Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Effing Ham at Effingham

It’s Christmas Eve, and what are we doing? We’re driving home from Ohio. Sue’s mom passed away in the early morning hours of December 20, and her funeral was yesterday. We’ve been in Ohio since December 9. It’s been a long few weeks—yet much, much too short, too. . . . We’re just tired.

Tired and dazed. It will be so good to be home again, sleep in our own bed, be reunited with our kitties, and see if the world won’t start spinning on its axis again at some point. One thing’s for sure: 2020 will be an unusual year.

Over the many years we’ve driven to Ohio to visit Sue’s people, we’ve always had to drive through Effingham, Illinois. In recent years, it’s had so much highway construction, it’s been a real pain. All those lanes of traffic, merging interstates, exit and entrance ramps, and people driving like idiots. Many of them are, as Sue calls them, Ill-annoying drivers.

Time was, Effingham was a place where we’d plan to stop, knowing there were so many options for gas and fast food. But for years, now, it’s a place, like Indianapolis, that we just want to get through. We’ll stop almost anywhere before or after it, but our goal for a long time has been to slip through this gantlet of crazy traffic as efficiently as possible. And the monstrously gigantic, tacky roadside cross is not something we particularly like to see. I’m a Christian, but really—though I’m sure it was erected with all good intentions, it makes me cringe. And as a sign of Effingham’s impending traffic, it’s rather ominous: “oh boy, here we go.”

So, Effingham. We’ve taken to calling it “effing, effing, Effingham.” As in, “seventeen miles to effing, effing, Effingham—do you wanna stop and get gas before it, or after?”

(The image above is a screen capture from Google street view.)

But tonight, we made an exception. I think we’ve set a land speed record, this trip, returning from Ohio. We simply haven’t stopped much at all. But around Terre Haute, we realized we were getting peckish, also a little slap-happy. It occurred to us we wanted comfort food, home cookin’—breakfast. And we knew there’s a Denny’s in Effingham. You can always count on Denny’s, huh?

Slap-happy plus peckish equals hilarity; from Terre Haute to central Illinois, it became our mantra: Hey, let’s get some effing ham at Effingham!

And that’s just what we did.

It totally hit the spot, and it tickled us, too. I had to post about it on Facebook.

And the coffee was completely welcome. And the people who work at places like this, on Christmas Eve, serving people like us, are doing the work of God. Our gratitude knows no bounds. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

. . . So very looking forward to getting home.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Mrs. Ferber’s Spice Cookies

It’s Advent and time for a Christmas cookie recipe! This is an all-time favorite of Sue’s family, and the recipe comes from Sue’s mom. It’s one of those cookies you can’t have Christmas without.

Mrs. F is currently in a rehab facility after recently falling in her assisted living apartment. So this year, since we’re in Ohio to be with her, I’m baking these cookies in Mrs. Ferber’s own kitchen.

At some point, after we get back to Missouri, I’ll be shipping these and other cookies to family and friends on my cookie gift list.

Note that these will be quite soft when you take them out of the oven. They will become crisp and firm when they cool. These are best when they are both crunchy and slightly chewy. If they turn out slightly too crispy, store them in a sealed tin with half an apple wrapped in some wax paper—that’ll fix the texture.

You will probably want to double this recipe, because everyone will want some.

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses (such as Brer Rabbit)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. dried, ground ginger

Mix dough and chill. Roll it into balls the size of walnuts. Dip in a bowl of granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on a greased (or parchment-lined) cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for about 8 minutes. Makes about 60 cookies.