Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

[When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. ]

May the love of our Savior fill your hearts this holiday season!

From our family to yours - Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

An Ode to Fall

With the first day of winter just around the corner here is John Keats' Ode To Autumn with a Northeast Iowa farm twist.

Ode to Autumn
by John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Sny Magill

#1 and friend trying to make it across the pond.
#2 Fall soccer league
#3 dressed up like his favorite book character - Nate The Great.

#1 placed 7th in Intermediate showmanship!  Here he is
with Paisley (the heifer) and his coaches Anna & Amos.

#3 and Rollie posing with the no-till ripper.
My self portrait in the auger cart tractor.
#2 celebrating his birthday with his Grandpa & Baboushka Burrack

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chocolate Fest!

Last Saturday, our Friends of the Elkader Public Library group held our 4th annual chocolate festival.  This year it was at the Elkader Jail House Inn.   From 1870 to 2006 this building was the Clayton County Sheriffs Department and Jail.  Then, in 2007, Tim and Julie started renovating the building and after a lot of hard work the Elkader Jail House opened in 2008.  Their website has lots of before and after pictures as well as some history of the building. 

The Inn is amazing.  Julie has it decorated for holiday season - just stepping into the foyer put me in the Christmas spirit.  My pictures do not do justice to the Jail House but you will get the idea.  I have sprinkled a few of my chocolate recipes in here as well.  Enjoy!

This is the second year for making this recipe.  It is back by popular demand.  It is so easy even Son #1 likes to make it.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Swirl Candy

      2 Bars Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate
      2 Bars Ghirardelli White Chocolate
      1/2 tsp Coarse Sea Salt
      1 cup Pecans chopped

       Preheat oven to 225F.   Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper.  Break the chocolate bars into squares and lay on parchment paper in a checker board pattern.  Put pan into oven just long enough to melt the chocolate.  It takes about 7 minutes.  The white chocolate scorches very easily to watch carefully.  Use a table knife to swirl the chocolate together.  Sprinkle the sea salt across the chocolate.  Then sprinkle with nuts.  Put in refrigerator to cool and harden for at least 1 hour.  Break into pieces and enjoy.  

Dave played piano during the entire Chocolate Fest
 and even as the Friends cleaned up!

We had a great turn out of public support for this event.  This is one of the biggest fund raisers the Friends do during the year.  Many of the Friends went above and beyond the call for chocolate this year. 

Peggy & Diane filling up the trays for the crowd of
This recipe has become an old standby for me at Christmas as well as Valentine's Day.  It's easy and very flexible so you can take some creative license with it.
      12 oz package Chocolate Chips melted
      1 can Sweetened & Condensed Milk
      Dash of Salt
      1 Tblsp Instant Coffee
      2 Tblsp Kahlua

Mix all ingredients together well.  Refrigerate.  Spray hand lightly with Pam.  Shape into balls and roll in a mixture of equal parts baking cocoa and powdered sugar. 
To switch it up sometimes I use dark chocolate chips and cocoa powder.  Rolling the balls in chopped nuts is also yummy.

If those two recipes don't put you in chocolate overload here is one more.

Coffee & Cinnamon Fudge

3 cups Semi -sweet Chocolate Chips
1 can Sweetened & Condensed Milk
Dash of Salt
1 Tblsp Instant Coffee
1 tsp Hot Water
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Tblsp Cinnamon

Line a 9X9 inch square pan with parchment paper.  Melt chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt in a heavy saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat.  Dissolve coffee in hot water.  Add coffee, vanilla and cinnamon to chocolate mixture, stirring til smooth.  Spread evenly into prepared pan.
Chill 2 hours or until firm.  Lift fudge out of pan.  Peel off paper and cut into squares. 

A big Thank You to Tim and Julie for graciously allowing The Friends to use their Inn for our fund raiser.  And, another big thank you to all of the chocolate lovers who made their way to the Chocolate Fest on such a cold, rainy day.  The money raised is going towards the purchase of more resources for the library. 

Have a Great Weekend!