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Giftmas 2020: Help the Edmonton Food Bank!

Posted by on Dec 15, 2020 in Blog, giftmas | 1 comment

giftmas 2020

I’m taking part in Giftmas again this year, an annual effort coordinated by Rhonda Parrish for the benefit of the Edmonton Food Bank. I don’t need to state the reasons why helping food banks is more important this year than ever before. We need to help each other. We can’t connect in person, but we can connect with a few bucks that will help fill bellies and add warmth to the world through kindness. If you’re American like me, your dollars will deliver extra bang with each buck, too. $1 = 3 meals.

Please help.

Rhonda asked Giftmas participants to post on the subject of connections. For me, this year has featured an evolving connection with my son.

He turned fifteen in March. We didn’t get to do his annual birthday trip to IKEA, where he loves following the handout map and the big arrows on the floor, as he has since he was a preschooler. He’s autistic. He loves maps and numbers, and IKEA is all about those things.

Last year, he started high school. It was not a transition without hiccups. He needs routine and quiet. He struggles to understood the chaos of other people. The lead-in to his birthday was the start of virtual high school. It was… tumultuous, to say the least. The kid who needs routine, losing all semblance of it. Me, I’m diagnosed OCD and not much better at handling this stuff than he is, but I have to be the cool-headed parent because if I crack, he will really crack.

I’m also the at-home parent as I do this writer thing. I was the one who had to talk him through the fear, the unknowns. I had to talk myself through, too.

As April chugged along, as masks became the thing, his school days began to find more of a groove. He did, too. He actually found it easier to focus on his work in the online school format. I enjoyed having him around, too, preparing lunch for him and checking in during breaks to see how things were going. It became a situation that bonded us more, as we talked at lunch about the new COVID-19 case numbers for the day and what they meant for our family.

We’ve continued to work through, day by day, as his sophomore year began in the fall. He started out online, then got to return to school for two days a week for three weeks before an outbreak shut his school down in early November. Soon after that, rising case numbers for Arizona forced his entire district to return to online learning to finish out 2020. He’s handled these transitions oddly well. I’m proud of him. This year has been hard, but he has grown in this time. So have I.

That said, I selfishly would like fewer growth-through-adversity moments in 2021, for our sakes and for everyone else, too.

Please help other people end their 2020 and start the new year on a brighter note. Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank today.

Thank you.

Follow the entire blog tour through RhondaParrish.com and her social media.

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Bready or Not Original: Honey Spritz Cookies

Posted by on Dec 9, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, cookies | 0 comments

These Honey Spritz Cookies are perfectly sweet, and with some added sanding sugar, will make cookie plates bright this holiday season!

Bready or Not Original: Honey Spritz Cookies

I have a love and hate relationship with my cookie press. Sometimes I try to use it for recipes and it is a disaster. Not so with this recipe!

Bready or Not Original: Honey Spritz Cookies

This dough was soft and dreamy to work with. I can only hope that you have a similar experience.

Bready or Not Original: Honey Spritz Cookies

As I used a tree-shaped disc to make my cookies, I added some green sanding sugar. The fun thing about this recipe is that you can make it any time of year and customize it to the season.

Really, the most difficult thing about this recipe was rearranging my fridge to fit in the cookie sheets for their chill time.

Bready or Not Original: Honey Spritz Cookies

Use a cookie press to create delicious cookies! These treats are perfectly sweet.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Keyword: cookie press, cookies, holiday
Servings: 40 cookies
Author: Beth Cato

Equipment

  • cookie press
  • 2 large cookie sheets

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sanding sugar or coarse sugar or other edible decorations

Instructions

  • Place two cookie sheets in fridge to completely chill.
  • Arrange oven racks at top and bottom of oven, then set to preheat at 350-degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, honey, and vanilla. Gradually add in the dry mixture until just combined. Dough will be super-soft.
  • Cookie presses vary in how they work–fill the device with dough, however required, and add decorative disk or nozzle. Press out cookie dough directly onto the cold cookie sheets, spacing 1-inch apart.
  • If desired, add colorful sanding sugar or other decorations. Bake for 7 minutes. Switch placement of cookie sheets within oven. Bake for another 7 minutes, until set. Let cool on pans for about 5 minutes then transfer to racks to completely cool.
  • Store in sealed containers at room temperature.

OM NOM NOM!

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    Bready or Not: Noel Cookies

    Posted by on Dec 2, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, cookies, nutty | 0 comments

    We made it to December! Let’s celebrate with these Noel Cookies.

    Bready or Not: Noel Cookies

    These cookies are a fun mixture of textures and flavors. Chopped nuts crust a soft cookie, everything complemented by a zing of jam.

    Bready or Not: Noel Cookies

    I used good ol’ Smuckers strawberry preserves for this recipe and avoided large chunks of fruit. Really, use whatever jam you like!

    Bready or Not: Noel Cookies

    I was a bit concerned about how these cookies would travel to my husband’s work. I didn’t want jam to get everywhere and make a sticky mess. I found, though, that the dabs of jam stayed put and that waxed paper between the stacked cookies kept everything from going sticky.

    Bready or Not: Noel Cookies

    These cookies will keep for at least 3 days in sealed containers. They might last longer, but you’ll need to test your restraint to find out!

    Recipe modified from Taste of Home Best Holiday Recipes 2008.

    Bready or Not: Noel Cookies

    These jam-filled cookies look bright and cheery for holiday cookie plates! Recipe makes about 40 cookies.
    Course: Dessert, Snack
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: cookies, walnuts
    Servings: 40 cookies
    Author: Beth Cato

    Equipment

    • teaspoon scoop
    • parchment paper

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter half stick
    • 1/4 cup shortening
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 3/4 cup finely-chopped nuts
    • 1/3 cup seedless fruit jam or preserves, avoid big chunks

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
    • In a big bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
    • In another bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture while also intermittently adding in the sour cream.
    • Use a teaspoon scoop to measure the dough. Roll into balls, then roll each ball in the chopped walnuts. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Use the end of a wooden spoon or another kitchen tool to create a deep indentation in the middle of each cookie. Add a dollop of jam to fill each well.
    • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until set. Let cool on cookies sheet for a few minutes, then move to rack. Store in a sealed container with waxed paper between the layers. Keeps for at least 3 days.

    OM NOM NOM!

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      Bready or Not Original: Hard Maple Candy

      Posted by on Nov 25, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, maple, no-bake dessert | 0 comments

      This Hard Maple Candy garnered the name “Canadian meth” at my husband’s work. By that nickname, I take it that they 1) liked it, and 2) kept eating it.

      Bready or Not Original: Hard Maple Candy

      On a more personal note, this candy could also work as a shiv, because this stuff is like GLASS. Trust me when I say that if you decide to break this into pieces with your hands, you will get little cuts all over. Ow.

      So maybe tap the candy gently with the butt of a butter knife or use a little mallet, whatever you have that will break the candy apart without harming your pan, counter, or you.

      Bready or Not Original: Hard Maple Candy

      Once you survive that stage, though, wow will you have a lot of candy to enjoy. Definitely make this to share with a crowd, or you just might go into diabetic shock.

      Bready or Not Original: Hard Maple Candy

      It’d be a delicious way to go, but seriously, I don’t recommend going at all. We’ve made it this far in 2020. Hold on a while longer.

      Bready or Not Original: Hard Maple Candy

      This super-easy recipe makes a LOT of hard maple candy that is best sucked on, not chewed. Perfect for holiday gifts!
      Course: Dessert
      Cuisine: American, Canadian
      Keyword: candy, maple, no bake
      Author: Beth Cato

      Equipment

      • 15x10x1-inch pan (jelly roll pan)
      • candy thermometer

      Ingredients

      • nonstick spray
      • 3 1/2 cup white sugar
      • 1 cup light corn syrup
      • 1 cup water
      • 3 Tablespoons maple flavor

      Instructions

      • Heavily apply nonstick spray to the jelly roll pan.
      • In a large saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Start heating up. Set up candy thermometer and stir frequently as the heat rises to 300-degrees, which is hard-crack stage.
      • Remove pan from heat. Stir in maple flavoring. Immediately pour candy into the prepared pan. Cool completely, which won’t take long.
      • Carefully break into pieces. Note that this stuff is like candy glass, and if breaking with hands, it can and will cut the skin.
      • Pack into individual bags or tins for gift-giving, or stack it in a large sealed container with waxed paper between layers. Can keep for weeks.

      OM NOM NOM!

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        Out Today: Escape Pod: The Science Fiction Anthology

        Posted by on Nov 24, 2020 in anthology:story, Blog | 0 comments

        escape pod antho

        Today’s the release date for Escape Pod: The Science Fiction Anthology, a book that celebrates Escape Pod’s 15th anniversary with a range of diverse science fiction stories. I’m somehow mixed in there with a who’s-who of authors. Here’s the official description; buy the book wherever books are sold, in print and in ebook!

        The fifteenth anniversary of the Hugo-nominated science fiction podcast Escape Pod, featuring new and exclusive stories from today’s bestselling writers.

        Finalist for the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine.

        Celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of cutting-edge science fiction from the hit podcast, Escape Pod. Escape Pod has been bringing the finest short fiction to millions of ears all over the world, at the forefront of a new fiction revolution.

        This anthology gathers together fifteen stories, including new and exclusive work from writers such as from Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, Mary Robinette Kowal, T. Kingfisher and more. From editors Mur Laffterty and S.B. Divya comes the science fiction collection of the year, bringing together bestselling authors in celebration of the publishing phenomenon that is, Escape Pod.

        Available at Amazon [affiliate link] | Bookshop.org [support indies] | Barnes & Noble

        #SFWAPro

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        Bready or Not Original: English Toffee

        Posted by on Nov 18, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, british, chocolate, gluten-free, no-bake dessert | 0 comments

        English Toffee is a classic, timeless candy for a reason: IT IS DELICIOUS. With this recipe, you’ll have a whole bunch of candy made in as fast as 15 minutes!

        Bready or Not Original: English Toffee

        Make this to feed a crowd or to assemble for gifts. The recipe makes a lot, and trust me, you don’t want to be home alone with this temptation.

        Bready or Not Original: English Toffee

        There is nothing healthy about this candy. It is pure indulgence. It’s also a cheap indulgence–you’d pay a lot of money at the store to get this much candy of quality!

        Bready or Not Original: English Toffee

        And homemade is always better, right?

        Bready or Not Original: English Toffee

        Bready or Not Original: English Toffee

        This classic candy is deliciously perfect for holiday gatherings and gift-giving! With a cooperative stove, the candy is made in as fast as 15 minutes, and just needs more time to set.
        Course: Dessert
        Cuisine: British
        Keyword: almond, candy, chocolate, no bake
        Author: Beth Cato

        Equipment

        • 10x15x1-inch jelly roll pan
        • candy thermometer
        • uneven spatula

        Ingredients

        • nonstick spray
        • 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks
        • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
        • 2 Tablespoons water
        • 1/8 teaspoon salt
        • 3/4 cups almonds slivered or sliced, divided
        • 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips use medium-sized chips, not gigantic gourmet ones
        • Maldon sea salt or other fancy salt for top, optional

        Instructions

        • Apply a generous amount of nonstick spray to a 10x15x1-inch jelly roll pan. Measure out the almonds and the chocolate and set them aside in separate dishes.
        • In a large saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar, water, and salt, and continue to stir it as the sugar cooks and dissolves. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce temperature to simmer. Continue to stir frequently for the next 5 to 6 minutes as the mix darkens to the color of a brown paper bag; on a candy thermometer, it should be 300-degrees.
        • Remove pan from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup of the almonds (meaning there is still 1/2 cup reserved for later). Pour the toffee onto the prepared pan. Use a greased uneven spatula or tilt the pan to carefully spread the candy into an even layer.
        • Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top. Let them sit for a minute or two to soften, then use an uneven spatula to spread the chocolate across the toffee. Promptly sprinkle the remaining almonds over the top. Add Maldon or other fancy flaky salt, if desired.
        • Cool to room temperature, then chill for a while to completely set. Use hands to break toffee into pieces. Some nuts and chocolate will fall off, but it’s all good.
        • Store between layers of waxed paper in sealed containers. Keeps for at least 2 weeks.

        *OM NOM NOM!*

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