Sunday, December 31

Farm Photo 12/31/06: Farm Life Is Exhausting

Baby Cary at age three weeks, sound asleep in my office.

It's been quite a year. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

Wondering who Cary is? Click here to read her story.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Final Sunrise Of The Year
And WCB#30:
How To Stay Warm If You're Not A Super Fluff


Saturday, December 30

Daily Farm Photo 12/30/06: No Knead Bread!

Hot Crusty Bread Is Definitely The Stuff Of My Life

This is my version of the No Knead Bread that recently appeared in the New York Times and immediately became the biggest thing since, well, sliced bread. When I read the original article back in November, I knew I had to try baking it.

I made it for Thanksgiving dinner in my new
Lodge Enamel Dutch Oven (which I then immediately washed out and cooked Thanksgiving dinner in—no it wasn't turkey), and it was delicious and beautiful. The crust was crisp, and the crumb was light (in a good way) and full of various-sized airholes.

But because I'm a firm believer that if you have either freezer space or friends you should never bake just one loaf of bread at a time, I experimented and learned that there is actually no need (ha ha) for the dutch oven.

The loaves you see here were baked directly on a hot baking stone and I did not find them any the worse for it. I did make minor changes to the recipe--mainly adding more salt and increasing the first rise to about 24 hours (because this time of year there is no place in The Shack that stays 70 degrees). I used Heartland Mill Organic Strong Bread Flour (which I buy in 50-pound sacks), simply adding more than called for if the dough was too sticky.

Doubling the recipe will give you two 1½-pound loaves, three 1-pound loaves, or four baby 12-ounce loaves. Each batch I've made has come out slightly different, but that, of course, is the beauty of handmade bread. Every loaf was scrumptious.

If you haven't already been bombarded by this bread, you can read lots more about it at this post on Lindy's delightful blog, Toast. And this post at The Unemployed Cook includes the entire original recipe as it appeared in the New York Times. If you'd like to read more about bread baking in general, I invite you to check out my Ten Tips For Better Bread.

2007 Update: I gave this bread an Italiano twist over at A Year In Bread—and made one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I've ever had. Click here for the step by step recipe, which can also be used to make the "plain" version—simply omit the seasonings.

Click here if you'd like to read more about A Year In Bread, the joint blogging project between myself and two other passionate bread bakers. It's 12 months, 36 recipes, and more fun than should probably be allowed in the kitchen. Ready, breadie? Then come bake bread with us!

© 2006, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote acres, and there are always at least four kinds of homemade bread in the freezer.

Thursday, December 28

Wednesday, December 27

Daily Farm Photo: 12/27/06

New Cat All Fluffed Up For Winter

Tuesday, December 26

Daily Farm Photo: 12/26/06

Reflecting On The Bigger Picture, Remembering The Little Things

When my brother stayed with us on the farm for a month in February of 2005, he made himself useful whenever he could. He convinced the digital thermometer in the kitchen--which I had somehow inadvertantly switched to celsius--to display the temperature in farenheit again. He replaced the starter in my little SUV. He even set the clock on the VCR.

Each of the three doorways that leads in and out of The Shack is equipped with a storm door as well as a wooden door. These storm doors are inexpensive, metal-framed affairs consisting of two thin glass windows with a screen over the bottom window. If luck is with you--and you are willing to sacrifice the use of your fingertips for several minutes afterward--you can push in some painfully stupid sliding thingies and then lift and secure the lower window up over the second one so fresh air can blow in through the screen. If you are heading outside, you push on a small lever to release a tiny latch that holds the door shut, and then push the door outward. If you are coming inside, you must grab the handle, press on a button with your thumb, and then pull the door open toward you.

The storm door we use by far the most leads from the kitchen to a small covered porch. On the porch live three enormous chest freezers, the dog houses and dog food bowls, a cat food bowl, and Smudge the cat (who lives on top of the chest freezers, just out of reach of the dogs). During the fall and winter a wheelbarrow full of firewood also takes up residence there, and we probably make at least a dozen trips in and out each day just lugging in firewood alone.

One day I noticed my brother tinkering with the storm door handle.

"There!" he said proudly. "I fixed this broken latch so now the door stays shut like it's supposed to. It was driving me crazy."

"Well, thanks," I said.

Not long after that, Joe walked purposefully through the kitchen and slammed into the storm door.

"What the--"

"Derek fixed the latch on the door so now it locks shut."

"Ohhhh." And without skipping a beat he called out, "Hey, thanks, man!"

Old habits die hard around here, and Joe and I must have banged into that door twenty times each over the next couple of weeks. The day after my brother left, Joe put the latch back the way it had been, and we both laughed out sighs of relief.

Neither of us had had the heart to tell him that because we use that door so much we keep the latch 'broken' on purpose.

May your memories make you smile more than they make you sad.

A year of Daily Photos ago: In Loving Memory Of My Brother

Monday, December 25

Daily Farm Photo: 12/25/06

Wishing you life's simple joys this Christmas.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Merry Christmas To You

And out of the kitchen came: Cranberry Christmas Scones (which are tasty any time of year.)


Sunday, December 24

Daily Farm Photo: 12/24/06

There are so many ways to show someone you love them.

Happy Holidays from all of us to all of you!

A year of farm photos ago:
It's Over 100 Years Old But Should Work Just Fine
Christmas Eve Greetings From The Farm
Just When I'd Given Up Hope


Thursday, December 21

Daily Farm Photo: 12/21/06

Sunshine, Blue Skies--It Was A Beautiful First Day Of Winter

And it's nearly the last day to order from the Menu For Hope III. You could win
A Little Lamb To Call Your Own! Click here to read more about this food bloggers' fundraiser. Click here for the complete list of dozens and dozens of truly amazing prizes being raffled off. And click here for a handy dandy list of all the prizes that can be shipped anywhere in the world, free of charge to our raffle donors. We have already raised over $40,000 for the UN World Food Programme which provides hunger relief for needy people worldwide. Many thanks to all of you for your generous support.

A year of Daily Photos ago: Happy First Day Of Winter

Wednesday, December 20

Daily Farm Photo 12/20/06: Zen Donkey

Goodbye Autumn

I remember this day. The sheep were grazing in the hayfield, and Donkey Doodle Dandy
was right out there with them of course, but he wasn't eating. His head was up, and he stood gazing at the glorious autumn colors on the hillside. This went on for quite a while. It was as if he was in some deep meditative state, being one with nature if you will. Then I finally realized that he was probably asleep.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Farewell To Fall (My Favorite Season In Missouri)

Tuesday, December 19

Daily Farm Photo: 12/19/06

Cary Can Find A Snack Anywhere

A year of Daily Photos ago:
New Cat Isn't The Only One Fluffing Up For Winter

Monday, December 18

Daily Farm Photo: 12/18/06

Autumn Sunflower 2

This is another sunflower photo I took a while ago. (Click here to see Autumn Sunflower 1). These flowers are not on the farm; I came upon two entire fields of them while driving through the dense backwoods not far from our property. They were everywhere I looked, so different than anything I had ever seen, and the brilliantly colored trees that surrounded the fields made a wonderful backdrop. I found myself entranced, snapping pictures and oblivious to the spattering rain falling on me (and my camera). I ended up with 7 photos I really like, and am toying with the idea of a series of blank notecards. The bizarre, silent, and totally unexpected landscape had such a mysterious, almost eerie (but not at all depressing) feel to it, and I think it comes across in the photos--or maybe you just had to be there. What do you think?

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Do You Think She's Been Stolen?
And WCB #28: The Doodle Monster

Sunday, December 17

Daily Farm Photo: 12/17/06

J2 With A Good View

Attention Cat Lovers! This Is Weekend Cat Blogging #80!
My bread baking pal KitchenMage is harboring all the links to this week's kitties. And if you need a good eyeball washing (or your faith in humanity restored), do stop over at Bernie Berlin's blog, A Place To Bark. . . And Meow. Her selfless, loving efforts are simply beyond extraordinary. You can also click here to see some of the fabulous donated artwork that will be going up for auction on ebay in January. The first phase of Bernie's art auction raised nearly $1,200 desperately needed dollars. All proceeds go directly to Bernie's non-profit dog and cat rescue, A Place To Bark, in Tennessee. And if you are looking for a special furry friend to share your life with, A Place To Bark always has lots of adorable animals hoping for new homes. Delivery to other states is even often possible.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
She's Not Over There

Saturday, December 16

Daily Farm Photo: 12/16/06

It's All In The Light

October 17th was, for some unknown reason, a really good day for photos. Here is yet another one I took then. And here's to hoping something interesting reveals itself around the farm soon, as I'm getting awfully tired of lugging around this camera and not using it. There are only so many pictures even I can take of Cary!

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Where Did She Go?
A year & a day of Daily Photos ago: The Weathered Look Is Very In Around Here

Thursday, December 14

Daily Farm Photo: 12/14/06

Summer In The Barn, Autumn On The Ridge

Still hasn't been much to photograph around here; still slipping in a few photos from the past few months that I love but never posted. This one is from October 17th.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
I Don't Know How I Survived The Baking Season Without These Racks

Outfitting The Holiday Kitchen
(Or Your Holiday Wish List)

I'm sure you have already been inundated with holiday gift suggestions, but I thought I would go ahead and offer up a few more anyway (please forgive me). Actually, the original idea behind this post was to share a few of my favorite kitchen essentials--the ones I find invaluable not just during the holidays but throughout the year. Besides making great gifts for foodie friends, they would, of course, most likely be welcome in your own kitchen.

Oh, yeah--and this is a blatant plug for shopping on, because although I do my best to shop locally (which usually means over a dozen stops during even the most basic errand run), sometimes you just need to embrace the joys of ordering online. Even the owner of our local little natural foods store annnounced a few Decembers ago, " rocks!" And I have to agree.

There are still a few more days to order with Free Super Saver Shipping for delivery by December 22nd. And right now you can save $25.00 when you spend $125.00 or more on Kitchen & Housewares or Bed & Bath products offered by Just enter code HOHOSAVE at checkout.

Gift Certificates
Let's face it--we live in The Age Of The Gift Card. But they really can come in handy, especially for last minute shopping. If you order an Amazon Gift Certificate between now and December 31st using this link (or any other Amazon link on my blog), Farmgirl Fare will receive a small portion of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). All proceeds will go directly to maintaining this site and paying the Treat Bill at the feed store. Amazon Gift Certificates can be delivered via e-mail or e-card (sent within hours of ordering) or snail mail (order by December 18th for Christmas delivery) and are redeemable for literally millions of items.

Farmgirl Fare Favorites Store
I'm in the process of expanding my Amazon Store and will be adding many more categories and items soon. There are already a few new categories, including On My Bookshelf and My Favorite Movies. (Yes, as you'll quickly see, I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy, though I do like other types of movies as well. Since we don't have TV, we watch movies. And since we live 17 miles from the closest video store, we buy them. So not only are these all movies that I think are great, they are also all ones I have happily watched over and over). The I Can't Live Without page offers several kitcheny items I, well, can't live without--most of which would make super gifts.

A Few More Kitchen Essentials
These are the newest items I've added to my Amazon Store.

Every baker out there deserves to have at least a couple of commercial half-size baking sheets in their culinary arsenal. I refuse to bake on anything else, and once you try using them you probably won't either. There is simply no comparison. Are you a Closet Cookie Burner? These might very well cure you. Really. Chicago Metallic (a well respected name in the restaurant equipment industry) offers a set of two heavyweight baking sheets for $24.99--a bargain for something that is a mainstay in my kitchen. Treat them well and they will last for ages--I've had some of mine for over 15 years. I almost always line mine with unbleached parchment paper--something else I can't believe I ever lived without.

I recently ordered one of these Chicago Metallic Commercial 1-Pound Loaf Pans and am about to order two more (I usually make three loaves of bread at a time). Note: the pans are NOT 9"x5" like it says in the description. The label on the pan itself states that they are 8-1/2"x4-1/2"--which is the size I like to use. The pans are a nice hefty weight and will no doubt hold up for years. Chicago Metallic also offers a 1-1/2-Pound Loaf Pan (though I'm not sure if the dimensions listed in the Amazon product description are correct or not).

I also recently received a Lodge Enamel 7-Quart Dutch Oven in Patriot Red as an early Christmas present. It is absolutely wonderful, cooks like a dream, and the gorgeous color couldn't be more festive. This is something I plan to keep forever. Fine Cooking magazine recently reviewed several enamel dutch ovens, and this one received the highest rating--it even beat out Le Creuset (and it is less than half the price). I went with the larger 7-quart size and am glad I did, but it does weigh about 17 pounds. Lodge also offers a five-quart version. (Note: the 7-quart size is currently out of stock but should be available soon.)

And lastly, possibly the most indispensible thing at this time of year is one of my all-time favorite CDs: Vivaldi For Relaxation. I highly recommend it. (And it may just save your sanity.)

Wednesday, December 13

A Little Lamb To Call Your Own


A Menu For Hope III

Every year, Food Bloggers from all over the world get together for a fundraising campaign. We call it 'Menu for Hope'. Last year, we raised $17,000 to help UNICEF. This year, Menu for Hope III raises funds to support the UN World Food Programme, which provides hunger relief for needy people worldwide.

Food is a joy to us Food Bloggers. On our blogs, we celebrate food as a delight or even an indulgence. Unfortunately, for many others who share our world do not share that privilege. For them, food is a matter of survival. This "Menu for Hope" is our small way to help.On our Menu this year is a great list of of amazing food related prizes. We hope that they will entice you to give whatever you can, and with luck you may win a unique and wonderful food gift offered up by food bloggers from around the globe.

The rules are simple. For every US$10 you donate, you may claim one virtual raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. The more you give, the better your chances of winning. You can also buy tickets for different prizes. The campaign is scheduled to run from now until Friday 22nd, 6PM PST, and you can purchase raffle tickets from anywhere in the world. Any shipping charges for prizes are being generously paid for by the prize donors.

Please head over to Chez Pim for a look at the dozens of truly amazing prizes being given away, plus instructions on how to buy Menu For Hope virtual raffle tickets. You can also visit regional host, Kalyn's Kitchen, to read about other prizes donated from the Central U.S.

So what did I donate? Well, Menu For Hope organizer Pim requested that I offer a repeat of last year's prize, so you now have the chance to win the 'honorary ownership' of the first ewe lamb born on my farm in 2007!
And what does that mean exactly? You become the honorary owner of the lamb. You get to name your lamb whatever you want. And, if you so desire, you will receive (via email) periodic news about your lamb, including what she's been up to lately, how her health is doing, and photos as she quickly grows from absolutely adorable bouncing baby to lovely young lady (assuming, of course, that she is willing to pose for them). The code for my prize is UC13.

Note: Being the winner does not mean that 'your' new sheep gets to come and live with you. No, she stays right here on the farm (and you don't even get to visit her). But, you do get to tell all of your friends that you are the proud owner of a sheep. You simply explain to them that your sheep lives in the country because she is much happier there than she would be in, say, your fifth floor apartment or out on the fire escape or eating up all of the landscaping in your beautiful backyard.

Ding! Ding! Ding! It's the Holiday Gift Idea Bell ringing! Why not do a little multi-gift-tasking and purchase some virtual raffle tickets for friends, neighbors, the person who walks your cat, or whomever? Just choose the prize you think they'd like the best and let them know that you've not only made a donation to a worthy cause in their name, but that they might even win a nifty gift as well (like a sheep). You can't beat that. And many thanks, as always, for your generosity toward this and the other worthy causes I have asked you to support.

Note: The spotted darling in the photo above is not your lamb. Your lamb hasn't been born yet. Cute, though, huh? Just wait until there are three or four dozen of them racing around next spring. Can't wait? Click here if you'd like to meet Rose, the first ewe lamb born in 2006 who is "owned" by last year's Menu For Hope winner, Jennifer New (and who just may have a little lamb of her own come spring).

If you are only buying Menu For Hope raffle tickets for the Little Lamb To Call Your Own (Prize Code UC13), here's what you should do:

1. Go to the Menu For Hope III donation page at First Giving.

2. Make a donation, each $10 will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. Please specify which prize or prizes you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. Do tell us how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code -for example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for UW01 and 3 for UW02. The prize code for The Little Lamb To Call Your Own is UC13.

3. If your company matches your charity donation, please remember to check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

4. Please also check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

5. Check back at Chez Pim on January 15 when we announce the results of the raffle.

Daily Farm Photo: 12/13/06

Breakfast In The Front Field Back In Late October

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Yo! So I'm Not Good Enough To Donate?
And out of the kitchen came:
Chocolate Biscotti For Beginners
(Which would make a light & lovely end to any holiday dinner, as it goes deliciously with everything from red wine, port, and brandy to coffee or champagne.)

Tuesday, December 12

Daily Farm Photo: 12/12/06

Where Does The Time Go?

I haven't been taking many photos around the farm lately, so I thought I'd slip in one or two from the past few months that were never posted. Autumn is always so perfectly color coordinated, isn't she?

Holiday Gift Ideas: Farm & Foodie Stuff From My Friends
Two of my pals have some wonderful original items for sale on Cafe Press. Today is the last day to order from Cafe Press in time for December 22nd delivery. (Expedited delivery available until December 19th.) You can, however, get free Ground shipping in the U.S. on all orders of $50 or more through December 20th (details through any of the links below).

KitchenMage (aka my superSecretBreadBakingCabal compatriot) has created all sorts of funwear for foodies and food bloggers, including adorable "Foodie In Training" baby creepers and bibs. She also has a special
KittenMage line, complete with tees that sport beyond cute photos of "my" kitten.

Do your friends and loved ones dream of moving to the country (or do you)? Now you can buy ten of them their own farms, complete with animals, for under $100 total. How? By ordering seven different 10-packs of art magnets for $13.99 each by my fellow shepherdgirl and artist Katherine Dunn. It's all of the farm fun but none of the chores or manure. These perfect stocking stuffers can live anywhere from the fridge to the work cubicle. Look in the sidebar in any of these links for Katherine's dozens of other fabulous farm creations, such as these darling Ba-a-a bibs and creepers and my favorite Oh, Ewe! items.

More Gift Ideas Soon. . . (better late than never, right?)

A year of Daily Photos ago: Frolicking On The Farm
A year & a day of Daily Photos ago: Firewood Getting Low. Ever Cut In The Snow?
Plus: Weekend Dog & Donkey Blogging

Sunday, December 10

Daily Farm Photo: 12/10/06

Weekend Dog Blogging #64

Lucky Buddy Bear Takes A Break In The Hay

Attention Art & Animal Lovers!
Looking for a pet charity where every single donated dollar goes straight to the source (and is desperately needed)? A Place To Bark, the non-profit animal rescue operated by the extraordinary Bernie Berlin in Tennessee, has transported and found homes for 348 unwanted dogs in 2006 alone (and she also rescues cats). Click here to bid on original artwork in the A Place To Bark Ebay Benefit Auction going on now. (And check back, as more items will be added soon.) Click here to see what a difference one amazing person can make in this world. Head over to Sweetnicks each Sunday night for the WDB roundup.

A year of Daily Photos ago: Good Morning Sheepsies!
And: A Little Snowstorm Can't Keep Patchy Cat From Running The Farm

Saturday, December 9

Cookie Recipe: Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps

Old-fashioned molasses ginger spice snap cookies
These cute little cookies are perfect for holiday munching and giving.

December 2010 Update: Click here to for the big, soft, and chewy version of these cookies, made with (or without) raisins.

When I moved from urban Northern California to the wilds of Missouri (where I'd never been in my life) back in 1994, I dragged a number of things along with me that I will most likely never use again, but haven't yet been able to part with: my last few pairs of high-heeled shoes (absurdly out of fashion, I'm sure), a barely started sweater-knitting project and $80 worth of unused wool yarn, and over two dozen—now half-rusted—metal cookie cutters.

When I was a kid, several times each year my mother would dig out various cookie cutters and we would proceed to make what I still believe are the best rolled sugar cookies in the world. Each baked and cooled cookie was then carefully spread with buttercream frosting made using the recipe on the back of the C&H powdered sugar box, because I do not come from the type of people who would ever dream of making something as pointless and unpalatable as royal icing when you could use buttercream instead.

Last year I was talking to my mother on the phone while she and my stepfather were finishing up a batch of these very cookies. "Joel! You're putting on too much frosting and making the cookies look funny!" Then after a moment she gave an exasperated sigh, because the solution was painfully obvious. "Just eat the extra frosting!"

The shape of the cutters and the color of the frosting we used depended on the season: we made pink hearts for Valentine's Day, yellow chicks and blue bunnies for Easter, and red & green stars, stockings, bells, reindeer, and Santa holding his sack full of presents for Christmas.

Sometimes we would go all out and decorate the frosted cookies with colored candy sprinkles or those tiny silver balls that you can still buy in places like England and Australia but which are now illegal in the United States.

When I grew up and became Head Cookie Baker in the household, I purchased my own collection of cutters, purloined the secret recipe from my mother, and proceeded to continue the frosted cookie holiday tradition.

Things have changed.

While I now happily spend countless hours baking my own bread and growing dozens of types of heirloom vegetables, I never seem to find the time to do all of that rolling and cutting and frosting.

Cookies should be round and sliced from a log or made with a scoop is my new motto. Needless to say, you will never find a single gingerbread man or woman or child or cat or snowflake lurking among the hundreds of holiday goodies I cheerfully churn out each December.

You will however, find lots and lots of these cute little round cookies hanging around my kitchen. Several years ago I did painstakingly make dozens of cheddar-dill crackers in the shape of penguins because I thought the recipient's kids would be amused by them. Little did I know the childrens' starving mother would inhale every single penguin while driving to pick up her little darlings from soccer practice without noticing a single one.

I was introduced to the world of dark and spicy desserts very late in life. Growing up, I cannot recall ever seeing a jar of molasses in the house—perhaps because it didn't go well with buttercream.

About ten years ago a friend offered me a square hunk of homemade cake that was a deep, dark brown but did not appear to be chocolate. My friend explained that it was gingerbread. Never one to pass up dessert, I took a tentative bite and could not believe what I'd been missing.

I begged her for the recipe and went home and baked my own gingerbread cake, substituting homemade applesauce for some of the butter and adding more spices. I soon learned that recipes for this stuff abound, and that some people even frost it with chocolate buttercream. Where had I been?

Then one day my hunky farmguy Joe asked me if I would bake him some spice cake but make cupcakes instead, because then more of the cake touches the pan and that, in his opinion, is the best part.

"You mean like gingerbread?" I asked.

"No, like spice cake."

Sure enough, on the same page as a recipe for Gingerbread, my trusted Betty Crocker cookbook offered a recipe for Old-Fashioned Spice Cake that did not call for molasses and met with Joe's approval.

I added applesauce and raisins to the batter, frosted the cupcakes using the recommended recipe for Caramel Frosting, and watched as my approval rating went through the roof. According to the detailed notes I thankfully wrote in the margin, this happened in April of 2001.

A few years later I decided to try my hand at making spice cookies. I made them big and soft with raisins and the girl at the local natural foods store told me they were the best cookies she had eaten in her life. I made them small and crunchy and am now expected to bake up a large batch every time my mother comes to the farm, with survival packages of cookies shipped to her between visits.

The only difficult thing about this recipe is figuring out exactly what to call it. The cookies have all the makings of gingerbread, including molasses, but the original recipe mine is adapted from referred to them as spice cookies. A hopeful look through a random sample of older cookbooks on my shelf resulted in mass confusion.

I found recipes for Ginger-Sugar Cookies and Spiced Molasses Cookies and Ginger Snaps. In the Joy Of Cooking there was a recipe for Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies made with buttermilk that "are highly spiced." The Gingersnaps were described as "like 'boughten' ones in texture but with a dreamy flavor."

And then there were the Ginger Thins, which I immediately decided should be called Gnash Your Teeth Ginger Thins because you are expected to make "about 300 3/4-inch wafers" by putting "dots of 1/8 teaspoon of dough 1-inch apart on a greased cookie sheet." Right.

The most comprehensive list of recipes was in The Settlement Cookbook, first published in 1901 and sporting the trademarked phrase, "The Way To A Man's Heart" on the cover of my 32nd edition from 1965. In the index under "Cookies, Spice" I found no fewer than twelve different listings.

There were Ginger Creams, Ginger Snaps, Ginger Wafers, Hermits (with raisins), Molasses Hermits, Card Gingerbread (which you make by thinly spreading the batter in a 9"x13" pan, sprinkling it with sugar, then cutting into squares after baking), Spice Cookies, and Raisin Spice Cookies (which were completely different than the plain old Spice Cookies), and Christmas Spice Cookies. There were recipes for Anise Spice Cookies and Springerle, which are also made with anise.

But the best find of my search came from a 1964 copy of The American Heritage Cookbook And Illustrated History Of American Eating & Drinking (Number 2 in, I assume, a series) that I picked up for $2.00 at a used bookstore a few years ago but never read.

This is a cookbook with a sense of humor. Next to the recipe for Gingersnaps it says that "these Gingersnaps, Miss Harland instructed in Common Sense in the Household, 'will keep for weeks, if locked up.'"

Having found no right or wrong answer to my spice/snap/ginger/molasses cookie question, I decided to play it safe and include everything in the name of mine. Call these Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps whatever you like, just don't be surprised when they disappear quickly if they aren't locked up.

Molasses ginger spice snap cookies 1
Click here to see the whole photo shoot.

Farmgirl Susan's Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps
Makes about 12 dozen 2-inch cookies or 2 dozen 4-inch cookies
Recipe may be halved—Adapted from a Diane Mott Davidson Goldy book

**Click here to print this recipe**

These cookies are delicious both large and small, and the little ones taste very, good with a glass of bubbly champagne. You can make them soft, or you can bake them a few more minutes so that they're nice and crunchy.

Everybody seems to have a favorite way of eating them, and even if you accidentally overcook a tray and believe that they are burnt, most likely there is somebody hanging around who will think they're perfect. If not, you can mail them to my mother.

I highly recommend investing in a couple of heavy duty rimmed commercial baking sheets; at about $15 each, they're one of the best kitchen deals around. I've been using some of mine for over 20 years for everything from baking scones to roasting Brussels sprouts, not to mention baking thousands of cookies.

Most molasses spice cookie recipes call for forming each cookie into a little ball. I never have the patience for that. It's easy to make perfectly round cookies if you portion out the dough with a stainless steel scoop. I own five or six different sizes and have had some of them for over 20 years, too. For these cookies I use a 2-teaspoon scoop.

The key to making really good spice cookies is to use the best and freshest spices you can find. If you can't remember when you bought that dusty jar of ground ginger or cloves, it's time to toss it out. Freshly ground nutmeg is wonderful, and whole nutmeg will last for years. Plus you get to use a cute little grater to make it.

As with most cookies, these freeze beautifully. They also stay fresh at room temperature for several days, making them perfect for holiday gift giving. I pack them by the dozen in little cello bags and tie with a colorful ribbon. I like the cello bags from Continental Packaging Corporation. These are real cello bags (many are not), prices are reasonable, there is no minimum order, and they ship quickly.

As always, I urge you to seek out organic and local ingredients; they really do make a difference. If you prefer, you can substitute 2 sticks (1 cup) of the butter with natural, non-hydrogenated vegetable oil sticks, such as Earth Balance.


1½ cups (3 sticks/12 ounces) organic butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap) or pure cane syrup
(I use Steen's)
4 cups organic all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (or 1 teaspoon pre-ground)

Optional for larger cookies:
1½ cups organic raisins


Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer (I use a hand held mixer) on high speed for about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and molasses until well blended.

Reduce the speed and mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg until well combined. (You can mix the dry ingredients together first in a separate bowl, but I never do.) Stir in the raisins if you're using them.

The dough will be very soft, so put it in the fridge or freezer for a little while to harden up (very cold dough will take a minute or two longer to bake).

Use a a 2-teaspoon scoop to portion out the dough and place the cookies on a heavy duty baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper (this is wonderful stuff, and you can reuse the same piece for the entire batch of cookies). The cookies will spread; I can fit 24 small cookies or 6 large cookies on a half-size commercial sheet pan (approximately 13" x 18").

Bake 10 to 14 minutes for 2-inch cookies, depending on desired consistency. In my oven, baking half-frozen, 2-teaspoon dough scoops for 14 minutes gives me 2-inch crunchy cookies. Reduce baking time for softer cookies.

For big and soft large cookies, bake until the centers are set, about 15 to 18 minutes. For crunchier large cookies, bake them a few minutes longer.

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the sweet and spicy foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres - and we sometimes eat cookies for breakfast.

Daily Farm Photo: 12/9/06

Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps Photo Shoot: The Whole Picture

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Another Same Scene, New View
Cocoa Correction

Friday, December 8

Daily Farm Photo: 12/8/06

Everything's Pretty Much Still Frozen

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Another Same Scene, New View
Powdered Sugar Sheep
First Snow!

Thursday, December 7

Daily Farm Photo 12/7/06: Kids These Days

Cary Goes Grunge

Every year the so-called Generation Gap gets a little wider. In fact sometimes it seems like it should be called the Generation Grand Canyon.

A California pal I've known since kindergarten recently informed me that, after weeks of negotiation, her three-and-a-half-year-old son now sports a mohawk. My friend says it looks super. Her mother, on the other hand, pretty much thinks the exact opposite. I doubt either of us girls even knew what a mohawk was when we were twelve, let alone three-and-a-half. And we've certainly never had one. There's obviously no denying it: The Teenage Rebellion has been taken over by toddlers. And even the rural American barnyard isn't safe.

I really want to assume that the red swipe of raddle marker and splotch of green slime ended up on seven-month-old Cary quite by accident, but with kids these days you never know. And of course I can't help wonder (and worry) what will be next. I can only hope that as we near shearing time next spring she doesn't start negotiating for a full-body mohawk.

A year of Daily Photos ago: Still Life In Farmyard

Wednesday, December 6

Daily Farm Photo: 12/6/06

Cary Is Seven Months Old Today!

A Look Back: The Nanny Bear & Cary, Age 11 Days

This is one of my very favorite photos, but it somehow escaped being posted until today. I was clicking through dozens of cute Cary baby pictures last week and ended up with tears running down my face. They do grow up so fast!

Don't know who Cary is? Click
here to read her story. You'll find more monthly Cary milestones in the sidebar under Previous Posts: Farm Stuff. For lots more photos of my garden, plus growing tips, recipes, book reviews, click here to visit my garden blog, And click here to find out why it's definitely not just for gardeners.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Staying Power
And out of the kitchen:
Use It Or Lose It Lentil & Escarole Soup

Welcome new visitors!
Click here for a brief introduction to this site.

Tuesday, December 5

Daily Farm Photo: 12/5/06

Same Scene, New View

This Was My Favorite Hayfield Landscape In Mid-June

This Was Mid-October

And This Is Now

here to see more Same Scene, New View photos.
A year of Daily Photos ago:
Help! These Guys Are Driving Me Nuts!

Monday, December 4

Daily Farm Photo: 12/4/06

Yo! I said I wanted to be in show business, not snow business.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
It's Hay Feeding Season Already (And so it is again.)
And out of the kitchen garden came: Endive & Escarole

Sunday, December 3

Daily Farm Photo 12/3/06: A Place To Bark

Lucky Buddy Bear Is On Alert No Matter What The Weather

Note: After writing this essay (which was supposed to only be one paragraph), I decided that it needed a title, and "A Place To Bark" immediately popped into my head--probably because it's the name of the non-profit animal rescue run by one of my new favorite people in the world, Bernie Berlin. Talk about perfect timing. I had planned to write about Bernie and all that she is doing to singlehandedly save hundreds of homeless dogs and cats literally destined for death when she had her benefit art auction on ebay up and running. . .well, the auction has begun! I still want to borrow her name for my title, so I thought it only appropriate to mention her here.

If you love animals and want to see the amazing difference that one person can make in the world, check out Bernie's blog,
A Place To Bark. . . And Meow. Just be sure to grab a tissue first--I don't think I've ever made it through a single post without tears streaming down my face (the good kind). Attention all you art lovers: Click here to go to the ebay auction site where you can support Bernie's animal rescue efforts and purchase one of a kind, donated artwork at the same time.

There's a scene in Larry McMurtry's book, Texasville, when Duane's dog Shorty is yapping incessantly, and Duane's wife Karla says, "Instead of getting him neutered, we should have had them take his barker out." Years after first reading it, I still find that line hysterical. I just love the image of a dog having a removable barker. That said, I think one of the best things about living out in the country, miles from the nearest neighbor, is that your dogs can bark as long and as loud as they like. And if you're smart, you quickly realize that is exactly what you want them to do.

When I adopted Rex as a six-month-old puppy from the local animal shelter back in 1992, I was living in a tiny house on a tiny lot in the middle of a sprawling Northern California city. Rex quickly grew into a 95-pound lovable behemoth who spent most of the time lounging around the backyard. Apart from the fact that he routinely (and mysteriously) escaped from said yard while we were at work, he was extremely well-behaved. (I would return home to find him grinning and bouncing around the tiny front lawn, which happened to be surrounded by a little white picket fence and thus acted as a giant playpen. To this day I have no idea who kindly kept sticking him in there.)

Rex may have been an escape artist, but he was a very quiet one. He did not whine, and he rarely barked. I don't recall ever having to tell him to hush. Every 10 days or so, he would let out one deep, bellowing woof, and then he would give me a look that said, "I couldn't help it, Mom. I was about to explode." And I always told him that I understood completely.

Rex clearly realized that, hard as it might be, one must strictly obey certain noise ordinances when living in a crowded urban area. As soon as he moved to remote Windridge Farm, though, he instinctively knew that the rules had changed, and he immediately began making up for lost time. He barked at absolutely everything. He barked at squirrels and birds in the trees and airplanes that soared overhead and cars a half mile down the driveway and faraway hounds in the woods. Sometimes he simply barked for the sheer joy of being able to do so. It was wonderful.

Now I live with Robin and Bear, and they both take their guard dog duties seriously. These duties mostly include barking of course, and sometimes the two of them go at it all night long, bravely protecting us from monsters and unknown enemy attack. And although their yelps and howls often wake me up, I never get angry or annoyed. It's reassuring to hear that they are hard at work, and it's easy to fall back to sleep because I know that I am safe.

I have also come to know their many different barks along with their corresponding meanings. I can easily tell, for example, if they are barking at something that is far off in the distance or right here in the yard. And so early this morning when both dogs began simultaneously howling their heads off while I was still padding around the living room in my slippers, I knew right away that something they considered very bad was not far from the house. And I was right. I opened the back door in time to see Bear race across the lawn, shoot through the fence, and tear up the wooded hillside after a coyote, letting out a stream of ferocious woofs the entire time. Robin was nearly as loud and not far behind.

The coyote count far outweighs the human one in our little valley, and if I'm outside at night I can often hear packs of them singing to the stars and the moon. That's one of the other great things about not having any neighbors--you are free to howl right back at them, and so I usually do. I used to think that glimpses of coyotes were more common in the days after snowstorms because the animals were driven out of hiding in search of food. This morning, though, as I watched that grey-brown, furry body and bushy tail lope off into the woods, I realized that I was probably wrong. The coyotes are always close by--they're simply easier to see against a snow white backdrop. It's not a very comforting thought, but I know I need not worry. My loudly barking dogs are on the job.

Attention Dog Lovers! This is Weekend Dog Blogging #63!
Head over to Sweetnicks every Sunday night for the complete roundup of cute canine candids. Wanna join in? Just post your pup and email the permalink to Sweetnicks.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Another Same Scene, New View Series

Saturday, December 2

Daily Farm Photo 12/2/06: Snowstorms & Snowfall

Hello, December

So we got a little snow. But first we had enough rain in just one day to start the wet weather creek flowing, then an inch or two of some frozen substance that made it look and feel as if the farm had turned into a giant snowcone. There was lots of howling wind, too--the kind that makes you want to dive under a heavy quilt when you hear it--along with temperatures that dipped into the single digits. And somewhere in the midst of it all the power blinked off--and it didn't blink back on for 21 hours.

Twenty-one hours without lights in the house or lights in the barn. No oven, no radio, no computer, no fans to circulate the warmth from the ancient woodstove (our main source of heat) through the frigid house—and no running water, because no power means no way to pump the water up from the well. Then the phone line went dead. Twenty-one hours to think about just how much I
heart electricity.

The important thing is that all of the critters are fine. Not exactly happy with the ice and mud and slush and freezing cold, but fine. (And no,
Cary didn't get to sleep in the house curled up by the woodstove--but Robin did.) The sun is shining brightly today, and the sheep and their guard donkey are roaming the fields, hungrily pawing at the snow to reach the grass they know is underneath. It's supposed to get even colder tonight, but we're ready for it.

There are strategically placed electric heaters and heat lamps to keep the pipes from freezing, the firewood is piled high on the porch, and the oven is is sending the scent of freshly baked butter cookies wafting through the house as it heats up the kitchen. And there are buckets and bottles and glasses and pitchers of fresh water everywhere just in case.

Autumn was so very, very nice, but it is quickly becoming a distant, defrosted memory. The calendar may say it lasts another three weeks, but the temperatures and the landscape have declared that winter on the farm has officially begun.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Baa Baa Babsie
A year and a day of Daily Photos ago:
Warm Wash, Cool Dry
And out of the kitchen came:
Onion Flakes & Things For Cakes

© Copyright, the foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy—and mostly electrified—life on 240 remote Missouri acres.

Thursday, November 30

Daily Farm Photo: 11/30/06

Wild Mullein In The Creekbed

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Llama Llama

Wednesday, November 29

Daily Farm Photo 11/29/06: Goodbye to Lindy the Chicken

Off To That Great Henhouse In The Sky

I am sorry to say that Lindy The Chicken passed away over the holiday weekend, probably from natural causes associated with age. (Though death by too much celebrating with her longtime companion and cohort, Whitey, is not entirely out of the question.) She was a little over five and a half years old.

We are certainly not strangers to death on the farm, and new visitors are no doubt wondering why on earth I am making a big deal about the passing of some poultry on a food blog. But those of you who have been following along here for a while know that Lindy was one of the central characters in our crazy cast of critters. You worried with me when she escaped from the coop during a storm, and you cheered when she was safely returned to her home.

Lindy The Chicken did not come by her name until last year during my Name That Sheep Contest. As I've stated before, I was not her voice in the comments section over the past year. But the person who was that voice imbued her with such a wonderful personality. She was smart, funny, and full of wit, and I always looked forward to reading what she had to say. For many months I have been meaning to write down a story or two about Lindy and Whitey, and one of these days I will. And if I ever do end up creating that line of farm animal stuffed toys (with accompanying storybooks), you can be sure that Lindy The Chicken will be included as one of the gang.

Whitey seems confused and a little sad. The hens are usually all silent once it gets dark outside, as they are settled on their perches and ready for sleep. But that first night alone I heard Whitey making soft, nervous little noises to herself. Whitey & Lindy always perched right next to each other. During the day I see her constantly peering about, and I do believe she is looking for her friend.

Lindy The Chicken lived a long and mostly uneventful life. She was loved and admired and surrounded by friends, and she always ate very, very well. She was happy and healthy until the very end, and her last meal was a feast that included organic purple cabbage, her all time favorite food. She may have been just a chicken, but I, for one, would be quite happy with a life consisting of nothing more than that.

Farewell, my fine feathered friend. You are missed.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Autumn Artwork

© Copyright

Tuesday, November 28

Monday, November 27

Daily Farm Photo: 11/27/06

If you look up and see this, you're about to get wet. Very wet.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
More Found Art
Plus: Much About Mint for WHB #8
And: Bear & I Finally Got The Garlic Planted

Sunday, November 26

Daily Farm Photo: 11/26/06

Weekend Cat Blogging #77

Farm Boss Patchy Cat Multi-Tasking In The Greenhouse

(He's holding down a tarp, guarding the Spanish black radish seed pods, soaking up some sun, and catching a quick nap.) Head over to
House Of (Mostly) Black Cats for all the links to this week's kitties.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Another Same Scene, New View

Saturday, November 25

Daily Farm Photo: 11/25/06

The Easiest Way To Store Seeds

A year of Daily Photos ago:
How Long Do We Have To Live In Here With Uncle Dan?

Friday, November 24

Daily Farm Photo: 11/24/06

Ear Flaps Up? Check.

A year of Daily Photos ago:
Happy Thanksgiving To You
And: Year Round Thankfulness