We gathered in the snow.
It was one of those random early October snowfalls. The kind that rolled in overnight and begged everyone to cancel their Sunday plans and stay inside, away from the winter that had disrupted their autumn.
The fact that we still made the effort speaks volumes given the context. But such is the case with tradition: it can’t be thwarted.
Indeed, this year marked our fifth consecutive Harvest Fest. [You can find the 2015, 2016, and 2017 iterations in the archives. This blog unfortunately did not exist during the inaugural 2014 event.]
While the structure of the event remained relatively the same, there were two major factors that set it apart from the rest — 1) Lilia and 2) our new home. Being her very first Harvest Fest and our first unofficial housewarming party, the gathering took on a whole new meaning.
Sure, in hindsight, the hot glue guns, spray paint, and X-acto knives were probably not the best party accessories with a soon-to-be-toddler in tow. But the result is something I am sure she will appreciate in years to come, despite the initial hazard.
The fact that we made these gilded, blossoming dinos is a miracle in itself. We didn’t have a roadmap, nor that much initiative. There was apple cider and mulled wine simmering on the stove, and the table was filled with offerings of pumpkin stuffing, homemade galettes, chocolate almond cake, cheese and crackers, hummus, and veggies. Whitney had even resurrected the fire in the fireplace [thanks, Whitney!] — what else did we need?
But such is the case every year… every year, we gather around delicious fall-inspired food and drink. Every year we wonder if we will actually get around to crafting. Yet every year we somehow will ourselves to produce something beautiful, with inevitably a few laughs and mishaps along the way.
I, for one, will always cherish the gold paint that has since become a unique, enhancing feature of our back patio, as well as the box of Harry Potter party supplies that will undoubtedly make a debut in the not too distant future, and, of course, the friends who might as well be family.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Harvest Fest remains one of my very favorite times of the year, and that has everything to do with the ladies who make it happen.
I’m just grateful that Lilia is now a part of the tradition.
Chai Spiced Cookies
Inspired by our chai spiced pancakes, these yummy cookies were originally Jason’s idea. We just applied the same spice mixture — plus black pepper! — to a Snickerdoodle base. I originally thought our pumpkin stuffing would be the centerpiece of Harvest Fest this year, but it turns out chai cookies will always steal the show!
- 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 T. chai tea latte mix [we like David Rio Tiger Spice Chai]
- 1 c. butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together sugar and spices. Remove 1/4 c. of the spiced sugar mixture and set aside. You will reserve this for rolling the cookies later.
- Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer and a large bowl, beat butter and remaining spiced sugar mixture together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until well incorporated.
- Slowly blend in dry ingredients until just combined.
- Preheat your oven to 350-degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or reusable silicone baking mat.
- Using your hands, roll dough into small balls [about 2 Tbs in size] and roll them in the reserved spiced sugar mixture. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes prior to transferring to a wire rack for further cooling.