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A Good Old Country Christmas

There’s an old Loretta Lynn song about Christmas that gets my toes to tapping and my heart to soaring every time I hear it. It pours nostalgia over me like an avalanche and makes me want to drop what I’m doing and pop some popcorn for stringing. Having A Good Old Country Christmas is my ultimate goal every holiday season, and I do it with lots of love and plenty of sweets. Christmas is one time of year at my house when we’re more focused on one another than on any screen or downloadable app. We’re present together. Involved and engaged. The fire’s crackling, music’s playing and I’m baking. If you so much as walk past my house from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, and I see you, you’ll be invited inside for spell and sent out with something straight from my oven. Because we all need one more handshake, cookie or smile. I’ve got them all in hordes with plenty to spare. To me, that’s what Christmas is all about. Loving on folks. And I’m going to love you with some food.

So, while Loretta often plays the score in my home during the holidays, it’s the heavenly aromas that get my hips to swinging. And they usually swing me around the kitchen. The spicy scent of cinnamon on apple pies, iced sugar cookies fresh from the oven, and orange slices floating in a crockpot of hot homemade cider. Whether it’s peppermint sticks in cocoa or peanut brittle set to cool, everyone has a favorite holiday scent, sweet or treat, and all three of mine come wrapped in one delicious package: The Snickerdoodle.

For those of you poor souls who aren’t allergic or otherwise incapable, and haven’t had a snickerdoodle, y’all need to see about a trip to my place. Real soon. Snickerdoodles are my ultimate holiday cookie. A little crispy outside, soft and chewy inside. Coated in ground cinnamon and white sugar, they are delightful in every imaginable way. And just in case you don’t have the time to get by my place before Christmas, I know how hectic the holidays can be, I want to share a Snickerdoodle starter recipe. I say “starter” because Snickerdoodles are personal, and everyone in my family thinks they have a special trick or trade secret that makes their cookies better than mine. They’re all wrong, of course, but you can start with my recipe and personalize it. Then let me know what you think!

How about you? Do you have a special holiday recipe that makes Christmas all the merrier? Or a certain scent that rings in the nostalgia? I’d love to hear!

Snickerdoodle Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened)
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Cinnamon-Sugar coating:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 TBS ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 ½ cups sugar, eggs and vanilla – Take your time here. Spend a few minutes working all these lovely things together. The effort will pay in dividends!
  3. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt
  4. Mix sugar and cinnamon for coating in a small bowl and set aside
  5. Roll dough into round spoonfuls – about 1 ½ inch balls
  6. Roll dough balls in cinnamon sugar mixture. Then do it again. Trust me. It’s worth it.
  7. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  8. Place thoroughly coated dough balls on parchment-covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart
  9. Bake 9-11 minute, until the edges begin to brown and cookies begin to crack in the center.
  10. Cool and enjoy!

 

 

Apples are at the core of the family business run by Winona Mae Montgomery and her Granny Smythe. But this year’s crop is unseasonably ripe with murder . . .

One Rotten Apple

Blossom Valley, West Virginia, is home to Smythe Orchards, Winnie and her Granny’s beloved twenty-five-acre farm and family business. But any way you slice it, it’s struggling. That’s why they’re trying to drum up business with the “First Annual Christmas at the Orchard,” a good old-fashioned holiday festival with enough delicious draw to satisfy apple-picking locals and cider-loving tourists alike—until the whole endeavor takes a sour turn when the body of Nadine Cooper, Granny’s long-time, grudge-holding nemesis, is found lodged in the apple press. Now, with Granny the number one suspect, Winnie is hard-pressed to prove her innocence before the real killer delivers another murder…

“The characters are delightful . . . Plenty of action and suspense.” —RT Book Reviews on Murder in Real Time

Includes Recipes!

Author:

The last remaining independent U.S. publisher of hardcover, trade and mass market paperback books.

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