Favorite Christmas carol: Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming
A family Christmas tradition: One of our favorite Christmas traditions inspired my story in A Prairie Christmas Collection. When we eat out together after our Christmas shopping spree (see holiday shopping below) we pray for the Lord to send just the right server to our table who needs a blessing, then we tip him/her a $100 bill and quickly leave before the server discovers the bill.
A memorable gift you've given or received: My engagement ring! And our first grandbaby, born December 15 five years ago.
Favorite Christmas television show or movie? ("I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!" "No, you'll shoot your eye out.")
When do you start your holiday shopping? I'm a terrible shopper and always put it off till the last minute. For many years when our kids were at home, our tradition was to have only small "stocking" gifts on Christmas morning, and wait until after Christmas to take our kids on a shopping spree when we could combine our money with the grandparents' gift money and take advantage of the after-Christmas sales. Then we'd all go out to eat together to give our "Christmas Tip."
Ever been kissed under the mistletoe? I hang mistletoe in the doorway between the laundry room and the kitchen every year, so there's a whole lot of kissing going on at our house around Christmas.
Do you in style or keep it simple? Definitely keep it simple. We always have a Christmas tree, candles, mistletoe, and decorate the mantle, often hanging the stocking collection my aunt and nieces started for us the first year we were married. When the kids were small and money was tight, we would have a Snowflake Party early in December and cut out snowflakes to hang in the windows for decoration. But we've always kept Christmas on the simple side.
What food do you overindulge in during the holidays? Cookies of every kind, especially Jewel Cookies (recipe below.)
Favorite recipe to share? Here’s a recipe that’s a Christmas tradition in my family. Some might think the recipe gets its name from the colorful paint, but in fact, these cookies are named after Jewel Fuson, a sweet neighbor from my childhood (to whom I dedicated my novel A Nest of Sparrows). Though Jewel and her husband, Don, had no children of their own, Jewel used to invite all the children of our little farming community to “paint” and decorate cookies at her farmhouse every Christmas. After Don and Jewel moved into town, my sister and her family moved into their farmhouse, and my sister continued the tradition for her children and mine. Jewel often stopped by as an honored guest to eat cookies and sip hot chocolate, always poured from a musical teapot that played “Tea for Two.” Jewel was spunky into her 90s. She died a few years ago, but I think of her often––especially at Christmastime. My sisters and I inherited some of Jewel’s vast collection of , and that teapot has an honored place in my sister’s house.
1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour milk
5 cups flour
Edible Cookie Paint (recipe follows)
Colored decorating sugar
In a large bowl, cream together shortening, granulated and brown sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. When well combined, add eggs and mix well. With wooden spoon, add milk and flour alternately, mixing until dough is stiff. Chill several hours or up to one week before rolling out.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare Edible Cookie Paint (recipe below). Divide into fourths. Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time (returning the remainder to the refrigerator), roll dough to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Paint cookies with Edible Cookie Paint and sprinkle with colored sugar before baking. Bake just until cookies begin to brown lightly around the edges, about 10-12 minutes. Baking time depends on thickness of cookie dough. For crisper cookies, roll thinner and bake longer, for softer cookie, roll thicker and reduce baking time.
Edible Cookie Paint:
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon water
In a small bowl, beat egg yolks and water until smooth and frothy. Divide into several small cups and add a different shade of food coloring to each until colors are dark “jewel tones.”
As an alternate to painting, cookies may be baked, cooled, and decorated with frosting and candy sprinkles.
In this holiday romance collection, the warmth of Christmas will radiate new love from the high plains of Minnesota and Dakota Territory, across the rolling hills of Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, and down into the flats of Kansas. Filled with inspiration and faith, each story will become a treasure to be enjoyed again each year. Along with Peterson and Raney, other contributing authors include Tracey Bateman, Pamela Griffin, JoAnn A. Grote, Maryn Langer, Darlene Mindrup, Janet Spaeth and Jill Stengl.
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