|Our midday view to the south in December.|
Long nights, short days, and Christmas trees!!!
Every year, on the first Sunday afternoon in December, folks from our church make a mad dash up into the Hills. We spend a couple hours tromping through the woods, looking for the perfect Christmas tree, then head back to the church for a chili supper.
After many years (this is the sixth year for our family!), we've developed a method that has proven successful every time.
The first ones to arrive at base camp build a fire.
Then we gather, spending many minutes chatting and visiting. Thatcher made a new friend this year. :)
He wasn't too sure about Titus until a snack was shared between boy and dog. Now they're best buds.
But finally, all have arrived and it's time to head into the forest with our saws and high hopes of finding the perfect tree.
Thatcher has an unusual hunting technique. He runs as fast as he can until he thinks we're too far behind. Then he races back, tags one of us, and he's off again. By the end of the hunt, he was one tired Corgi!
And then - look! - can it be? The perfect tree?
It takes experience to pick the perfect tree from 1.2 million acres of forest! The one to the left looks good, until you notice the big hole on the lower right. The one in back? WAY too big! That one in the front center?
Yes, I see the hole on the right side of this one, too. Shhh! It will look beautiful once it's decorated!
The next step is to cut our perfect tree and carry it back to the car.
Before you wonder if our adventure is beneficial and legal...yes, and yes. Cutting the trees this way helps thin out the smaller trees, which can grow in thick groves, stunting the growth of all of them. The trees are much healthier if there is space between them and plenty of room to grow. Thinning the trees helps cut down on Pine Beetle damage and forest fires.
Legal? Yes, we bought our permit!
Then, finally, once everyone has
With all those hungry, cold people who have spent the afternoon hiking and hauling trees, you'd think the chili supper would be a hit. And you would be right!
I took a crock pot full of my favorite chili (you can find that recipe here), and we also had venison chili, Cincinnati-style chili, two kinds of white chili, a half-dozen pots of chili of various degrees of heat, some beef stew, and Dan's chili. Dan's chili is more than spicy. It's in a class by itself!
But this year, I thought I'd share the dessert that my daughter, Carrie, brought.
The original recipe for these cookies came from the Food Network magazine (a great magazine for people who love to cook!), but Carrie substituted candied orange peel for the orange zest. Delicious!
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 400°.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Beat the butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in the egg, then the molasses and orange zest.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Then beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
Combine the cinnamon and the remaining 3 Tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Roll heaping Tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat.
Arrange 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake until the cookies are just set around the edges but the centers are still soft, 11-13 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
Carrie added a squiggle of Royal Icing and some sprinkles to dress the cookies up for Christmas.
And how are the newlyweds doing? Getting ready to spend their first married Christmas together!
In other exciting news, "Hannah's Choice" is available in e-book for only 99 cents!!!
Go Here to get a copy for your Nook from Barnes and Noble,