Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mixed Plate: Keeping the Holidays Merry, Bright and on a Massive Sugar High

The decorative lights are aglow. The tree is festooned with the sparkling baubles of a seasonal gala. It makes one want to draw loved ones near and sing the Christmas carols of olde, such as: Jingle bells/Batman smells/Robin laid an egg/the Batmobile lost its wheel/and Joker got a-waaaaaaaaay....

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...cookies - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Oh, come on, like you totally didn't irritate your chorus teacher by swapping out the lyrics for every Christmas pageant. What, no chorus class? Not even a glee club...? Well, they probably don't even call it "Christmas pageants" anymore either. It's all holiday-this and nondenominational-seasonal-celebration-that. Not that I'm a regular visitor to God's house every Sunday. I think I'd probably go up in flames were I to step through the doorway of a church, or at least recoil in a sinister fit of hissing. But that doesn't mean I don't love Christmas, dammit.

I like the holidays because it's the one time of year from November on (and sometimes from October, if we're going by the retail calendar), where you feel the karmic tally coming due, and you have to make good on the friendly smiles to strangers, taking the extra effort to wish people well on their day, and taking time to remember the people who mean the most to you. You don't do this because you're concerned Santa will swap out that pony you've been asking for with a big lump of coal -- you make the extra effort to remind yourself that this state of mind can be a reality, and that it's never too late to live kindly. It makes other people feel good. It makes you feel good. And it feels possible that the old adage of keeping a heart full of goodwill doesn't have to be only one time of the year. At least until you jump on the scales after that second quart of eggnog and decide, oh eff it, I'm wearing grubby sweats and not leaving the house for two months.

Apologies in advance to dentists everywhere - Photos by Wasabi Prime

This Christmas, I set about to doing the usual rounds of baking like a crazy mofo. I think participating in the fundraiser, Will Bake For Food, back in November was a great Spring Training for getting my holiday game face on. It adequately honed my Eye of the Baking Tiger. Don't worry, I didn't bake any tigers. What I did manage to make were several batches of sugar cookies, some regular and some with cocoa powder. They were all iced and sugared with little decorative flourishes, packaged into cellophane bags tied with ribbon and unceremoniously shoved into a dozen Priority Mail boxes and shipped off to exotic places like Honolulu, Hilo, and Colfax. I also made a few batches of buttermilk pumpkin scones. I defrosted more of that massive supply of roasted pumpkin from Thanksgiving and managed to find a recipe that was both festive and manages to curb my craving for Starbucks pumpkin scones. I used this recipe from Epicurious -- everything minus the glaze, because I needed the scones to be mailing-friendly and a sticky gooey glaze wouldn't travel well. So if you do use this recipe sans-glaze, bump up the sugar amount to 3/4 to a whole cup, depending on how sweet you like your scones. The spice content of the scones are dy-no-MITE, in a totally good way, so don't skimp on the recipe's calling for such a large amount of ginger and cinnamon.

Have a scone, Santa, Baby - Photo by Wasabi Prime

So, I'll just leave you with my random sugar-addled thoughts on Christmas, the holidays as a whole, and wish everyone the best as we enter into the home stretch of holly-jolly merriment. Eat, drink, be merry and be safe this Christmas weekend! (And don't shoot your eye out)

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  1. Merry Christmas!!
    New Year's 2011 Fireworks Celebrations Around the World
    Demo on YouTube

  2. first of all, you went COOKIE CRAZEEE, woman! share the wealth, won't you? secondly, the word "festooned" is in my top 5.

  3. Beautiful cookies! Why, oh why am I looking at this right before dinner.

  4. You wouldn't happen to be from my home town NYC, would you? Eff off, oh, thanks for the wonderful memories down idiom lane.. I do my best to practice good Karma (although I'm feeling the quilt from being miss poo yesterday with the Mr.). I think it takes too much energy to be mean, and gets my cheeks flustered anyway.

    I have been on a hunt for Truffle butter, I'm making a gourmet mac & cheese, and I can usually find them here in Tokyo, I even went to Dean and Delucca...but to no avail!!! whahhh

    And they didn't have my gruyere cheese either. WHAHH... I really like the indentations in your star cookies.

  5. These cookies look yummy. Wait a minute! I live in Hilo and I didn't get any. I missed out. Love the way the cookies are decorated.


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