All posts by turg7269

About turg7269

I am a Minnesota woman who grew up on a farm in Swede Grove Township and spent much time in the Arizona Desert during the winters. For many years I was a professional communications writer. I had my own recipe column with a weekly publication and was the press secretary/assistant communication director for Minnesota's Secretary of State. I am a two time cancer survivor and am currently in remission from Multiple Myeloma a blood cancer.

What Is On My Mind Today: Tables

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Antique-Round-Oak-Dining-table-

A cousin of mine passed away yesterday. After helping to make calls and send emails to notify other family members of her death, I could not help but think about how it sometimes seems that there are more of my family members in heaven than here on earth anymore.

Yesterday was a time to remember them. Grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts, uncles and cousins who have slipped beyond the veil. Each one a totally unique human treasure.  Now, I am not saying that we all got along, were always pillars of the community or had perfect reputations, but come heaven, hell or high water they were my people.

I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to know several generations of family very well. When I think of the times we were all together, whether it was for a baptism, birthday, confirmation, graduation, wedding, holiday or funeral, it…

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Just saying: There Is No Such Thing As Humanity Without God and The True Meaning of Christmas

 

Secret-Stonehenge

Humans are as unique in the animal kingdom as Christianity is among world religions. Evidence strongly suggests that humans are fundamentally different than other animals. I believe that our very uniqueness as a species indicates the existence of God.  It seems to me that humanity as a concept for higher moral behavioral traits can only exist if humans were created in the image of a higher power. Without God there is no humanity.  For we would no longer be a unique creation, but would be no better, no worse, no more special than any other animal. We would not understand mortality.

Without a moral soul from God there would be no right or wrong…only survival of the fittest.  Our sole focus would be to do whatever it takes to obtain our next meal and propagate the species. Nothing would deter the violent methods needed to be successful at either of these two tasks.

There would be no such thing as a conscience.  You couldn’t afford to have one anymore than a lion, tiger or shark can afford a conscience.  The softer human traits like love and kindness would have been evolutionary death sentences.  Just like any other animal on this earth, we would merely be another link in a food chain where only the strong survive.

Of course, if here is no God there would be no need for religion. However, even the earliest humans sought out gods and practiced forms of religious rites. They had burial ceremonies for their dead and offered sacrifices to either win favor or appease gods. So seriously did they seek out gods, that not only human, but child sacrifice was commonly practiced throughout the world. In some cultures on a massive scale. A rather counter-productive evolutionary trait.

Generation after generation, culture after culture, religion after religion, humans have sought out gods.  In all of the other religions of this world people seek God. Only in the Christian faith does God seek people.

The God of Christians does not ask for sacrifice, he asks for obedience.  What does he require of us? Jesus summarized all of the commandment’s into two.  To love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, and to love one another as we would like to be loved.

The Christian God does not ask for sacrifice from us, he sacrificed for us.  In the birth of his only son Jesus Christ in Bethlehem over two millennia ago, God sought to save us, just because he loves us.   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God seeking us is the true meaning of Christmas. Sadly, if you don’t learn about the birth of Jesus the Christ and ask him into your heart you are missing out on the only part of the holiday season, and life, that brings real joy and peace.

Jesus is the Christ in Christmas.  Without him all you are doing is having one big commercial gift exchange.  Great for the economy, not so great for our world or your soul…..just saying.

 

 

 

Recipes: New Tried and True Christmas Cookie Recipes: Chocolate and Caramel-Filled Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies, Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies, Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies and Rollo Candy Double Chocolate Pretzel Bites

For the past two weeks this blog has seen quite a bit of re-blogging.  That was due to the fact, that just over a week ago I had a freak accident.  I reached into a kitchen drawer, felt a strange pinch-like sensation and when I removed my hand about a third of a finger tip was missing on the middle finger of my left hand.  My finger had run into a very sharp vegetable peeler and was instantly, “cored.”

Finger

The next day, I went to the clinic for stitches only to learn that there was nothing to stitch. It was just missing. The injury was packed in a huge cast like bandage.  I was told to keep it dry, on for a week and that it would probably take a month to heal.

It quit bothering me by the next day and while I may not have been able to efficiently type, I could still bake.  Of course, the bandage got wet on the second day, so I replaced with something that looked similar to me.  The doctor was wrong about it taking a month, it looks pretty good already, and I have switched to a much smaller typing compatible bandage.

So, now my fingertip will have a dimple just like my cheeks.  It’s always good to coordinate and at my age dimples just come with the territory.

Christmas is close, but there is still time to bake.  So, I want to share a few recipes that I have tested and deemed excellent.

cookie thumbprint

Chocolate and Caramel Filled Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
2-3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 bag of Rollo Chocolate Caramel candies, foil removed

Garnish:
sea salt

In a small bowl combine dry ingredients (flour and salt) and set aside.

In a large bowl using an electric hand-mixer cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed until dough forms.

Shape dough into about one-inch round balls.  Place the dough balls about two inches apart on the paper covered cookie sheet.  I could get a dozen cookies on each baking sheet.  In the center of the dough ball, make a well by pressing down with your thumb.  Place the Rollo candy in the hole.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the cookies just begin to brown.  Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.  Cool on a wire rack or clean counter.

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cookie oatmeal raisin

These cookies are a dressed up version of an old favorite.

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3/4 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups raisins
1/3 cup rum
1/3 cup water
1/2 of a 12-ounce package of chocolate chips

In a small saucepan combine the 1/3 cup of rum and 1/3 cup of water.  Add raisins.  On a medium-low heat, bring to a simmer.  Simmer until all of the liquid is soaked up by the raisins.  Stir occasionally. This process is called, “plumping raisins.”  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt).  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand-mixer cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.   Turn the speed of the mixer down to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until dough forms.  Add in the oats and mix in completely.  With a wooden spoon gently mix in the raisins.

Drop walnut-sized spoonfuls onto  cookie sheet.  Bake for eight to ten minutes or until cookies just begin to brown and look slightly dry on top.  Remove from oven and allow to sit on the cookie sheet for another minute or so. This will produce a chewy cookie.  If you want a crisp cookie bake until evenly browned.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

In a small micro-wave safe bowl melt the chocolate chips.  Heat for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Heat another 30 Seconds. Stir.  Then, 10 seconds until completely melted.  Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the cookies.  Cool to set chocolate.

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mint-chocolate-chip-cookies

These Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies taste like a rich dessert mint and their green color is so very festive.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, plus one additional egg yolk
1 teaspoon mint extract
green food coloring
3-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag (12-ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, creme of tartar and salt).   Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand-mixer cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and extra egg yolk, mint extract and food coloring.  Beat until light and fluffy.  (I used about a dozen drops of food coloring to get a mint green color in my dough.)

Turn down the mixer speed and slowly add the dry ingredients to dough.  When flour is combined, add the chocolate chips and mix until they are distributed evenly throughout the dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for about one hour.  (Best practices, but, not mandatory with this recipe.)

Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place two inches apart on the parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake until the tops of the cookies are no longer shiny and the edges are just barely browning.

Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two.  Transfer to a clean counter top or wire rack and cool completely.

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My husband has already eaten an entire batch of these, so I had to make another batch yesterday.  They are tasty morsels that are so very easy to make.  A good one for the kids to help with.

Christmas Pretzel Cookies

Rollo Candy Double Chocolate Pretzel Bites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
1 bag of small pretzels
1 large bag of Rollo candy, remove foil (Any bite-sized chocolate-covered candy bar can be used.  I used the Rollo candies because they are the only ones that are nut-free) 
3 bars of Baker’s brand white chocolate (nut-free) or a 12-ounce bag of white chocolate chips (the white chocolate chips and almond bark all had a nut warning) 
Colored sprinkles

Place as many pretzels as you can fit on top of the parchment paper.  Top each pretzel with a Rollo candy.  When all is assembled, put the cookie sheet into the oven for about three minutes or until the tops of the chocolate candy becomes shiny.

Remove from the oven and quickly top each candy with another pretzel and press down into the soft melted chocolate.  It should look like a pretzel sandwich cookie.  Cool in the refrigerator or if you are in Minnesota use God’s blast freezer and set outside until chocolate sets…less than a minute on a good day.

In a small micro-wave safe bowl melt the white chocolate.  Heat for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Heat for another 30 Seconds. Stir.  Then, 10 seconds until completely melted.  Dip one half of the pretzel cookie into the white chocolate and decorate with colored sprinkles.

Return to refrigerator or a Minnesota winter to set the white chocolate.

Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s Story: The Very First Christmas

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Every Christmas Eve I would read three stories to my children.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is first,
That mean ol’ Grinch is really the worst.
He stole all the Who’s pudding and presents with glee,
Then he went back and stuffed up their tree.
The Who’s celebrated Christmas when the Grinch thought they shouldn’t.
Stop Christmas from coming? Even a mean ol’ Grinch couldn’t.

Next, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is read,
after the children have been tucked snugly in bed.
Their eyes aglow with happiness and joy,
As they hope Santa brings their favorite toy.
When, what do their curious little ears hear?
A television announcement, “Santa’s sleigh drawing near!”

Then, it is time for the last story to be read.
Heads go down on pillows and the bedtime prayer is said.
The moment has come to tell of  Joseph and his Mrs.
Now it’s time for, “The…

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What Is On My Mind Today? Turning 59 and a Maraschino Cherry Birthday Cake

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Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, June 2017

This two-time cancer survivor turns 59 today.  Wow!

pat 59 day1_n(2)
I removed my cap for this birthday photo to prove I have hair and some of it is grey. 

To celebrate, I am going to make a layered maraschino cherry cake with cream cheese frosting.  My only issue is that the cake uses four egg whites and I have this thing about wasting food when so many others in this world go hungry.  So I will have to make more of my grandmother’s spritz cookies to use up those yolks.

Folks, there will be extra spritz cookies on the cookie trays this Christmas!

My birthday wish is that this day be filled with kindness, love and peace.

God bless all of you!

cherry-cake-slice

Maraschino Cherry Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two eight-inch round cake pans.

Ingredients:

16 ounce jar of Maraschino cherries, well-drained, save cherry juice.  Finely chop the cherries. The chopped cherries should be blotted dry with a paper towel and very lightly coated with flour.  This will help ensure that the cherries are evenly distributed through out the cake and not all sunk to the bottom.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cup sugar
2-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Maraschino cherry juice (reserved from cherry jar) combined with water to make 1 cup.
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium-sized metal or glass mixing bowl, with an electric hand-mixer, beat egg whites until stiff.  Add vanilla. Combine and set aside.

In small mixing bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir to combine

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Add flour alternatively with the cherry juice.  Beat until well combined.  Gently fold in beaten egg whites.  Fold until no white streaks remain.  Fold in cherries and gently mix until just evenly distributed.

Evenly divide the batter into the two round cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup  butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened 
1 teaspoon vanilla

3  cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed

In a large mixing bowl with a hand-mixer cream together butter and cream cheese.  Turn mixer speed down to low and slowly add powdered sugar.  Once powdered sugar is combined, turn up mixer speed to high and beat until smooth, fluffy and creamy.  Add vanilla and mix until completely combined.

If the frosting is not thick enough add small amounts of powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.  If the frosting gets too thick, add a teaspoon of milk or cream to loosen it back up.

This pink and white cake also makes a lovely Christmas dessert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Family’s Farm Christmas: It’s the people, not the presents!

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

In 1997, I wrote this story for my young daughter.  After my thyroid cancer diagnosis when she was only 14 months old, I had adopted the tradition of writing her an original story, with a soft moral “mom” message each year as a gift.  I wanted her to have something special from me to remember me should  I have croaked from the cancer.

This story was created to introduce my children to their extended family and be a record of some of our family’s Christmas traditions.

This year is the second Christmas since my second cancer diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma.  I feel wonderful, am filled with joy and am looking forward to many more years of making holiday memories.

I hope you enjoy, “A Family’s Farm  Christmas.”

In your great-great grandfather Ole Larson’s house, which is more than 100 years old, many years ago our family gathered making Christmas memories untold. This story is…

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Recipe: Christmas Trivia and George Washington’s Eggnog

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Santa thumbs up

You cannot beat a nicely spiked cup of Eggnog on cold winter days such as the ones we are experiencing.

Then, too, Christmas Trivia is always a good read.

Christmas Trivia:

George Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776.

It was in 350 A.D that Julius I, Bishop of Rome chose December 25 to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ.

The first Christmas tree decorated in the White House was during the Franklin Pierce Administration.

Calvin Coolidge in 1923 lit the first Christmas tree on the White House lawn.

When it pays to send the best… The first official White House Christmas card was sent by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He asked a friend, Joyce. C. Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards, for help. Hallmark has supplied the official presidential holiday cards ever since.

The first tinsel was made in 1878 and distributed in Nuremberg, Germany. These icicles…

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