Wist Lists

Christmas Wish _ Black America WebAh, the holidays. I love the decorations, the lights, the goodies, and all the fun. What I don’t like, is the asking for things. I’ve never been very good at that. Pretty much since I stopped sending letters to Santa, I have hated making a wish list. Even for my birthday. I downplay my birthday every year. Not because of my age, but because I don’t want the fuss. It’s just a block I have. Of course, I’m a pretty unusual woman to begin with. Can I admit that I don’t like shopping? Yup. It’s true. Even as a teenager, I have never liked heading to the mall. I know I’m not alone in this, but we are definitely in the minority.

I do, however, like gift giving. I love seeing someone’s face light up with excitement when you get them something amazing. Especially if they weren’t expecting it! So much fun! Even better with older kids and adults. Like the time I got my husband a T-Shirt which was signed by an actor we like. He was completely blown away! In fact, the most memorable gifts I can remember, are ones that didn’t necessarily cost a lot, but were things that came of a casual conversation or other moment in our lives. Something that shows that you truly listened. Like the time my young son decided to buy some speakers for my car as mine had just started going out. With his own money. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of how sweet he is. Kids mothers day gift_ _ Preschool fun _ Pinterest

Speaking of my son and husband, they have both been bugging me to fill out a wish list. I agonize over it, knowing that my son will want to spend money on me again. The thought alone warms my heart enough. When he was young, the little things he made were the gifts I treasured most, and still do, but he’s a teenager now. At one point, years ago, my husband made an excellent point. As much as I love giving, I need to find a way to make it easier for them to give in return. He is, after all, my son and has the same big heart that I do. Aww… OK, that’s true.

So, now we all add some items to our wish lists every year. Mine is the smallest among us, because I still can’t get myself to ask for too much. I really don’t need a lot of things. I’m actually trying to reduce our clutter rather than add to it. There are some things I’m thinking of adding to it. Like time with my son baking cookies for the holidays. Perhaps more time playing with my niece and nephew. How about good health and less stress for everyone? Yeah, that would be nice. Peace on earth sounds like a great deal, but it seems too big a job since it hasn’t happened after all the wishes already made. Perhaps if we all think a little more locally rather than globally. It doesn’t have to take a lot of money, effort, or time, but there are little things we can do for each other every day. Smile at people. Hold open a door for someone. Actually listen. Think before you speak. Put others needs ahead of your own. Make something. Spend time helping. Do things that actually help others.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the ___This year, I’m making a list for myself to complete. It may take longer than just through the holidays, but that’s OK. It can be a revolving list that I keep adding onto. A “good will” list of sorts. The items included will be things I can do to generate happiness. I will make goody bags of homemade treats for our friends, neighbors, and clients. I will make ecards for everyone I know, and send each one with a personalized message. I will get my son in the kitchen more often, and teach him how to make his favorite meals. I will check in on my elderly neighbor more often. I will invite people over for dinner more. I will follow my passions. I will shop small as much as possible. I will support my friends and neighbors more. I’m going to let go of things I don’t need any more. Like stress and the causes of it. At least I can try! Just a bit of effort in the right directions. It certainly can’t hurt. I believe in the saying: Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Have Snickerdoodlesyou ever had a snickerdoodle cookie before? Not just a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon and sugar, but the kind with the little ‘bite’ to it? A slight tang you can’t quite identify? Those would be the delicacies that originated in Germany. My Grandma made these cookies every year for Christmas. Today, I am sharing our family recipe, including my Grandma’s secret ingredient, with you! Enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt


2 Tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Dash allspice


Mix butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.

Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Mix, thoroughly, into wet ingredients.

Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll dough into balls the size of small walnuts (about 1″ in diameter.)

Mix extra sugar, cinnamon, and allspice in small bowl.

Roll dough balls in mixture, until fully covered, and place on ungreased cookie sheet, about 2″ apart.

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned but soft. Cool for 2 minutes on pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup

I grew up without a regular religious routine. I know that may seem strange and shocking to many of you, but it seemed like the freedom to explore religion in general to me. As I went to different cultural and religious ceremonies throughout the years, I became curious about the differences…and similarities. I’m not here to debate which religion is the best or most right. I don’t have all the answers. I do, however, have my own opinions based on learning and experience. I will say that all religions have at least one thing about them that strikes me as being true.

That being said, part of learning about culture, heritage, and religion is experiencing the traditional foods. This has always been, of course, my favorite part. You really learn a lot when you examine the food that defines a group of people. The history that is passed down with a recipe is often overlooked in the wake of tradition. However, using what was available to feed those you care about, has always been the basis of family.


My Step-Dad’s family is Jewish. I grew up enjoying latkes, kugel, bagels, and matzo ball soup. Eventually I moved to San Francisco. After growing up in a small town, the big city was exciting! So many amazing restaurants to try! Most of my favorite places were, and still are, little hole-in-the-wall dives. Literally. There are so many buildings crammed into that one area that they usually share walls and seem like one big building from block to block. The spaces run lengthwise from the street back and always feel narrow. But, that’s part of the charm. You can find the really authentic food at the small places too. There was a Jewish deli that I would visit as often as I could get to that neighborhood, and I always had to get a knish. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

Every once in a while, I would visit the more upscale, and expensive, eateries. Blissfully savoring each morsel, trying to lock each flavor into my memory. Yes, they really were that good. I really learned to appreciate food then. Not just for sustenance, but as the creation of a memory. I think that’s why I love cooking and baking so much. Creating taste sensations that strikes an emotion. OK…now, I’m thinking of the scenes in ‘Ratatouille’ where Remy shows his brother how different flavors mixed together  an create something magical. That’s how it feels when someone loves something you have made. Though, it’s not easy to come up with a truly unique recipe all the time, taking an existing recipe and making it unique is pretty fun! Sometimes, I find shortcuts to make my life easier, without sacrificing quality, or substitutions that take the recipe to a whole new level. Especially healthier options!

Once I found the kosher aisle in the grocery, I realized that I could easily make chicken soup at home and use the handy-dandy matzo ball mix to make the star of the dish! Life just got easier…and more delicious! Eventually, I had a child of my own, and one time we ended up with a massive cold we kept passing around like a hot potato. In my fevered need to make us chicken soup, I also found that some stores have pre-chopped vegetables. When you are sick yourself, it’s like finding the proverbial pot of gold! If your vegetables are still raw, I suggest sautéing then in a little oil before adding the broth. These days, I use pre-cut frozen veggies (usually my own celery, carrots, onions, and garlic) and those handy cartons of broth. There are also some excellent concentrates, but even a powdered chicken broth will work. It really depends on your preference and budget. Really, you can eat very well on a skimpy income. I also add a chicken breast or two (you actually don’t need a lot) to the broth while it boils. Both the chicken and the51xTaGWr3jL._AC_UL320_SR218,320_ broth will be enhanced by this process. Sounds pretty easy so far right? Frozen veggies, chicken, and broth in a pot and heat to boiling. Let the chicken cook in the liquid the whole time. Seriously. You really can’t overcook it in the liquid, but do make sure the broth covers it completely. I use Manischewitz for the matzo ball mix. Not only because it is a long-time trusted name in the Jewish community, but also because they sell the matzo ball mix without the powdered broth packet. I make my own soup, so I’d rather have double the matzo mix than a packet I won’t be using. Follow the directions on the box for making the matzo balls. The size is, really, up to you. I tend to make mine small; about 1″ around. This allows them to cook easier as they have a bit more room to move around in the liquid. Whatever size you choose, make them as even as possible so that they all finish at the same time. When the soup is finished cooking, I turn the heat off and remove the chicken into a separate bowl. Then, I take two sturdy, metal, serving forks and shred the chicken meat into tiny slivers. Add the meat back into the pot and stir. Voila! Dinner is ready!

After Thanksgiving (twice,) I knew we would be wanting a lighter meal, and remembered how much we love chicken and matzo ball soup. I always end up making a lot of soup, plus we had leftover pie, so we invited my SIL and her family over for dinner. I have to admit to being a little sneaky here. I just told her that I was making chicken soup. I wasn’t sure how they would react to trying something that sounded so different, and didn’t want the kids to decide ahead of time that they weren’t going to like it. So, I emphasized the pie and didn’t elaborate on the soup. If you have never tried this dish before, they are like dumplings, only lighter and fluffier, as well as seasoned a little more. By the time they got to our house, thanks to a dawdling three-year-old, we were all starving and dug right in! Imagine their faces when even their pickiest eaters loved it! It really is true: you’ll never know what you like, until you try!