December 20, 2019

2019 Annual Letter

Hello to all our fine and semi-fine friends out there,

     Yes, it’s time for our annual Gracious Jane Marie newsletter, where we dispense the always elegant and dignified events of our past year. We thought we might highlight some random conversations for you. Let us begin. 

Daughter to Mother first thing Thanksgiving morning as they prepared what was a delightfully delicious meal:  Where is that 2-cup glass measuring cup of yours?
Mother to Daughter:  Found it.  Your father’s teeth are floating in it.

Mother-in-Law to Son-in-Law:  Did you sleep well?
Son-in-Law to Mother-in-Law:  Yes, ma’am, except for the cat viciously guarding the front bathroom in the middle of the night, making me have to pee outside, all was well. But our visit here isn’t over yet.

Uncle Tree Bark:  Nothing better than an outdoor wee.  It’s good for the soul.

Uncle Crumb:  Keep them bulletins coming

Granddaughter:  Ooh!  What is that noise?
Grandmother:  That’s the sound of the cat vomiting.  Remember House Rule #27 which clearly states the following:  He who hears it, finds it or steps in it, must clean it up. 

Mother to Father:  Did you eat the last of the Cool Whip?  I was saving that.
Father: For what?  There was only enough to cover a gnat’s kneecap. Besides, the dog needed a new water bowl because he chewed that hold in the old one. So, there you go.  Thank you very much.

Brother at breakfast:  Where’s the toaster?
Sister:   We’ll be serving pop tarts from the floor.  If you’d ever lift a finger to help in the kitchen, you’d know we ran out of counter space.
Brother: Hey, I took the trash out last Christmas, so I don’t wanna hear it.

Grandmother:  Well, when I was in first grade, the little boy next door used to eat worms.  I thought that was a bit strange back then.
Granddaughter to Grandmother:  That’s still strange, Gramma.  
Mother: Aunt Flags used to eat dog biscuits, but only when they were buy one, get one free.  She didn’t want to deprive her animals, so she had her own box.
Aunt Flags: Yes, my preference was the Milkbone brand.
Son: Sister’s boyfriend in third grade licked rocks.  I saw him.
Father: That was then. Your sister broke up with him. I pride myself on the good  sense my children inherited from me.  Now, please pass the horseradish and Tabasco.  Badly burning my tongue and sinuses is all part of my newly devised diet plan.

Mother to Daughter: Please help hold the dog while I clean his fur. I don't know what he ate, but it upset his tum-tum and he has some stinky on him.
Daughter to Mother: No way!  I don't want to get that nasty stuff on my shirt. 
Mother to Daughter: Well then, would you at least take your freshly washed white comforter we got you, you spoiled small child, and put it in the dryer?
Daughter to Mother: Oh, alright. MOM!!!! My comforter is ruined. It's pink!  And there's Brother's red sweatshirt in the bottom of the washer!  He did that on purpose.
Mother to Daughter:  I don't know that he's bright enough to realize the red shirt would bleed.  He just wanted to wash his new shirt, same as you did your new comforter. You know that thing about what goes around, ...? Enjoy your new pink comforter.  Love you, honey.

And that's just a small sample of what went on at our house this past year.

Discovered the morning after our family reunion
We hope your year was as exhilarating as ours!

Much love and caring from Gracious Jane Marie and her Characters and Critters on Amelia Island, Florida (then, now and the time to come)

December 17, 2019

Gingersnaps Like Mom and Miss Ella Used to Make

Each year, Kathy Frazier, my friend and contributing baker to our blog, makes  these classically perfect
Gingersnap Cookies.  They have been in her family for years.  Thank you, Kathy, for sharing with us all! - JMM

You'll need:

1 1/2 cups Crisco
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses

Sift together:

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons ginger

     Cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add molasses and dry ingredients. Use teaspoon, take up enough to make 1 inch balls. Roll lightly between hands, roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool on rack. Makes 7 - 8 dozen.

A couple of notes:
I sometimes use half butter Crisco and half plain Crisco to total the 1 1/2 cups of Crisco - seems to add a little 'depth' to the flavor. In addition, I used to grease the cookie sheets, but have found that it is not necessary - they seem to slide off just fine when done. As far as baking times, I wait until the tops "crack" and then bake another couple of minutes - more or less. It's really just a trial and error thing and also how you prefer the cookie to be. I generally get about 110 cookies out of this one recipe.


The Goodbye Lie Diaries:

Late 1800s
Fernandina, Florida

Miss Ella writes:  That recipe of yours is so similar to my gingersnaps, I may
Ella Dunnigan*
round up the ingredients and make a batch or two tomorrow.  With my bunch, they will be gone in short order.  Good thing I have my tin shamrock-shaped cookie jar.  They can't lift the lid without it making a little ding sound.  That helps me keep track of who is consuming how many.  Thank you, Miss Kathy, for reminding me about these delights.  

*Ella Dunnigan is the matriarch of the family in the historical romance Amelia Island Goodbye Lie series. She is responsible for the care and forever feeding of not only her family in north Florida, but the passengers on the Aqua Verde Passenger Line ships featured in the novels.  Set in the late 1800s, this series will lure your spirit back to a time where love becomes legend. E-books and paperbacks available here.  

December 12, 2019

Two Ingredient Muffins

     A box of spice cake mix and a can of pure pumpkin, mixed well and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, is yummo! Who knew? I saw this two ingredient recipe posted by my friend Brenda on Facebook and, of course, had to try it.  Now I made mini-muffies, as we like to call them (baked for only 12 minutes). In about half the batter, I added a bit of well drained crushed pineapple.  They turned out fine with the added flavor and texture and I served them for breakfast, lunch and dinner dessert. The truth is that not many were left by dinner.  As I write this, I’m thinking a bit of softened cream cheese would be a great topping to go along with the spice cake.
     I haven’t tried these other combinations I found online, but they sound wonderful and so easy and quick. How about chocolate cake mix and 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, or lemon or orange cake mix and 1 ½ cup diet 7-up, or lemon or orange cake mix and one undrained 15 ounce can of Mandarin oranges, blended until semi-smooth for added texture, or angel food cake with one can of either apple, blueberry or cherry pie filling, blended till nearly smooth or yellow cake mix and 4 ripe bananas, mashed?   All the individual ingredients are good, so together, how can you go wrong?  Okay, if  you can’t stand it and want to goose up the recipe a smidge, maybe add some chocolate or butter scotch chips or crushed nuts or drained cherries sliced in half or raisins or craisins. The word or means choices! Once cool, top with Cool Whip and boom!  Store in the fridge. Fun and done! 

     P.S.  When making regular sized muffins, use muffin papers and lightly cover with non-stick spray.  If making a cake, treat the pan with non-stick spray, too, and be sure and follow the instructions on the box. Do not add any other ingredients like eggs or oil as listed on the back.  Remember, this is for Two Ingredient recipes. Heck, you might have a cake mix and pie filling in the pantry to try out for tonight! 

Happy Baking!