Remember veterans

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. There will be parades and gestures of thanks for all who have served our country. It should be a day of remembrance for all of us. Our way of life and our safety is provided by those who will stand up and defend us and the country without regard for the danger they face, and so many have given the supreme sacrifice and many more will carry the pain and scars for the rest of their lives. Stop and think – would you be so brave? Blessed are those who face danger for the rest of us. So many have given the supreme sacrifice and many more will suffer pain and problems for the rest of their lives. No one enters the job of being a soldier or sailor for the money.

A big portion of service families really sacrifice financially. A congress member needs to serve just one term to receive a large salary for the rest of his or her life. A service member has to serve 20 years or more just to draw a portion of his or her salary as a retirement.

Health care, promised to those who serve in the service, is far from the care those in government have, even while on active duty, and is chipped away by the government after they serve. Why can’t we keep our promises to our soldiers to take care of them and their families for life after facing danger and death for us?

Our first responders, the police and firemen, face danger, too, and should be honored and thanked for what they face every day doing their jobs. Not everyone is cut out for this kind of work and sacrifice, so the ones who rely on someone else to do it should always be thankful for the ones who will do it. Keep them in your prayers and may they always be blessed.

Have you been to any of the local craft shows? Even if one doesn’t buy gifts or home decor there, one can get so many new ideas. Just when one thinks there can’t be anything new to do or ways to decorate, one can get new ideas at those shows. It is one of the highlights of this season to check out what ideas others have come up with. Most kids like to do crafts, so they can make things for the gifts they want to give to teachers, friends and family. Pine cones sprayed with gold, silver or white paint and sprinkled with glitter can be made into many decorations. If Mom makes cookies or candy, they can help with that and use it for gifts. Christmas is supposed to be a religious celebration and should not be so commercial that one is still paying off the bills months later. Kids don’t need every new toy they see on TV or every new media device advertized. Family time together is more important than gifts that no one really needs. Enjoy the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but don’t create a money problem for the family just to show off how much one can spend.

The retail stores are working overtime to get buyers into their establishments before other stores get them. Open on Thanksgiving? Surely we haven’t become such a greedy bunch of people that we buy into that. Thanksgiving is for families and friends, not to add to some corporation’s earnings. If you know of someone who has no family close by and will be spending the day alone, why not invite them to join you.

One Thanksgiving, we were far from home and feeling somewhat lonesome. Our little country church had a morning service for Thanksgiving, and we got to talking to others who had come. We found that many of the folks there would have little or no family that day, so we all decided to go home, collect any of the food we had made for the holiday, and then bring it back to the church to have Thanksgiving together. What would have been a lonesome day became one for the memory books.

If you are making fruitcakes for the holidays and haven’t made them yet, it is time to get it done. They need to ripen. I know there are loads of jokes about fruitcake, but some are quite good and handy to have on hand when folks drop by during the holiday season. The decorated cookies are pretty, and good, but pressed cookies are so much easier. They could be made now and frozen. If you make cut-out cookies, don’t frost or decorate them before freezing. Let them thaw before you add the topping for them. That is one way to get a head start on the Christmas goodies one always plans to make but time runs out before one gets them done. Do it now and put that freezer to good use! Have a “decorating day” for the whole family and it gets everyone into the holiday mood, and since the cookies are already baked, the work is done and just the fun part remains. There will be some “mix” recipes today for you to use to get a head start. They have been in the column before, but if you are like me, they are lost – either in the trash or in that pile of recipes “to try someday”! If you have lots of Halloween candy left, make a Gingerbread House for the kids to decorate with it. It doesn’t have to be a gingerbread recipe – most any recipe for a firm cookie will do. Keeps them busy for hours!

Did you go to vote this past week? If you didn’t, you have no right to complain about who got in or what they want to do that you really don’t like. The right to vote is a precious part of our country so we should all use it or we might lose it. We have already lost a lot of our freedoms!

We have two weeks to rest up before the holiday crush really comes down on us, so take time to rest up – and take your vitamins! Let’s have a happy and stress-free holiday season this year. Start by going to an event that honors our veterans and express our thanks to them, not just on Veterans Day but every day. It is day for a history lesson for our kids, and a day to remember history for us adults.

Take care, and God Bless!

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Sugar Cookie Mix

Two cups butter or margarine, softened

Two cups granulated sugar

Three eggs

Two teaspoons vanilla extract

One teaspoon lemon extract

Six cups all-purpose flour

One teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla and lemon extracts until light and fluffy. In another bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Gradually stir flour into the egg mixture until blended. Divide dough into four pieces and shape each into an 8- to 10-inch roll. Wrap the rolls in plastic wrap. Place in freezer container with a tight fitting lid or wrap airtight in heavy foil or freezer paper. Label and store in freezer for up to six months.

To make Sugar Cookies, use one roll of dough and let it thaw slightly. Cut dough into one-fourth-inch slices and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Lightly grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 8-10 minutes until edges start to brown. Cool on wire racks.

To make rolled cookies, thaw dough and roll out on lightly floured surface. Cut with choice of cookie cutters. Bake in same manner.

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Gingerbread Cookie Mix

Two cups vegetable shortening

Three cups sugar

Three eggs

Three-fourths cup molasses

Six cups all-purpose flour

Two tablespoons baking soda

One teaspoon salt

Two tablespoons ground ginger

One tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs and molasses and set mixture aside. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt ginger, and cinnamon. Gradually stir into egg mixture until blended. Divide dough into four pieces and shape into an 8- or 10-inch roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer container with tight-fitting lid or wrap again in heavy foil or freezer paper. Use within six months.

To make Gingersnap Cookies, Cut slightly thawed dough into 1 1/3-inch slices, and then cut each slice into fourths. Roll each piece into a ball and then into granulated sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in preheated 350-degree oven for 8-10 minutes until set around edges with cracked tops. Don’t overbake. Cool on wire racks.

To make cut-out or gingerbread men cookies, let dough thaw out and roll out on lightly floured surface. Brush with a powdered sugar glaze and decorate. You can use this dough to make gingerbread houses. Just cut out design and adjust baking time.

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Cookie Mix

Eight cups all-purpose flour

Two-and-one-half cups granulated sugar

Two cups brown sugar, packed

Four teaspoons salt

One-and-one-half teaspoons baking soda

Three cups vegetable shortening

In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and baking soda until well blended. Cut in vegetable shortening until mixture resembles cornmeal in texture. Put into a large airtight container and store in a cool, dry place. Use within 10-12 weeks.

For chocolate chip cookies, use 3 cups of cookie mix, three tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 egg, half cup nuts or coconut, and one cup chocolate chips or M&Ms. Combine all ingredients except nuts or coconut, chips and candy and blend well. Stir in nuts or coconut and chips or candy. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets (or use parchment paper) in preheated 375-degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

For Peanut Butter cookies, use 3 cups of mix, one-fourth cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 eggs and half cup chunky-style peanut butter. Combine all ingredients and blend well. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Flatten with fork tines. Bake 10-12 minutes until edges are browned.

For Snickerdoodles, use 2 1/2 cups mix, one-fourth teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small dish. Combine all other ingredients and blend well. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Flatten slightly. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly browned with cracked tops. Do not over bake.

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