Let’s make some ornaments

This past week was awesome for me. My oldest granddaughter was in with her girls and we had a wonderful time after I got there on Tuesday afternoon. Since we also had the little 3-year with us it made the whole time really great. She was able to spend the night and the two bigger girls and she had a wonderful time playing. The next morning, we took her home and then went to Hondo and picked up my grandson’s two children who live in north Texas, and so the fun continued. We all had a great time. For Thanksgiving Day, I went to my son’s home and his wife and I worked on our meal and everything was delicious. Her great-aunt and some of her other relatives came as well as my daughter, her husband, son and granddaughter who live in Wimberley. We were missing folks at both homes, as one of my grandsons had only the one day off, and since he lives 6 to 7 hours away, it was too difficult for he and his wife to be there. However, we sure did enjoy his children and another grandson was with his wife’s family. With a grandson and his family in Japan, and another in Pennsylvania, I am just totally thankful that I had over half of my grandchildren with me.
We had fried turkey that was cooked to perfection, the ham was delicious and so was everything else. Of course, as usual, there were almost as many desserts as there were people! My son had requested death by chocolate, so there was a large-sized bowl of that, cake, and several pies, and the list goes on and on. We had several more people who dropped in during the afternoon and the visiting was great. Part of the group left, and several of the rest of us played a game, which is something we have always done at their home. A little while before dark, I went back out to my daughter’s home and visited with her husband’s family, and of course, had a second Thanksgiving meal…yes, I was full, and again there were numerous desserts, including the second bowl of death by chocolate that I had fixed. First words out of a child’s mouth as I carried a bag in were: “Granny, did you bring us some of that chocolate stuff you were making”? All I have to say is Thank You God for a really great Thanksgiving, and for getting all of back to our destinations!
Now, it is time to begin thinking about Christmas decorating, this means those of you who are like me and haven’t even begun doing anything. My daughter has promised that if I call her, she will come help me. It has become difficult for me to get my decorations out of my storage areas, as they are stacked up pretty high. However, I do have all my boxes numbered and a list of their contents is in my computer and we can sort of decide what we want to use and not have to open every single box, of course, that happens most of the time anyway!
The first of today’s recipes is actually a couple of different types of ornaments you either bake or just allow to air dry. I have used both of them and they work really well. The ones made with cinnamon smell great and two or three of them in a box would work well as a teacher gift or something like that.
Christmas Ornaments (Non-edible)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt (non-iodized)
1 cup water
Food coloring, optional
Aluminum foil
Heavy-duty mixer (If you don’t have one, mix by hand, it just takes a little longer).
Plastic drinking straw
Cookie sheets
Christmas cookie cutters
Acrylic paints or watercolors
Polyurethane varnish
School glue (i.e. Elmer’s® or that type)
Craft paint brushes (i.e. like kids use for water coloring)
Glitter, if desired
Preheat oven to 325º to 350º. Cover the bottoms of baking sides with foil and set aside upside down.
Combine the flour and salt in a large (flat inside bottom) mixing bowl. Mix a small amount of water at a time, stirring with a spoon to form a ball of dough. Knead the dough in your heavy-duty mixer for 4 minutes or by hand for 7 to 10 minutes. It should have a firm and smooth texture. (Since I don’t have a heavy-duty mixer, I kneaded it by hand, just as you would knead bread. It takes a while and some muscle!). Place the dough in a plastic bag to prevent drying. This will keep in the fridge for 5 or 6 days, so you can make the dough and then make the ornaments later.
Roll the dough out, just as you cookie dough, on the bottom of the prepared pans to ¼ to ½-inch thickness and cot out with the Christmas cookie cutters and just remove the excess scraps of dough from between the cookies. Use the straw to make a hole at the top end of the cookie so you can hang them. Bake the ‘cookies’ for 20 minutes if you rolled them ¼-inch thick and for 40 minutes if you rolled them ½-inch thick, until they are golden brown. Remove from pans and cool completely. Now, you are ready to decorate the cookies using the watercolors or acrylic paints. Once the paint is dry, apply a coat of the polyurethane varnish. It will work best if you paint one side, allow it to dry and then turn the cookie over and paint the other side.
Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments (non-edible)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cups cinnamon
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon oil
Mix together in bowl with hands. Knead and roll out to about ½-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. (Gingerbread boy shapes are cute with this.) Poke hole on top with drinking straw. Dry flat for 2 days, turning 3 to 4 times. Makes about 25 ornaments (3-inch diameter.)
Kids love to help with holiday preparations, especially those that let them use their creativity. Baking up some tasty holiday treats together delivers the gift of memories and a delicious gift to share with family and friends.
So, here is my favorite Sugar Cookie recipe. It has been made more times than almost any other kind at my house, most especially because my grandchildren and I used to bake and decorate them together at my house, sometimes with neighborhood children helping also; and when the great-grandchildren got old enough, I started the tradition with them too. Everyone seems to have a great time when we do this and my one complaint is that almost all of them now live too far away for me to do this with them. We have, in the past, made them up at Easter or Valentine’s Day just so we could have the fun and make the memories.
The good thing about this recipe is that the dough does not have to be chilled before using, the second thing is that we basically decorate before we bake, as we “paint” the cookies using evaporated milk and food coloring, then sprinkle with sugar that matches or just enhances the design.
(The measurements in ( ) are to make a double batch of the recipe.
Sugar Cookies
2/3 (1 1/3 cups shortening)
1¼ (2½ cups granulated sugar)
2 (4 eggs)
1 (2 tablespoons milk)
1 (2 teaspoons vanilla)
3 (6 cups sifted flour)
½ (1 teaspoon salt)
2 (4 teaspoons baking powder)
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Thoroughly cream together shortening, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla; add combined dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Roll out 1/8 to ¼-inch thick on lightly floured* board and cut with cookie cutters into desired shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, sprinkle with granulated sugar (if you did not previously paint them,) and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
This cookie paint is used after you cut the cookies out and before you bake them. Just follow the directions.
Cookie Paint
Evaporated milk (i.e. Pet Milk, Carnation Milk)
Liquid, paste*, or gel* food coloring
Plastic egg carton
Small, inexpensive craft paint brushes
Decorative sugars, nonpareils, and any other types of decoration you desire
Pour about 1 to 1½ tablespoons of the milk into each of several of the cups in the egg carton. Add a few drops of coloring or paste to each on until desired color is reached. Paint unbaked cookies, decorate as desired and bake in preheated oven. Remove from sheets and cool thoroughly.
*The paste or gel food coloring gives you the brightest colors.