Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

December 18, 2013

Busy baking and preparing (or maybe not this year) for the holidays

By Alice Woodhull
Daily News

---- — I can just smell your kitchens right now as you are busy getting all those candy and cookies and other goodies baked, made, and hid away from hungry fingers so that you will have a good supply for all of your many festivities.

I do more baking this month, I think, than I do all the rest of the year. I have some things I want to take to parties, etc., plus I want some for my family when we get together.

It always makes me feel good when I can take something that everyone else likes. Maybe it’s an “ego” thing. I always like to leave things for my family after we leave so they can help me eat them up.

Would you believe I haven’t put up that first decoration this year? I don’t think my family will be here and why put up things that nobody will see? Maybe I have turned into Scrooge. We always go out and cut our own tree, and this year the weather just hasn’t cooperated for us to do that. I didn’t feel like carrying up my decoration tubs from the basement, so we will just have to enjoy everyone else’s decorations.

I was dreaming of a white Christmas until I heard the weather forecast for later on this week. With temperatures in the upper 40s, I imagine all the white will disappear. I’m hoping the roads will be clear for travelling. With family on the road, I’m always on edge when the snow comes.

With Christmas coming in the middle of the week, it makes it easier to go away ourselves rather than making our family travel for such a short time when they have to go back to work the day after.

I have had a couple calls about one of the recipes I had in my last column. I had never made the Martha Washington Creams myself, but they sounded good enough for me to try. I did make a batch and they seemed too soft to roll into balls, even after sitting in the fridge for a couple days. I got them out, stirred more powdered sugar into them, and they were still too sticky. Next I dropped then onto wax paper and put them in the freezer. I hope they firm up enough for me to roll them into balls so that I can get them dipped. I do think maybe the cherries should have been the candied kind rather than the ones in juice. I drained them on paper towels forever and then squeezed as much juice as I could out of them, but they were still juicy. I’m sorry for all the trouble you are having with them.

There is no way I can try every recipe before I put it in the column. I get most of them from cookbooks published by churches and other groups where people usually put in their tried and true recipes. I have a very large collection of these, and I jump at the chance to buy another one. I am not a gourmet cook, I just like the simple things.

I will put in a couple this week that I know are good because I’ve made them over and over.

BUTTER CRUNCH PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1 cup margarine

1 1 /2 cups crunchy peanut butter (I use smooth)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup coconut

1 cup chopped nuts

3/4 pound powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients together and mix well. Form into small balls. If dough is too sticky, chill first. Dip into melted white, butterscotch, or chocolate chips. Let cool on waxed paper. I call these more candy than cookies.

Note: A lot of recipes call for adding paraffin when melting chocolate. I find that they do really well without it, and the doctors tell us that paraffin isn’t good for our digestive systems.

Another note: When I’m dipping things, I always have everything else I want to dip whether it is pretzels, salted peanuts, cereal mixes, etc. I start out with white chips, and when I have them done and there is a small amount of white left, I add the butterscotch chips and then melt and then dip whatever I want to do of that, and then add the chocolate chips. When I am done with that and still have a little bit left, I crush pretzels and add peanuts and stir this in. Then drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. By then, I have all the dipping goop used up. I hope this makes sense.

BUTTERSCOTCH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg, unbeaten

1/4 cup milk

1 6-ounce package chocolate chips

1 6-ounce package butterscotch chips

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift flour, baking powder, soda, and salt and set aside; cream shortening, add sugar, and gradually cream until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add flour alternately with milk, mixing well after each addition. Then add the chips and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees about 10 minutes. Makes about five dozen cookies.

Happy baking and may you and yours have the most blessed and merry Christmas ever.