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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sumptuous Snickerdoodle Cookies

Do you like cookies? Most people do enjoy a cookie every once in awhile and I am no exception. There is nothing quite like the fragrance of goods freshly baked in one's own kitchen. Cookies are one of those treats that are especially fun to make when you can share the experience with one of your favorite grandchildren. Kids love to help while baking is being done and my Sophie is no exception.

Of all the desserts classified as cookies, Snickerdoodles are one of my absolute favorites. For some reason, I have never actually baked Snickerdoodle cookies. That is, I have never baked any homemade Snickerdoodles, totally from scratch. I have bought the ones that are in a plastic tub (some of which are even already pre-formed individual portions of dough). You may have purchased these and they can be stored in the freezer. Now, mind you, those are actually pretty good. At least, the ones I have had experience with have been good.

For the past week or so, I have been guiltily thinking about baking up a batch of Snickerdoodle cookies. I was in charge of two of my granddaughters this week. Snickerdoodles are Sophie's favorite cookie as well. When I mentioned that I was planning to bake some Snickerdoodles my  Sophie wanted to assist in the kitchen. I strive to always welcome and encourage little helpers to learn their way around in the kitchen, so we got started right away.

We used this recipe from Farberware's baking site and, I kid you not, these are some of the best cookies I have ever made. Sophie agrees they are the best she has ever made too! This is how they look.
Sumptuous Snickerdoodle Cookies

The recipe made some thirty (30) large cookies for me. It states in the recipe that it makes 33-35 cookies, so if you don't a slightly smaller cookie, then I am sure you can probably get that many out of it.

Some Snickerdoodles are really crunchy and hard, but NOT these. The cookies from this recipe are crisp enough so that they do not fall apart when you touch them, but they are incredibly soft and chewy and they fairly melt in your mouth. They are sumptuously tender and full of buttery, sugary cinnamon flavor.  They are not for those of you who are faint of heart or who are afraid of butter because, yes, they do contain real honest-to-goodness butter. An entire cup, as a matter of fact!
Snickerdoodle Cookies from Farberware Baking Co. Website

Therefore, if you are persnickety about what's in your "per" Snickerdoodles then, by all means, go with another recipe. However, if you like the occasional sweet and buttery indulgence, these definitely rise to the occasion. My opinion is that if you are going to indulge, you might as well make it worth it!
Snickerdoodle Cookies

For your convenience, I have copied the recipe here:



Snickerdoodle Cookies


This recipe uses the simplest ingredients, but it’s almost impossible to eat just one snickerdoodle. The edges are wonderfully crisp while the inside is soft and chewy. Although similar to a sugar cookie, the snickerdoodle is rolled in cinnamon sugar just before baking, giving the outside a dark crackled top.

Ingredients

Recipe Details

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, granulated sugar. Cream on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Scraping down bowl and beating again to insure all ingredients are incorporated and not lumpy.
  5. Add sifted ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  6. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Stir with a spoon until evenly combined.
  7. Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving 2-inches between them.
  8. Bake at 350 for 10-11 minutes, center should still be very soft. These cookies over bake very easily. Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet.
I provided the link to the recipe near the beginning of this post and I will give it to you again here! There are lots of other recipes on the site!

The recipe does come with a preface that it is almost impossible to eat just one and I won't lie about it, I did not eat only one. These things are seriously addictive! Fortunately, I shared the batch I made with family and friends!

Blogger's Note: I used King Arthur Flour in baking these cookies. I have had the best results when I use it and if it ain't broke, I am not going to try and fix it! I am not making an endorsement but it certainly works for me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

FRENCH BOTTLE DRYER OBSESSION

It has been ages since I last posted on my blog and I really miss posting and visiting others on a regular basis. It so happens that I have been having a lot of pain and discomfort in my hands for several years and it has become more intense and debilitating in recent months. I have been severely limited in my ability to do many of the things I like most to do. Being one who puts off going to see a doctor until it can no longer avoided, I kept hoping things would get better and things only got worse. I finally broke down and went to see the doctor who had performed carpal tunnel surgery on one of my hands years ago. I was thinking (hoping) he would probably tell me a there was a quick fix for whatever was ailing me. It was a real let down to hear that I have arthritis in both hands and in one hand there is no cartilage  between the thumb and index finger at all. In his words, "bone is literally touching bone in the joint." Any surgery to try and correct the problem would be very involved and would take many months of recovery, so I quickly opted out of that--at least for now.

This means I will not be able to do many of the things I dearly love to do and that is very depressing, so I will not dwell on the subject more in this post.

As I have stated in previous posts, I adore French design elements and, most especially, Country French design. One of the things I have fallen in love with is the French bottle dryer and have been yearning to have one of my own. I have been able to find a few images and ideas on Pinterest for using them in design and decor. This is one image of a French bottler dryer/dryer rack. Here is another and another here. The French bottle drying rack or bottle dryer can be used in many ways. It can be decorative or utilitarian, as in this photo posted on Pinterest.

I have been hoping to find one of these beauties somewhere and at a price I could afford. Well, it just so happens that on Easter this year, our family went to celebrate at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant. If you have never been to one, you might want to check it out here. Our family loves to eat at Cracker Barrel, and we almost always check out the store to see what is new and, even better, what things are on clearance. Well, to my amazement, there was a French bottle drying rack sitting right smack dab in the middle of the clearance merchandise. One of my daughters saw me admiring it, knowing how much I wanted one. She sneakily sent her son, my grandson, back into the store after we sat down to eat to purchase it for me. To say I was thrilled would be understating.

I love the bottles that the syrup comes to your table in at Cracker Barrel. Over the past several years I have been collecting little bottles. I had initially collected them to put little samples of homemade wine and continued to save them on a pretty regular basis. They are so cute and have endless possibilities!

The bottles came immediately came to mind to use on the rack. I did not have quite enough to fill it, so I have been collecting more and asked family members to do the same. About a month ago, I finally acquired enough to fill the rack. Today, I got around to snapping a few photos of the rack with the little bottles hanging on it. If you like French Country decor, you would probably like having one in your home. I hope you will enjoy the following pictures!
My French Bottle Drying Rack
My French Bottle Drying Rack
My French Bottle Drying Rack'
My French Bottle Drying Rack
Do you like French bottle drying racks? I adore mine and am planning on using it for a very long time!














Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

I attempted to write this post earlier and somehow managed to publish the post before it was completed. Therefore, I am giving it another shot. Please forgive if you inadvertently received the fragment of the first attempt. I hope that doesn't happen again as it is very disconcerting, to say the least.

Today, I would like to share another place that is near and dear to my heart. Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens is a wonderful place to visit and has been named among the top ten zoos in America by TripAdviser in May, 2012. You can read about that here

We have been visiting Riverbanks for many years and, as with many places we know and love, we have watched it evolve. We began taking the eldest of two daughters when she was very young and she is now in her early forties. We now have the privilege of taking our five grandchildren, more often to the zoo than to the gardens because, like most children, they love seeing all of the many animals. There are very large mammals, amphibians and reptiles. There are a variety of aquatic animals, including some fairly large sharks and even tiny seahorses and other sea life. The walkways and paths in the walking areas provide a good deal of shade on warmer days and the flora. trees and shrubs of many varieties are a feast for those of us who love plants and gardening, even if you cannot make it over to the Gardens.

I am not receiving any monetary or other compensation from Riverbanks for sharing this information with you. As I have said many times before, I enjoy sharing ideas with my readers about places to go that are both fun and entertaining and, sometimes, educational. I also like saving money when I see an opportunity to do so.

Since we now have five grandchildren, who always enjoy going to the zoo, we decided years ago to purchase an annual membership in the Riverbanks Society. It is the most economical way for us to be able to take our grandchildren to the zoo as often as we would like, all during the year. The Family Plus membership that we have purchased for many years, though it has increased a little over the years, is $94.00. Membership gives us unlimited access to the zoo and gardens and our grandchildren can get in with us with no entrance fee. Currently, we are provided 12 guest passes to give to others for a day at the zoo and/or gardens. Not only does our membership help to protect our earth's wildlife and wild places, but it gives us free or discounted admission to more than 100 zoos and aquariums nationwide. To see a list of the many zoos and aquariums, nationwide and in Canada and Mexico, which are reciprocals you can go to this link. You can see why membership in a zoological society could be a real money saver, even when you travel to other places.

The remainder of this post will be comprised mostly of pictures taken during two recent visits to Riverbanks Zoo. We went once during early spring, when the grands were on spring break, and again this past Saturday. We were happy to have my youngest daughter's in-laws with us on Saturday. 

This enormous grizzly bear looks so laid-back. He seems to know how to "chill" as well as the best of us!
Grizzly Bear at Riverbanks Zoo

Another den-mate is this grizzly bear.
Grizzly Bear at Riverbanks Zoo
Can you see the Amur (Siberian) Tiger lying just behind a tree in this photo? The tigers are extremely large and are sometimes stalking back and forth, but were a little elusive on this visit. What beautiful cats!
Amur (Siberian) Tiger at Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, S.C.
King of the jungle, the proud and magnificent African lion looks as if he is posing. He is awesome!
Magnificent African Lion at Riverbanks Zoo
His lioness also appears to be sitting pretty for this shot.
African Lioness at Riverbanks Zoo
Beside the walkway in front of the lion exhibit is a wonderful sculpture created by an artist named Thomas Humphries. All materials used in creating this sculpture are recycled, including pieces of metal and other materials. I think it is a gorgeous piece. You can read more about Thomas Humphries and see more of his work by checking out this Facebook page.
Lion Sculpture Made of Recycled Materials by Thomas Humphries
No child can pass up the opportunity to climb on anything and my grandchildren are certainly no exception. At the gorillas and primates exhibits is this beautiful bronze of a gorilla. Note the beautiful shrubs, plants and trees in the background. The bench makes a nice place for resting and reflecting.

Gorilla Bronze at Riverbanks Zoo
The gorillas didn't seem to want to stay in one place long enough for a picture. Two Hamadryas baboons, a female standing and male (with mane) are pictured here: 
Hamadryas Baboons at Riverbanks Zoo

This is the golden lion tamarin.


This strange looking bundle of fur is actually a sloth, though he seems to seldom show his face. He is hanging upside down by his toes.
Sloth at Riverbanks Zoo
Kangaroos.
Red Kangaroos at Riverbanks Zoo

Giraffes.
Giraffes at Riverbanks Zoo

An ostrich.
An Ostrich at Riverbanks Zoo
African elephants.
African Elephants at Riverbanks Zoo
A Caribbean Flamingo died last month at Riverbanks. This was especially noteworthy because she was the last of the original animals to be at the zoo when it opened forty years ago. You can read about this if you would like here in an article published in The State newspaper. She was several years old when she arrived at the zoo, so was well over forty years old and was was hatching chicks until  2009!

The flamingos are located just outside the entrance of The Birdhouse. Here is a picture of some of the vibrantly colored Caribbean Flamingos residing at Riverbanks.
Caribbean Flamingos at Riverbanks Zoo
The flamingo in the following picture was making a big fuss and coming up to the fence, trying to get attention. Maybe it was looking for a handout of shrimp, but I have never seen any of the flamingos exhibit this behavior beforeand I have observed them many times. I could not resist getting a picture of this dubious character, trying to "talk" to our Rachel, who is cautiously posing. 

Caribbean Flamingo at Riverbanks Zoo

Another photo of the persistent flamingo: 
An Inquisitive Flamingo at Riverbanks Zoo

Inside The Birdhouse are many species of exotic birds from Africa, Asia and South America. One section, Penguin Coast, houses several species of penguins. They eat, swim and play behind the glass enclosure. I snapped a few pictures of them, which remind me of  scenes from the movie "Happy Feet!"
Penguins in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo
Penguin in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo

Some of the Penguins in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo

Wreathed Hornbill, One of the Birds in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo
The Aquarium and Reptile Complex at Riverbanks is awe-inspiring. The following photos were taken there and are not nearly all of the specimens on exhibit. First, I will post some of the snakes, both venomous and non-venomous. I am not going to try and name them. I remember the names of some, but not all.
Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo


Snake at Riverbanks Zoo
 Frogs, Lizards, Geckos and Gigantic Hissing Cockroaches!




Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches at Riverbanks Zoo

A few of the many fish and sea creatures:




Some sculptures at Riverbanks Farm exhibit.

Goat Sculpture at Riverbanks Zoo Made from Recycled Materials 

Fox and Rabbit Bronze Sculpture at Riverbanks Zoo
Some of the animals at Riverbanks Farm exhibit.

Riverbanks Zoo Farm

Riverbanks Zoo Farm




Riverbanks Zoo Farm
Grandpa and Grandma's Gardens:
Grandpa's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo

Grandma's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo

Grandma's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo
A pony ride:
Pony Ride at Riverbanks Zoo
A fun train ride:

Train Ride at Riverbanks Zoo
Riding the carousel:
Carousel at Riverbanks Zoo
Riverbanks now also offers a zip-line experience in which you "zip" all the way across the Saluda River which runs between the zoo and the gardens. We stood on which you can walk across to the gardens and watched people go across on the zip line. My batteries had died in my camera and so I didn't get a picture of this.

This is my only post in a month and it is probably the longest yet, so I will end with just a few pictures of the beautiful flowers now in bloom at the zoo. I hope that you will visit Riverbanks if you live in or visit the area. I hope, also, that you will be inspired to visit the ones that might be located near you.
Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo



Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo
Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo


Goodnight all!