molasses spice crinkles with chocolate chips

I’ve been wanting to try a ginger spiced cookie with cocoa and chocolate chips, so today’s efforts turned out these, based on Baking Illustrated’s Molasses Spice Cookies.

Note: I used very black molasses and the end result was a fairly strong flavor. Use mild molasses if that’s not your thing! Also, I always substitute raw sugar or evaporated cane juice for granulated sugar.

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c cocoa (I used Dutch)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
12 Tbsp soft butter
1/3 c packed dark brown sugar
1/3 c granulated sugar, plus 1/3 c for rolling
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c molasses
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl.
3. In large bowl (with wooden spoon or electric mixer), beat butter with brown sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar at hight speed until fluffy and light. Add yolk and vanilla; beat until incorporated. Add molasses; beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture and beat just until mixed. Add chips.
4. Mix 1/3 c granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in shallow bowl. With damp hands, roll a heaping Tbsp of cookie dough into 1 1/2″ ball; roll in sugar mixture. Place 2″ apart on greased sheet (or silpat; I love mine!).
5. Bake about 11 minutes, till set but still soft. Don’t over bake!

Serve with cold milk. Your kids will beam and your husband will say, “This is fun! I like cookies and milk. I should sell these!”

what have you been eating?

It’s almost March.

In Northeast terms, that means it’s been five months of potatoes and carrots and onions and that disappointing tomato you were lured into buying at the grocery store because you just want fresh.

It’s also almost 9 years of dinner-making in my life.

Also, I love cooking — I really do — but time and budget and just season has required that I keep things simple. But that also means it’s easy for me to lose steam.

So, a bit of fresh inspiration is in order! Want to do a bit of late-winter sharing? How about I share a bit about my cooking and what we’ve been eating this past week or so, and you do the same! (Even if it’s eggs and cereal — that’s okay, too!)

I’ll start:

My “style”: No menu planning. Cook from the cupboard (in an extreme way, these days! Tight budget = creative [and sometimes very, very simple] dinners!) Read recipes as a hobby but never follow one when I cook. Some days I wish I did the opposite of all these things, but this is who I am for now!

Here are 5 meals I’ve cooked recently. (Not included: pb&j on nights when Ryan’s not home. I assume that “recipe” wouldn’t be world-changing for anyone!)

1. Jamie Oliver’s chicken in milk, which is being converted to a creamy soup tonight.

2. A white bean, garbanzo, spinach, bacon soup in parmesan-rind broth.

3. Grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato soup.

4. Scrambled eggs, homemade toast, and salad.

5. A casserole of brown rice, ground beef, slow-roasted tomatoes from last year’s stash, and cheddar.

On the docket for the coming days:

Red lentil coconut curry on rice.

Homemade pizza.

Baked falafel with Greek salad and homemade pitas.

Split pea soup.

White beans and ham.

(With veg on the side, where applicable. :-))

Your turn! (If you have a blog, just post the link to your entry here in the comments. Otherwise, feel free to answer right in the comments.)

this week, i…

This week was a rather quiet, at-home week. (The kind I like best, really.)

I cut yarrow and added its sunshine to a corner of the kitchen:

I enjoyed the pink geranium on my kitchen table:

I made a blueberry pie, and put the rest of the 20 pounds into the freezer — the first round of frozen goodies from 2013:

We ate the first tomatoes of the year, thanks to the diligent Kent Family, and they did not disappoint. Yum.

I had a couple of genuinely-exhausted days. A boy took this picture — Mama on the couch. It happens more and more:

I made roasted beet and goat cheese salad for dinner. It was delicious:

Beatrice stayed happy forever, and would have played for another hour if I’d let her:

photo dump

In no particular order, some random things that have made it onto my camera roll:

Kefir. Every night, and sometimes morning, too, I make new batch of kefir. Primarily it’s for Ryan, but the kids and I have had our share of blueberry smoothies, chock full of live cultures. It quietly grows in a mason jar on my counter, and I’m a little in awe. I did it. I didn’t kill it. It’s multiplying, in fact. Actually, would anyone like some kefir grains? I’m starting to feel like Strega Nona!

But with kefir every day, vegetables becoming our main stay (thanks to our awesome CSA!), and other efforts I make at healthy eating, a little balance becomes a necessity. Thus, dates to the Hometown Cafe. Where we order burgers and french fries and ice cream and smile all the way home.

Speaking of food, a Williams-Sonoma catalog came this week and this page jumped out at me and begged to be made.

Lemon and thyme: how can you go wrong? It’s been very hot and even more humid, and I am actually thankful for our central air. Generally I am very, very opposed to closing windows in the middle of the summer — don’t we do that all winter long?? But today, when late afternoon rolled around and I was actually happy to turn on the oven and get cooking? Awesome. This pregnant girl will take a few days of A/C. Just this once.

I’ve been “shopping the house” for Beatrice’s bedroom, since that’s what’s in the budget right now, and found a few bits to add here and there. Like this cross stitch piece that used to hang in my little girl bedroom (shared with lots of other little girl sisters!), which was done by my grandmother. All three of my kids just love looking at the colorful pictures.

A couple of buntings made from sewing scraps, a beautiful music box bought in Colonial Williamsburg, but best of all, that itty bitty teapot that I brought home from China. Beatrice loves it. “Teatop! Teatop!”, she says.

I walked out the front door to call to the boys, and when I looked down, saw this: cheerful pink geraniums. It made me smile.

So do these gigantic white clematis! I salvaged a couple of clematis from a very overgrown old perennial garden that our home’s previous owner had planted. I wasn’t sure they’d make it, but they sure did — this one, especially. Plants that manage to persevere against all odds: things that make my soul perk up and listen.

Beatrice spends many, many moments sitting in the middle of the floor with this, her favorite book, opened on her lap. Her little lap that is just big enough to hold the book — if she stretches her toes! I love it.

The End.

recent favorites


a little worship.

a little motown.

a little melancholy soundtrack


granola — sometimes with the chocolate, usually just with a cup of dried cherries and a big splash of vanilla.

baked falafel — minus onion, sadly, since my stomach can’t handle it.

…which in turn demands that I make these and something like this.

chocolate bundt cake, with coffee instead of water, of course. Of course!


Mary Had a Little Lamb

Rufus M.

Hero Tales


fresh air + sunshine


learning to be okay with how much gets done each day. It’s His day, anyway.

a little bit of everything

Beatrice, out on Kevin and Liz’s boat

July 17th is a big deal this year: Beatrice is eleven months old today, and next month, we start counting by years. We are all so in love with this happy, spunky, silly girl. The feeling is mutual, of course. She loves her brothers and adores her daddy. The funny thing about being the mom is that love is simply assumed. She crawls after the boys and works so hard to get a laugh from Ryan, but me? She just knows I’m here. Being a mama is such a privilege.

Watching this afternoon’s storm come in

It’s raining.* This is also a big deal. Our grass is so dry that walking on it hurts. Worse, crops are dying of thirst. Needless to say, the sound of rain as I woke up thrilled me. I do not begin to have the emotional stamina and resiliency needed for farming, but the closer I get to my local farms through greater dependency on them for food, the more I get to share in those ups and downs. Hats off to them.

Pretty breakfasts are one of my favorite things

I got to read through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle again, since one of the moms groups at church decided upon that book for a fun summer read. Second time through, I caught little things I missed the first time. One thing Kingsolver pointed out was that while Good Eating is full of positives in many cultures (think Provence, Tuscany…), Good Eating in the States is a food culture of negatives: you can’t have dessert. Drink skim milk. Low sodium cold cuts for you. Freezer meal while your family eats KFC. And largely, I think that’s true. If my friends and I have a conversation about healthy eating, what gets talked about? What we can’t eat. I realized that part of what I’ve so enjoyed about creating a home for my family has been defining a good and positive food culture. Instead of depriving ourselves of yumminess and calling it healthy, we’re eating delicious food that celebrates taste and health. Guess what? God wants us to be healthy, and He didn’t bother creating a Crystal Light plant in the Garden of Eden — so maybe there are actually yummy ways to be healthy. Right?

Of course, that idea of “good” being a concept riddled with negativity made me think about so many other things. How often does our meditation on a “good and holy” God turn into thoughts of what isn’t holy instead of what is? After mulling this over for weeks, and thinking about how I want to live a life of “I get to!” in front of my kids, I read C. S. Lewis’ words on the subject. He, naturally, says it much better than I ever could:

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. [more…]

Pirates, sleeping in our very own yard!

Today I dropped off my IHIP — required by the state of NY for home schooled children. All spring and summer, thoughts about next year’s school has occupied a place on the back burner of my mind. Now, heading into summer’s end, it’s time to move thinking into planning. Not that first grade is terribly complicated or taxing — but still, there are priorities to sort and Big Rocks to put in first, because how quickly our jars fill with the pebbles of life.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to teach Jameson at home. The further along this road called Family that I find myself, the more I realize how much there is to reevaluate, and how much lives outside the box. Another brief side note Kingsolver makes in her book is the observation of the school year: children originally had the summer off because their families needed their help during planting and harvest. Yes. School doesn’t need to rule our lives; it should fit into and enhance our lives. That made me stop and ask: How do our children fit into this family? And how does school fit into that? We have the incredibly daunting responsibility of shaping and equipping children to become young men and women of ethic, honor, and function. I’m so very thankful to know that God has called us and God has anointed us in this endeavor.

*I wrote this post this morning, and then the rain returned in force this afternoon. Hopefully the farmers were blessed, and the people in Potsdam certainly had a fair share of excitement!