potatoes, rice pudding, cabbage, herring, lutfisk, white sauce, pickled cucumbers and baked beans.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chicken In The Snow

This is Old Chicken.  I looked out this afternoon and she was sitting here in the snow.  Problem was, every time I looked out she was sitting there. 

Spark went out to see what was the matter and if she needed assistance.

He was able to pick her right up, she wasn't frozen down as we had worried she might be.  Maybe that was all the further she could get in the deep snow and thought we would be out sooner or later so she would just wait.  Or it could be she is just a dumb chicken who didn't know better than to spend the afternoon sitting in the snow, they are all a couple eggs short of a dozen. 

Hero of the chicken!  She does have a bald tummy so one would think it was a cold afternoon for her.