Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Happy holidays!

Ok, so Christmas has been over for, what, three days now. I haven't been keeping up with this blog, though, so I guess any mention of the holidays should be welcomed with open arms. Although it's not like anyone's reading it. Oh, well, I don't care. Really!

Anyway, Christmas 2005 was a great one. One of the best I've had since becoming an adult. I always loved Christmas when I was a "kid" - in fact, once the presents were opened on Christmas day I'd start looking forward to the next one. Ah, that says a lot about me, doesn't it?

Once I started college, Christmastime changed a bit, and not for the better. I either had classes go right up until Christmas eve, or I had to work. That doesn't leave much time for baking or decorating or listening to holiday music - all things I enjoy doing in the grand run up to Christmas day.

This year was different, though. I made a concerted effort to start early and pace myself. One weekend I baked with my sister-in-law. I also took a day off to bake with my mom. And I spent a Saturday baking by myself. In all, I baked 12 batches of cookies - quite an accomplishment! And in doing so I came up with my own personal list of "perfect holiday cookies" to bake in the coming years. I'll post those recipes soon, but here are their names: Cookie dough truffles, peanut butter blossoms, cherry snowballs, and coconut haystacks.

No sugar cookies or fudge? Well, sugar cookies and nice to eat, but a pain to make, so I've nixed them from the list. And fudge? Don't even get me started about that! I'll buy it from now on. (Oh, what am I saying? I'm stubborn and will likely try again, but not around the holidays.)

Next year I will make some fruit cake, though. Say what you want about it (hee hee), but I love it. In any form. Even cookie form. I have a great recipe for fruit cake cookies that I'll have to share here if I haven't already.

I've gone off track, haven't I? Where was I trying to go with this? Oh, Christmas 2005 and how fabulous it was. So, I did a lot of baking, and also listened to a lot of holiday music. And decorated, too - got the lights up outside just after Thanksgiving (nothing fancy, but it made me happy, so there you have it), and even got an old (really old) fake tree from my parents. Once I bought some cheap(ish) lights and ornaments for it, we were all set. It's too big for our teeny house, but what can you do?

The best thing about Christmas for me as an adult is, of course, the food. We always have a big celebration the week before Christmas with my mom's side of the family - easily 40 people all meeting in one house (not ours!) to talk and eat and drink and eat and eat ... well, you get the picture. I look forward to it every year. This year it was held at my cousin's house - she lives in an old cheese factory, which is cooler than it sounds. Lots of food to be had (including a vegan broccoli-rice casserole that I brought - again, better than it sounds), but the highlight for me was the cookies. An entire table full of cookies. I ate 20 if I ate a single one. No kidding. If you know me you may think that's not possible by looking at me (well, isn't he the confident one!), but it is. Poor David (my husband) and Jan (his sister) had to listen to me moan, "I'm never eating again" at least 3,000 times that night.

The next weekend - Christmas weekend - was spent with immediate family. On Christmas eve David and Jan and I converged on my parent's house for dinner, dessert and presents. Everyone made something - David made his amazing pesto (shared on this site somewhere), my mom made spaghetti with marinara sauce, Jan made garlic bread, and I made a trifle of gingerbread, apples and a cashew sauce. Everything was amazing, though the gingerbread (again, recipe's on this site somewhere) was wasted in the trifle. Note to self: Give in and realize that a vegan alternative to whipped cream (the abovementioned cashew sauce) does not exist. Next year I'll stick with gingerbread, sauteed apples and whipped cream served separately, and those damn vegans can fend for themselves! (I play...)

At least we still had leftover cookies and some nuts and peanut brittle that were given as gifts.

That night I only had about 10 cookies. Much better than the weekend before.

Christmas day was once again spent with my parents. I helped my grandma make her famous "big pancakes," which fall somewhere between crepes and "regular" pancakes. They don't have a lot of flavor on their own - the beauty of them is all in how you stuff them. For example, I spread butter on mine, then sprinkle sugar over the top, then roll them up and slice them. Sometimes I stick a sausage (real or veggie) inside like traditional "pigs in a blanket." I know it sounds strange, but it's devine. David can't do the butter/sugar combo (blasphemy!), but he has gotten into putting a sausage inside. Guess I can keep him after all.

My dad had to buy doughnuts for that morning (damn him!), which we dutifully ate, and we also - of course! - had leftover cookies. I think I only had 5 this time.

That night we went to Jan's house for dinner. She bought a Tofurky, which I had never had before, and also made scalloped potatoes and sauteed snap peas. All of it - especially the Tofurky and its accompanying mushroom gravy - was to die for. We WILL be having Tofurky again next year, mark my words!

I got some foodie gifts that night: saffron from Jan (I've never used it, but I will now!) as well as vanilla beans. And a nice jar of maple butter - which, four days out, I've eaten half of. I do love sweet, spreadable stuff that can be devoured by the spoonful :) Oh, and David got me a set of ginormus (made-up word) ramekins. White, of course.

That's about it for my personal Christmas story. We've gotten rid of most of the cookies that were made, thank god - some of which ended up in our stomachs and some of which ended up in the trash - and the only holiday food that remains is one good swig of eggnog. (Did I mention I love eggnog with a passion? Well, I do!).

All that's left, then, is to take down the tree and start looking forward to next year :)

Happy holidays to any kind soul who happens to stumble onto this page!