Years ago I read The Brambly Hedge books to my children and now I’ve rediscovered them collecting dust in a bookcase- just in time to share with my grandchildren this Christmas season. The Brambly Hedge books are not only a children’s book series for Anglophiles but also a sweet story of the mice who live in Brambly Hedge. I’ll start reading the series to my grandchildren this Christmas with Winter Story by Jill Barklem, who wrote and illustrated each book and work my way through the collection, which includes, Spring Story, Summer Story and Autumn Story. In the spirit of sharing some holiday cheer, here is an excerpt from Winter Story, “Mr. Apple, warden of the Store Stump, was the last to leave for home. By the time he reached Crabapple Cottage, the first flakes were beginning to fall. “Is that you, dear?” called Mrs. Apple as he let himself in through the front door. Delicious smells wafted down from the kitchen. Mrs. Apple had spent the afternoon baking pies, cakes and puddings for the cold days to come. She drew two armchairs up to the fire, and brought in their supper on a tray.” I wish I could share the illustrations with you along with the text but here is a link to amazon to check out the entire series. I’m glad I bought these books back in the day-apparently the set of books is quite the collector’s item. Currently the sweetness, imagination and kindness of children and how much we love them are on my mind. I’ve thought about all the many ways we can express affection to our children and of course sharing a heart warming story with them is one of my favorites.
On a sadder note, in light of the school shooting tragedy we’ve hugged our children and grandchildren a little tighter and have counted our blessings more than usual this week. More than ever our country doesn’t feel like a very safe place for our children and that truly breaks my heart. My prayers go out to all the families and the communities that are suffering losses during this holiday season.
I thought a quick easy Christmas cookie recipe might be appreciated while everybody is so busy with their holiday preparations. I found this recipe in a special cookie edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch while we were in St. Louis for the 49ers game week before last. I think some of the best holiday cookie recipes come from the bakers around the country who share in their local papers and I’m so lucky to have found this one for peppermint sugar cookies which has become one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes
Adapted from St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Kaylen Wissinger of Whisk Bakery on Cherokee Street.
- 2&1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon natural peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup finely crushed natural peppermint candies or candy canes
- 1&1/2 cups white chocolate chips
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer blend the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the egg yolk and beat until blended, then add the egg whites and peppermint extract.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix until combined.
- Stir in the crushed peppermints and white chocolate chips.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and tightly wrap in plastic wrap- chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or silpats.
- Form the dough into 1" balls and roll in powdered sugar before placing 1&1/2" apart on cookie sheets.
- Flatten each ball with the tines of a fork in a criss-cross pattern.
- Bake until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom, being careful not to overbake- about 10-12 minutes.
- Remove cookies from the oven and cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, remove to continue cooling on metal racks.