7 Quick Takes Fall Fun at Liturgy of Life

A quick review of our Thanksgiving week. Hope you had a great one.

 

1.  Though we missed our family terribly (we usually spend Thanksgiving with the Jarrett side) this year we decided we have been doing too much traveling and so we stayed in Texas.  We were thankful to be invited to eat with our dear friends and the staff of the Isaiah 55 Mission.   As a result my daughter got to hang out with a bunch of big kids who took her exploring in a pond and climbing on a broken dock. It would have terrified me so I didn’t watch, as a result she had the most fun day of her life.

 

2.  We wanted to squeeze in a few more fall activities over the last week before moving into advent.  I had some leaves tucked away that we collected last fall.  So we dipped them in bees wax and strung them on a thread.  I love it though I’ve been cleaning up bits of wax all week.

 

 

 

 

2.  We did a little thanksgiving craft at the refugee shelter. We are also reading Little house on the Prairie (for the second time) so my daughter’s telling of the Thanksgiving story goes something like. “Well the settlers arrived and the Indians brought them food and they all ate together, then the settlers took the Indian’s land and killed the Indians.” Mostly accurate but a rough introduction to the history of our country.

 

Liturgy of Life. fall leaf placemat

 

3. Oh yeah and the place mats are the leftover leaves ironed into a wax paper place mat. My husband said he made some like this in preschool. Also those odd looking cookies are one of my new favorites, sugarless, flourless breakfast cookies, recipe will come once I perfect it.

 

4.  I’ve had a few fall cooking flops this week including this pie I made for Thanksgiving. I guess overall it wasn’t so bad, just not very attractive.

Liturgy of life. apple cherry pie

I also tried fermented apple sauce. Apparently a good source of pro-biotics, mine tasted a bit like bourbon.

Liturgy of life. fermented apple sauce

 

On the positive side we started making cold brewed coffee which has gone well.

liturgy of life cold brewed coffee

 

6. We took the holiday Friday to visit a nearby art and science museum. Here we all are painting a still-life cornucopia, later we made light up LED holiday cards.

 

liturgy of life art and science.

 

7.  One more fall activity to do before we head into advent. We are all headed to the Corn Maze this weekend and then Sunday we are moving on into advent.

 

corn maze liturgy of life

 

Happy Holiday Weekend!

 

For more quick takes  check out thisaintlyceum.com

Thanks for reading friends,

 

 

Erica

 

To learn more about Liturgy of Life click here, or join us in our reading group, where we are currently reading, The Art of The Commonplace by Wendell Berry. Feel free to comment here or join in the discussion on facebook.

 

The Ginger Snap, the Perfect Cookie For Fall (Not that we have Fall where I live but we can pretend)

The Ginger Snap, a perfect fall cookie. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

There is nothing complicated about this cookie. It is perfect in its simplicity.  It is a great one to take to a fall party, as a housewarming gift or just to have around the house to munch on.  This recipe is based on the Alice Water’s Recipe from The Art of Simple Food.

 

The Ginger Snap, a perfect fall cookie. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

You will need:

Dry Ingredients

2 cups of flour

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger

(ground pepper, I add 1/8 teaspoon but Waters suggests up to 1/2 teaspoon for a spicier cookie.

Wet Ingredients

11 tablespoons of butter softened

2/3 cup sugar (this makes for a fairly sweet cookie, if you want more savory one you could probably cut back on the sugar a little bit)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I usually do 1 full teaspoon)

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg at room temperature

( 1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated, this is my addition, and isn’t in the original recipe).

 

Directions:

Stir together dry ingredients.

In another bowl beat softened butter with sugar  until light and fluffy.

Add other wet ingredients into butter and sugar and mix well.

Stir dry ingredients into wet until incorporated. Don’t over mix.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or longer.

To Bake:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

You can roll dough out to 1/4-1/8 of an inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut with a cookie cutter.  Then place cut outs onto a parchment covered baking sheet.

Or you can roll the dough into logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, chill for 30 minutes or longer (you can also freeze the dough in this stage). Then unwrap a log and slice cookies about 1/4 inches thick to bake. You can also dip these in sugar before baking.

Or, what I did is roll dough into balls 1 inch (or smaller) and flatten with a glass dipped in water and then sugar.

Bake about 10 minutes, watch to see them puff up and set (that means the middles aren’t wet and gooey anymore).  Bake longer for a crispier cookie.

Let cool for 1-2 minutes on the pan, then remove to cool on a rack.

 

These make great ice cream sandwiches.

 

The Ginger Snap, a perfect fall cookie. Liturgy of Life. liturgyoflife.com

 

 

Enjoy!

Erica

Homemade Chai Tea

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I have been saving this recipe to post until I could get my photos from my trip to India out to incorporate into this recipe. Today Zenie slept an hour longer than normal and so I had time to dig out my hard-drive where my pictures have been stored for years.  After lots of clicks and frustration I had to face reality. Those pictures were stuck on the hard drive and my computer was not interested in reading them.  So though we are lacking many amazing pics I decided to post this anyway.

I spent a month in west/central India during graduate school.  I was there during graduate school studying at the Comprehensive Rural Healthcare Project. I have a very distinct memory of my first Indian Chai. I had just arrived in Mumbai, where from the runway of the plane you get a good view of slums and shacks as far as you can see.  I me the rest of my group and we were traveling by van 8 hours into rural India where I would spend the next month learning about community based public health.

About four hours into the drive, the driver announced “Chai.” He pulled over into a little tarp covered kitchen where people were gathered. The smells of cows and hard labor were strong, my stomach already churning from the windy drive and the curry I had eaten for lunch. We were directed to sit down at a table and as the driver pointed to it he brushed his hand across and stirred up at least 100 flies that had been settled down there.

I had traveled some at this point in my life, I’d been to Europe, Morocco and Mexico. I was an avid hiker and camper and usually adapted well to any circumstance.   But India was challenging me. It felt more foreign than anywhere I had been. The smell, the color, the noises, it was all wonderful but strange.

The poverty too was a challenge. I’d seen the poor in America, bag ladies living on the streets, their pockets stuffed with cigarette butts. And I’d seen the poor in Mexico, dirt floors and the smell of campfire. and greasy hair.  But India was different, with every stop children surrounded the van, wiping the rain away, begging for money. I saw a child in a cage, I saw toddlers everywhere naked, covered with mud. People living in tents propped up in the median between highways, or along the gates of big hotels. And there were animals everywhere, mud and manure covered everything.

To say I was overwhelmed would be putting it mildly.

But there was no going back, I had a month ahead of me. I sat down with my little group that had gathered from all over the world and joined in the swatting of flies that buzzed around our heads.

And then something amazing happened. We were served these tiny little cups of hot, sweet, spicy delicious tea. The smell itself was so satisfying I wanted to bottle it take it home. Each sip was a delight. It was the reassurance that I needed. That is often what tea is I guess, a warm cup of comfort and nothing beats Chai.

There are a variety of Chai options in the US. I’ve tried most of them especially after I stopped (for the most part) drinking coffee. Yet with all my attempts at purchasing Chai at cafe’s (always too sweet), in tea bags (always too mild) I never quite found what I wanted.

Finally I got to really looking into it and found this recipe at Keeperofthehome.org This recipe has been revolutionary.

It turns out that it is easy to mix your own spices and have a ready made Chai tea seasoning that tastes just like the tea in India. Duh? Why hadn’t I thought of this!

This looks like more work than it is. Yes you dirty a pan, but it is worth it. This is the real deal.

Chai Tea Spice Mix

Combine

1/2 cup black pepper

1/2 cup cinnamon

1/2 cup cardamom pods (technically you should crack them if they are whole though I didn’t, you can also buy powder or pre-shelled, if you do this reduce amount by half.)

1/2 cup dried ginger or omit and use one inch of fresh ginger (this is what I do)

1/4 cup whole cloves

You can add nutmeg, anise or other spices you would like. Store in an air tight container.

How to make Chai Tea

This is enough to make two standard mugs. I adjust the amounts depending on how much I want to make.

1. Place 1 cup of water in pan, add two black tea bags or two heaping teaspoons of loose tea and 1/2 teaspoon of your spice mix, stir and heat over medium high heat, bring to a boil.

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2. Add 1 cup milk and fresh ginger if you are using it ( I use fresh and just chop it a few times, I never peel it). I also add my sweetener here. I use a big squirt of honey but you can use whatever you would like.  About two teaspoons of sugar is usually good. Remember the tea is strong and spicy so you want some sweet to balance it. If you want to adjust sweetness you can add your sweetener at the end but I like it well dissolved. Though I think you do loose some of the health benefits of honey by boiling it.

3. Bring milk and tea back to a boil. Whisk if desired to create some froth.

4. Shut off heat and let sit for 1 minute.

5. Strain and pour into cups. (I don’t have a tea stainer, so improvise with my big strainer and my wide funnel)_MG_3814

Enjoy!

 

Better than Oatmeal Cookies

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This is a brand new recipe for me. I made them for the first time on a whim this morning. I was getting ready to go to my Moms of Preschoolers meeting and was waiting for my cinnamon bread to rise. I guess I had too much time on my hands because it occurred to me that I needed to try this cookie recipe. I barely had enough flour, in fact I had to substitute some of my all purpose flour with Bread flour because it was all I had. I also forgot the baking soda. But even with that the cookies turned out great and are a new favorite. I had several requests for the recipe at my meeting.

This recipe is from Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. She calls them Gaia Cookies, after the store and bakery where she first tried them. Since I don’t know how to pronounce Gaia I am calling them Better than Oatmeal Cookies. They have a lot of the perks of oatmeal cookies but have a lot more going on than a traditional oatmeal cookie. They are tasty and hearty. These would make a great cookie to take to a new mom or for a road trip, or anytime you want a cookie but also want something with just a bit more substance.

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Better than Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 pound of butter (I used unsalted,) softened

1 and 1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of vanilla

1 and 1/2 cups of flour

1 and 1/2 cups of oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut (unsweetened)

1 cup walnuts, chopped (I was almost out so substituted with pecans)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup chopped dates, raisins, dried cherries, or cranberries or any combination ( I left out the raisins but did a combo of the other three)

Directions

1. Cream together butter and sugar.

2. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

3. Add dry ingredients. Mix just until dry ingredients are incorporated.

4. Spoon onto parchment covered baking sheets. I like small cookies, so  I do about a teaspoon and a half,  spoon more for bigger cookies.

5. Chill baking sheet in the fridge for ten minutes,  (this keeps them from spreading out as much when they bake) then remove and bake until slightly browned on the bottom, 10 minutes or so, longer for bigger cookies.

Note: I made two dozen and then spooned out the rest of the dough into cookie sized balls and placed them onto a baking sheet. I stuck the sheet in the freezer over night. Tomorrow I will remove it and divide the cookie dough into bags, 10-12 cookies per bag. Then i have cookie dough that is ready to bake, if company stops by I can just remove however many I want and bake (or I can take two or three and bake them just for me). This works for most basic cookie recipes.

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