Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

Think on th' eternal home,
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untired His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.

--from Keble's The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bright Blue Weather

After a few days of much needed rain, the sun broke through today and it is lovely out--at least, between the occasional showers.

Naturally, this has set me to thinking of one of my favorite autumn poems.


      October's Bright Blue Weather

    O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
        And flowers of June together,
    Ye cannot rival for one hour
        October's bright blue weather; 

    When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
        Belated, thriftless vagrant,
    And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
        And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

    When Gentians roll their fringes tight
        To save them for the morning,
    And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
        Without a sound of warning; 

    When on the ground red apples lie
        In piles like jewels shining,
    And redder still on old stone walls
        Are leaves of woodbine twining; 

    When all the lovely wayside things
        Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
    And in the fields, still green and fair,
        Late aftermaths are growing;

    When springs run low, and on the brooks,
        In idle golden freighting,
    Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
        Of woods, for winter waiting; 

    When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
        By twos and twos together,
    And count like misers, hour by hour,
        October's bright blue weather. 

    O suns and skies and flowers of June,
        Count all your boasts together,
    Love loveth best of all the year
        October's bright blue weather.

--Helen Hunt Jackson

I've been playing this afternoon. Yesterday an order of wonderful satin arrived from RealFabric.etsy.com, and I have been experimenting with some Christmas gift bag ideas.  Here's what I made today:


I am really having fun with this new design, an improvement on the French-seamed bags I was making previously when I wanted a lace overlay.  These go together much more quickly, and they have less bulk at the seams. These are fully lined and have velvet ribbon ties. I'm thinking I'll get some white satin and do some with red and green lace overlay, plus make a solid red one. I'll make some larger ones, too, and put them in the RedLetterDayBags shop. Believe it or not, the Christmas shoppers are already out in force!

This cooler weather has me thinking about hot desserts, like Indian pudding and brownie pudding, but I did promise you some cookie recipes so I'd better get with it. Today let's make one of my "old faithful" recipes, Drop Sugar Cookies. If you like shortbread, you will love these, and they're so easy and quick to make.

Drop Sugar Cookies

First, preheat your oven 350 degrees. Get yourself two bowls.
In the first one (the largest one) cream together the following:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated (regular) sugar
1 cup softened butter 
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

In the second bowl, put your dry ingredients and blend them. (I like to use my special whisk from the Baker's Catalog. I use it all the time, and like it so much I gave one to my daughter and one to each of my daughters-in-law.  To purchase one for yourself, go to www.kingarthurflour.com)

4 cups flour 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

I don't usually bother sifting the flour. Now pour the dry ingredients into the moist ingredients and blend well.



Got some cookie sheets ready?  Mine are ancient and battered and brown, but they work great. DON'T grease them!


 My mother was (well, still is!) a great baker but she always scorned such appurtenances as colored sprinkles and kitchen gadgets, so naturally I use both liberally. If you don't have a lever-action cookie scoop, by all means get one! They'll save you a lot of extra work. (I have a big one for filling muffin tins, too. Bliss!) I realize pink sprinkles are not fitting for the season, but these cookies will be a gift for a special someone I know--a someone who adores pink.  (You know who you are!)

Anyway, spread the cookies out so they're not too close, and bake them for approximately 12 minutes. Since ovens differ, check on them until you know what works for you. When they're slightly brown on the bottom, they're done. Remove them to racks to cool.



Today I made only a half batch, and that gave me 28 nice-sized cookies. So a full batch should give you 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 dozen, depending on how large you make them.

I've been taking these cookies to kids' music recitals and various social events for years, and they always get rave reviews. They have the most wonderful texture and flavor! Great for milk dunking, too.

When I've been in a major hurry, I've been known to make these bar cookie style, in a rectangular pan. (DO grease the pan if you do this.) I made them this way once, iced with lovely pink sugar frosting, and took them to a church potluck. Someone asked me if it was a pan of cornbread. You may draw your own conclusions from that inanity.

In my next post I'll put this recipe up again without all the commentary so it's easier to print off, and I'll include a couple of yummy variations as well.






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