Winter Balm and Gingerbread

Today we woke up feeling all wintery and fresh. Frost coated the windows and the dome, the walk to the outhouse was bracing, and the goats, who had woken up with the sun, were calling out their dissatisfaction. I fed them, let out the birds, and ran back inside to make coffee and muffins.


But not just any muffins. It isn’t a blackberry-muffin kind of day at all..even coffee-cake muffins seemed lacking somehow. So we pulled out the ginger and molasses for something with a little bit of a kick.

I’m all out of cloves, but we have an abundance of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. I mixed them all together – heavy on the ginger and the vanilla. And searched around for an easily-to-alter recipe while the oven heated up and the first pot of coffee sat steeping in the press.

Our old, falling to pieces Fannie Farmer cookbook had a nice little coffee cake recipe:

1/4 cup butter, softened. (I melted mine on the stove because the butter was too chilly from the pantry, and the stove was too hot to just soften it.)

1 cup sugar. (I know, right! So much sugar! We cut it a bit, down to 1/2 cup and then added about a 1/4 cup molasses)

splash vanilla (I used about 2 tablespoons)

1 1/2 cups flour

2 Tb baking powder

1/2 cup milk (I used more like 1/3 cup of milky coffee because I upped the wet ingredients with molasses, and because I’m obsessed with coffee)

and then I added all my spices:

about 1 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg…I’m guessing, because I didn’t measure. Sorry!

plopped it into about 8 papered muffin tins and baked at about 300 for maybe 15-20 minutes. In a conventional oven, I’d go for 350 degrees for 10 and then check them. They puff up beautifully and taste exactly liked I’d hoped they would!

Seriously, I felt like the definition of hygge.


After munching and cleaning up and making another pot of coffee, we started in on Yarrow’s project for the day: Winter Balm.

Our house is so dry during the cold months. So Dry. Two woodstoves sucking all the moisture from the air everyday. We have cast iron, steaming dragon on the stove replenishing some of the moisture, but it’s still dry. And the kids get chapped lips so easily. Yesterday at dinner I promised Yarrow we would make her and Ilya each a little jar of winter-balm to sooth their lips and cheeks and dry, little hands. Something gentle, but with deep moisturizing power.  Yarrow was so excited to help!

We mixed raw honey with olive and coconut oil, shea butter, lanolin, and just a few drops of chamomile essential oil.

Essentially, the recipe was:

1 part honey

3 parts coconut oil

1 part olive oil

2 parts shea butter

1 part lanolin

3 drops chamomile EO

..and just a few small shavings of beeswax


We melted it slowly (without the EO) on the stove top, stirred it to mix well. Removed from heat, added the EO, poured it into little jars and left it to cool. 

Since our house has so many chilly places in the winter, I really don’t want to add any more beeswax, it should solidify pretty well as is. But a warmer house might need to add a bit of extra wax for firmness.

The kids are thrilled. It smells ‘like bedtime’ according to Yarrow, and feels so gently on their dry skin.. I need to make some for myself now too!


And that was our morning! Now I need to get back to work – thawing water for thirsty goats, setting Yarrow up with some math-work, splitting wood, and planning dinner.. It’s a cozy season. Early winter feels so new and magical. It’s nice to be out in it, and in out of it, to smell like woodsmoke and chamomile and to watch the long nights fall before evening has even begun!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Shannon says:

    Sounds lovely! I adore old cookbooks- I have my father’s old copy of Fanny Farmer😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. masha says:

      It’s the best!! Ours is in pieces, but I love it because all my favorite recipes are so easy to find! 😉


  2. Marie says:

    Mmmmmmmm thank you for sharing these recipes! Making things from scratch is such a beautiful process, and I want to try both of these!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. masha says:

      Making from scratch is so lovely! I love seeing all the colors and textures coming together! Hope you enjoy them!


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