I am usually a big cookie baker around the holidays. Each year I go through at least 10 lbs of sugar and even more butter. I decided months ago to not do any baking because I knew I would have my hands full with a newborn. Making that decision before the holidays were approaching was easier than getting sucked into it once Thanksgiving hit.
Just because friends, family and neighbors aren’t getting cookies this year doesn’t mean they aren’t getting something homemade! I decided to go the easy route and package up my popular Sweet and Salty Pecans. You can do two pounds with little effort and store them in the freezer for months.
Sweet and Salty Pecans
Preheat oven to 425F. Put pecans in a large bowl and line three cookie sheets with parchment paper. I use large pieces of parchment that hang over the edges to help turn the pecans while roasting.
Combine sugar, honey and water over high heat and stir constantly until the sugar is complete dissolved. Pour over the pecans and mix well.
Divide the pecans evenly between two of the cookie sheets and spread them into an even layer. Bake at 425, stirring every 5 minutes, until the sugar syrup on the parchment turns a deep brown.
When pecans are done roasting, sprinkle liberally with sea salt and stir again. Pour both sheets of pecans onto the third sheet and let cool completely.
As they are cooling, use your fingers to break up any clumps. Once cool, store in a sealed container.
These are especially delicious chopped and added to a salad. Yum!
It may be the season of giving, but the holidays don’t have to be entirely about gifts. We like to focus on togetherness and shared experiences, since the memories will last so much longer than any gifts!
If you’re looking to start some new traditions this time of year, how about celebrating the Winter Solstice on December 21st? Some years we’ve packed a picnic, or at least a thermos of hot chocolate, and driven out a dirt road to watch the sun set and the stars come out on the shortest day of the year.
The tradition of wandering from door to door singing Christmas Carols began in the Victorian Era, when a collection of carols was published in 1833. It might not be as common as it once was, but it is still a fun group activity that will put a smile on the neighbor’s face.
Decorating cookies with friends and family is one of my favorite holiday traditions. To make it all about the decorating, have each person bring already baked cookies while you provide the frosting, sprinkles, jimmies, red hots and other bits of flare.
If cookies aren’t your thing, why not make gingerbread houses a tradition in your home? Each year you can try and top the previous houses with a unique design or new trimmings.
Hosting an Open House doesn’t have to break the bank or exhaust your resources. Instead of trying to impress with fancy finger foods, buy a couple of cheese platters and some egg nog and let your friends stop by at their convenience. Then the focus can be about togetherness and socializing.
Trimming the tree is a tradition that most of us engage in this time of year, so why not try your hand at DIY ornaments? There are a million amazing ornament ideas to be found, and most of them are easy and cheap. Instead of hanging a bunch of store-bought ornaments, take the time to make a new one each year. If you get your whole family in on it, you have the perfect gift for your neighbors, postman, teacher, etc.
I would love to hear what traditions you and your family have, so please share! Now that our kids are getting older, I’m excited to introduce some new ones!
If you are a fan of our Latebloomer Comics, you will love
What Do Fairies Do All Day? (A Fairy Nice Series) (Volume 1). Written by Jessika Lindstrom and illustrated by The Green Baby Guide’s resident Cartoonist, Jaime!
Your kids will love to see how fairies spend their day, and each page is richly illustrated with lots of detail. Each time you read though it you will find a fairy you didn’t notice before.
This is the kind of book you can read through quickly, or linger on each page talking about what each fairy is doing and pointing out all the tiny details. This makes a great for toddlers and young elementary kids alike.
The best part is that it is not particularly girly, so even boys will enjoy the rhymes and illustrations.
The most eco-friendly holiday gift is no gift at all, but where’s the fun in that?! If you’re looking to stay green this holiday season, whether that means making your own gifts, up-cycling used presents or buying new gifts that are greener than their counterparts, check out some of our old posts to get those creative juices flowing!
For the health food nut, or someone trying to be more health conscience, a little of this goes a long way stirred into yogurt or added to a smoothie.
Before Franci was born, I had heard enough anecdotal evidence in favor of eating the placenta (in capsule form, over the course of several weeks) that I decided to give it a try. My midwife is experienced in the preparation and encapsulation and believes in its benefits, so there was no reason not to try it out.
It turns out there is no scientific evidence to support placentophagy, which is the technical term for placental consumption. There is also no evidence to debunk the benefits either. At this point, no one has bothered to look into it at all beyond a small team from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. And all they’ve done so far was interview 189 women who “use the Internet and consumed their placenta”.
The results from the “study” conclude that 75% of the respondents had a very positive experience eating their placenta, less than 1% had a negative experience, and 98% said they would eat their placenta again. It’s hard not to think that a placebo would produce similar results, if you’re feeling cynical.
Now that placenta #2 is processed and in my freezer, I’m a repeat customer myself. Do I believe in the health benefits ascribed to placentophagy? Proponents claim it improves mood, alleviates postpartum depression, increases energy and improves lactation. Since I’ve practiced placentophagy with both of my children, I can’t say for sure. I began taking the pills several days earlier this time around and it is easy to ascribe differences in recovery to this fact. It’s just as easy to claim that each birth is so different, so is the recovery period.
So what is in the placenta that is supposed to be so beneficial? Protein, iron, vitamins, oxytocin, and CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone), known to reduce stress (according to Wikipedia). No one has studied how much of any of these is available once the placenta is processed and consumed.
As far as I am concerned, there is no harm in it. Medical experts agree with my assessment, believers and non-believers alike. Just don’t ask me to eat it raw or cook it for dinner!
Did you consume your placenta? Why or why not?
Feeding a toddler is never easy, even if they aren’t particularly “picky”. A favorite food one day may cause a crying fit the next. Franci is going through a stage where whole vegetables won’t even be given a second glance. No matter how smothered the broccoli is with cheese, she won’t venture a taste.
Being fall, I thought it was time to try out sweet potato once again. The offering of cooked bite-sized chunks resulted in lots of tears, so I decided to try out a couple of recipes. One in particular was a huge hit, but not with Franci! She thinks they are the devil reincarnate, but her father and I think they are the best thing to happen to sweet potatoes since the fry. Since neither of us like sweet potatoes, I’d say that makes this recipe a winner!
Cheesy Sweet Potato Bites (based on a recipe by Superglue Mom)
Puree broccoli in a food processor until no chunks remain. Add sweet potato, 1 C parmesan and salt, and pulse until sweet potato is half pureed and half chunky.
Roll a tablespoon of the mixture into a ball and roll in the extra parmesan until coated. This is the most important step, since the caramelized cheese makes these extra delicious. Place an inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Cook at 425F until the parmesan starts to brown, about 15 minutes. Re-cooked bites get even more crusted and delicious.
You can also make these ahead and freeze them. The cooking time is longer, but they make a surprising appetizer!
Mom and baby are recovering nicely with the support of friends and family. Big sister Franci is still adjusting to her new role and insists on touching her sister’s downy head as often as possible.
We are excited to meet all the challenges that come with a growing family, and I’m sure that Alli will provide plenty of inspiration for blogging!