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One of the greatest pleasures of summertime is the abundance of color on the table. Berries and melons and leafy greens are in season, making it more reasonable than ever to feast on whole foods with economy. Although all of our children help in the kitchen, Olive and Burke seem to come alive creatively there––chopping, stirring, tasting. Burke received several baking tools this spring for his birthday, and he’s planning to put them to use this summer, baking something new each week for us to try.

This week, in honor of inexpensive berries and a long holiday weekend, he made homemade pound cake with berries and cream. So many of you requested the recipe, I thought I’d quickly drop it here before the long weekend ends. We doubled the recipe to make two loaf pans. If you have leftovers, store it in the fridge in a sealed container and enjoy it for breakfast. Wink.


POUND CAKE with BERRIES and CREAM, adapted from The Hands-On Home

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp half & half (or heavy cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together.
  3. In a second bowl (we used our mixing stand), whip the butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating until the batter is fluffy again. Add one egg at a time until the texture is like frosting. At a low speed, mix in the yogurt, half&half, and extract.
  4. Gently mix in the flour.
  5. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and place on the center rack of the oven.
  6. Bake until it is golden brown and the knife comes out clean, about 90 minutes or longer, depending on elevation and oven. Let it cool for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Wash and slice berries. If they’re tart, sprinkle them with sugar. I prefer the tartness, especially with the sweet, rich cake.
  8. Whip the cream until peaks form. If you prefer sweet cream, add a Tablespoon or two of sugar, or even a little vanilla extract.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Mark and I sometimes reminisce over the way various tastes and scents hold memories for us––a perfume, a spice, a food. Smelling or tasting them can return us in an instant to our childhoods, to another country, or to an earlier part of our marriage. He assures me that whenever in future years he smells or tastes coconut oil, it will forever remind him of our home now. I laugh, but it’s true. Over the last few years, coconut oil has become a catch-all staple in our home, used in everything from savory or sweet foods to homemade personal care recipes. With the holidays (and all the holiday baking) beginning this week, I’m thrilled to partner with Nature’s Way today to share a quick, flexible holiday recipe for each of you to have on hand, using Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

When I say quick and flexible, I mean it. This recipe is easy to whip up for an afternoon treat with the kids, to serve at a holiday party, or even gift to a favorite friend. It only includes 3-6 ingredients, doesn’t require any baking, and is easy to tweak and make your own favorite flavors. My favorite part is it’s made with all whole foods, and without any dairy or gluten for those with special diets. You can even try dipping oranges or berries in it before it cools. I wrote down some favorite variations down the recipe.


DARK CHOCOLATE SEA SALT FUDGE, GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE

1 c. Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
1 c. cocoa powder
¼ c. honey or maple syrup (if desired, slowly add more to sweeten to taste)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
a pinch of flaked sea salt sprinkled on top

  1. Line a small glass container with parchment paper. (I use a glass food storage container about 5” x 7” or so.)
  2. Pour melted coconut oil, cocoa powder, honey or maple syrup, and spices into a small mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until well blended.
  4. Let the mixture sit and cool a bit to room temperature. It should slightly thicken.
  5. Pour mixture into parchment-lined dish, and refrigerate for one hour.
  6. Once firm, remove from the glass dish and chop into small squares. For casual affairs, serve right on the parchment.
  7. Store in a cool place out of direct light and serve with napkins.

VARIATIONS TO THE RECIPE

Orange Dark Chocolate Fudge, mix 1 tsp orange zest into warm batter

Peppermint Chocolate Fudge, add crushed candy canes to the top instead of seas salt

Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Fudge, use maple syrup and add 1 tsp of cinnamon

Spiced Ginger Chocolate Fudge, mix 1/4 tsp Cardamom and ½ tsp All-Spice into batter, top with chopped candied Ginger


This post is sponsored by Nature’s Way, a brand our family has loved for years. All images and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat. 

The weekend is here, and I’m bring back an old series to welcome it. This particular weekend marks the bridge between Summer and Autumn for the Northern Hemisphere, a crossover to a new season, an invitation to change. While our garden is mostly cleared and waiting for fall plantings, my sister is still fortunately stocked with beautiful Purple Basil! So before it also withers, I wanted to share a favorite drink from Summer––a Cucumber Basil Margarita. Nothing says Texas Summer like a margarita, so it seemed fitting to consider this a farewell to the Summer garden and casual evenings outdoors.

What I love most about this drink is it’s flexibility. Want to skip the alcohol? Substitute mineral water or sparking water for the tequila and make it a spritzer. Short on Basil? Substitute an herb on hand, perhaps Lavender or Cilantro or Lemon Thyme. This drink is also very strong, so sip and enjoy slowly. It’s intended to mingle with the ice, making it perfect for warm weather, too. And naturally, it pairs best with a group of friends.  Happy weekend, friends!


CUCUMBER BASIL MARGARITA, makes one drink

.25 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped

5-6 basil leaves, washed

.5 – .75 oz. maple syrup, to preferred sweetness

1 lime, halved to press

3 oz. white tequila*

ice

tools needed / shaker, citrus press, muddler, knife, vegetable peeler, cutting board

DIRECTIONS

  1. Muddle cucumber and basil together in the shaker.
  2. Press the lime juice into the shaker.
  3. Add the maple syrup and tequila.
  4. Shake.
  5. Fill a glass with ice.
  6. Remove the lid of the shaker and pour the entire shaker over the ice.
  7. Garnish with a basil leaf and enjoy!

 

We happily stepped back into our school routine last week, sharpening pencils and opening fresh notebooks, flipping through old books on our shelves and thumbing through new ones, too. I know not every home feels as enthusiastic about this shift toward structure and routine again, but I LOVE the start of a fresh school year––even the ones we arbitrarily create at home. Wink.

The key to fluid days around here is keeping snack and lunchtime simple, synchronous, and á la carte. I know. You expected some other deeper bit of wisdom, perhaps even something more specific to our studies? But this is truth: having or not having food in some amount of order for our days can make or break it. Meal times form the backbone of our day’s rhythm, and as it turns out, having a purposeful pantry and fridge at the beginning of the week is not only a miraculous gift, but also a contributor to peaceful days spent at home.

I realized several years ago, that although we don’t need to pack lunches for our homeschool, choosing a few quality pre-made snacks to have around the pantry is a life-saver to mix into the day, whether for lunch or a snack or a last minute outing. And I’m happy to partner with Annie’s Homegrown this week, as their organic snacks are longtime favorites to add to our school day table and beyond.

Since our children each have meal responsibilities during the week––helping to chop, prep, and create meals one day a week––they also choose how to pair and prep various fruits and veggies during snack and lunch. The á la carte style options allows each of the kids to choose how to create and re-create, even within limited options. Perhaps chopped apples and Annie’s White Cheddar Bunnies for snack one day will feel entirely different when swapping apples for berries or carrots and hummus. Even with young children, it offers variety while empowering them with options as the helper. Snacks often are planned at the beginning of the week together, which offers the benefit of choice but without the hassle of snack-time bickering during the day.

As for other ways we keep daytime meals simple, it’s important that everyone eats at the same time. Otherwise, our kitchen is a non-stop train of grazing, mess, and incomplete meals. Snack-time might be as simple as adding a box of Organic Snack Mix to our afternoon table, passing around––or more importantly, playing with––Organic Really Peely Fruit Tape, or setting a bowl of fruit at the center of our work table. The same can also neatly pack in a backpack on days we go for a nature walk or play with friends. It depends on our own needs for that part of the day, but it’s important we all snack at the same time so we’re ready for meals together, too.

Lunchtime is a more distinct pause in our day, a meal together without the distraction of any books or projects. I love creating lunch boards with my helpers to again create a selection for everyone to choose from and build on their own. They vary day-to-day sometimes with leftovers from dinner, or fixings for sandwiches or wraps, meats and cheeses or peanut butter and jelly. White Cheddar Bunnies are always welcome. We’ve also more recently discovered using cloth napkins with a lunch board can save time washing dishes and paper towels, too.

Whether you’re packing your littles off to school or trying to create fluid days within your home, having your children help can save you time and empower their independence, too. Let them pack their lunches the night before and plan with you a bit at the front of the week. Are they happy to eat the same thing every day or are there simple ways to swap one part for another? And for all of you mutual lovers of Annie’s Homegrown, use your Target Cartwheel app all month to save money and stock up on your family’s favorites.  


This post is sponsored by Annie’s Homegrown, snacks our family has enjoyed for years. All thoughts and images are my own. And as always, thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Target & Annie’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

Our garden has been less than stellar this summer and is quickly dissipating in this heat. I rotated plants into different beds this year, as master gardeners always insist for the soil’s health, but it turns out, we have such specific quantities and places of light in our heavily shaded yard, that my typical planting spots just work best. Sigh. Lessons learned. I did plant a row of heirloom Swiss Chard from seed this year, and it has performed beautifully and bountifully. If you are new to gardening, or even planting in patio pots, Swiss Chard is a great starting place. It’s beautiful, easy to grow, intuitive to manage, and prolific. It’s also an inexpensive veggie this time of year at local farmer’s markets and grocers.

But what do I do with it? There are hundred of ways to use it, but most times, I chop and sauté with garlic and onion or use as a tortilla for a wrap. Our blender has been broken the last year (argh!) or I’d use it in smoothies, too. To get more creative and to share a few yummy looking ways to eat it, here are fifteen diverse recipes, everything from Chard Dark Chocolate Torte to Chard Hummus Wraps, to enjoy at your table right now.

 

Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio with Rainbow Chard

Hot Sausage and Crispy Chard Pizza

Drink Your Greens Smoothie

Runner Beans with Swiss Chard Stems and Basil

Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls

Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart

Crispy Swiss Chard Cakes with Mascarpone Creamed Spinach

Rainbow Chard Hummus Wraps

Chard Dark Chocolate Torte

Butternut Squash and Chard in Spicy Harissa Coconut Sauce

Chard Black and Blue Smoothie

Chard + Sweet Corn Tacos

Sweet Thai Chile Chicken Swiss Chard Wraps with Peanut Ginger Sauce

Spicy Swiss Chard Chips

Herb, Chard, and Feta Soup

 

Easter morning is one of my favorite mornings of the year. As with many people around the world, the day holds deep, spiritual significance for our family, and it always seems fitting to welcome the morning outdoors with the sunrise, singing birds, rustling trees, and of course brunch. The Springtime here naturally reflects the resurrection song, and it is the perfect backdrop for a celebratory Easter Brunch.

I am not a very formal person, but I do love good food, presented in a beautiful and casual manner, enjoyed with people I love. Today, I’m partnering with Williams Sonoma to introduce a few pieces of their Spring Garden collection and also share a simple brunch menu for Easter, one that is easy enough for the children to help prepare, but with just enough sophistication for the adults to enjoy, too. I’ve mentioned this before, but simple doesn’t equate to easy. Simple is more a reference to the spirit and process of the meal. Every homemade meal requires preparation and work, but as with many things, many hands lightens the effort. Involve those children!

I tried to piece together a brunch menu that felt approachable, yet still special. As a mother, I’ve learned preparation is key to simplifying meals, especially larger, more intentional ones. Many of these dishes that can be prepped or baked in advance, leaving only the last baking or setting of the table for the morning of the brunch. They are also simple enough for children of all ages to participate in helping prepare. For those wondering, I added a little note in each section of ways to include children in the process. The recipes, for the most part, are intuitive, and the details follow the planning section below. I hope this helps make a beautiful brunch feel more approachable in your own home.


BRUNCH MENU

French Radishes

Fresh Berries

Almond Croissants

Rosemary Potatoes

Spring Vegetable Egg Casserole

Lemon Bunny Cakelettes + Petit Fours

Rose + Orange Blossom Mimosas

Blood Orange Italian Soda


PLANNING AHEAD

TWO WEEKS BEFORE

  • Size (friends and family, small or large)?
  • Style (casual, formal)?
  • Menu. Write a list of family favorites to begin. If friends are joining, consider a potluck style meal.
  • Location. Inside or outside? At a friend’s house or yours?
  • Send invites or make phone calls to invite the people on your list.
  • Order any special accoutrements for the meal (bakeware, place settings, or specialty foods)
  • CHILDREN: Paint or hand-write invites.

ONE WEEK BEFORE

  • Write out your grocery list.
  • Double-check you have all of your materials, table details, and tools.

TWO DAYS BEFORE

  • Double-check with guests who are bringing food.
  • Grocery shop and pick up a few special blooms for the table.
  • Arrange flowers.
  • CHILDREN: Help trim and arrange flowers. Write name tags (if using). Make sure all the linens are clean and accounted for.

ONE DAY BEFORE

  • Bake cakelettes and petits fours in the morning, and set aside to cool.
  • Prepare the Spring Vegetable Egg Casserole. Do not bake. Cover and set aside in the fridge overnight.
  • Set the croissants on the baking tray to rise overnight.
  • Slice and store radishes.
  • Wash, pat dry, and mix berries.
  • If you have a single oven, bake the potatoes now, refrigerate overnight, and quickly reheat before brunch.
  • If you are eating indoors, set the table the night before.
  • If you are eating outdoors, neatly stack the place settings in baskets or tidy piles to quickly set up in the morning.
  • Set aside a few small baskets with treats for the kids, like these, the night before.
  • CHILDREN: Help make the cakelettes and chop vegetables. Wash and pat dry potatoes and berries. Wipe down the table and chairs to prepare for the morning.

EASTER MORNING

  • Turn on music or open the windows, if the weather permits.
  • Get dressed, make coffee, and watch the sunrise together.
  • Share a moment of gratitude.
  • Bake the croissants, potatoes, and egg casserole, timing the casserole to finish around the time you want to eat. It should take less than an hour with a double-oven. If you are baking all three with a single oven, allow up to 90 minutes.
  • Set the table.
  • Butter radishes.
  • Dust the cakelettes with powdered sugar.
  • Mix and pour drinks.
  • CHILDREN: Help set the table. Get dressed. Serve or pour non-alcoholic drinks. Set food on the table.


RECIPES

FRENCH RADISHES

Have you tried these before? So delicious. My sister first introduced me a few months ago, and they’re the quickest little appetizer. She takes it up a notch with fresh bread. Mmm. Wash and slice fresh radishes. Swipe a bit of softened unsalted butter on the top. Add sea salt.

 

ROSEMARY POTATOES

I have a family of potato-lovers, so they are always a welcome edition to any special meal. Wash 2 pounds of butter potatoes. Toss them in extra virgin olive oil. Generously sprinkle with sea salt and freshly chopped rosemary. Bake in the oven at 425F until done, approximately 35-40 minutes.

 

FRESH BERRIES

Rinse and pat dry your choice of berries. I used raspberries, blackberries, and sliced strawberries.

 

LEMON BUNNY CAKELETTES + PETITS FOURS

These mini-bunny cakelettes were my favorite part of the meal. Aren’t they cute? I used this mix to help save a bit of time and it was wonderful! Think: moist lemon pound cake. One box filled both the mini-bunny cakelet pan and the petits fours pan, and they carry the mix gluten free, too. Wink.

 

ALMOND CROISSANTS

Croissants are my pastry weakness, and these are my absolute favorite pre-made croissants––the next best thing to having a French baker in your kitchen. The chocolate are spectacular, too.  

 

SPRING VEGETABLE EGG CASSEROLE adapted from Gimme Some Oven

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 yellow onion, peeled and diced

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1 lb asparagus, cut in 1” pieces

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 bunch of broccolini florets

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

12 eggs, whisked

½ c. milk

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Lightly rub butter over the surface of your casserole dish. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté a few minutes until translucent. Add a bit more oil (if necessary), and stir in the garlic, carrots, asparagus, broccolini. Sauté for about 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Sauté for another few minutes. Pour half the veggie mixture into the casserole dish, layering half the goat cheese on top. Repeat. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the vegetables. Cover and put in the fridge overnight or bake straight away. Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes. It is done when the knife (or toothpick) is clean. Serve immediately.


This post is sponsored by Williams Sonoma, a company our family has loved for years. All thoughts and images are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat. 

The days have been warm here, feeling more like spring than late winter. I don’t mind. I spent the day on a blanket last weekend, reading Luci Shaw’s Water My Soul, and soaking up the warm light. It’s possibly the most restorative way for me to spend alone time, tending the soil of my own soul and spirit, taking in the outdoors. In spite of a few hard freezes here, our garden kale and brussel sprouts have continued to grow, and the heirloom lettuces I let go to seed last year have blossomed again without effort! It feels miraculous. In our southern heat, these leafy greens only last as long as the weather remains cool in the evening, so I’m harvesting what I can each day, adding a bit of kale to at least one meal or juice a day. As I’ve looked for more creative ways to eat kale, here are a few recipes I’ve found. Kale Cake? Kale Pesto Slaw? Mmm. Enjoy!

  1. Simply Sauté | Toss with olive oil, sea salt, and minced garlic over the stove until a bright green color. Add to any dish.
  2. Green Juice  or this one: 5-6 de-stemmed kale leaves, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 lemon without the rind, 1 apple, 2 sprigs of mint, 1″ piece of ginger
  3. Wilted Winter Greens Soup
  4. BBQ Kale Chips
  5. Kale and Black Bean Tacos with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa
  6. Butternut Squash + Kale Quesadillas
  7. Blueberry, Kale, and Fig Smoothie
  8. Kale and Apple Cake with Apple Icing
  9. Kale Pasta with Walnuts
  10. Pork Tenderloin with Kale and Kimchi
  11. Kale Veggie Wrap
  12. Kale with Garlic and Bacon
  13. Savory Oatmeal with Garlicky Kale
  14. Winter Farro and Kale Salad
  15. Cheesy Turmeric + Garlic Kale Chips
  16. Chocolate Cocoa Kale Chips
  17. Chive, Kale, + Parmesan Pancakes with Poached Eggs
  18. Kale + Feta Savory Torte
  19. Kale, Cherry, Sunflower Seed Salad with Savory Granola
  20. Roasted Beet, Kale, and Brie Baby Quiche
  21. Savory Corned Beef Brisket + Irish Cheddar French Toast with Kale Pesto Slaw
  22. Hide Your Kale Smoothie
  23. Warm Kale + Artichoke Dip
  24. Detox Salad with Cauliflower, Kale, and Pomegranate
  25. Kale + Popcorn

Any favorite kale recipes to share?

Chicken Soup for Winter WellnessChicken Soup for Winter Wellness

Our home has felt under the weather this last week with fevers and coughs and stuffy noses. With so many friends and extended family members also at home with the flu right now, I’ve again turned to nurture our wellness here. Although there are hundreds of homeopathic remedies to sip or rub or diffuse, this hearty Chicken Soup with Kale and Carrots is my favorite to return to during theses dreary, cold months.

While two of my children were sprawled across the sofa or in their beds feeling awful, my youngest has been bouncing on furniture and hanging from doorways, telling me how much she misses having playmates. “I am 100% extrovert! I need to be with people,” she shouted this week. I just laughed. For my little who loves people, this week has been a great lesson in how healthy busy hands can help nurture and take care of those who don’t feel well. So she’s made tea for her siblings and given her sister a foot rub. She’s written little notes and helped a ton in the kitchen, one of her favorite places.

This weekend, we decided to make our favorite chicken soup together. It is the perfect recipe for little helpers as there’s much washing, peeling, and rough chopping needed. On a side note since many have asked, Olive began chopping in the kitchen with me at age four, more because of her own interest. Now, she always uses her child’s chef knife and peeler set we gifted her a couple of Christmases ago. (The same company also sells the chef knife and finger guard on its own.) I love that it encourages proper finger placement and protection with the finger guard, but the blade is still sturdy enough to chop carrots. At nearly eight, she does all of her own chopping, although always with my supervision. Wink.

Chicken Soup for Winter Wellness Chicken Soup for Winter Wellness

Below is the recipe for one large batch of soup (serving 6-8ish). I often chop extra veggies (marked with *) to make a second bone broth after I’ve stripped the meat from the chicken. It’s a way to stretch the chicken and stock the freezer for another meal. You’ll find both listed below in the instructions. Enjoy!

CHICKEN SOUP WITH KALE+ CARROTS adapted from It’s All Good

1 whole chicken, 4-5 lbs

1 large yellow onion, quartered*

1 celery stalk, washed and roughly chopped*

1 large leek, washed really well, trimmed and chopped*

2-3 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and roughly chopped for the broth*

2-3 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and roughly chopped, reserved for the soup

a few sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

2-3 teaspoons of sea salt

1 teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

1 large bunch of kale, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

2 large soup pots

(optional) extra carrot, celery, onion, and leek chopping to set aside for a second bone broth


TO MAKE THE CHICKEN SOUP

Toss the coarsely chopped veggies [onion, celery, leek, carrots] and chicken in a pot. Cover with sea salt, black pepper, thyme, and the bay leaf. Fill the pot with cold water, covering the veggies and chicken, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. When it boils, lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Pour and strain the stock into a clean pot, removing and discarding the cooked vegetables. Pull the meat off the chicken––it should fall right off the bone––adding the shredded chicken to the broth. If the chicken is too hot for your fingers, use a knife and tongs. Leave the bones in the first pot for now. Add the torn kale and fresh batch of carrots to the soup. Let the soup simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy. This soup pairs really well with an easy, handmade crusty bread, too. Wink.

TO STOCK UP ADDITIONAL BONE BROTH

While the soup is simmering, add any veggie scraps or extra veggies you have chopped back into the first pot with the chicken bones. Add a bit of parsley or thyme and sea salt. Fill the pot again with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer for 6 to 12 hours. I often leave it simmering overnight. Let the broth cool. Strain it into a a pot or bowl. Measure and store in the freezer for a future soup, or to sip on when your home needs nurturing wellness.

Cloistered Away | Ginger CookiesCloistered Away | Ginger Cookies

I look forward to this season every year, when the home twinkles and the hearth glows, when the kitchen smells of spices and baked goods or a simmering pot on the stove, when the children and I begin afternoon tea with Advent read-aloud and crafts, when we thoughtfully plan out our gifts to make or purchase for dear and near ones. And yet this particular holiday season has been different. I have been away from my home far more than I have been in it. I actually counted the days yesterday and discovered six precious days at home in December. My heart sunk a bit. I don’t regret my days away, as they were meaningful and necessary in their own manner, even when they were unexpected. But without recognizing it, I have found myself chasing home, chasing Christmas this year. I have found myself rushed to do, do, do, to somehow catch up with time, compressing 20 days at home into six. But that pace begins to suffocate me after a while, it squelches the soul, the connection. Instead I am letting go of my own plans this year, releasing it even as I type this out. I’m releasing the unfinished baking and making, the imperfect gifts and lagging Advent readings, the crafts that were never begun, and all of those quiet afternoon cups of tea and read aloud. I’m releasing it all to embrace what we chose instead this year: to serve others in need, to offer my children a small opportunity with theater, to light candles and sing Christmas hymns and carols by candlelight most evenings, to enjoy many afternoons building forts in the woods with friends, to spend time with cousins and grandparents, even a great-grandparent during Christmas, to make wreaths and garlands for other homes instead of my own. Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. Sometimes the imperfect, the unexpected events and happenings are what make it good (and also sometimes uncomfortable for me).
Cloistered Away | Ginger CookiesCloistered Away | Ginger Cookies

Earlier this week, Olive and I spent the day at my sister’s house, baking gingerbread cookies, writing Christmas cards, and crafting with them. As it happens, we also enjoyed tea––a new loose leaf blend gifted by a dear friend, in a new Japanese tea kettle and hand thrown cup gifted by TOAST. I plan to use both often this winter, ideally with these cookies and heaps of gratitude. Kristen’s ginger cookies are my favorite cookies. Period. I prefer them extra gingery, rolled in raw sugar, soft and chewy, slightly cooled from the oven. The fresh ginger is absolutely wonderful. Rolled out and left in the oven a tad longer, this recipe also creates a perfect dough for cookie cutting, too, and as we have it, perfectly imperfect cookie decorating also. In the event you’re looking for a small afternoon craft or something delicious to share with loved ones, here’s Kristen’s simple recipe for you, a salute to letting go and receiving the day or season at hand, perfectly imperfect. They are tasty and heart-warming in every season or month of the year.

KRISTEN’S GINGER COOKIES

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap unsulphered molasses
  • 1 egg
  • raw sugar for topping

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl (or mixing stand), mix together the fresh ginger, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and egg. Add in the dry ingredients. Taste and check the ginger flavor of the batter. Add more if necessary (sometimes I add up to 1/2 cup of fresh ginger). Chill for at least one hour.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350 ºF.

For softer, chewier cookies, roll a spoonful of dough between your hands into a ball. Roll the ball in the raw sugar and place on a baking tray 2″ apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

For cookie cutting, lightly flour a surface and rolling pin. Roll out the dough evenly, about 1/4″ – 1/8.” Bake for approximately 15 minutes for a crispier cookie, checking not to burn. Cool entirely before icing.

ICING

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk

Wisk together. It will have a thick, glue-like consistency. Pour into a piping bag to decorate.