Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The perfect Christmas tree?
All Christmas trees are perfect!
~Charles N. Barnard

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So often in life, we feel things that have little to do with what’s actually happening and everything to do with the stories we’re telling ourselves in our head—stories that involve assumption, blame, and defensiveness.

But we don’t have to fall victim to our instinctive emotional reactions. At any time, we can stop, assess what’s going on in our heads, and decide to respond a little more wisely based on what we know about ourselves.

Today if you feel yourself getting all worked up over something that isn’t a big deal, ask yourself, “What can I learn about myself that will help me going forward?”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Starbucks Spiced Holiday Coffee

2/3 cup ground Starbucks Christmas Blend or other dark roast coffee, 4 cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into small pieces, 6 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, 2/3 cup honey, half-and-half or milk. Mix together the coffee and cinnamon sticks. Using the coffee-cinnamon mixture and the water, brew coffee by your customary brewing method. Add the cardamom and honey to the hot coffee and stir until the honey dissolves. Serve warm. Pour about 2/3 cup coffee into each glass. Pass the half-and-half or milk.

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups buttermilk
5 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup lard or shortening, chilled
1 tablespoon melted butter

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

In choosing lard or shortening, be sure to use non-hydrogenated products. Butter may be substituted.

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in the buttermilk, making sure it has first been warmed to room temperature so as not to shock the yeast.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir all ingredients together to mix well.

Using your fingers, two knives or a pastry blender, work 1/2 the chilled shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Work in the remaining shortening until it resembles large peas.

Stir buttermilk and yeast mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended; do not overmix.

On a clean surface dusted lightly with flour, turn out dough and knead 6 to 8 times, patting together lightly into a flattened circle.

Roll circle out 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and cut using a floured glass or a 3 inch biscuit cutter. Dip in flour between each cut.

Arrange biscuits on a lightly greased baking sheet; leave 1/3 inch between for softer sided biscuits or 1 inch for more crisp sided biscuits.

Cover with a damp towel or lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, or about 45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 450°F oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Brush with melted butter before serving.

This dough can be refrigerated for 3-5 days, or frozen for up to a month.