Refusal of February

Ick! It’s only two and a half weeks away…!

Yes, I hate the month.  I hate the way it’s spelled, Feb-RU-Ary … dumb!  I hate how it’s ALWAYS gray, icy, BORING!  Twenty-eight days but sometimes, twenty-nine!  What is that about?!

Grayness

Grayness

And then there’s Valantine’s Day… So LAME!  Women getting these big expectations, that no man can ever fulfill… getting their hopes stomped on, their little hearts broken, or worse, their friends all have great, perfect men in their lives and her friends are spoiled like princesses, and all she gets is a darn chic flick to make her feel more lonely, awful, and apparently unloveable.

You read all this and you think, ‘ooo this person has issues, this person must hate men and has had a pissy Valantine’s day every year of her life!‘  Ha. No.  I don’t have any bad memories of February 14th.  Except one year two young guys, brothers of a friend of mine, had a drunk roommate who shot both of them in their beds where they died.  Their funeral sat on February 14th; I also happened to get an infected tooth that pounded the side of my head like a baseball bat… That day sucked.  But not because of a some romanceless vibe.

To those people who really enjoy Valentine’s day, great!  Good for you.  While you’re at it, have a wonderful February.  You see, if my husband gets off so easily, that only one day a year he must spoil me and show affection, and the rest of the year he’s unaccountable, forget it!  I want something from the heart.  Not a calendar obligated motion of appeal.  Stupid Valentine’s Day.  Stupid Feber-rur-ary…

Always cold, always dismal, always gray and dirty–wretched, accursed month of February!

I have made up my mind; the only reason we have kept this sorry accuse for a month, is for book-worms to wear heavy, bright, golden okra knit infinity scarves and perch themselves into some Nook somewhere, to waste the month away in some far off land they’ve discovered while flipping through a paperback.

Sometimes, it’s our enemies who make us stronger.

Just like February, the month I disdain –it makes me want to write the sort of novel that keeps a reader transfixed all twenty-eight (or perhaps twenty-nine, blast it!) miserable days!

I’m sure February must be a fabulous month in the Southern Hemisphere.   Perhaps I should move to New Zealand like all the Facebook quizzes tell me I ought to.  But until I do, I’ll have to find myself a perfectly heavy, bold-knit scarf that makes my head look abnormally small, find a Nook (before the F-month comes along) and read my pre-K son another set of Curious George books…preferably a set of twenty-eight.

Oh, and we’ll make pancakes in the afternoon.  No one can eat pancakes on a gray, lifeless morning.  No. We’ll wait until the afternoon.

So, here is my donation to your February Survival Kit:

Pancakes Please

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or milk with a splash of lemon juice) or try eggnog-Yum!
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • 1 dash cinnamon (optional)

Mix until liquid and lumpy.  Pour on a hot griddle, flip when bubbles form.

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Let’s start with a Cookie … A Ginger Cookie

This last Christmas season we made plans to visit my parents.  It would be a long, ten-hour drive, over icy roads both ways, but too long we’ve spent our holidays away.  At a small Montana property, our family would gather, and host friends to comprise a dinner party of eighteen.  My mother, as always, laid out a feast for kings, and we all ate until our bellies ached, and then she dished up dessert!

For many years, our nucleus family of husband, wife, and four sons have sat around the dinner table on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, without so much as a black-sheeped cousin to come by and crash our party.  Living so far away from our extended families has proven a tad lonely around the holidays.  Sometimes it’s the budget that keeps us alone, sometimes it’s the weather, but the joy of being surrounded with loving family this last Christmas belittled all the loneliness of the previous years into nothingness.

After all the presents had been torn open, gratitude had been given, and shoe sizes confirmed, dinner was served!   Days later when asking my sons to reflect on their holiday memories, our second oldest, a teenager of fifteen years, piped up, “Mom the presents were great and all, and just seeing everyone again is awesome, but nothing compares to that big dinner with everyone!”

This kid is a string-bean.  He never eats more than a budgie, yet, his favorite attribute of our holiday gathering was a table packed ’round with people we love, and a mound of food, an army could not have finished.  I had to agree; a big dinner party is always fun, but when it is family, there’s more substance.  It’s like a ring with a diamond attached… there is just more sparkle to it!

This year, I painted, and crocheted, and shopped and ordered… I would not forget one family member on santa’s list.  So focusing on the normal neighborly fan-fare of treats and card giving was not as high on my priority list as it had been when my neighbors were as close to “family” as I could get over the holidays.  Perhaps my priorities had shifted, but never could my neighbors be forgotten!  I just had to simplify.  Instead of baking difficult cream-filled cookies, or hand-sculpting every shortbread cookie into perfection, I chose to go with something easy.

My Mama’s Chewy Ginger Cookies, can be baked big like mall-cookie-shop trophies, or small enough to grab two to three without a guilty conscience.  Just adjust the baking time and keep them on the upper half of your oven to keep the bottoms from drying out.

After these Chewy Ginger Cookies went out to the families we call friends on the block, I had a night full of phone calls asking for this recipe:

gingercookie

Mama’s Chewy Ginger Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups shortening (coconut oil *health-wise, or lard will also work)
  • 2 cups sugar (raw sugar *health-wise can be used as well) plus a small dish of sugar for rolling dough balls in
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (or omit the baking powder and just use 1 Tablespoon of baking soda if ya want)
  • 2 teaspoons clove
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • splash of milk (about 1 to 2 Tablespoons)

Cream shortening, and sugar together, add eggs, molasses and beat until smooth.  Mix together flour, soda, spices, and salt, then beat altogether, adding a splash of milk to the mixing batter.  Roll about a Tablespoon’s ball of cookie dough into a dish of white sugar, place onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes.

Bake on a high oven rack and add bake time if you like a larger cookie.

If you roll the dough balls in the sugar, feel free to put them in a freezer bag or Tupperware and freeze to bake up later.