I'm just having a little fun today. It may be Black Friday elsewhere, but at The Essential Herbal, we don't usually have that experience. Soon it will be time to go down the hill to the shop and help people start their holidays.
I found this template that allows you to insert pictures at Ace Hardware of all places. In order to keep the picture, you have to do a print screen and then paste it into a photo editing program. Then save to your own file name. This isn't everyone. They only allowed for 6 - which coincidentally was the number of family faces that were handy. I'd love to find something outside in the snow with room to put all of the writers in. Stay tuned, we'll see. Anyway, the kids, a couple of siblings and me are here.
We had a pretty nice time. Normally the bird is done down at my sister's and I show up with some of the side dishes. One of the boys will bring dessert - but Maryanne really can't resist baking something or other. This year was different, and she did every single thing. I offered, but she said she'd do it. We just showed up to eat. And it was scrumptious!!! Beginning with the little loaves of pumpkin and nut breads and ending up with the pumpkin pie. Every morsel delicious. In fact, she picked up a jar of Harry & David's cranberry relish, and that was the perfect accompaniment.
We went around the table to talk about what makes us thankful. Some years that is harder than others. I forgot to say how thankful I am that my daughter has turned out to be such a fun person to be around, with goals and dreams - and the determination to pursue them. Mostly, we were all thankful that John (upper middle) is fighting liver disease with such humor and humility. It was unspoken, but as we lean on each other to get through this (sometimes dragging him, sometimes being dragged ourselves) we are all aware of how very glad we are to have each other.
The air here is starting to fill with the scent of pines, spruces and firs. Some of the really huge trees that lined the back of my yard have been offered up, so there will be more space for planting next spring. When I told Bob that I needed the room for gardening, he looked bewildered. There is a 1/4 acre garden he leaves unplanted so that I can put in whatever I want! But that gets plowed each spring (thankfully!). Perennials can't go there. The fruit bushes and trees that I've been gathering are nestled strategically up to the split rail fence, and there really isn't any more space.
So 2 or 3 people have gotten enormous (20' ?) trees for the same price as the 7 or 8 ' trees - $30. They will get home with their prizes, and not get in the door. I don't know who they are really, but imagine them as new dads bringing home their baby's first tree. I make up a lot of stories while watching people search for the perfect tree from this office window. That's almost the best part.
If you've read along this far, you deserve a little treat. Maryanne made up a couple of batches of the following cupcakes in the last few weeks. It is sort of a regional thing - shoofly pies - made into cupcakes. Shoofly is second only to pumpkin for me. It's a perfect blend of pie/cake/pastry/crumb topping. The cupcakes don't have the gooey bottom, but they have every bit of the flavor and some of the crumbs. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING healthy about them.
2-1/2 C. Flour
1-1/2 C. brown sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 C. shortening
1-1/2 C. hot water
1 C. brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
Pre heat oven to 350 F. and line cupcake pan with paper cups. Mix dry ingredients until it forms "crumbs". Save out 1/2 C. of thecrumbs for topping. Mix wet ingredients and then add to the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until well blended and creamy. Fill cupcakes about 1/3-1/2 full, top with crumbs, about 1 t. per cupcake. Bake 15-20 minutes.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!