Saturday, 4 December 2010
God's Christmas Autograph . . .
On Christmas Eve I saw
God’s autograph in the snow . . .
Tiny creature tracks so fine,
All lacy in a row.
And with the dazzling Christmas dawn,
My eyes did then behold.
God’s signature grown ever dear,
Etched in sunlight gold.
~Rosalyn Hart Finch
As a child, growing up in Canada, long about the middle of November . . . beginning of December, I would start to look for snow. As the days grew shorter, the temperatures dipped, and the ground grew hard and cold . . . I would scan the sky daily for those tell tale feathery first flakes that would begin to fall and alight on my eyelashes and face. Is there anything on earth that tastes better? I think not! Those first few flakes of the season were eagerly anticipated and greeted with great aplomb, for if the snow was falling . . . the arrival of Christmas and Santa Claus could not be too far behind!
(First Snowfall by Phillip Hill)
As an adult there is nothing more peaceful then the air that rings with silence early in the morning after a heavy night-time snowfall. How I love to look out over the pristine fields adorned with a heavy white blanket . . . it's smooth as silk top only disturbed by the small hop-hop-hoppings of tiny bird feet upon it's surface. . .
All the branches of the surrounding trees draped in it's heavenly sugarlike decorations. There is no more beautiful sight on earth, to my way of thinking anyways. I can always tell when snow is "in the air" . . . I believe I can actually smell it's impending arrival, and the sky takes on a peculiar dark grey leaden appearance.
As children, the first snowfall brought about a flurry of activity. Our absolute first chore was to build the first snowman of the year, of course!! We would spend hours rolling the snow into big balls, three in number . . . each one getting a bit smaller than the last . . . and heaping them one on top of the other, with the very smallest on top. Those first snowmen were always adorned with the last few escaped leaves from autumn's flurry of raking . . . little prizes missed from the rake's ruthless prongs. Sticks were sought out and discarded, for only the straightest and best were sufficient for the snowman's most capable arms. Stones were prised from the frozen earth at the sides of the roadway to be used as eyes and mouth . . . and mom always donated a carrot for the nose. An old scarf and hat were also donated, only after much begging of course! (I'm quite sure she kept an old one in the utility room to be used year after year for just this purpose!) What a wonderous sight that snowman would be to behold when he was done. They sprung up all over the neighbourhood like welcome immigrants from a mysterious and snowy foreign land that was visited upon us for a time . . .
I know that the snow was not as welcomed by our parents, for it heralded the season of the back breaking labour of shovelling and having to clean the car off every time they wanted to go somewhere . . . but it was a wonderful gift from above for the young at heart . . . it would be several weeks for the novelty to wear off.
I do admit that throughout the ten years I have been living here in the UK, I have missed the snow . . . especially before Christmas. A green Christmas, when I was growing up, always meant a season of doom, for, if all the old wive's tales were to be believed . . . it meant a season of illness, and possibly even a death in the family. So, while we kids eagerly awaited those first snowy flakes for all the joy they would bring . . . our parents eagerly awaited them as well, despite the work they would bring, for they heralded a season of good health for the family and others . . .
And so this past week of snow and ice and cold has warmed my heart in a lot of ways . . . as it brought back many of those snowy memories of my childhood growing up in Canada . . . Oh, for sure, I know that it does create a lot of hardship for many over here . . . we just are not equipt to deal with it . . . and it's probably a certainty that come Christmas time . . . there will be none to be found, but if you don't have to go anywhere, and can just enjoy the luxury of staying at home, it is truly a beautiful thing.
And now for some refreshments! These have to be my favourite cookies, but then again, I am a sucker for Peanut Butter and Jam! How about a nice hot cuppa and some of these???
*Peanut Butter and Jam Cookies*
Makes about 30 (depending on how big you make them)
Us North Americans are nuts about Peanut Butter! It’s one of our favourite things and we use it to flavour cookies, pies, cakes and even savoury dishes . . .and we absolutely love Peanut Butter and Jam together. In fact, in the grocery stores, you can get jars of the two swirled together already. I forget what it’s called though. My husband thinks it’s a crazy combination and you would never get him to eat a Peanut Butter and jam sandwich . . . but he sure gobbles up these cookies!
½ cup plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Few drops of vanilla essence
¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup caster sugar
¼ cup soft light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
FOR THE FROSTING:
¼ cup plus 2 TBS icing sugar
1 ½ TBS milk
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
Blend together the peanut butter and the butter with you electric hand mixer, until fluffy and well combined. Add the caster sugar and the brown sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture to combine.
Shape TBS of the dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Press down a bit with your fingertips and then with your thumb, gently dent the centre of each cookie. Spoon about ½ tsp of the jam into these dents. Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden and done. Remove from the oven and pan to cool on a wire rack.
Beat together the ¼ cup of peanut butter and the icing sugar. Beat in the milk a little at a time until it reaches a good consistency for piping. Place into a plastic sandwich bag and squish it all down into one corner. Snip of a tiny bit of the corner of the bag and pipe the frosting onto the cooled cookies. Enjoy!
Over in The English Kitchen today, there's a real treat for the kiddies! A Gingerbread Man Cake!