Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies and the Best Burger Joint in the Black Hills

How is everyone doing on their deadlines?

For you non-writers, a deadline is the date you promised your editor, or your agent, or yourself, that you'd be at a certain point in your book.

Fall colors on Mt. Moriah - originally known as
"Boot Hill" - above Deadwood

In my case, revisions on my Deadwood story are due on Friday. Major revisions. Due Friday.

Uff da!*

*"Uff da" is a Norwegian expression meaning roughly the same thing as "Oy vey!" or "Oh Mylanta!" It's a multi-purpose expression, used extensively in the upper mid-west, mostly in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

So it's an entire week of "uff da" as I hit the last three chapters of the story, and then go back for a quick polish before sending it off to New York City.

Meanwhile, like I said last week, the family is suffering. They remember the "good old days" when I used to make fresh bread everyday (I never did), and we had a homemade dessert for every meal (never happened), and a soup pot simmered on the back of the stove from October to March (again, this only happened in their imaginations).

Uff da!

But once in a while, I do have to do something cookingly creative to keep them happy. A church get-together is always a good excuse, too.

So Sunday afternoon I ventured into cookie baking.

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

This recipe makes a soft sugar cookie with pumpkin spice overtones. BeeTeeDubs*: These received rave reviews at the church fellowship time!


1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin, or homemade pumpkin puree
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 1/2 cups flour

Super simple directions: Preheat your oven to 375°. Cream the butter until fluffy (30 seconds or so). Add the sugars, pumpkin and vanilla and beat well. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, baking powder and flour and mix well. (Be sure to start your mixer on low so the flour doesn't fly all over the place!)

Make the dough into balls about the size of a small walnut, then roll in sugar.

Flatten each ball with the back of a spoon, and decorate with sprinkles or a candy corn if you wish. Of course, after I did this I realized the candy corn would melt in the oven. They were good - but next time I'll put the candy corn on as the cookies come out of the oven.

Bake for about 10 minutes at 375°, or until lightly browned on the edges. Since this dough doesn't have any eggs, you can make them as soft and gooey in the center as you want without worrying about undercooked dough.

When they're done, pack them up and take them somewhere to share. Believe me, you won't want a batch of these babies hanging around the house with nothing to do! Uff da!

Meanwhile, my husband and I have been on a quest for the perfect burger. We love burgers in our family (as you can tell in this post from a few weeks ago), and there's just something about finding the perfect burger joint.

We have a Five Guys restaurant that recently opened, and we do enjoy their burgers. And then there's this place up in the Hills called the Sugar Shack. An excellent burger, too.

But then we tried this place. Uff da!!!

The sign says it all. Not only the best burgers we've had (well, maybe except for homemade), but also the best bun. Absolutely delicious.

Sorry - I had to try this great burger before I remembered
to take a picture!
My burger was called "The Fat Smitty" (don't laugh - I don't care what it's called when it tastes this good!). The 1/3 pound beef patty was topped with American cheese, lettuce, bacon, a fried egg and garlic aioli. That garlic aioli made this burger.

By the way, I could have gotten a nice tomato slice on it, too. But fresh tomatoes are one of the few things I've never learned to like.

I could also have gotten it as a buffalo burger. But I love buffalo - if I'm going to eat it, I'm not going to put a lot of toppings on it.

Oh, and the side of sweet potato fries was heavenly, too.

You can read more about the restaurant and the menu here:

The mural on the side of the Black Hills Burger and Bun

One of the great things about this burger place is the location. Uff da :)

The only place you'll find a burger like this is in Custer, South Dakota. A little town smack dab in the middle of the Black Hills - and the very place where Custer's expedition first discovered gold in French Creek in 1875.

Definitely a Wild West town. 

After dinner we drove into Custer State Park to do some star gazing (the Milky Way was beautiful that night), and we were serenaded by a coyote not more than fifty yards from us.

This video from YouTube was taken in the daylight, but our coyote sounded just like this. And the sound echoed off the Hills around us. Eerie and beautiful. And a memorable end to our evening. Uff da!

So make yourself a batch of Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, dream about your favorite local restaurant, and get to work on that book! Either writing or reading, you must be working on a book :)

*BeeTeeDubs = a short hand way of saying "by the way." As in B T W's. BeeTeeDubs. Get it?


  1. Yum on so many levels and prayers for you this week!

    Peace and caffeine, Julie

  2. That is not what I thought a coyote sounded like. Very high pitched. I was thinking more of a wolf howl.

    I actually have canned pumpkin in the cupboard and a day off work...and now a recipe. This looks promising.

    Saying editing prayers for you.

    1. Coyotes have different cries, but you're right - higher pitch and sharper than a wolf. This cry must be some kind of warning. Our coyote continued doing this even after he started moving away. He'd move toward the trees, stop and do this for a while, then move again. Keep in mind that it was pitch dark and no moon. (And no light pollution!) We couldn't see him at all, only hear him.

      Thanks for the prayers!

  3. Seriously, I saw the title and I thought, PLEASE don't let this be a tease, I want to see the cookies. I want a recipe. You didn't let me down, Jan. The rest is just icing..lolol on the cookies.

    1. Hmmm....these cookies would be great with icing :) I bet a smear of vanilla cream cheese frosting would be fabulous.....

  4. Oh, wow!! I can't wait to make these. I'm not a big cookie maker, but these look so easy! And I love pumpkin and the idea of soft, gooey cookies without worry! LOL

    1. One thing I love about these cookies is that there's just a hint of pumpkin and spice. Just enough to make the sugar cookies a little bit more than sugar cookies. Mmmm....

      Another bonus? This recipe doesn't use a whole can of pumpkin, so I have enough for a serving of the Thai Pumpkin Peanut Curry soup I shared a few weeks ago. I know what's for lunch!

  5. Or you could make PUMPKIN ROLL with the other part of the can, Jan!!!!!

    Oh, I love burgers, too and I had my first Five Guys burger in North Carolina even though there's one twenty minutes from my house now... but we have a restaurant here called Bill Gray's and their burgers are my favorite in this world. But Five Guys was a keeper, too! I should have loaded it up more, I got the big burger and I thought I'd never eat it all. Oh my stars, I may have licked the platter clean. Sigh.... I was hungry. :) So I wonder how these cookies differ from the ones I tried a few weeks back? They sound very similar, and I loved those! I baked a few pumpkins so tomorrow we're going to try blueberry pumpkin muffins, so we'll let youse know how they are!

    Jan, my son-in-law Jon is from Minnesota and they uff da! all the time, so I laughed to see this! SO FUN!

    Uff da Minnesota! We've got snow in our weekend forecast... Which means it's time to pull the window air conditioners and get serious about the change of seasons.

    I'm tweaking, doing revisions while you're revising on deadline. Saluting you from upstate!