Best Snowflakes on the Block

It is Christmastime on our street. The homes are decorated with tinsel and many-colored lights. Some windows frame beautifully decorated trees, and well-shaped wreaths hang on the doors. At one home, however, a little confusion of homemade snowflakes congregates in the picture window. They are hung in childhood fashion (not in the adult perfection of other windows nearby) and whisper a special secret about the occupants of that home.

I want to share that secret with you. The secret is that children are more important than picture windows; that fingerprints and boot-drips and carpet stains aren’t nearly as important as a child’s self-esteem. Those little white snowflakes tell me something more. They tell me that smashed bouquets of dandelions adorn that kitchen table in the springtime and are loved as if they were the most beautiful of imported orchids. They tell me that a pet potato bug in a box can live there unmolested, that helping with a bug collection is just as important as doing the wash, that viewing the first violets of spring with a child’s hand in yours is better than a shiny floor, that listening to a child’s fears is more important than television, that children’s art is more beautiful than the greatest of the old masters.

Oh, they do tell a special story, those snowflakes. Sherlene Parker, Bountiful, Utah

How to Be a Gourmet and a Mormon Too

Tired of finding a new recipe for the holidays, only to discard it when you discover that it calls for the use of wine? Gourmet cookery is the delicate blending of foods that makes use of the savors of one’s choice and need not include the use of liquors or wines. In recipes that do call for them, substitutions can be easily made.

Substitutions for Wine and Liquor in Cooking

In Soups and Entrees Dry (unsweet) red wine: Water Beef broth, bouillon or consommé Tomato juice (plain or diluted) Diluted cider vinegar or red wine vinegar Liquid drained from canned mushrooms Dry (unsweet) white wine: Water Chicken broth, bouillon or consommé Ginger ale White grape juice Diluted cider vinegar or white wine vinegar Liquid drained from canned mushrooms

In Cheese Dishes (fondue or rarebit) Beer or ale: Chicken broth White grape juice Ginger ale

In Desserts Brandy: Apple cider, peach or apricot syrup Rum: Pineapple juice or syrup flavored with almond extract Sherry: Orange or pineapple juice Kirsch: Syrup or juice from black cherries, raspberries, boysenberries, currants, or grapes or cherry cider Cognac: Juice from peaches, apricots or pears Cointreau: Orange juice or frozen orange juice concentrate Creme de menthe: Spearmint extract or oil of spearmint diluted with a little water or grapefruit juice Red burgundy: Grape juice White burgundy: White grape juice Champagne: Ginger ale Claret: Grape or currant juice or syrup or cherry cider

Note: To cut the sweetness of the syrups, dilute with water. Also, there are many flavor extracts, such as almond or pineapple, that can be added for interesting flavors.

Flambés or Flaming Desserts

The only substitute that might be used is a sugar cube soaked in lemon extract, then set atop a dessert and burned.

Winnifred C. Jardine, Salt Lake City, Utah

Stained Glass Cookies

You will need sugar cookie dough (any basic recipe) and Lifesavers or hardtack candy. Chill sugar cookie dough at least one hour. Roll 1/8″ thick. Cut into basic shapes with cookie cutters (or carve your own shapes with a knife). Then cut out designs within the basic shape. Place whole or crushed candies in cutout areas. Bake on foil-lined baking sheets at 375° F for 7 to 9 minutes, or until cookies are very light brown and candy has melted. Cool completely before removing. (Note: If you want to hang these ornaments, place a short length of a drinking straw through the dough to create a hole. Remove the straw after baking.)

Hints for Knits

To keep a ball of yarn from bobbing about as you work, draw the yarn from the center, instead of the outside. To roll the yarn into a ball so it will pull from the center, hold a six-inch length in the palm of your hand with the third and fourth fingers, while at the same time starting the ball on the extended first and second fingers. After the ball is well started, slip the yarn off the two fingers and start winding. Part of the six-inch length will be left exposed when winding is completed. This method is easy to use and works wonders!

When knitting a child’s sweater, overcast seams with extra bits of yarn. Then if the sweater needs to be mended later, the extra yarn will be the same color since it’s been washed with the sweater each time.

Keep leftover yarn in glass jars to avoid moths. It’s easily visible and will stay clean.

Keep two corks in your knitting bag and use on ends of needles when interrupted in the middle of a row. Also keep a large safety pin to slip through the last loop, to keep stitches in place. Louise Price Bell, Tucson, Arizona

Snow Fun

Mothers aren’t the only ones who feel penned in during a long winter. Children get winter-weary too, and need some really different activities to break the monotony. Our kids loved these.

Snow Painting: Mix various colors of powdered tempera quite thickly in the bottom of unbreakable containers (cottage cheese cartons, tuna cans, paper cups, etc.) Bundle the kids up, give them a large watercolor brush, and send them out to paint on the snow. They will enjoy the various effects of dripping and splattering as well as mixing colors on the snow. (This is especially delightful on a quiet day when snowflakes are falling.)

A Tree for the Birds: (A good way to get more use out of your Christmas tree after Christmas, but any large bush will do.) Let the kids string Cheerios, cut stale bread with cookie cutters, and place raisins, apple bits, and suet in shallow (cut-off) paper cups. Attach wires for hanging, and let the kids decorate the tree outside.

Pretend Picnic: (A good family home evening activity.) Pack the picnic basket or sack lunches, take a blanket, and “hike” through the house. When the kids decide on a spot for their picnic (bedroom, living room, basement?), spread the blanket and enjoy an experience heretofore reserved for sunny summer days. (Make sure they leave the “picnic” area as clean as they found it!) Laurie Williams Sowby, American Fork, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrations by Ann Gallacher