Snow day! Some of my kids have the day off, some of them are still doing distance schooling in between going outside and frolicking. The frolicking is the main point, though. Did you know “frolick” comes from the Dutch vroolijk, which means “merry?” According to Merriam Webster, “It is also a distant relative of Old English ‘frogga,’ from which Modern English derived ‘frog.'” Happy little snow frogs, frolicking around.
Here are the other optional snow day components: Hot chocolate, sugar cookies, paper snowflakes, and fatty bird seed cakes for your hungry, flying frogs.
Homemade chocolate is incomparably better than the sugary, watery mix that comes in packets, and it’s easy to make. To make a big pot of hot chocolate (about 8- 10 cups):
hot chocolate for a crowd
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1-1/2 to 2 cups sugar
- 8 cups milk
In a pot, mix together the cocoa powder and sugar. (If you're using cinnamon, add it now.) Add 1/2 cup of water and whisk until the dry ingredients are completely dissolved into a syrup.
Heat over low heat, continuing to whisk, until the syrup is warm. (If you're using vanilla, add it now.)
Add the milk and turn up the heat to medium, and heat until it's hot. Don't turn it up too high, or the milk will suddenly rise up and boil over and it will make a horrible mess!
Today I discovered that trying to make this in the Instant Pot is a dumb idea. You live and learn.
Here’s a recipe for sugar cookies that you don’t have to chill before rolling out and cutting, so you don’t lose baking momentum:
No-fail no-chill sugar cookies
Basic "blank canvas"sugar cookies that hold their shape for cutting and decorating. No refrigeration necessary. They don't puff up when you bake them, and they stay soft under the icing. You can ice them with a very basic icing of confectioner's sugar and milk. Let decorated cookies dry for several hours, and they will be firm enough to stack.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1-2 tsp vanilla and/or almond extract. (You could also make these into lemon cookies)
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350.
Cream together butter and sugar in mixer until smooth.
Add egg and extracts.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar and mix until smooth.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch. Cut cookies.
Bake on ungreased baking sheets for 6-8 minutes. Don't let them brown. They may look slightly underbaked, but they firm up after you take them out of the oven, so let them sit in the pan for a bit before transferring to a cooling rack.
Let them cool completely before decorating!
Snow means birds will be hungry! We’ve had a lot of fun with bird watching this year. So far our feeder has attracted chickadees, tufted titmice, wrens, cardinals, bluebirds, and feathered misc. (I’m not great at identifying birds.)
Here’s a recipe for a bird seed cake with lots of delicious fat so the birdies can make it through the winter. This doesn’t contain suet, which is strangely expensive. If you have any bacon grease, you can add that, too. This one does require several hours of freeze time before you can use it, but winter is long.
bird seed cake
This recipe makes a sturdy hunk of bird food full of fat and protein. It's best for the kind of bird feeder with an enclosure or support system to hold it as the birds peck at it, but you can make your own free-hanging "bird bell" by feeding a loop of thick string into it before you freeze it, or by making a spot for a hole and then threading a rope through afterward.
We like the kind of bird feeder that has a little platform and a central prong, so I make the seed cake in a round food storage container lined with parchment paper or, even better, a coffee filter. To make a hole, I roll up a wad of tinfoil to make a column for the center, and pour the bird seed mixture around that, and then dig the tinfoil out when it comes out of the freezer.
This recipe makes TWO flat, round cakes about 5" in diameter and 2" deep
- 1 cups peanut butter
- 1 cups shortening (can add bacon grease)
- 1 cup corn meal
- 2 cups oatmeal
- 1 cup birdseed
- raisins, popped popcorn, cranberries, seeds, nuts
Prepare a container for the birdseed for a mold. If it's not a flexible container, line it with parchment paper.
In a pot, melt the shortening and peanut butter over low heat, and stir to combine.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into the prepared container. Remember, if you want to hang it or put it on a prong, you will need to put something in so there will be a hole.
Freeze for several hours until the cake is solid. Remove from the mold and put it out for the birdies!
And finally, the secret to paper snowflakes with six sides, like real snowflakes. I didn’t know how to do this until someone showed me, so now I’m showing you. I made a little video for the end, because it’s strangely hard to describe the steps.
1.Start with a round piece of paper. Coffee filters are handy.
2.Fold it in half.
3.Find the center point of the folded edge and hold it in place with one finger. With the other hand, fold the right hand corner left, so it reaches about 30 degrees up the curve on the left. Make a crease.
4.Fold the left hand corner over the right, so it makes a wedge shape. Make a crease.
5. The point is the center of the snowflake. If you cut a little triangle into the point, you’ll have a start at the center.
There are tons and tons of wonderful patterns online for cutting simple and intricate snowflakes, including shapes for various fandoms. I prefer to just snip away and be surprised when I open it up.
Here’s the folding video:
And I hope you all enjoyed my manicure.