Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Black and White Cookies


     As we are preparing for a move to Low Country, South Carolina, we are embracing everything New York.  Patty made these Black and White Cookies for her friends over the weekend.
     Black and White Cookies are soft, cake-like cookies, traditionally iced with half chocolate icing and half vanilla icing.  Black and White’s can be found all over New York City, in Grand Central station and in the New York deli’s.  They remain an unofficial symbol of New York.  Traditional cookies have a mild lemon flavor.  Patty, my baker, prefers almond extract over the lemon.

Patty’s Black and White Cookies

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon (Traditional)  OR 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (Patty)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 cups milk

Icing

  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 9 tablespoons milk (more if needed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (Traditional)  OR 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (Patty)
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease several cookie sheets
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  3. With your mixer, beat butter until smooth.  Add sugar and cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until it is almost white in color and the texture is fluffy.
  4. Add the extracts, the egg whites - one at a time.  Mix as you add each ingredient.
  5. Add a third of the flour mixture and 1/4 cup of the milk.  Mix until just combined.  Repeat two times.
  6. Drop 1/4 cup sized balls of dough onto the cookie sheets about 5 inches apart.  Wet a spatula with water.  Spread each ball into a 3 inch circle.  Smooth the surface with the spatula.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Edges should be just turning gold.  Let cookies cool on sheets as they come out of the oven.

Icing:

  1. Mix the confectioners’ sugar, milk and extract(s) in a bowl until smooth.  Put half of the icing in another bowl and add the cocoa powder.  Mix until smooth.
  2. Ice the cooled cookies on a wire rack.  Patty suggests laying a piece of wax paper under the wire rack to catch the drips.  If you are icing the cookies half white and half black, draw a straight line across the diameter of each cookie to use as an icing guide.  Another option, is to be creative and make designs.  Let the iced cookies set for 30 minutes on the wire rack in order to set the icing.  

     This recipe yield about 2 dozen cookies.  Cookies should be stored in an airtight container, layered between wax paper.  Cookies will last for up to 3 days.   Well, not in our house, but in theory, they last for 3 days.
     In the comments, tell me where you had your first black and white cookie.  I had mine in Grand Central Station with my Grandmother as a child.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cinderella

     Twenty one years ago, my friend Janie  asked me to pray for her neighbor, Lori, who had just given birth to her fourth son.  As the mother of three boys the same ages as Lori’s first three, I understood completely why she needed prayer.  Shortly afterwards, at a church potluck, Pat and I met Lori and Denis and the four of us became close friends.
     God has a sense of humor.  The Lori and I who did not know each other, had married the man of our dreams on the same day, honeymooned in Disney World in the same hotel, had mother-in-laws named Florence, and gave birth to sons, and only sons, in fairly rapid succession.  The only way for either of us to have a daughter, was for me to adopt our Patty.  Our boys played soccer together.  Lori’s were the talented ones, mine, unfortunately, had their mother’s athletic prowess.
     Over camping trips, shoe shopping, family dinners, celebrations, weddings, and hospital visits, our lives and hearts have been knit together with love.
Keke Palmer was Cinderella and Sherri Shepherd the Wicked Stepmother.
     Lori and I were even born just three days apart.  Each year we celebrate our birthdays together.  It has been harder since we lost Denis three years ago right before Lori’s birthday.
     Last week, Lori and I went to see the Broadway musical Cinderella.  The music was by Rogers and Hammerstein, which means the songs were the ones that we remembered from childhood.  Cinderella was a movie that came on once a year starring Leslie Ann Warren.  I remember, my wonderful teacher assigned it as homework.  It was the best homework ever!  Oh, how I loved that movie.
     Lori and I were transported to France in the days of Princes, Fairy Godmothers, Ball Gowns, sparkly shoes, white horses, and Royal Banquets.  It was magical when Cinderella’s rags changed into a sparkly white poofy tulle gown complete with tiara and updo before our very eyes.  Lori and I were amazed. We could not figure out how it was done.
     I was once a freckle-faced, tinsel toothed Cinderella rescued by a young prince named Jack.  You can read the fairytale Embracing Your Cinderella, The Ball, and Midnight.
     The story of Cinderella is something everyone can relate to.  Feeling alone and unworthy, working hard for people who just don’t appreciate you, the monotony of doing the same things day after day, being treated like a servant instead of the child of a King.
     But God gives us beauty for ashes.
    In Bible times it was a custom for people to, like Cinderella, sit in ashes during times of great mourning or difficulty.  But the scripture says that God will take our difficult, depressing situation and give us beauty.  He will pick us up out of the ash pile in life and make something beautiful out of us.  He will wrap us in the white robe of salvation.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean…. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  ~Revelation 19:11-16
       I pray for all of you a true fairy tale ending.  May you marry the Son of the King.  I will see you at the Banquet.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

See My Hands

Pat & I spelling "Love."
      Jesus may have been crucified and His body buried in a tomb, but, here is the  important part - He didn’t stay there.  Jesus rose from the grave.  Shortly after, He appeared to His disciples.
    Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"    But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
    A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."  Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."   ~John 20:24-29
       Jesus ever so gently restored Thomas.   “Put your finger here, see my hands.”
      “See my hands.”  Thomas had most recently seen those hands pierced by cruel nails at the crucifixion.  He had also seen those same hands cause the blind to see, raise the dead, tenderly bless a child, comfort the grieving, break bread, and wash his own dirty feet.
      Jesus used those nail scared hands to express His great love for us.  Cuts on the palm of your hand ensure that no matter how busy you are, you will notice and pay attention to them.  Every small amount of pressure reminds you that they are there.
     Jesus told Thomas, “See my hands.”
     In Isaiah 49:16, God the Father also said “See my hands,”   He said, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."   The word translated "engraved" means to cut.  God has cut us into his hands.  He can not forget us.  We are His.  He redeemed us with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
     To Thomas, Jesus said "Put your finger here, see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe!
     In the same way, our heavenly Father is reaching out to us, saying, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; I cannot forget you, I have redeemed you... stop doubting and believe!”

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Silence

When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.  ~Ansel Adams
     I lost my voice.  Silence has ruled.  While things have been quiet here, life has battered us with a series of changes, both good and bad.  Retirement, loss of our beloved dog, deciding to move from the Hudson Valley of New York to the Low Country of South Carolina (but not moved yet), tag sales, home renovations - the kind where every room in the house has a bucket of spackle and array of tools lying about, and the usual life events of a large family.  It all quite took my breath away.
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.  ~ Josh Billings
      September has arrived with a hint of gold on the trees.  A time to reset.  A time to start again.  Apple cheeked school children, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, pumpkin coffee, and golden moments.  So I'll begin again, but this time, you'll be along for the journey.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dad's Tool Box

Pat posing with a camel we stumbled on when camping in Pennsylvania.

     A short list of things you will never hear a father say.

  • Can you turn that music up?
  • Let’s go shoe shopping!
  • Ahh, Sweetie, I LOVE your tattoo.  Let’s get one’s that match.
  • Here honey, you take the remote.
  • Go ahead, take my truck see what she can do. 
  • Here’s my credit card.  Live it up.

     Today is a day to celebrate the men in our lives.
 Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  ~Psalm 127:1
     Every man, especially fathers, are put on this earth to build something.  All men know, that if you want to build something, you must have the correct tools.
1.  The Instruction Manual
     While many men put aside and refuse to read the "Assembly Required" instructions that come with all kinds of things.  One that should not be put aside is the real instruction manual.
     The Bible is the story of a Father’s love.  From the very first page through the very last, it speaks to us of God’s relentless passion for us.
      I have loved you with an everlasting love…and I have drawn you in loving-kindness.   ~Jeremiah 31:3
 2.  Hammer
     I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not it.  The hammer represents consistency.
     Pat and I are working on many projects around the house.  We are about to make the move from weekend warrior to "get ‘er done."  But Fatherhood is not just for weekend warriors.  It is an everyday, every night, lifetime of being there kind of commitment.  It really is “get ‘er done.”
Loving discipline and words of wisdom will reveal love to our children.

3.  Watch:
     The watch is to remind men to relax.  Children spell love, T-I-M-E.  Children need to spend time with their fathers.
    David wrote in Psalms that God’s thoughts toward us are too numerous to count.  God our Father delights in us.  He knows the number of hairs on our heads.  He knows when we are sad, lost, alone, sick, or scared.  He knows us intimately and He loves us.  We have stolen His heart.  Time is important.
Pat really did hang the moon for our kids.
 4.  Screwdriver
     Are you wound way too tight?  Grumpy?  Tired? Serious all of the time.  It’s time to loosen up.  Have some fun.  Get out there and ride a bike or throw a ball.  Enjoy some ice cream.  Sit in a dark movie theatre with silly 3D glasses on your face.  Make sure that you laugh with your children.

5.  Tape measure
     Let God’s Word be your measuring stick.  None of us will ever measure up if we listen to the world’s view on parenting and children’s needs.  The truth is that the kids don’t really need the latest gadgets and the expensive clothes.  They need you.
     This is also a reminder to say, “No” when you have to.  Live with nothing to hide. Integrity – means doing what is right when no one is watching and everyone else is compromising.

6.  Wrench
    Men need to tighten up the level of love and commitment to their wives and their children.  After all, it’s a whole lot easier to become a parent, than it is to be one.
     My Dad and I always tell one another, “I love you” before we hang up the phone.
At the Erie Canal
7.  Bracket
     Support.  Support and love your wife.  Children need to know that their parents are in it together.  Consult one another and honor one another in love.

     Jesus followed the example of both His earthly father and His heavenly Father.
    As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. ... I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. ... I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. ...This is my command: Love each other.   ~John 15:9-17 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day

     I carry a planner around with me most everyplace I go.  In it I keep my lists of things to do, properly categorized and dated, of course.  The thing is that I tend to be forgetful.  Oh, I don’t mean to be.  It’s just that sometimes I am carrying so much in my mind that things get away from me.
     But there are some things that I will never forget.
  • Being sent to the principals office when I was seven for singing "I'm a Believer by the Monkees on the school bus.  I was a big fan of Davy Jones.
  • The day my son set the lawn on fire.
  • The moment I knew that I loved Pat.  We were on a train after a pretty disastrous first date.
  • My first glimpse of each of each of our children.
  • How soft my grandmother’s cheek was and how she smelled of tea.
  • Patrick swearing in to the Navy on August 27, 2001 and a few weeks later the planes hitting the Towers.
     Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  A day set aside to remember those who have died so that we could be free.  Because of those who sacrificed, we have the right to assemble in church on a Sunday morning.  We have the right to live at peace in our homes.  We have the right to pursue happiness, to be educated, and to disagree with our government.
     Memorial Day is a day for us to remember the price that was paid for our freedom.
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard.  ~Revelation 3:3
     God directed the Israelites to celebrate a “Memorial Day” to help them remember major events in their history.  Passover was celebrated each year to commemorate their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt. When Jesus ate His last Passover meal, He instituted a new memorial to commemorate the deliverance that He would accomplish on the cross for all of us who believe.  He shared the bread and wine with his disciples and instructed them “do this in memory of Me.”   Jesus won the war against death and sin.  He paid the cost for our salvation.
     Once a year we celebrate Memorial Day, but for a Believer, everyday is a day to remember the One who died so that we could be free.
     Can you sing "I'm a Believer?"



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lightscapes


     Last weekend our family went to see Lightscapes at Van Cortland Manor in Croton.  Here we are blinded by the flash.  In the picture you can see our familiar faces, my brother, John and his two girls, and Pat’s mom, Florence.  My sister-in-law, Ellen, took this picture.
     Lightscapes is a magical nighttime light display of a springtime garden.  There are amazing flowers and friendly woodland creatures all constructed of recycled materials and dazzling lights as far as the eye can see. If you are interested in going, there are two more weekends left, but shows do sell out.  Everyone in our group enjoyed it and our ages ranged from 12 to almost 80.
     At Lightscapes, there are about 6,500 fantastic flowers, hundreds of butterflies, giant lady bugs and dragon flies, and a huge green praying mantis.
   Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See the darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the people, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn ~Isaiah 60:1-3
     God promised through the prophet Isaiah that there was going to be a light to repel the darkness.  For five hundred years that promise lived in the hearts and dreams of the people who looked for the light.
     And then the light appeared.  The glory of the Lord shone around a group of shepherds keeping watch at night.  The light brought them good news of great joy.  Angels sang a heavenly chorus of praise for a baby lying in a manger.
     The light appeared as a star guiding the magi from the East so that they could worship and bring gifts to the small child who was to be King.
     The light appeared in the hearts and minds of those who sought out a voice crying in the wilderness.  It appeared to a woman who was not too busy to stop for a drink of life giving water with a tired stranger at a well.  The light appeared to lepers and blind men.  The light appeared to sinners and the lame.  The light appeared to those locked in the darkness of a prison.  It appeared to those looking for answers and to those who had lost their way.  It appeared to those who were at the end of all reason.  It appeared to those who had nothing left to lose, and eternity to gain.  It appeared to a thief on a cross.
     The gospel, the good news, glowed in the darkness for all to see and receive with joy.  The star that guided the magi to Jesus has long ago faded from view, but the light remains.  We no longer have a faint hope of redemption.  We have Jesus.  We do not have to wonder.  We have the light of certainty.
     The gospel of Jesus glows in the dark.  The darkness cannot overcome it.  God kept the promise He delivered through Isaiah.  We will never be left alone and afraid.  After all, we have a strong tower to run into and be safe.    We can trust in Jesus in all of the dark places our life’s journey will take us because when God is your glory you walk in everlasting light.
    The gospel glows in the dark.
     In a world filled with darkness, we are called to glow with His light. The light of Jesus shines through those who love Him for all to see. His light shines through us and reveals His presence.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  ~Matthew 5:14-16 
     How do you glow in the dark?

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