Thursday, December 10, 2009
ROBERTA: 'Tis the season for marking the upcoming holidays and this year I'm finding decorating and baking to be a grand tool for procrastination. We have our tree up and decorated, lights outside and on the mantle, and I'm well into Christmas cards and wrapping presents. I've even contemplated dragging out the sewing machine and whipping up a few things. Besides that, I've made my first batch of sugar cookies--they're almost gone so natch, I'll have to bake more. Doesn't that sound like more fun than slogging along in another first draft? In case you, too, need a distraction, here's the recipe for my sugar cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
cream butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla. combine flour and salt separately, then mix in with the butter/sugar mixture. chill the dough 3 hours. preheat oven to 350. roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured surface. dip cookie cutters into flour before each use. bake on ungreased cookie sheets about 10 min or until lightly browned.
They are good this way, but even better with creamy vanilla frosting:). beat 3 cups powdered sugar with 1/3 cup softened butter. stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and about 2 tablespoons milk. color and ice as desired.
How's your holiday spirit this year?
JAN: Usually I feel oppressed by the commercial demands of Christmas, but this year I'm into it. Maybe because my daughter, the self-proclaimed Xmas Nazi, was in Dubai for a month last Christmas. This year, I'm happy, instead of irritated, when she puts on the Christmas music. House already decorated. One batch of cookies made and eaten. I even sent out one card: to a friend I've lost contact with. The real question: WILL I DO THE CANDY??? All that stirring.....we'll see.
HALLIE: As the recipient of some of Jan's last year's toffee: Please, Jan, MAKE CANDY! I'll definitely be making a batch of dark chocolate-covered orange rind.
I stuck some greens on the front door, which is about the only Christmas-y thing I do. And baked a batch of mandel bread which are twice-cooked cookies kind of like Jewish biscotti (for Hanukah--made with oil instead of butter) loaded with almonds, raisins, and cherries. Easy and delicious. And I've laid in some nice Yukon gold potatoes for latkes and stocked up on oil.
Have been to the mall once and it was mobbed. Am I the only one who thinks people are shopping again?
HANK: Yes, people are definitely shopping. And one boosktore owner told me they're buying lots of games! (Apparently families are staying home...which is an interesting development. We should talk about games some time..don't play with me, I'm too competitive.)
So, yes, I'm getting ready for the holidays! I purchased holiday cards which are now taunting me from their boxes. And that's---about it. Hmm. Interesting.
RO: I'm definitely in the spirit. I've been to five holiday parties (and two birthday celebrations.) My tree is up, but not yet decorated. I've already had one baking session - the infamous cranberry tarts and applesauce spice cake. (I tend to make each half a dozen times before the market runs out of cranberries.) Rachel Ray has a quickie latke recipe that I like which would probably horrify a purist - she uses shredded frozen potatoes - but I'll make it anyway. Anyone ever hear of The LeeVees? They have a cd of Hanukah music including that perennial favorite Latke Clan.
But this year my stepsons are staying in California and I have no immediate family so it will be a quiet one chez Harris. Bruce, me, lots of baked goods for two people and repeated viewings of Love, Actually.
ROBERTA: Hallie--need that recipe for biscotti. Our supper club is having a Hanukah theme this month and I'm in charge of dessert. I know they are traditional, but I have never liked ruggelach (spelling?). And Hank, games. We wouldn't dare play with you. But if we did, it should be this new smash sensation game called Bananagrams. We are so hooked. It's like Scrabble only each player uses her own tiles to make words. addictive!
RHYS: I've sent out over 100 holiday cards, all over the world. I keep threatening to cut down the list, but we never seem to. And sometimes it's the only way to keep in touch with almost-forgotten friends in far flung places.
I've done a lot of shopping online this year and bought theater tickets instead of presents for one daughter and her family (whoops, I shouldn't have said that, should I? But I blogged on my other blogsite on the overwhelming abundance that spoils my holiday spirit. I don't want choirs and orchestras singing carols. I don't expect a Lexus under the tree. I'm all for the home made gifts and the baking and decorating with greens.
I haven't started baking yet but I'll be expected to do the usual mince pies, sausage rolls and stollen. Interesting mix of English and German, but I happen to love stollen--nobody else does but I still make it.
My granddaughter Lizzie got Bananagrams for her birthday last week. We love playing family board games and I also belong to a group of women who play.
And one last word from JAN: If anyone is around and awake tomorrow morning, I'll be on Reading With Robin's program talking about the Best Books of 2009. That's 7:20 in the am. on 920 AM WHJJ. Call in with your favorites and we can chat! (come on JR readers, set your clocks and give her a buzz!)