World’s Best Snickerdoodles Recipe

Snickerdoodles

Photo by Jim Winstead under CC BY 2.0

Who doesn’t love snickerdoodles? Well, someone who has never had them. I am a cinnamon lo-o-o-o-o-ver and I grew up on this recipe.  I never miss a chance to get a snickerdoodle – but I never have found one that tastes as good as the family recipe. I think it is two things that make them great – the cream of tartar that is a must in a good snickerdoodle recipe and the mixture of sugar and cinnamon that the cookies are rolled in.

I never knew why cream of tartar was such a magic ingredient of a great snickerdoodle until I started this post and looked up the ingredient.  According to Allrecipes.com, cream of tartar separates a tangy, chewy snickerdoodle from just a plain ole sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon. The acid in cream of tartar gives those yummy cookies their distinctive tangy flavor and it prevents sugar in the cookie dough from crystallizing into crunchiness, giving snickerdoodles that wonderful chewy texture.

Many snickerdoodle recipes have cream of tartar, but I have never seen one that had the same ratio of cinnamon and sugar to roll the dough in. Most are heavy on sugar with just a touch of cinnamon, but this recipe has a 1:1 ratio. Heavy on the cinammon – so incredibly yummy.

So here is the recipe that my grandmother got in a March 23, 1958 San Antonio Express-News article. The recipe was from Mrs. M.L.T. of Kelly AFB. Thank you wherever you are!

Ingredients:

Cream
2 sticks of butter
1 -1/2 C sugar

Add
2 eggs and mix well

Sift and add, blending well
2-3/4 C flour
2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda

Roll dough into balls the size of a walnut and roll each ball into a mixture of 2 T. each of cinnamon and sugar.

Place an inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  (Center will still be a little soft when you remove it from the oven.)

Yields about 7 dozen cookies.

Let me know how you like these wonderfully addictive cookies!!!!

 

DIY Potting Bench in an Hour for Under $5

Potting Bench Header

As I am sure almost everyone out there knows from experience, it is hard to keep going when your back hurts. And even if you force yourself to keep going, at the end of the day it is hard to have a smile on your face and even harder to sleep. So, I am hugely in favor of creating work spaces that are back savers. If that can be done quickly and at little cost, then that is even better.

After one sleepless, painful evening following one full day of bending over transplanting, I had a greenhouse full of beautiful plants and the determination to not do that again. As it was in the spring, with loads more plants to transplant, I needed a quick (and painfree) solution.

So – you guessed it – I headed to my pile of pallets. As you know, I use those babies for everything.  Such a beautiful solution for so many things. I found a pallet that was (dimensions here).  Wow – that would be awesome space for a potting bench, I decided.  The slats were nicely spaced apart so pots could be set on it. No adjustments or additions to the slates needed.

The Pallet for the Potting Bench
Making the bench was easy as pie. I cut four 2×4 boards 32″ long. Then I used two 3- 1/2 star-headed screws to attach each leg at the corner. From previous work on greenhouse benches, I knew I had to attach a cross brace on the legs to stabilize the bench and I did so using scraps I had in my lumber pile.  I wanted to make things even easier, and since I made the potting bench lickety split, I decided to make a smaller one to put pots and supplies on. Now I can plant and transplant and work with plants all day long and my back is happy.

Potting bench
While this bench is in a temporary location, it will find a permanent home when things slow down. I will probably seal it so that it lasts longer, but for now, I am loving every sitting down moment with the plants and my potting bench.

I had spare 2x4s that I used for the legs, but if you had to buy the wood, it would cost around $5.00-10.00 depending on the type that you get.  The screws are about a dime each.  I used 16, so that would have been a total cost of $ 1.60 for the bench. Even if  you had to buy the screws and the 2×4 lumber, the cost of the potting bench would be less that $10.00. What a back saving deal that would be!!!

I hope this encourages you to come up with solutions that will make your life more enjoyable and your gardening less painful. You don’t have to build something complicated, expensive and time consuming. Problem solving can be as simple as slapping four legs on a pallet for a new potting bench. If you want to take the time to paint it – then by all means, do so. But, look for solutions that will allow you to re-use and re-cyle. It makes for a better life, better world.  Let me know what exciting solutions you have come up with re-using and re-cycling. And, if you make a potting bench, let me know how much you love it!

As always, be sure to use pallets that are safe for you and your environment. If you are not sure how to make sure your pallets are safe, this post is short and very clear.  In a nutshell, look for pallets that have the “HT,” heat-treated label.

Benefits of Gardening are Beyond Just A Delicious Harvest

Salad Greens
For everyone wondering whether it was worth it to go through the hard work of gardening, this bowl of greens should be a good answer. Those who do garden know that home grown produce just tastes better in ways that can never really be understood if you have never done it. Home grown produce is fresher – literally you can walk out the door, pick it and go in and enjoy its wonderful flavor immediately. This is why I go through all the trouble of gardening. Because at the end of the day (or the middle for that matter), nothing is better than walking outside and picking your meal fresh off the plant.  In addition, fresh picked produce has more nutritional content. However, recently, scientific research has confirmed that the health benefits of gardening are enormous physically as well as psychologically.

According to a meta-analysis of 22 case studies on gardening (published in March 2017), those who participate in gardening can potentially be healthier than those who do not garden. In the US, approximately 117 million people, one in three, participate in gardening and it seems like to more are interested in joining the gardening crowd every day.  In what ways can gardening help?

INCREASES LIFE SATISFACTION
Nothing feels better than a satisfying day of gardening. I mentioned the joy of eating fresh produce, but there are other joys that can be found in gardening.  It is very satisfying to propagate, make more from some, as I mentioned in the propagation post. Whether you are increasing your blooming plant stock or increasing your edible plants, taking a plant from one to many is extremely satisfying. When you see your plants growing throughout a season, budding out in spring, turning beautiful in the fall, you have a sense of peace and satisfaction. I always thought this – now science agrees with me.

Onions and Garlic

INCREASES STRENGTH AND STAMINA
When I was on limited activities, my heart doctor said I could exercise daily by walking. I asked him if gardening was OK – and he said, “Even better.”  Now, I was banned from digging at first, but there were many things that I could do. And everyday, I felt stronger and had more endurance. While gardening is not exercise, per se, it is exercise because you are physically working in the soil, lifting plants, pulling weeds, stooping, bending and standing. When you first get started – or you begin again in the spring after a long winter inside, your muscles will tell you that you have, indeed, been exercising.

REDUCES STRESS, ANGER, FATIGUE, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
And with no drugs to boot. I mentioned earlier that you get a sense of peace from gardening. Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t always go out and feel like I am in Eden. There are days that I work really hard and build up a pretty big sweat. I often come in dirty and tired, wearing a lot of dirt on my clothes and in my shoes.But, at the end of the day, I feel a healthy exhaustion, sense of accomplishment, and not in the least stressed. So, I would have to agree with science. Gardening can reduce stress, anger, fatigue, depression and anxiety – without any toxic meds.

One recent study looked at the impact of gardening on stress. In this study, thirty gardeners were asked to perform a stressful task. They were then randomly assigned to 30 minutes of outdoor gardening or indoor reading. Levels of stress were measured throughout the 30 minutes through salivary cortisol levels and self-reported mood. Both post-gardening activities led to decreases in cortisol during the recovery period, but the decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group. After gardening, positive mood was fully restored. After reading, mood further deteriorated.  While both reading and gardening reduced stress, gardening reduced it significantly more.  In addition to gardening, you might want to grow a garden that contains plants that can reduce stress and improve your mood.

INCREASES SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION
As mentioned in other posts, joining a local Master Gardeners has been a great way to meet very nice people with like interests. It has also given me the opportunity to learn something new everyday.  How much fertilizer do I need to add, is my soil pH high or low, do I need to add more nitrogen, home much lime do I need to add to soil for veggies, what is my square footage for gardening, what is my yield, what do I want to grow and where are just some of the calculations I have to make through the going season.  Yep, my cognitive function is stretched. In a good way.

HELPS PREVENT HEART DISEASE
Gardening would be considered moderate to high-intensity exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (gardening counts!) per week. In fact, according gardening burns more calories per hour than lifting weights.  Since it burns calories, gardening can be helpful in weight maintenance as well as controlling blood pressure.

GARDENING IS EARTHING IS GARDENING
What the heck in Earthing ? Well, Dr. Sinatra of the Heart MD Institute considers earthing to be the most impressive breakthrough in heart health. That is pretty important in my book. Earthing is, quite simply, getting your body into contact with the Earth – much as you used to run outside barefoot as a child. Remember the feelings you had coming into contact with the ground as a child? This contact with the Earth provides the body with a natural, but subtle energy.

You are a bioelectrical being living on Earth, an electrical planet. Your body functions electrically – your heart and central nervous system for example. According to Dr. Sinatra (and many others), emerging science finds that direct contact with the ground gives you an energy infusion from the Earth.  The energy infusion is powerful, restoring and stabilizing the bioelectrical circuitry governing your physiology and organs, harmonizing your basic biological rhythms, boosting self-healing mechanisms, reducing inflammation and pain, and improving your sleep and sense of calmness. As you can imagine, when these things happen, you feel tremendously better. The discovery of these benefits, and the dynamics behind them is discussed in a book Dr. Sinatra co-authored in 2014 called  Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever!  Says Dr. Sinatra, “We humans live on a global treatment table…but don’t know it.”

So, what does Earthing do for you ?

  • Defuses the causes of inflammation while improving or eliminating the symptoms of many inflammation related disorders.
  • Reduces or eliminates chronic pain.
  • Improves sleep in most cases.
  • Increases energy.
  • Lowers stress and promotes calmness in the body by cooling down the nervous system and stress hormones.
  • Normalizes the body’s biological rhythms.
  • Thins blood and improves blood pressure and flow.
  • Relieves muscle tension and headaches.
  • Lessens hormonal and menstrual symptoms.
  • Dramatically speeds healing and helps prevent bedsores.
  • Reduces or eliminates jet lag.
  • Protects the body against potentially health disturbing environmental electromagnetic fields, EMF’s.
  • Accelerates recovery from intense athletic activity.

What are the basics of Earthing? Making sure your body has direct contact with Earth will equalize your body to the energy of the Earth. In fact, if any part of your body is in contact with the Earth, all of your body becomes equalized with the energy of the Earth. As far as I can tell, you simply can’t garden without touching the Earth.

Obviously I like gardening. But as you can tell, increasingly gardening is being recognized by the scientific and medical community as a critical component in your health. You can walk, or run, or lift weights or any number of other exercises, but I can’t think of any that have the vast array of health and psychological benefits that gardening does.

So, if you are an avid gardener – keep doing it. If you haven’t tried gardening, there is no better time to start than now!