Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Thankful Fall

All over town, the streets are on fire with my favorite colors: golden-yellow, rusty pumpkin-orange, and deep, velvety red. It seems to happen overnight. One day you're enjoying perfect picnic temperatures and the next morning, you awake to cooler days highlighted by breathtaking new hues.

Fall Leaves
Photo: Nico Potgieter

Someone chose to create the seasons and to color the world with beauty in the midst of death. As the leaves die, they shine forth in their most brilliant state. It's a finale, an encore, to the life they lived. I am reminded of God as a masterful creator as the season switches and I let loose awe-inspired thanks.

Fall Leaves

That same masterful designer also created this world with sugar. And spice. And others things nice. Namely, cakey pumpkin cookies with pumpkin-maple-spice frosting. Be thankful in EVERY circumstance. Check!

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Note: Adapted from a recipe proudly found by husband in the Houston Chronicle.

Makes about 24.

For the cookies:
2 cups flour (white whole wheat works beautifully if you desire to avoid refined white flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I always prefer a little more spice in my baking!)
1/2 cup of butter/coconut oil (I tend to use coconut oil)
1 cup brown sugar (no apologies)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp of pumpkin puree
1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla
About 4 cups of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
In a second bowl, combine butter/coconut oil & brown sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla; mix until well combined.

Add half dry ingredients and mix well. Add other half and mix again.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 1 tbsp mounds, arranging them two inches apart. Bake for 14 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges. Midway through baking, rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back.

While the cookies bake, in a medium bowl combine the butter and maple syrup. Use an electric mixer to beat until smooth. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Mix well.

Add powdered sugar and mix well. Set aside.

Once the cookies have baked, cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost and decorate as desired.

Refrigerate cookies in an airtight container and allow them to come to room temp before serving.

For us, Fall is made complete with these cookies. I make them every year and that means something for this always-baking-something-new cook. By special request, I am making this crowd and family-pleasing treat available to whoever reads. So, go, whip up this healthier (depending on the flours and fats you use) scrumptious sweet in celebration of the One who created Fall.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baby Adam

We're expecting a new friend to enter the world today. I announced to my kids at breakfast that our dear friend Julie is about to lose her belly and gain a sweet bundle for her arms. We are all SO excited to share their joy!

And, then, shortly after breakfast, while Ethan and Meira were drawing at the table, Ethan alerted me to his artistry. It was a momma-sized hand with a palm-sized creature whose body was without much form but it had little limbs with fingers and toes. It had a small eye and the very beginnings of a mouth. He asked, "Momma, what was the name of the little boy you were going to have?" With grief swelling in my throat and eyelids ready to pour out saltiness, I managed to breathe out "Adam." It wasn't the official name. We never actually gave him one. We talked about it. I'd always loved the spanish name Adan which is is translated as Adam in English. Adam means "of the earth." It seemed fitting. 

Jolted out of my flashback, Ethan asks innocently "How do you spell that?" He wants to write it down, by the picture he drew of his little brother. He wants a name for his brother. That's what we do---name life. 

And, in naming we give him a place in our life and a way to remember. So, today, when new life miraculously bursts forth for a friend, we remember our Adam and give thanks.