The last few weeks have been very filled with preparations and events. If I had known ahead of time all that would transpire, I might have delayed the delivery of new appliances or made better plans ahead of time.

But that is life as it comes. We never know when someone important to our lives will be lost to death or how complicated something simple can become.

We lost my father-in-law, George Clark, just over a week before Christmas. He was my children's grandpa and my first husband's father. It was unsure when the funeral would be scheduled, yet Christmas was coming and along with it the usual planned family events.

I received an early morning call from my son, Tyrel, on my first day off work beginning pre-Christmas preparations. He told me that Grandpa George had died that morning. In spite of good intentions of getting baking and decorating done ahead of time, almost everything was still waiting to be completed within a week, except shopping for gifts or making lefse.

The biggest project was having five new appliances delivered and getting them installed in time for Christmas. Their delivery had been delayed a week as the prior week had been filled with conflicts.

I was pretty excited that we would be replacing the dishwasher that had been leaking for several years and the stove whose electronics worked only on a limited basis. For a person who writes a cooking column, I never wanted to admit that when I tested a recipe I really was not sure what temperature was best. I had to guess as 350 degrees in my old oven might have been about 225. At the end of its life, I simply set the temp at 550 degrees and hoped a pizza would get cooked.

I swear the last cake I baked in that oven took almost two hours.

As long as we were replacing, and all my appliances were 19 years old (the same age as my house), I figured we might as well replace everything, except the washer and dryer. They were still working just fine.

The old chest freezer in the garage was long past its prime and one only could guess at how inefficient it was. I figured a new fridge was also in order because I thought moving the old one to the garage for use during the summer months would be nice for storing garden produce. It would stand beside a new upright freezer.

This was the plan.

After several days, when I knew George's funeral would be on Saturday, I also decided the carpet cleaning project should be moved up a day in case there would be those wanting to stay overnight here. (Normally, when my husband cleans carpeting, his nocturnal habits mean the rented machine will be roaring well into the wee hours of the morning.)

Wednesday morning the appliances were delivered, but not all were installed - the son of an appliance repair and installation man, my husband assured me he was the man for the job. On Thursday, he cleaned all the carpets.

There were problems. The fridge couldn't slip into place before a molding was removed and the stove fit into its spot like a too-small glove.

Since my daughter-in-law had scheduled our Christmas cookie-baking day on Thursday, I needed the stove in working order first. But until the new microwave was put in place above it, my spouse didn't want to push the stove all the way back. The dishwasher was needed, but it took a bit longer to bolt into place.

The new fridge was spacious, but one shelf seemed to be missing (or so I thought). I was happy with the new arrangement of freezer and old fridge in the garage, but then I had spent hours cleaning a space for it on Tuesday. The new freezer was somewhat smaller than I'd planned and the stuff I had to put in there was a tight fit, without adding anything new.

Overnight guests came on Friday and although the house was not ready for a party yet, we enjoyed our time together. I created a project for guests of making rosettes and dipping pretzels on Saturday night. The new dishwasher was working by later that evening and the new fridge was in place.

George's visitation had been held Friday and his funeral was Saturday morning. His death had come much more quickly than we thought - only 37 days after being diagnosed with cancer. He chose having only limited treatments and was 85 when he died. During his lifetime he had been my children's school bus driver, 4-H softball coach and scout leader, besides being Grandpa. When we were still living on the farm, he lived only about three miles away.

Sunday, I shopped for the final groceries and came home to finish cleaning, decorating and start cooking for Monday's noon meal. Some helped, especially my son, Doron, who was staying here, by vacuuming and helping decorate two Christmas trees. Various simple meals were consumed from Friday until Monday's big family Christmas Eve party.

On Monday morning, when I woke up my new microwave, the last of the five new appliances, was installed with the stove snuggly in place below it. The only trick was understanding how to use it, with settings much more complicated than the old one.

I appreciate my husband's helpfulness in getting all those appliances purchased and his decision to have those in the kitchen of matching stainless steel. They look great and my new convection oven works wonderfully - 350 degrees is really 350 degrees. I love having a gas stove and this one even has a special middle burner with a built-in grill.

Rosettes

I had two helpers making rosettes; actually they made the rosettes with little help from me, while I had worked on other projects. Molly and Kayla took turns working the krollette iron. Molly felt the recipe worked better than one she tried once. The faded recipe was in the box with the irons, which my mother had gotten at an auction, some years ago.

Perhaps someone attending the Minnesota State Fair had purchased it from a vendor there. The recipe was from the Gladd Co., Minneapolis. When I Googled this name, there were no results, so apparently the company does not exist anymore. It seems the rosette or "krollette" irons were also manufactured in Minnesota.

Rosettes are a lightweight, batter-fried, "festive cookies for Christmas, New Year, weddings, birthdays, etc.," according to the box.

Another cookbook provided me with a tip I have used before when making rosettes and that helps create a less greasy and crisp rosette. I will share that tip at the end of the recipe.

A Fry Baby pot works well for cooking the rosettes, but only allows one to be made at a time. Years ago I used lard to cook my rosettes, until my Aunt Lois (now deceased) instructed me to use only vegetable oil.

Rosette or "Krollette"

2 eggs

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

Beat eggs slightly with sugar and salt; add vanilla, milk and flour. Beat only until smooth. For best results fry in a deep kettle about 5 inches around and at least 4 inches deep. Fill with vegetable oil to within about an inch from the top and heat (a white bread crumb turns golden brown quickly when the oil is ready). Screw the handle into one of the irons, then put the iron into the oil to heat it. Remove and tap it on several thicknesses of paper towels, to remove excess fat.

Lower hot iron into the batter, not allowing it to come up over the top of the iron. Return to hot oil and completely submerge for 20 to 30 seconds. After it holds its shape, it can be loosened from the iron with a fork, then removed from the oil with a slotted spoon. (Or it can be cooked on the iron, then loosened and removed from the iron with a fork after removing it from the oil.) Drain on a layer of paper towels covering a baking sheet. When a layer is filled, add another layer of paper towels and another, if needed.

After frying is completed, heat oven to 300 degrees. Put the pan of rosettes in and turn off the heat. Once the oven has cooled, remove from oven. Sprinkle rosettes with powdered or fine granulated sugar before or after the oven process. Store in an airtight container lined with a paper towel for 2 to 3 weeks.