Monthly Archives: November 2012

Happy Birthday, Hattie!

This week I’m taking a break from the baking posts. My second daughter turns twenty at the end of this week. (How is that possible??) One of her college friends is surprising her with twenty envelopes filled with favorite Hattie memories. Here are three of mine.

I co-led Anna’s Girl Scout troop. One afternoon, when Anna was either in first or second grade—which means that Hattie was either five or six, the scout assigned to bring the snack forgot. I called home, and Hattie answered. I asked her to bring some cookies. We had a full cookie jar, so I said, “Just bag them up, Hattie.”

She hung up without putting her grandma, visiting from North Carolina, on the phone. She knew the problem and how to solve it, so she didn’t think Grandma’s speaking to me was necessary.

On hearing the news, Grandma said, “But, Hattie, Grandpa isn’t here. Remember he’s gone to Busy Beaver. We don’t have a car.”

Without missing a beat or worrying that she’d messed up, Hattie said, “We’ll call Nancy.” Asking our next door neighbor was a great idea, but Grandpa returned just in time to deliver the snacks.

An interesting side note to this memory: when I’d told her to bag the cookies, I meant put them in one plastic bag. She had a better idea. She bagged them, two each, in individual bags.

# # #

When Hattie was in seventh or eighth grade, a few of her friends were discussing dating and boyfriends. One said, “I know why Hattie doesn’t have a boyfriend. She doesn’t have good self-esteem.”

She replied, “I don’t need a boy to give me my self-esteem.”

Yea!!!! Go Hattie! I love this memory.

# # #

When Hattie was voted onto the Homecoming Court in her senior year of high school, we were all stunned, not because we thought she didn’t deserve it but because I, for one, didn’t think the students could see her value. Even her cousin commented on how Hattie stuck out like a sore thumb in the group of other nominees. A horrible metaphor, yes, but I knew what the cousin meant. Hattie was different from the other girls, posing and chattering together. Hattie played the flute in the band, ran cross country, and played soccer. She wasn’t a cheerleader.

We enjoyed the two weeks between nominations and Homecoming Day. Tons of people kept congratulating her, so happy that she was nominated. Hattie took all of this commotion in stride. I thought she didn’t care one way or the other about winning.

Homecoming night proved me wrong. At halftime, the emcee announced her name, and the entire band (including her twin brothers standing behind the court on the football field) jumped for joy. Anna yelled from the sidelines, “That’s my sister! That’s my sister!”

Here’s one of my favorite parts of that night: on the ride home, Hattie could not stop giggling, grinning, smiling, laughing. Hattie was giddy with her new title.

The power of a tiara on a girl’s head.

Happy birthday, sweet Hattie!


Candy Cane Cookies

Another popular cookie of ours at Christmas is the Candy Cane Cookie. This recipe also makes a small amount of cookies, so we always make two batches.

¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
Red food coloring

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the peppermint and vanilla extracts. Gradually mix in the flour. Divide the dough in half. Color one half with the red food coloring; leave the other half plain.

Roll out a tablespoon of red dough and a tablespoon of plain until they are each 6 to 8 inches long. Twist them into a candy cane. Repeat for the rest of the dough. Bake in a 375-degree oven on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes or until set but not brown. This recipe makes about 25 candy canes.

*I use less dough for each cookie and make them smaller and to yield more cookies. Smaller cookies mean you can sample more from the cookie tray!

Magic Middles Cookie Recipe

We love to bake at our house: cheese cakes, banana chocolate chip bread, pecan pie, pumpkin pie (made with Hubbard squash), apple pie, Kentucky Derby pie, sour dough bread plain or with brown sugar and cinnamon or with cheese or with chocolate chips, blueberry cobbler, lemon blueberry pound cake, and cookies, cookies, cookies. For the next few weeks, I’ll share some of our special cookie recipes.

One of our Christmas traditions, in fact, is baking several different kinds of cookies—at least twelve—and sharing cookie trays with our neighbors. Magic Middles is one of our favorite cookie. They look like chocolate cookies until you bite into them. The middle is filled with peanut butter. Here’s the recipe:

Magic Middles
Cookie dough– Filling–
1 1/2 C plain flour 3/4 C peanut butter
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa 3/4 C powdered sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C butter/margarine
1 t vanilla
1/4 C peanut butter
1 egg

In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda; blend well. In a large bowl beat sugar, brown, sugar, margarine, and 1/4 peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Stir in flour mixture until blended; set aside. In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients; blend well. Roll into 30 1-inch balls for 30 cookies.

For each cookie, shape with floured hands about 1 tablespoonful of dough around 1 peanut butter ball, covering completely. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake in a 375-degree oven 7 to 9 minutes or until set and slightly cracked. Cool on wire racks.

The above recipe is the original one, but I usually make smaller balls to make more cookies. Sometimes I run out of the peanut butter filling and have chocolate dough left over, so I make some plain chocolate cookies. They’re good, too. I’ve never doubled the recipe, but we always have to make a second batch so that we have some to eat and some to share.

Try this recipe, pour a glass of milk, and enjoy!

Doing Hard Things (Tip #6)

I’ve left the most important tip for last: prayer. When you’re doing hard things, don’t forget to pray. Pray in specifics with prayer partners and pray expecting God to answer.

Have you ever noticed how detailed God is? He didn’t just tell Noah to build a big boat. He gave him specific measurements and told him exactly the kind of wood to use. What about the details of the priestly garments? God gave specific instructions on how to construct the clothes from the blue, purple, and scarlet yarn to the gold bells hung around the hem of the robe. You’ve heard it before: God is in the details, so pray about every point of what you’re facing and how you’re feeling.

When we moved eight years ago, I knew our family with children ages nine to thirteen faced an epic challenge. I created a list of everything I needed God to handle. My request list included among other things positive attitudes, Christian friends, compassionate and caring teachers, and a vibrant church. I even prayed that the school would begin a girls’ soccer program.

(Yes, all the requests centered on what we needed, not what we could give. At that point, however, my selfish focus was as much as I could manage.)

I shared that list with three or four close friends who prayed daily for us. Although I gave them a copy of the whole list, I asked them to choose only one or two items to pray.

During the next year, God faithfully answered all the prayers on my list sometimes exactly how I’d hoped, sometimes in ways I’d never imagined, but always, God answered my prayers in the best way.

Face your difficult task with prayer—specifically, unceasingly, expectantly. God will be faithful to you, too.