Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Here it is, Christmas Eve again.  Charlie and I are enjoying a slow paced day together, listening to Christmas music on the radio, baking cookies, wrapping a few gifts, and preparing for my family to arrive tomorrow morning.  What a nice way to spend a day!

I just finished making some Peanut Butter Cookies that are moist and chewy -- and just happen to be gluten free as well.  I thought I'd share the recipe because it is so simple and tasty.  A friend from work brought these cookies to a potluck and they were a smash!  She makes them in her toaster oven and it works out just fine.  I've doubled her recipe and baked them in a 350 degree oven.  
Mix together:
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Stir the ingredients together well.  Form the dough into walnut sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Use a fork to press down on the ball a little and give the cookie that signature peanut butter cookie look.  Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.  They will still look a bit moist when you take them out.  Let them cool for a few minutes then carefully transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.  The cookies are very fragile until they are done cooling -- despite my friend's warnings, I broke the first one I took off the baking sheet.
I also added chocolate kisses to some of the cookies after they came out of the oven.  Who can complain about chocolate on top of their peanut butter?!?

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or "Festivus for the Rest-of-Us".  Whatever you celebrate -- do it well!  Live it up!  Love one another -- spread Peace and Goodwill -- all of the good stuff that we need more of on this earth.  Stay safe if you are traveling.  Oh, and don't eat too many cookies.  :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Chicken Coop in Cold Weather

Living in Michigan, I was concerned about how my chickens would tolerate the cold weather.  First, I specifically chose some breeds that do better in frigid temperatures.  I looked for chickens with small combs (less chance of frostbite) and ones that don't mind confinement (some go crazy not being allowed to free-range year round).

Second, I tried to get a weather resistant coop.  It has insulation on the roof and walls, and I've placed a thick layer of straw down to keep their feet warm.  I've positioned the one window in the coop towards the South to take advantage of what little daylight we have.  

On the day this photo was taken, it was in the upper 20's outside.  Inside the coop, the thermometer read 45 degrees.  I'm still concerned for when it gets really cold outside.  I'll have to check their water a couple times a day to make sure it hasn't frozen over.  My parents gave me a length of heat tape that I have considered rigging up somehow -- or perhaps a lamp.  I guess I am still researching my options.

Anyway, they seem to be doing well so far.  I can already tell they would like to be outside and eating grass and bugs.  I guess we all get cabin fever from this weather.

So, we are one week away from Christmas... yikes!  I've got a lot to do between now and then.  I've got the week off of work (yippee!) and plan to spend a couple of days in Grand Rapids to visit a couple of friends and my family.  Then I've got a bunch of cleaning and baking/cooking to do before my family comes over here for Christmas day.  Oh, and don't forget about wrapping... and decorating... and...