Sunday, November 30, 2014

Decorate Santa Christmas Sugar Cookie Recipe and Instructions

Here at the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast, I decorate Santa Christmas sugar cookies each holiday season.  I'm including my favorite sugar cookie recipe, my decorator icing recipe, and instructions. Make them production style, and it really doesn't take too long.  I bake the cookies in advance, usually put them in a freezer, then on another day decorate the cookies. Now gather up all your supplies and plan for a fun time of creating Santa cookies!

Santa Christmas Sugar Cookie

                                                    Sugar Cookie Recipe

     1 cup sour cream
     1 cup butter, softened (not melted)
     2 cups sugar
     2 eggs
     2 teaspoons vanilla
     1 teaspoon baking powder
     1 teaspoon soda
     5-6 cups flour

Mix sour cream and butter until creamy, then add sugar; beat in eggs.  Add vanilla. In a separate bowl mix 5 cups flour, baking powder, and soda.  Gradually add the flour mixture to your butter and sour cream mixture.  Add up to another cup of flour as needed.  Cover dough and place in refrigerator for several hours or chill over night.

To roll out, I place about 1/4 cup of flour on board or counter.  Spoon out dough onto the flour, with large spoonfuls tight beside each other.  Sprinkle flour on dough and pat down a bit before using rolling pin. Roll to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out round circles for Santa faces.  I use a 2 5/8" round cookie or biscuit cutter.  Place on a non-greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until done.  Bake until, when touched in the center it springs back (does not leave indentation).  Don't over bake - no brown edges.

                                                     Decorator Icing

     2 lbs. powdered sugar
     1/2 lb. Crisco 
     1 teaspoon salt
     1 teaspoon vanilla (I use white vanilla from baking store)
     1 teaspoon butter flavor
     1 teaspoon almond flavor
     1/4 cup coffee creamer (regular or french vanilla flavor)
     1/2 cup water

In an electric mixer bowl combine powdered sugar, Crisco, and salt.  In a measuring cup combine water and coffee creamer and flavorings.  Add liquid to powdered sugar mixture and beat for a full five minutes to insure no lumps. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl to insure that every last lump is dissolved. You will be using decorating tubes, so you must make sure there are no lumps. If the icing is a little too stiff, you may add a few teaspoons of water.

To decorate your Santa faces, you will need:

  • Two #18 Wilton Open Star Decorating Tips.  You will want to have one for white icing and one for red icing.
  • Wilton disposable decorating bags
  • Wilton concentrated gel/paste red food color for Santa hat
  • Mini chocolate chips for Santa eyes
  • Red hots for Santa nose
  • White chocolate, to use as face; block about 4" x 5"
  • Ivory or Rose color Wilton concentrated gel/paste food color to tint white chocolate
  • Luster dust in a shade of pink for Santa cheeks
  • Small amount of Vodka or lemon juice for luster dust
  • Clear edible glitter (if desired)
Now the fun begins.  Step 1:
In double boiler melt the white chocolate.  Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to the white chocolate to make it of flowing consistency.  I put my white chocolate in my gas oven a few hours before beginning.  The pilot in the oven melts it nicely. Tint the chocolate a peach-pink/flesh color.  With a teaspoon, put a swath of flesh-colored chocolate across the low/mid area of the cookie as shown.  Before the chocolate sets, place chocolate chip eyes and red hot nose.  Tweezers may be helpful. This is a good time to employ the help of a friend.  One person applies face, another eyes and nose.

Place White Chocolate Faces on Santas

With red icing in decorator bag with #18 decorator tip, zig zag two rows for hat.  (Notice I left gap between red hat and face.)
With white icing in another decorator bag and the other #18 decorator tip, zig zag your first row of beard as shown; then add a second (outside/lower) row of beard.

Next pipe a white hat cuff, covering up the gap between the face and hat; followed with a "Puff Ball" on the right side of the white cuff.  It's so easy and fun!

As you decorate, move cookies around with a spatula, otherwise you will accidentally bump icing.

Santa Face Cookie with Mustache

Now pipe the mustache with the same white tube.  And now you are ready to sprinkle on the edible glitter.  I prefer getting it on the red hat and beard.   Try to keep it off the cheek area where you will want to paint his cheeks.

This whole piping experience is easy because you will use only these two colors and these two tubes throughout the process.

By this time the faces should be set and firm and you can prepare and paint on pink cheeks.  I used a little luster dust mixed with lemon juice, brushed on with a clean art brush.

Paint Cheeks on Santa Cookie

Now you're done.  How beautiful!  I let them air dry for a few hours.  This icing will dry a bit so that you can slip them into individual cookie bags, and carefully close with a colorful Christmas twist tie or ribbon.  I place them on cookie sheets in the freezer, freezing them in layers before stacking.  DO  NOT STACK cookies before they are frozen.  Now have fun.

So Many Santas

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
December 1, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Purchase Gift Certificate for Ohio's Amish Country Bed and Breakfast

Purchase a gift certificate from the Millersburg, Ohio Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast, a full-service bed and breakfast in Ohio's Amish County, and you will give more than an overnight stay.  You're giving an experience.  Gift certificates are sent out in same day or next-day mail, are valid for three years, and can be made for whatever value desired. Gift certificates can be requested on line; or for more personalized service, call our helpful staff at 330-674-7600.

The Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast is centrally located between Berlin and Millersburg, Ohio, and is situated close to many points of interest in both towns and across the county.  The Barn Inn staff serves up a hot country breakfast each day of the week, including Sundays.

Breakfast served Daily at The Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast

We here at the Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast are known for our morning  orientations and discussions about the culture and unique people here - the Amish and the Mennonites. Every morning after breakfast, we innkeepers, Paul and Loretta Coblentz, distribute our listing of preferred places to visit and give a short orientation about the area that highlights some of the lesser-known locations in Amish Country, as well as providing meaningful insights into the Amish way of life. A sampling of a few of the questions and topics we address are:

   What is the difference between Amish and Mennonite?
   Do you know a man is married because he has a beard?
Amish boys walking home from church
   Why do the Amish men not have mustaches?
   How do the Amish resolve conflict?
   What about cell phone use?
   How many sects of Amish are in the area?
   Can one marry someone from another sect?
   Can non-Amish people join the Amish?
   Why can one person use things and another not?
   Do the Amish pay taxes?
   Do the Amish utilize modern medical services?
   Do the Amish still shun?
   What about the use of solar?
   What language do they speak?
   How far do they go in school?
   Can someone who is Amish become a doctor or lawyer, etc?
   Do they have a central bishop over all their people?
   How do they select their ministers?
   Are marriages arranged?
   What about church traditions?
   What about tobacco use or wine consumption?
   Do the Amish vote?

There are many more subjects that could be discussed.  All of the above topics are gateways and often lead to extensive discussion.  Each morning, only one or a few can be touched upon. Topic after topic and story after story simply lead into more stories.  We recommend visiting the Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center in Berlin for an informative European history of our people.

You can be assured that your loved ones will enjoy a special getaway here at The Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast, and certainly will become more informed.

Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast in Winter
The Barn Inn has received many certificates of excellence for its well-maintained property and exceptionally clean and tastefully decorated rooms.

As a special promotion in the winter until mid-April, if you stay for one night on Sunday-Thursday, you can stay a second night at a 20% discount.

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
November 26, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Come Celebrate Thanksgiving in Amish Country

Come celebrate Thanksgiving in Amish Country this year. The Millersburg, Ohio Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast has group accommodations available Thursday-Sunday, November 27-30, 2014 at Apple Hill, located 1/2 mile west of Historic Downtown Millersburg and only 15 minutes away from many of Holmes County's Amish Country destinations, including cheese houses, museums, hiking, Amish farms, eateries, antiquing, and many more unique country businesses awaiting your discovery.

 The Apple Hill Accommodations (Cottage Suite, Gardener's Suite, and Blossom Suite)  include satellite TV, free wireless internet, well-equipped kitchens, spacious gathering areas, private entrances, washers and dryers, fine linens, offer complete privacy,  and many appointments that invite you to relax and enjoy this Thanksgiving Day weekend with your family and friends. Food service is not included with these suites, however cinnamon rolls, yogurt cups, coffee's, teas, bottled water, and microwave popcorn are provided. If you would like to book your Thanksgiving weekend with us click here to use our secure online reservation system or call our office at 330-674-7600.

Submitted by: Elizabeth Beam
November 14, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Amish Harvest Corn with Horses

Today, across the road from the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast, the Amish neighbors harvested corn with a corn picker pulled by horses.  The corn picker was run by a diesel engine, which was quite loud.  Most Amish use a Wisconsin diesel motor for such applications.  Look back to my previous post where I posted an article about how the Amish harvest their corn.

Amish harvesting corn with corn picker and horses
 The young man harvested the corn in a matter of about 2 hours.  Another young man came with a tractor to pull the full wagon loads back to their barn.  It is interesting that this particular sect may use a tractor to pull a wagon of corn from place to place; however, may not use the tractor in the field for the actual harvesting of crops.

In last week's post, I mentioned how some Amish families remove ears of corn by hand from the stalk.  Here is a photo of an antique corn husking instrument used for that purpose.  These hand tools vary in design.  This has a piece of iron, brought to a point and was hand-fashioned with leather strapping.  I have seen a variety of different types of these tools.

Antique Corn Picking Tool
Plan a trip to Holmes County, Ohio, where life and it's activities are heartfelt, experiences are authentic, and products are handmade.

Experience a stay at the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast, where resident innkeepers provide warm hospitality and share a morning briefing about the area.  We provide a lovely full country breakfast each morning, including Sunday mornings.

Recently an antique car club rented the entire barn for several days.  It was fun to have these marvelous old automobiles at our inn for a few days.

Antique car at the Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
November 11, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How the Amish Harvet Field Corn

With our countryside dotted with corn shocks and families husking corn in the fields, many guests of the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast are asking questions about how the Amish harvest field corn.  There are several ways that corn is harvested, and methods vary with differing sects of Amish.
Shocked Corn in Holmes County
Our amish neighbor said that he likes to husk three rows of corn around the edges of the field.  Hand husking three rows along the edge will allow space for his team of horses to pass pulling a binder without destroying good corn.  From then on he is binding the stalks with the ears of corn on the stalk.  The binder is an early 20th century implement that cuts and bundles the corn, producing a bundle about every 10 feet.  Next, the family or several men set the bundles, tee pee fashion, 12 - 15 bundles per shock.  They tightly tie a twine in the upper portion of the shock, thus keeping water from soaking into the shock.  The purpose for shocking is to dry the corn.

Sometime in February or March, they load the shocks onto a wagon, take it to the barn, and run it through equipment similar to a threshing machine.  This process separates the ears of corn from the stalk and shreds the stalk for bedding.  This bedding is called fodder.  Corn fodder is a preferred bedding for animals.

Another way corn is harvested, is as demonstrated by the stricter Amish, who husk it by hand in the fields.  They draw a team of horses and a wagon into the field.  Often a family of six or seven persons take one row per person, pull off the ears and throw them into the wagon. They have a special tool in one hand.  The tool has a leather strap and a piece of metal that enables them to easily strip the ear of corn. They typically allow the stalks to fall to the ground, then later crush it down with a piece of equipment so that it can easily be plowed under in the spring.
Amish man using corn binder
 A third way that some Amish harvest is to cut it with the same binder as described above.  They cut it while still green, then they load the bundles onto a wagon and take it in to the barn where they have equipment that shreds it and blows it into a silo for storage.  This silage is complete with both corn and stalks and provides food for the winter.

Yet another way they harvest is to allow the corn to totally ripen and dry in the field.  They come along with a corn picker (different from binder).  It strips the ear of corn off the stalk.  They pull a wagon behind the picker which collects the corn that the picker throws back.  The corn is taken in where, by hand, it is shoveled into an elevator that takes it into a corn crib.  The ears of corn are later shredded and combined with other grains for animals.

Rows of Corn
 There are those Amish who might hand husk six rows of corn in the field, then come along with a binder, bundle the stalks into bundles, and shock it without the ears of corn; shocking it as mentioned above.  Later, after it is dry, they take it to the barn and shred it for bedding.

The Amish neighbor told me that when the kernels are in full dent, no milk is left in the kernel. Another note is that the animals will eat the stalks if they are harvested green; however, they will not
eat them when they are dry.

Antique Cars at The Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast
 While planning a trip to Amish Country, consider a stay at the Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast, a leading property in Holmes County, Ohio.  We are a licensed hotel, offering fine accommodations, personal touches, and amenities expected at a bed and breakfast.

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
November 4, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Amish Heartland Tours Offering Christmas Cookie Tour Shuttle

With tickets for the Christmas Cookie Tour of Inns on sale today, visitors have the unique opportunity to book a shuttle with Amish Heartland Tours for the tour of inns. The price of the ticket for the shuttle includes the ticket for the tour, a 2-day event pass and a shuttle to all 12 inns. A light brunch on Sunday is also included, with local dishes such as Swedish meatballs, prosciutto wrapped in Mozzarella and Basil, and others. Guests of the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast are greatly encouraged to add this special event to their visit to Amish Country.

Beginning at 12:30pm on Saturday, December 13, the shuttle will leave from the Berlin Grande Hotel and visit six of the twelve inns on the tour, going to the remaining six on Sunday. Tickets for the shuttle are very limited, and are $135 per person. Those interested need to call LaVonne at Amish Heartland Tours: (330) 893-3248. Email or online reservations are not available. More information about the 2014 Christmas Cookie Tour is available here.