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Green Tweed Was All My Joy!

17 Dec

I started making some stockings out of a mohair sweater I found at the mall–not in a shop.  It was abandoned in the bathroom.  Am I a bad person for not giving it to lost-and-found?  We can figure that out later.  Anyways, I wasn’t thrilled with how the first stocking turned out, so I went to a thrift store in town and found a great kinda-teal-green tweed jacket…

And made it into an even greater tweed stocking…

And an “am Greatesten” (as the Germans would kinda say) tweed vest and matching bow tie for Peanut-Butter-Breath (Sorry about the poor quality of the picture.  I’ve yet to master the art of taking photos of moving babies).

“Vis ze Edvardian masculinity imparted to me by zis tveed vest, I vill be adekvately ekvipped to CHARM ZE WHOLE VÖERÜLD INTO SUBMISSION TO MY VILL!!!

And Israel finally got everything he ever wanted for Christmas.

THE END.

Bacon Ginger Cookies

26 Nov

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  My sister-in-law’s aunt was kind enough to open up her home to us this year, since this is the first time we’re celebrating Thanksgiving away from all of our family.  It was difficult not being surrounded by all the traditions Peter and I were used to, but so fun getting to join in someone else’s traditions too.

I was on cookie duty.  I made pumpkin cookies, chocolate chip and cranberry oatmeal cookies, pecan balls, and my new favorite cookie in the world: bacon ginger cookies!

I need to come up with a more clever name for them, since I have decided that these will be a tradition in our household.  It’s a combination of a couple different recipes I’ve seen, and I know it sounds weird.  But the bacon grease gives the cookies a slight smoky flavor.  Needless to say, you’ll need to plan a bit ahead if you want to make these – unless you already happen to save bacon grease, or are planning on cooking about three packages of bacon anytime soon.

Bacon Ginger Cookies:

  • 2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tbsp. bacon grease, softened (not melted)
  • 1/3 C. brown sugar
  • 1/3 C. granulated sugar (plus more for rolling)
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C. dark molasses
  • 1/3 C. candied ginger, finely diced (this is about the contents of a tall jar in the spice aisle.  Don’t worry if it’s a little more or a little less)

Preheat the oven to 375° and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, add flour, baking soda, spices, pepper, and salt, whisking to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, bacon grease, and sugars, and mix on medium speed until they are light and fluffy.  Reduce the speed a bit, and add the egg yolk and vanilla.  Increase the speed and mix until everything is well incorporated.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the molasses and beat until it is fully incorporated.  Scrape down the sides again, and put mixer on lowest setting.  Add flour mixture and the diced ginger.  Beat until just incorporated.

Get a small bowl and fill it about half-way with more granulated sugar for rolling.  Roll large balls of dough (about 2 in. in diameter), and drop them one at a time in the sugar bowl, rolling them around until covered.  Set the balls on the lined baking sheet, at least 2 in. apart (don’t press the cookies flat).

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or soon after the tops of the cookies have gotten a crackling effect on top.  Don’t overbake them!  Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  Enjoy warm or cooled, with a cold glass of milk.

Wittenberg Piggies

30 Oct

Reformationstag is tomorrow!  Our church had her annual Reformation Day celebration and dance last night.  It was tons of fun!  I was pretty bummed that Peter and I wouldn’t be able to host a grand Oktoberfest dinner this year as I’d been hoping to, so I decided that the next best thing would be to make these little treats to bring to the dance:

After much deliberation – and accepting that my German is far too limited for me to come up with some cute alliteration in German – I decided they should be called Wittenberg Piggies.  They are delicious little beer brats wrapped in pretzel dough and served with a slew of different mustards on the side.  Seriously, you’d have to be a Socinian to not enjoy these.

Wittenberg Piggies

Ingredients for dough:

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

Ingredients for pretzel bath:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tbsp baking soda

Additional Ingredients:

This is a bit of a time-consuming recipe, unless you have lots of little hands to help you out.  I found it helpful to cut up the brats and brown them on a frying pan on medium-high heat the night before.  Then I just stuck them in a container in the fridge.  I did not find that the sausages being chilled affected how the dough rose when I prepared them.

The dough, of course, should be made the day you are going to enjoy the piggies:  add all dough ingredients into the pan of a bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.  Program the bread machine for the dough cycle and press “start.”  When the machine has completed the cycle, the dough should be smooth and elastic.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray them with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Turn the risen dough onto a clean counter top.  Do not flour the counter top, but keep a little floured area to the side, to dab the dough in.  If you don’t use any flour at all, the dough will just stick to the counter rather than roll nicely.  But if you flour the counter you’re rolling the dough on, the dough will get too dry and won’t roll nicely either.

Use a bench knife or spatula to cut off a small section of dough.  Keep the unused portion of dough covered with a clean towel so it won’t dry out.

Begin to roll the small section of dough into a narrow snake (its diameter should be about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch).  Beginning with one end of one brat piece, wrap the dough snake around the brat, snip off the end of the dough when finished, and place the brat seam-side down on one of the cookie sheets.  Continue doing this until all the little brats are wrapped.  Without worrying about perfection, try to wrap them as well as you can, because the dough can detach from the brats when put in the baking soda bath, if not wrapped well.  When all brats are wrapped, let them rise uncovered for about a half hour.

While waiting for the dough to rise, preheat the oven to 400° and bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the baking soda to the boiling water.  Carefully lower up to 8 piggies into the boiling water – don’t drop them from too high.  Allow the piggies to simmer for about 45 seconds, by which time you will notice the dough puffing.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the piggies one at a time, give them a little shake to remove excess water, and place them back on the cookie sheets.

When all piggies have been bathed, arrange them on their cookie sheets so that the dough – rather than the brats – are facing upwards.  Brush the tops of the piggies with the egg/water, and lightly sprinkle them with the coarse salt.

Bake the piggies for about 16 minutes each, or until the tops are a nice glossy golden brown.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a pretty platter.  Serve with lots of mustard varieties on the side, and enjoy!