December - another year is almost behind us. Thankfully, the weather has been kind to us so far with a mere inch or so of snow throughout the area. We were still off of school when the snow fell, so my brother, sister and I built a snowman.
Later we had a snowball fight and our parents joined us. That was followed by some delicious homemade hot cocoa. It's these memories I'll treasure as I prepare for college and the transition of leaving home.
It's these traditions I'll pass along to my own children and grandchildren someday. With Christmas upon us and the hustle and bustle of the season, we often don't have time for making memories and keeping up with traditions.
In my family it's important: from baking cookies to put out for old St. Nick, making sure the carrots and oats are carefully placed where the reindeer will find them, reading stories from "The Santa Claus Book" and waking up the next morning to see who will find the hidden pickle in the Christmas tree.
But as with many farming families, before we eat or open presents, we tend to our animals first. It was a tradition my grandfather passed on to my mother and she onto me.
So this holiday season, take some time to find what traditions you can start. My mother has told me that it doesn't matter 100 years from now what your house looks like, what clothes you wore or what car you drove. What really matters is that you made a difference in the life of a child.
As you travel this holiday season, here is a way to start a new tradition and impart some dairy knowledge on your family.
These facts are interesting for young and old.
As you're driving over the river and through the woods, you can throw one of these fascinating dairy facts out as your passing a dairy farm.
A cow curls her tongue around grass instead of nibbling at it like a horse. In one day, a cow will eat about 100 pounds of grass.
Milk contains 87 percent water.
One quart of milk weighs 2.15 pounds.
One gallon of milk weighs 8.6 pounds.
An average cow will spend 6 hours a day eating and an additional 8 hours ruminating (also known as chewing her cud).
The average person's body temperature is 98.6 F. The average cow's temperature is 101.5 F.
Allen Stiagler of Illinois kept track of how many squirts it took to produce a gallon of milk. He claims it's between 340 and 350. Stiagler estimates over the course of 15 years, he pumped out 109,500 gallons of milk. That's 37,777,500 squirts!
Cows at their peak may drink up to 300 pounds of water each day.
100 pounds of whole milk will yield about: 16 pounds of cheese and 90 pounds of whey or 5 pounds of butter and 90 of fat free milk or 13 pounds of dried milk and 1 pounds of 40 percent cream.
To make 1 pound of: butter requires 21.2 pounds of whole milk; cheese requires 10 pounds of whole milk; evaporated milk requires 2.1 pounds of whole milk; cottage cheese requires 6.25 pounds of fat free milk; and to make 1 gallon of ice cream it takes 12 pounds of whole milk.
With Christmas being about traditions, I'm going to pass along some more of my mother's best recipes.
Thankfully, she's not one of those cooks that won't share or leaves out an ingredient.
This pie has some non-traditional ingredients but I promise, you won't dream of making it any other way after you've tried it.
Mom's Holiday Pumpkin Pie
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 cup plain canned pmpkin
8 ounces canned milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces sour cream
Glazed pecan halves
Beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well.
Add pumpkin and spices, sour cream and milk, mixing well after each addition.
Pour into a prepared, unbaked deep dish pie crust and bake 15 minutes at 425 F.
Reduce heat to 350 F and bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted come out clean.
Serve with a dab of whipped cream and a pecan half.
Pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for the ginger and cloves.
Just use 3/4 teaspoon.
2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (divided)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat butter with granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until it's light and fluffy.
Beat in egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat in flour on low speed until blended.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls with lightly floured hands.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Gently flatten each ball with the bottom of a lightly floured flat glass.
Bake 12 minutes or until cookie bottoms are lightly golden.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
Mix confectioners' sugar, heavy cream and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Spread on cookies and decorate with colored sugar, sprinkles or tint icing with food coloring.
While I was in Ireland this summer, I learn quite a bit about their culture and love of Christmas. This is a translated Gaelic blessing that I found while I was there and fell in love with. I hope you enjoy it, as well.
The light of the Christmas star to you. The warmth of home and hearth to you.
The cheer and good will of friends to you. The hope of a childlike heart to you.
The joy of a thousand angels to you. The love of the Son and God's peace to you.
Franck, 17, is a junior at Mifflinburg Area High School and the SUN Area Dairy Princess serving Montour, Snyder, Union and Northumberland counties.
She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her column is published on the first Wednesday of each month.