Monday, January 27, 2014

Random Thoughts on a Winter Day

I've been away from here for a while so I thought I'd just post a few things that were dancing through my head this afternoon.   Our weather just got upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning.   We've been on a Winter Storm Watch since yesterday and we expected the upgrade so it's not exactly a surprise.   Anyhow, the thought of real, honest to goodness winter weather headed our way took me back a few decades to my youth. 

I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, not exactly the place most likely to have severe winter weather.   But every now and then we'd have an epic (for Jackson) snow storm.   My mother and older sister often told me the tale of when my baby sister was born how it snowed them in and our house was the only one on the block with heat because my father had thrown a bath mat over the gas meter, thus preventing it from freezing up.   They told me about neighborhood parties with my parents' best friends because no one could get to work.  They trudged through the snow to our friend's house and proceeded to have an impromptu party.   They cooked large pots of chili, played cards and just had a really good time while the kids all played out in the snow, made snowmen and had snowball fights.  

When I was about 10 years old, we had one of those unusual, once-in-a-decade snow storms in Jackson.   The wind howled and the temperature plummeted to single digits.    School was cancelled, of course, and with the unexpected holiday, every kid in our neighborhood was running around outside like Daffy Duck.   We did every cliched thing you've ever heard of when kids get around snow --- some of us for the first time in our lives.    We stuck our tongues out and caught snowflakes, made snow angels and played until near exhaustion lobbing snowballs across the yard to our "snow forts".    It was such pure fun it brings tears to my eyes to remember the innocence that surrounded us that day.

Later we lived in Ft. Worth, Texas and one year a snow storm blew through that had us huddled in front of our fireplace, wearing parkas and mittens to keep warm.   The blustery wind kept gusting up under our house and would blow out the flame on our gas heater.   So for all practical purposes we had no heater in our house and the only source of heat was the fireplace in our living room.    It was a shock to our southern souls to have true winter weather thrust upon us.   It did not shock us so much that we forgot what to do in the snow, however.

My sister, Ginny, decided we needed to build a snowman .  She seldom ever did things that were ordinary and neither was her idea of a snowman.   We rolled the snow in our yard into three snow balls ranging from small to large.   Then we stacked them on top of one another.   It was at this point that Ginny decided that our creation had to be a lady.   She ran in the house and got a scarf and other accessories to dress our lady and for some reason, I seem to remember she even figured out a way to give her earrings!   Like I said, Ginny never did anything half-way.    When it came time to finish her off, she started gathering up more snow and before I knew it she had added arms to our lady.    And she was not content to just put arms.  She added hands and sculpted fingers so our snow lady had her hands on her hips!    Sassy, she was.

We had snow so seldom when I was a kid and when we did, it was always an occasion.   It meant a day or two off from school.   Daddy stayed home from work.  Mama would let us do things that we ordinarily did not get to do.  Our town got transformed to a winter wonderland.  It was almost magical.  

I made a batch of Peanut Butter Cookies this afternoon and if I am being honest I have to admit it's because of the prospect of winter weather.    If I can figure out a way to make a Low Carb Fudge, I'll make that, too.   And why is that?    Because of all the memories made during those times of snowy, winter days, one thing I remember us doing always was making goodies and treats.     Daddy made snow ice cream for us.    Mama let us make fudge and sometimes it actually turned out right. But frequently it didn't.   We never let a little thing like fudge that wouldn't set up deter us, however.   We ate soft, chocolaty goodness right off the plate with a big spoon and then grinned big fudgey smiles at each other.

Those were some happy times that came tumbling back into my mind this afternoon. And all because we're under a Winter Storm Warning!  Good memories on a January afternoon.     Our weather is going downhill soon.  The wind has already shifted around from the south so that now it's coming out of the north.     The cold air is going to invade our town.   But I'm prepared!   I have those cookies cooling on the counter.     At the first sign of a snow flake I'll probably run around outside like Daffy Duck.    It will be like old times and it'll make me very happy.  

Do you have fond memories from your childhood that can come back in an instant?    What about traditions associated with those memories?   For me, making those treats is as natural to me as putting on a hat and gloves to play in the snow.   It is just something I automatically think about doing.    The Peanut Butter Cookies are easy and if you want to make a batch here is what you need:

1 Cup of Peanut Butter, creamy or crunchy
1 Cup of Splenda Sweetener (or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla 

Pre-heat your oven to 350.    
Mix the peanut butter with the egg.   You can do this by hand with a large spoon.    Add the Splenda and vanilla until well mixed.   
Using a teaspoon or small scoop, make a small ball of  the peanut butter mixture, about the size of a walnut.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil.    About a dozen will fit on a standard size cookie sheet.    
Use a fork dipped in the Splenda to make the hash marks on the top of the cookie mixture.  The Splenda will help keep the fork from sticking to the cookie.   
Bake for about 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.   
Make about one dozen small cookies.   

This is a flour-less, sugarless cookie.   Low Carb.   Be sure to use a peanut butter without added sugar if you want to limit the sugar in the cookies.   I found Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter to have no added sugar and it worked fine in this recipe.   

I am still going to hunt for a Low Carb Fudge recipe and if I find one that works, I'll post it here.  If I have to, I'll eat it with a spoon and I'll tell you that, too!

Hope you all have happy memories from back in the day.     I know I do and it was fun to go back to that happy place again.   

Happy Trails,