09 December 2013

Tomten's Christmas Adventures Part One ...



For much of the year, Tomten spent his time perched on the edge of a high shelf in the corner of his Lady's kitchen. He watched her come and go with the dogs and the cats, arrange lovely flowers into pretty little nosegays, and bake cookies that she put in the cookie jar that kept him company.  All the while, he kibbitzed with the other gentlemen who occupied his shelf.






Gnome was always very interested in those nosegays, as he enjoyed talking about his relatives who occupied the flower and herb gardens. Many a jolly conversation was had regarding the merits of lemon verbena and lavender in baked goods and just how ridiculous the cats acted after rolling in the catmint.

Joseph was always rather stiff and quiet, but he would, on occasion, comment on the quality of wooden spoons being used when Lady would stir up a batch of cookies or mix bread dough. He was always quite distressed when she used the biggest wooden spoon to stir the raspberry or strawberry jam, as he was concerned that the precious wood would become forever stained by those red berries!

Tomten loved to watch the dogs and the cats as they scampered around the kitchen.  Pete, the very smart Corgi was his favorite Animal. He loved to beg for cheese bits or scraps of meat that Master carved off roasted chickens. Pete was forever eyeing Tomten and Gnome as if they, too, were morsels that he might gobble, but his eyes sparkled when he looked up at Tomten ... and Tomten loved that!




Tomten loved animals and remembered hearing stories about his long-ago relatives who lived in the barns of their Masters' farms. In his imagination, Tomten saw his relatives standing guard over the farm animals at the top of a barn door and he felt rather proud of his heritage. Tomten kept his eye on his Animals from the top shelf in the kitchen and felt very proud of himself.

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One day in December, it began to snow outside Tomten's grey cottage. Tomten knew that it was coming on Christmas, as the kitchen radio blared carols, applesauce ornaments were drying on the countertops, and the air smelled like a gingerbread house that he'd once heard about in his Children's bedtime stories.




Lady was busy chopping cranberries and squeezing oranges so that she could make a big loaf of cranberry nut bread for afternoon tea time. Snowflakes fell and the wind blustered, but all was cozy in the grey cottage.




That is ... until the back door flew open and a gust of wind swept through the kitchen. Mimi and Pete jumped at the clatter and barked furiously! In came a snowy Master with an armload of wood and just as Lady rushed to close the door, an especially cold gust blasted poor Tomten off his shelf and down to a slushy puddle on the floor!




Oh, the indignity! Right into a fluffy, wet dust bunny that clung to his beard and clothes, making him look most untidy! His cap was knocked off and he felt most discombobulated! AND THEN ... to add insult to injury, poor Tomten felt a cold wet nose sniffing in a place it shouldn't have been sniffing!

"Pete ! ", Lady cried. "Leave poor Tomten alone!", and with that, Lady scooped Tomten up from the floor and proceeded to use an old toothbrush to clean him off and brush out his whiskers.  Poor Tomten didn't know which was worse- a cold wet nose or the stiff bristles from the brush.





Just as he was deciding to be angry with his Lady, she touched his cheek thoughtfully and murmured, "Poor little man, you need some attention. Come sit here where I can keep a better eye on you." Tomten found himself plopped right in the middle of the kitchen work island in the top of a tin cup. HE would have a front row seat for ALL the Christmas preparations! How exciting!




Oh, the smell of oranges and toasted nuts! Oh, the close watching of Lady as her hands flashed back and forth between bowl and cutting board, spoons and knives, sifters and whisks! This promised to be the best Christmas yet!







Of course, Gnome and Joseph were a bit put out. Gnome sidled closer to Joseph and sniffed something about favorites. Joseph cocked an eye and remained silent.





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End of Part One ... but here is a recipe!


Cinnamon Applesauce Snowflake Ornaments

Materials:

1 ½ c unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ c. ground cinnamon (the inexpensive bulk containers  work well here)
Rolling pin, drinking straw, and plastic wrap
White puff paints (two small bottles with a ‘tip dispenser’)
Aluminum foil for lining cookie sheets
Thin ribbon for hanging the ornaments

Making the Ornaments:

  1. Stir the applesauce and cinnamon together to make a stiff, damp, sticky dough.
  2. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and smooth it out completely flat. The plastic wrap aids you when you gently peel the ornament off the rolling surface … the dough does not stick to the plastic.
  3. Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil.
  4. Pull small balls of dough off the large dough ball (you need a ball about the size of a medium sized meatball.). Roll the dough ball to about ⅓ inch thickness and use a snowflake cookie cutter to make your ornament.
  5. Peel the excess dough away from the shape. Use a straw to poke a hole for the ribbon.
  6. Gently peel the ornament off the plastic wrap and place it on the foil-lined cookie sheet.
  7. Repeat until you have used all the dough or until you have run out of space on your cookie sheet..
  8. Place the cookie sheet in a warm dry spot and let the ornaments dry out … this takes several days, during which you flip the cookies now and then for even drying.
  9. When the cookies are completely dry, use puff paints to put snowflake designs on the fronts. You can use a small piece of clean kitchen sponge to ‘sponge’ white paint onto the backs for a snowy effect.
  10. Run a pretty ribbon through the holes and tie a small knot. Hang on the Christmas tree or use them to decorate packages and food parcels that you give out to friends and family.

NOTE: This dough keeps for weeks in the fridge, as long as you wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and stow it in a zip-lock bag. You can make these ornaments in small batches and renew the ‘cinnamon scent’ of the house now and then, throughout the holiday season.




1 comment:

  1. BEAUTIFUL! A beautiful story. And beautiful photos.

    ReplyDelete

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