Monday, 5 December 2011
God's 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 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!
As an adult, I now find that 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, only disturbed by the small hop-hop-hopping's of tiny bird feet upon it's surface. All the branches of the surrounding trees draped in it's heavenly sugar like 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" . . . seriously . . . I swear I can smell it's impending arrival, and the sky takes on a peculiar dark grey leaden appearance. There is a feeling that comes over me. It's hard to explain . . . but when all these things are in place, there's snow a comin' . . .
When I was a child, the first snowfall of the year brought about a flurry of activity. Our absolute first chore was to build a snowman. We would spend hours rolling the snow into big balls, three in number . . . each one getting a little bit smaller than the last. We would heap 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 my mother always begrudgingly donated a carrot for the nose. An old scarf and hat were also donated, 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 wondrous 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 everytime you wanted to go somewhere . . . but it was a wonderful gift from above for us children, and it would be several weeks before the novelty would wear off.
I do admit that I miss the snow over here, especially around Christmas time. 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 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 for others . . .
I hope you enjoyed my "Wintery" post this morning. No snow in our forcast here alas . . . just rain, rain and more rain! One nice thing about these colder days though, is being able to come into the warm indoors after a frosty walk about and warm your toes next to a cosy hearth, cradling a mug of hot cocoa and perhaps some cookies to munch on . . .
These tender little bites are also known as Mexican Wedding cookies, but I like to call them Snow Pillows . . . it sounds more festive. In Austria they are called Kipel, and in Greece, Kourabiedes. Snow Pillows is definitely my favourite name, but in any language they are delicious. That I guarantee!
Delicious little shortbread bites, chock full of ground pecans and rolled in icing sugar until they are like little pillows of snow covered yumminess!
1 cup plain flour
1 cup pecan meal (finely ground pecans)
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, divided
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Stir together the pecan meal, flour and salt. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and 1/3 cup of the icing sugar until fluffy. Stir in the vanilla, then stir in the flour mixture, mixing it in well. Chill the dough for 20 minutes.
Shape pieces of the dough into 1 inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake about 12 minutes until light brown and firm to the touch.
Have the remainder of the icing sugar waiting in a bowl and immediately upon removing the cookies from the oven drop them a few at a time gently into the icing sugar and roll them around until they are well coated.
Remove with a slotted spatula to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat until all are well coated. The icing sugar melts and makes a sweet coating. Once they are cool I repeat the process, which is what gives them that snowy look.
Over in The English Kitchen today, some delicious Maple Mustard Glazed Carrots!
“Since the beginning of time, love has been the source of both the highest bliss and the heaviest burdens. At the heart of misery from the days of Adam until today, you will find the love of wrong things. And at the heart of joy, you will find the love of good things."And the greatest of all good things is God.”
~Dieter F. Uchtdorf