Archives for : December2014

Spiced Nuts

Spiced Nuts


A Holiday Season Treat


Bake at 350 about 20 minutes

1 egg white

5 cups pecans

½ cup each brown & white sugar

1 teas. cinnamon

¼ teas. allspice & nutmeg

A few shakes of cayenne, chili powder, and Hot Shot (that is black & red pepper blend)


Grease a cookie sheet. In a large bowl beat the egg white with 1 teas. water, using a fork. Add the nuts and toss and coat well. In small bowl combine sugars and spices…sprinkle over nuts and toss well to coat them all. Spread out in the pan and bake.

When you take out of oven…turn out onto waxed paper and break into pieces. Store in cool place in an air-tight container.


Mary Z.

Christmas Wasn’t So Merry the First Time Around

Christmas wasn’t so merry the first time around

By Bill Arvan and Sharon Sheppard

It’s hard to imagine how Caesar Augustus ever managed to spread news of his executive order to the whole Roman Empire without Internet access.  And the headline couldn’t have been less welcome:



The timing was particularly awkward for a newly engaged couple from Nazareth, since the bride-to-be was nine months pregnant.  The midwife would almost certainly not have given permission for young Mary to make the 80-mile trek on donkeyback, especially if she’d known the couple wouldn’t have a place to stay in the little hick town where they were headed.

As it turned out, a number of factors were grossly inconvenient.  About the only thing that made sense in the whole situation was this:  God was in charge.  And while delivering a baby in a smelly stable might not have been Mary’s choice, God made sure that a prophecy given centuries earlier by the prophet Micah would come true:  “O Bethlehem…, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past!”  (Micah 5:2 TLB)

Despite humble beginnings, there were some classy touches.  God used elegant angels to make the birth announcement, though scruffy shepherds took over from there, spreading the word.

Later He sent by special delivery some expensive, regal gifts by way of the magi.

And when King Herod resorted to desperate measures, ordering the death of all the little boys in the realm in an attempt to kill the child Jesus, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream with special intelligence.  Joseph got up in the middle of the night and took his family to Egypt, where they were safe.

The point is this:  God’s plans are never thwarted.  Sometimes He uses misguided people to accomplish His will.  He used an evil emperor to help fulfill a prophecy about the birthplace of the Messiah, and He foiled the plans of evil King Herod when he tried to do away with God’s son.

The Good News is this:  God loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus, in human form.  We deserved to die for our sins, but God’s Son stepped in and said, “I’ll take the rap.”

This is the reason for the season.


Excerpted from the READ Report, a publication of READ Ministries, December 2014


Merry Christmas from the City Cousin and the Country Cousin!

For Those Impossible-to-Buy-For People on Your List… the Perfect Gift

Over my morning coffee and a bowl of bran flakes I pondered Presents to please everyone on your shopping list in The Seattle Times the week before ThanksgivingNo need to panic, the article assured me, there were gifts to please everyone on my list.  And to her credit, the author came up with all sorts of ideas I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

For example, it never would have occurred to me to buy the Menu Baggy Winecoat ($62 at that would let my friend to BHOB in a classy bag designed to look like a standard (if somewhat large) black purse.  It carries three liters of wine that pours discreetly out of the spout at the bottom, and there’s room at the top for wine glasses.

And for the men on my list—I never would have thought of this one either–there’s a stainless-steel hip flask, the Trixie and Milo Gentleman Octopus Flask ($27-$29) that’s sure to hit the spot.

I don’t have any tweens on my list this year, but if I did, I could buy a fake cat.  The Careful It Bites Catball plush cat sells for $45.  It’s handmade in Seattle (a place that definitely doesn’t take kindly to real fur) and available in faux-fur colors ranging from the realistic (white and brown) to the surreal (neon pink and electric blue).

And for those who love selfies—even President Obama loves selfies (though he’s not on my list this year)—there are smart phones ranging from cheap (the Nokia Lumia 530 for only $69) to not-so-cheap (Huawei Ascend Mate 7 for $890).

So you see, shopping is simple.  Unless you’re looking for something that matters.

I have friends and acquaintances who are hurting.  They’re lonely or depressed or are carrying around a bushel of guilt.  They have needs that a flask or a fake cat can’t satisfy.  For them I have a better idea.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

A one-size-fits-all gift that’s free for the taking.  What a novel idea.

©Sharon Sheppard, 2014

Jan Hagel Bars – A Quick and Easy Dutch Holiday Cookie

Jan Hagel Bars  – A Quick and Easy Dutch Holiday Cookie


From Holland come these crisp, buttery-rich strips with baked-on glaze. Quick and easy, especially nice for teas or as an accompaniment to ice cream desserts.

1 cup butter                                                 ½ tsp. cinnamon

1 cup sugar                                                   1 tbsp. water

1 egg, separated                                        ½ cup very finely chopped walnuts


Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease a jelly roll pan. Mix butter, sugar, and egg yolk. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting.

Blend flour and cinnamon; stir into butter mixture. Pat into pan. Beat water and egg white until frothy; brush over dough; sprinkle with nuts. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cut immediately into finger-like strips. ENJOY!

This recipe has been a “keeper” to any one I have served. These bars are great for the holidays. The recipe is from the Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book 1963, first edition.


Mary Z.

The Holidays Don’t Have to be Stressful

With these tips, you can enjoy the season.

  • Plan ahead.  You can’t do everything, so make a realistic plan.
  • Don’t stop at the entry.  Take your holiday decor throughout your entire home. Simple, small touches in rooms make a huge difference.
  • Dim the lights.Buy plug-in dimmers for all your lamps. They are inexpensive, sold at most hardware stores, and anyone can install them. They bring instant ambiance to any room.
  • Cookies are essential.The holidays are all about the treats. Even if you can’t bake, slice up pre-made cookie dough and stick it in the oven. The smell of cookies baking is enough to put anyone in the holiday mood.
  • Get wrapping.Reuse interesting papers, bags, magazines and newspapers for gift wrap. It’s essentially free, since you already have it, and eco-friendly. Make it interesting with a special ribbon, topper, or accent.
  • Less really is more.The holidays can be about extravagance, but if you overwhelm yourself and your home with too much décor, baking, and gift giving, it can compete for attention and distract you from the importance of the season.
  • Enjoy!


Mary Z