Cookie Walks

Early December I start to plan to make cookies for the people who help make my life easier. After going through a number of vintage recipe books to mark the cookies I intend to make, I remember there is a much easier, and quicker option: cookie walks!

Must be a midwestern tradition because I don't remember seeing any on either coast when I was working there. Usually women's groups offer them; the ones I know are associated with churches and their Christmas bazaars.

I picked up a pound of homemade cookies myself today, focusing on a nice variety: sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, oatmeal raisin, pecan rolls and there was a cute little snowman with sugar button eyes that never made it back to the house.

Not sure what the red cookies are but they looked festive. The green ones have chocolate chips and mint flavoring.

One pound of cookies, measured on a very old scale owned by one of the cookie baker's great grandmothers, cost $6.

You don't see any snickerdoodles? 

Oh, wait, I chose those for my quality control testing. They went the way of the snowman sugar cookie. Humm, may need to go back and get more cookies!



Doing research on how Native Americans used pumpkin to find interesting recipes made me wonder. How hard could a pumpkin shell become so that it could be used as a serving dish and seed storage?

According to my research, pumpkins may have saved early North America European settlers. Struggling after their first landings on the east coast and not prepared for harsh New England weather, Native American Indians taught European settlers basic gardening, hunting and cooking skills. One of the staples of their diet was pumpkin, a squash that was native to the ancient Americas.

Sweet pumpkin flesh was roasted, baked, parched, boiled and dried. Pumpkin seeds were roasted; at times also used as medicine. Blossoms were added to stews. Dried pumpkin was stored and ground into flour. Strips of dried pumpkin were woven into mats, cups and baskets for trade. 

I baked a pumpkin to get the inside ready to make a pie and was intrigued. Pumpkin shells, once baked, become quite hard and impermeable, reminding me of a plant "leather."  

Picking up the baked pumpkin, it was easy to imagine how it became an important part of their kitchen. It even holds water!

Pilgrims had another use. According to New England colleagues, hey used pumpkins as guides for haircuts, which gave them the nickname "pumpkinheads."

Can't you just see someone sitting on a stool getting a haircut with a sliced pumpkin on their head??


Save Jars for Gifts

After composting all those outdated spices, save the glass jars for gifts.

  1. First, soak the jars in soapy hot water to remove stickers.
  2. Wash jars and lids in dishwasher a couple of times to remove any residue.
  3. Allow jars to air without lids for a couple of days. Check to make sure jars are clean and without any residual scent.

You can use these jars to make homemade bath salts; BBQ rub; saltless seasoning and to store your very own dried herbs from your garden.

One of my friends returns her empty jars every summer and tells me what dried herbs she would like for Christmas. By the time the holidays come around, she has forgotten what she asked for and is always delighted with what she gets!


Winter Salad Tomatoes

I have the hardest time ripping up tomato plants out of my garden at the end of Missouri's growing season. Tomato plants are perennials in warmer climates so part of me wants to keep the plants growing. I do remove all the green tomatoes and place them in a brown bag with an apple to ripen. It may take several weeks but eventually the tomatoes do turn color.

Although they don't have the flavor of summer-ripened tomatoes, they taste better than most picked too early to ship to groceries. Because they are a little tart, I like to eat my bag-ripened tomatoes in a salad with the sweetness of sliced avocados.