By Sara Dahmen
Did anyone celebrate Imbolc earlier this month? We did, but barely – it’s a tricky fire feast here in Wisconsin because other than the slowly lengthening days, it’s still basically the deepness of winter around here. Sometimes I think these fire feasts were developed on some land that had a completely different understanding of “winter” months. Ha! And since we’re still in the thick of it, I’m sending you all my very favorite potion for telling a cold to ‘take a hike’ once you feel symptoms coming on. I’m guessing it will help with Covid-like symptoms, too. And then, I’m also including our family cut-out cookie recipe. It’s one from Old Germany and includes nutmeg and sour cream – it makes outstanding cookies. And since it’s February, we may as well make hearts to celebrate Valentine’s Day, even if it is just past – we could all use a little love!
SOUR CREAM CUT OUT COOKIES
This recipe is also available in my book, Copper Iron & Clay: A Smith’s Journey (available anywhere books are sold), and it has been in the family a long time – one of those recipes I have handwritten down from my mother’s handwritten recipe, which she got from HER mother’s handwritten recipe. These are the things we all try to preserve, is it not? They are quite fail-proof, and I always add a tad bit more nutmeg than it calls for.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies (but honestly it feels like five, LOL;) I also bake these on my tin-lined copper cookie sheets because the even heat is awesome sauce.
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 cup full-fat sour cream
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4½ cups all-purpose flour, more as needed for rolling out the dough
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, cream the shortening and sugar. Add the sour cream and eggs to the shortening/sugar and mix until there are no lumps. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix together until smooth.
Refrigerate the dough (covered) for at least 1 hour. (Sometimes I leave it overnight.)
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
On a heavily floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes of your choice. Place them on the baking sheet and bake for 9-12 minutes – watching to make sure you don’t overbake (unless you want crispy cookies, then let the very bottoms get medium-brown in the color).
Cool cookies completely before frosting them!
This concoction actually tastes pretty darn good – it’s like the healthier version of a hot toddy (and I suppose you totally could add whiskey or brandy to this, too!). This tea is NOT safe for children ages 12 and younger, as the garlic is too powerful for them.
Drink 1.5 cups of this per day while cold symptoms exist – it’s especially effective if you can start drinking it right when you first get that itchy tickle in your throat or nose!
1 crushed garlic clove
1 Tbsp crushed fresh ginger root
1 tsp honey
¾ cup very warm water
The juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon
Combine all ingredients, let sit for 5 minutes to combine, strain, and drink while still warm.
About the Author
Sara Dahmen is a coppersmith, award-winning author and novelist, and entrepreneur. Her expertise is of vintage and modern cookware; she manufactures pure metal kitchenware in her Port Washington, Wisconsin garage for her company, House Copper & Cookware. All of her current designs are based on American traditions and wares and are sourced in the USA. When unable to recreate traditional elements, she uses only small family owned and operated makers or Armed Forces veterans to help with the production of her cookware pieces. Her work also includes refurbishing and restoring old and damaged copper using vintage tools. Learn more about Sara at: https://www.saradahmen.com/ Order Sara's book! Full color, hard-cover COPPER IRON AND CLAY (Morrow/HarperCollins)
February 14th is Valentine's Day and, though many consider it a "Hallmark" holiday, the celebration actually dates back to Roman times; a fertility festival called "Lupercalia."
Times have certainly changed. Today, Valentine's Day is celebrated by friends, family, and lovers, alike, and whether you need a treat for your kids or a romantic gift for your significant other, there are plenty of great, local choices in Oz.
Chocolate is the most common Valentine's Day gift, and Oz is home to several very fine chocolate shops!
Chocolate Chisel in Port Washington always has fresh, chocolate covered strawberries available for the occasion, as well as a wide variety of milk and dark chocolates to choose from.
A beautiful caramel apple from Amy's Candy Kitchen in downtown Cedarburg makes a wonderful Valentine's gift and, while you're in town, make it a gift from Cedarburg with something from Ashley's Confectionery, too!
If you're in the Grafton area, stop into Sweet Trio for a delicious variety of chocolates, candy and caramel apples, or, if you're in the southern Ozaukee neck of the woods, Mequon has the Cocoa Tree Confectionary.
It's hard to believe, but some people don't like chocolate and candy. If flowers are what you're looking for, you're in luck! There are plenty to choose from in Oz. In Saukville, try Lighthouse Florist; in Grafton, there's the Bloomin Olive. Cedarburg has Rachel's Roses, while Mequon has the corner market with A Floral Affair, Fantasy Flowers, or La Terre at the Mequon Public Market.
Perhaps the lovely lady in your life has jewelry in mind? You can't go wrong with Armbruster Jewelers in Cedarburg or Sharbuno Jewelers in Port Washington; both family businesses who have been in their community for many years. Wyndrose and Pagoda Fine Jewelry in Cedarburg are also local favorites.
Really, though, does anything say "love" better than coffee?
Check out Java House or Cedarburg Coffee Roastery in Cedarburg, Java Dock in Port Washington, Fiddleheads in Grafton, Mequon, Thiensville and Cedarburg, or Colectivo in Grafton or Mequon. Also in Mequon is the delightful Cafe 1505, which has treats, breakfast and lunch, and is also a full service coffee bar.
Looking for a special dinner out? In Port Washington, there's Twisted Willow, The Beacon, or Beanies Mexican Restaurant, who all have special dinners planned. Brandywine in Cedarburg is a good bet. On Saturday the 12th, Shully's Cuisine in Thiensville is offering an amazing 7 course Zodiac Dinner for Valentine's Day that would be hard to pass up, and Foxtown Brewing has a special 4 course dinner for two. No No's in Newburg or Messina Italian Restaurant in Saukville are other considerations.
However you share the love, put some Oz into it! Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.