Grace 11grace

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
{ Anne Lamott }


Gracein loving memory of
Philip John Carroll 
1.28.60 ~ 12.14.12

wishing you all grace and peace this holiday season
may you enjoy
time with loved ones and cherished memories of those who’ve
left us momentarily…

there was a flurry of Christmas baking in the
Smidgen’s Kitchen
that had to be accomplished in just one day..
thankfully, my daughter’s willing and able hands joined mine

as we

shaped cookies, spread layers, and dolloped pie fillings to bake

My trusty Christmas baking was complemented with a few new recipes to add to my
“must bake” list.. here are a few..

grace 13grace 10Crackle Top Snowy Mountain Cookies

grace 9Mabel’s Nanaimo Bars

Pam’s Butter Tarts
Pam and I taught at the same Elementary School for years and I was delighted when she joined our orchestra. These tarts and their recipe were the talk of the staff room, I was overjoyed when she shared her recipe with me!

Pam's Best Butter Tarts

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 16 minutes





1 lb Tenderflake Lard (room temperature)

5 cups all-purpose flour (5 Roses if possible)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup raisins

1 egg

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 cup melted butter

Smidge’s Alternate Filling

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup melted butter


Tart Shells

Mix everything but the milk with 2 knives or a pastry blender. Cut the lard in a bit at a time. Keep at it until the lard is small pea size. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (I skipped this step.)

Add the milk and mix. (This takes a lot of time and effort due to it being in the fridge, but eventually it will all mix. Because I skipped the “fridge” step, I didn’t find this difficult at all.) Make into four balls, flatten to discs, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Roll out one disc and cut with a round cutter. Place in 12 muffin tins, gently pressing sides in.

Makes 4 double crust pies or 4 dozen butter tarts.


Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix all ingredients together, adding the butter last and whipping with a fork until bubbles appear.

Spoon into tarts, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 16 minutes at 375F until the pastry has nicely browned.

The filling will bubble up and may go over the sides of the tart pastry shells.

Set aside to cool for a while before removing from the pan. Cool before eating.

These little cookies have a mildly spicy flavor and fragrant bouquet.. And they remind me of mounds of snow. { Martha Stewart }


Rating: 51



1 1/4 cups confectioner’s icing sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and baking soda. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, blend butter, brown sugar and molasses at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture, mix just until combined.

Scoop or pinch off dough, about a tablespoon size, roll into balls (about 1 1/4? size). Place on lined cookie sheets, about 1 1/2? apart.

Bake until cookies are golden and firm to touch with some slight cracking of the tops, about 12-15 minutes. Rotate sheets half-way through to ensure even baking. When done, transfer to a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Toss cookies a few at a time in a bowl or paper bag filled with confectioner’s sugar. Place back on wire rack to finish cooling.


by Martha Stewart


{ Who else.. but The Barefoot Contessa }

Jam Thumprint Cookies

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Jam Thumprint Cookies


3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water (egg wash)

7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut

Strawberry or apricot jam


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until just combined. Add the vanilla and mix again.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Put the mixer on a low speed and gradually add the sifted flour to the butter mixture. Continue to mix just until the dough starts to come together. Pour the mixture onto the counter, work with your hands to form one or two balls of dough then flatten. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge, scoop 1 1/4? balls of dough, shaping with your warm hands. Dip into egg wash then into the coconut, pressing it to stick. Place the ball on silpat or parchment lined cookie sheets. Gently press an indentation into the tops with your finger, pressing sides together to avoid cracking. Dollop a small bit of jam into the top indentation.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until the coconut is lightly golden. Remove, allow to cool slightly then move to wire racks to finish cooling.




  • niasunset - December 19, 2012 - 10:08 am

    WOW! They all fascinated me, made me hungry too :) “Grace” is amazing dear Barbara, what a great touches! Thank you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Love, niaReplyCancel

  • Colline - December 19, 2012 - 10:10 am

    Those cookies look delicious!ReplyCancel

  • andy1076 - December 19, 2012 - 10:18 am

    I love your touch of wisdom with delicious recipe :) ReplyCancel

  • viveka - December 19, 2012 - 10:21 am

    Barbara, you’re some domestic diva !!! Those nibbles to die for as usual and so pretty too.
    Grace – really touching … words.ReplyCancel

  • andy1076 - December 19, 2012 - 10:21 am

    Reblogged this on My story to you.. and commented:
    We all need bit of peace and grace in our life :) ReplyCancel

  • Misky - December 19, 2012 - 10:27 am

    Happy Christmas, and happy baking! :) ReplyCancel

  • spree - December 19, 2012 - 10:34 am

    The cookies of your hands (and your daughter’s), of course, are beautiful, Smidge. (Everything that comes from your hands IS, always IS.) But even more beautiful than that, the beauty that flows (through your words) from the warmth of your heart. To lose a friend so young, so soon, will be a hurt slow to heal. I’m so sorry for your family in this, Barb. May Grace surround and blanket you, and above all, may it be a gentle and Peaceful Christmas!! xxxReplyCancel

  • TasteFood - December 19, 2012 - 10:40 am

    Amen! Thank you for your grace-ful thoughts and Happy Holidays to you. I am going to start with your butter tarts…ReplyCancel

  • littlecitybot - December 19, 2012 - 10:46 am

    those snowy cookies look AMAZING.ReplyCancel

  • Eva Taylor - December 19, 2012 - 10:52 am

    I am so sorry for your loss.
    What a lovely round up of Christmas baking, Barbara, and it’s so nice that your daughter helped you bake. I have very fond memories of my Mom helping me bake even after she became ill (I set up the dining room table as her work station). Such a lovely bonding time too. The butter tarts look unbelievable, you’ve captured them perfectly, I can almost taste the crisp crust and the delicious centre, and I don’t mind at all if it runs down my chin.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - December 19, 2012 - 11:10 am

    Oh Barb, “Grace” is beautiful. I love these words. No one could write anything as beautiful as your words. I’m so sorry about the loss you’re enduring right now, so painful.

    I’m so glad you and daughter got to spend time together baking. It sounds like the perfect thing to do right now. We wish you the happiest, merriest Christmas my dear. And, a wonderful 2013. Thank you for everything!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - December 19, 2012 - 11:20 am

    Yum, Yum and more Yum! What beautiful photos and delicious recipes! I love the sound of those buttery tarts, and even though I’ve been in Germany for so long I’ve yet to make Pfeffernussen…. they do look good. Thanks for such a lovely post!ReplyCancel

  • yummychunklet - December 19, 2012 - 11:34 am

    What tasty looking bites! Such a variety!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany - December 19, 2012 - 12:09 pm

    Ohhh yum. Your house is the place to be right now!!ReplyCancel

  • Judy @Savoring Today - December 19, 2012 - 12:22 pm

    Grace, unmerited favor we so desperately need. Beautiful sentiment, Barb, so timely and true. Even one day in the kitchen baking is better than none and even better when shared with someone. :) I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year!ReplyCancel

  • Norma Chang - December 19, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    Very touching post, so sorry for your loss.
    Loving your cookie collection, how wonderful to be baking and bonding with your daughter..ReplyCancel

  • imagesbytdashfield - December 19, 2012 - 1:23 pm

    Can I please come over to your house to play in the kitchen? I promise to be neat and I will give lots of hugs while I help tidy up.ReplyCancel

  • hotlyspiced - December 19, 2012 - 1:53 pm

    What lovely words about grace. I love the new look of your blog. What a great selection of Christmas baking. That’s so lovely your daughter was with you to help. I love the look of the crackle cookies xxReplyCancel

  • Sue Schlabach 129twigandvine - December 19, 2012 - 3:15 pm

    May you too have grace this holiday season. We’ve been baking cookies a batch at a time. I love the array you’ve done, but I never quite pull that off. I may mix up chocolate crinkles tonight (I love your crackle top snowy mountain name for them!).ReplyCancel

  • cravesadventure - December 19, 2012 - 4:00 pm

    Beautiful Post – I enjoyed the cookies without all the calories – YUM! Have a Great One:)ReplyCancel

  • restlessjo - December 19, 2012 - 4:58 pm

    Smidge, you are full of grace. Merry Christmas to you and yours, and a joyful 2013.ReplyCancel

  • Sibella at - December 19, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    Merry Christmas Barb! This post full of gentleness and love! XOReplyCancel

  • Korena in the Kitchen - December 19, 2012 - 5:41 pm

    Happy holidays, Barb! Lovely words, and beautiful cookies – I can’t believe you made them all in one day! I’m with your friend Jane – lots of gooey filling in my butter tarts, please :) ReplyCancel

  • petit4chocolatier - December 19, 2012 - 6:43 pm

    Love your gracefulness! All the cookies look absolutely over the top delectable! And I adore the tart! Both fillings would be perfect for me!ReplyCancel

  • jothetartqueen - December 19, 2012 - 7:44 pm

    The quote you shared about grace is beautiful. I felt a little peace as I read it.
    Seems like you had a lot of Christmas baking done. They all look beautiful and delicious! So festive! happy holidays Barbara!ReplyCancel

  • Eha - December 19, 2012 - 8:13 pm

    May grace be yours and in the hearts and minds of those close to you . . .may the year end in peace and the new one begin with hope and happiness . . ,. and let there be smiles when we meet agin in the year to come! God Bless . . .ReplyCancel

  • susielindau - December 19, 2012 - 8:34 pm

    These are some of my favorites. I made up a recipe this morning and ate a dozen cookies before going to my last cookie exchange!
    Merry Christmas Barb!ReplyCancel

  • ngenghou1962 - December 19, 2012 - 9:01 pm

    Merry Christmas Babara, the food looks ‘very rich’ in calories to me, I always prefer soup, fish and vegetables!ReplyCancel

  • Claire @ Claire K Creations - December 19, 2012 - 9:30 pm

    Beautiful post Barbara and so many delicious looking treats.ReplyCancel

  • Tandy - December 19, 2012 - 9:45 pm

    What beautiful words for something so sad! I’m sorry for your loss Barbara {hugs}ReplyCancel

  • My Life After Kids (Kathi) - December 19, 2012 - 10:09 pm

    I enjoyed your thoughts on “grace”. A group of us were just discussing grace a few weeks ago. Awesome selection of Christmas baking, too. Merry Christmas, Barb.ReplyCancel

  • Food,Photography & France - December 20, 2012 - 2:13 am

    Fantastic array of cakes and biscuits. Christmas at your place seems like a Marathon! Have a great Christmas:)ReplyCancel

  • Kelly @ Inspired Edibles - December 20, 2012 - 4:26 am

    Wow, Smidge, your Christmas cookie spread is incredible… I better not show it to my family, lest they have expectations that I simply cannot fulfill! haha…:).

    Love Anne Lamott and “Grace” is the perfect title for this post.ReplyCancel

  • peachkins - December 20, 2012 - 6:26 am

    I love that candle! and those cookies look so delish!ReplyCancel

  • gastrogardener - December 20, 2012 - 7:38 am

    Grace, something we can all use more of. Beautiful words, spectacular cookies. Merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

  • ChgoJohn - December 20, 2012 - 7:43 am

    This is a wonderful post and “Grace” a beautiful tribute to you departed friend. So sorry to read of your loss, Barb.
    This is a fantastic collection of cookies! You and your daughter obviously work well together or, at the very least, you’re both are willing to set aside your differences for the good of the cookies. One must always put the welfare of the cookies above all else. :) ReplyCancel

  • Bam's Kitchen - December 20, 2012 - 7:57 am

    thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. A very beautiful tribute to your friend. Of course spending a little time with your daughter baking is a very treasured event as well. Love all the cookies but the crackle cookies are my favorite. Take care, BAMReplyCancel

  • The Squishy Monster - December 20, 2012 - 10:09 am

    Your blog is fantastic…I love the look and feel of it…and those cookies? How do I choose? (I’ll just have to settle on ALL of them) =)ReplyCancel

  • Just Add Attitude - December 20, 2012 - 3:58 pm

    What beautiful and thoughtful words to proceed a wish for peace and grace for the holiday season. Happy Holiday to you and your family. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Jed Gray (sportsglutton) - December 20, 2012 - 7:45 pm

    Making holiday sweets is a tradition in my family and I’m so jealous right now. All our stuff is in storage and I’m unable to bake anything!!

    Happy Holidays Barb!!ReplyCancel

  • Kristy - December 21, 2012 - 9:40 am

    Certainly looks like you had a bit of baking going on. :) Merry Christmas Smidge! Your words, as always, are beautiful and leave me feeling warm.ReplyCancel

  • spicegirlfla - December 21, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    What a touching poem and lovely round up of cookies! I normally take a whole day off to devote to cookie baking but could not this year. Seeing yours makes me wish I did! I will have to note these for next year! Happy holidays Barb!ReplyCancel

  • Granny - December 21, 2012 - 1:45 pm

    Lovely. Grace-ful. Thank you. Have a wonderful Christmas!ReplyCancel

  • theclevercarrot - December 21, 2012 - 3:02 pm

    Beautiful Smidge. Very sorry for your loss…

    Your cookies look divine. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make Pfeffernussen ( and wondered even more how to spell it…) Don’t you just love the Contessa? xxReplyCancel

  • Clanmother - December 22, 2012 - 2:03 pm

    Amazing grace – how sweet the sound! A most joyous message to hear especially at this time of year…ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn Chan - December 22, 2012 - 8:37 pm

    Happy holidays to you and your family, Smidge! As always a beautiful post. ReplyCancel

  • musingmar - December 22, 2012 - 9:07 pm

    A touching tribute; thank you for sharing your lovely words. Your cookies look so festive. How sweet that you and your daughter made them together.ReplyCancel

  • Three Well Beings - December 22, 2012 - 10:35 pm

    i’m so touched by your words on grace, Smidge. It’s one of my favorite words, and I try to absorb the meanings more and more into my life, and spread the same to others. I think this may be one of my favorite from among the many lovely selections you offer us. You have such a beautiful talent with your words.

    As a quick aside, I’m a huge Anne Lamott fan, and enjoyed seeing you used one of her quotes. And what lovely recipes. Thank you! If I don’t have another chance to say it before Tuesday, I certainly wish you a wonderful grace-filled Christmas, my friend. Blessings to you and your family through the entire Christmas season, and much love and peace into the new year. oxoReplyCancel

  • Karen - December 23, 2012 - 6:23 pm

    The cookies are as lovely as your words. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family.ReplyCancel

  • helene dsouza - December 26, 2012 - 6:46 am

    They all sound new to me, except the Pfeffernüsse cookie, but I haven’t had it in a long time. The best part of making Christmas cookies are sometimes the spices. That’s the only time when you get the chance to use them in sweets and the European will love it. Thank you for the cookie introduction +Recipes.ReplyCancel

  • Gretchen O'Donnell - December 28, 2012 - 11:33 am

    I adore Nanaimo bars. I had to buy Bird’s custard just for that!ReplyCancel

    • Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen - December 29, 2012 - 10:54 pm

      Aren’t they just the best? Sadly.. I dropped the bag as I was transporting them to the freezer.. funny how I still manage to salvage a few bites by putting the appropriate pieces in my hand before scarfing them down, lol! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Gretchen! I can’t wait to visit your blog and see your latest news! xxReplyCancel

      • Gretchen O'Donnell - December 30, 2012 - 8:11 am

        Oh, so sad!!!! Do you follow HotlySpiced in Australia? Charlie’s gingerbread house colapsed. So sad when you work hard on something and then it gets ruined before being enjoyed. :-( Happy New Year to you!ReplyCancel

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