Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Lessons

This was my first year of solo holiday baking. The Baking of the Christmas Cookies: definitely my #1 Holiday Spirit booster (not that the fake snow at the mall didn't transport me to a winter wonderland) but when you do anything for the first time by yourself, in your own apartment, without a wooden spoon or an electric mixer... or a rolling pin, you realize just how much work your mother was doing while you watched "A Muppet Christmas Carol" in the other room.

I called Mom for three recipes; our holiday favorites: Almond Crescents, Sugar Cookies and English Toffee and I found each cookie not only required some unanticipated extra work, but levels of creativity I wasn't initially prepared to devote to baked goods.

The Sugar Cookies were simple enough, even though I somehow managed to forget "Rolled Sugar Cookies" would require a rolling pin. Not to be deterred, I spent much of my time flouring a bottle of Perrier and hoping it wouldn't explode before I could cut out six dozen tiny pine trees.

The English Toffee: something should have clicked when I read the toffee needed to heat to 300 degrees. Nothing did, but if it had, it would have sounded like a morse code message and it would have said said: "Don't use that plastic spoon to stir, stupid". The next message would have said "no, dummy, the metal one is NOT a better choice."

The Almond Crescents I thought I had under control. The only difficult ingredient was "blanched almonds, finely chopped". They do not sell these at Trader Joe's. The closest thing I could find to "blanched almonds, finely chopped" was whole almonds: raw. Blanching is not a difficult process. You let the almonds sit in boiling water for 60 seconds and then peel the skin off. Though time consuming, it's very brainless. Then came the chopping part. I don't own a legitimate knife set-- my tried and true alternative, the butter knife, proved too dull and spoons were completely ineffective, so I resorted to the only thing in my apartment I was 100% confident could do the job: a hammer. And since I'm working nights, this meant I was hammering almonds at 3:30 in the morning. I bet my neighbors love me. Now that I think about it, I should probably send them some cookies.

The fourth and final recipe was not a mom recipe. I found it on the internet, and all I can say for this one is: Don't bake from an internet recipe without a reliable wireless connection.

Happy Holidays!


Anonymous said...

This totally reminds me of our many failed attempts at baking in high school! Too funny...

.Maeve said...

That looks delicious!

Katie P. said...

I agree with Maeve. (Also you are not blog dodging now...)

Simon said...

I agree with Maeve and Katie P. and also with anonymous, who isn't me but SOUNDS like me (I am referring here to the Soup Debacle of 1996) (or whenever) (of which we do not speak). Also I would like to add that I am a super big fan of A Muppet Christmas Carol. I identify with Bob "Kermy" Cratchit more and more every day. And I like the part where Rizzo gets pushed off the ledge. Or was it the blue guy with the funny nose? But let's move on. I am very impressed that you rolled your cookies with a bottle of Perrier. You have serious dedication. Nothing stands between Ivan and freshly baked sugar cookies. And nothing should.