A Christmas Cookie Party

One of my favorite, warm-fuzzy Christmas memories from my childhood was our annual Christmas cookie making. My sister, my mom, my grandma and I, all piled in Grandma Monk’s tiny kitchen, the tiny old-fashioned radio blaring Grandma’s preferred tunes of the 50s and 60s, flour and powdered sugar and colored icing and cookie cutters everywhere. We made snowmen and trees, snowflakes and stars and santas, too. So many tuppperware boxes full of our productions, enough to last for weeks until there were only a few sad, stale little treats left.

christmas cookies

I’ve made Christmas cookies every year, in every place I’ve found myself when the holiday season rolls around. It’s my little way of going back to that time, when I was young, in my grandmother’s kitchen, with my favorite women. And some day I’ll do it with my own kids-but that’s still pretty far away, I think.

christmas cookies

This year Jon and I invited some of our friends over for some casual cookie making, accompanied by hot chocolate (with a bit of Bailey’s in it) and some mulled wine. We listened to some records, made high art (as seen above, some people are so artistic!) and watched some fun holiday movies and cooking shows on tv.

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Success!

My turn!

We tried again with the bread today. It worked. It is delicious, albeit a bit denser than I would have liked. Still, score one for my first loaf.

The weather was legitimately gorgeous too-I even have a bit of a sunburn from sitting in the garden reading for a long time. Sunscreen would have been a good idea.

Spud also enjoyed the beautiful day.

This evening marked my first taste of  “English summer” via a few glasses of Pimm’s. I’ve been told it’s basically England in a bottle. To me it just looks like some brown juicy stuff, sort of like apple juice or a similar  (but alcoholic) beverage. You drink it by mixing it with lemonade and various chopped up fruits, sort of like sangria. It’s pretty alright by me. Not amazing though.  (Don’t tel the Brits I said that).

Pimm's with a little decoration from the yard.

Tomorrow : more reading, heading to Brighton to watch some more World Cup (speaking of, poor North Korea! Did you guys watch that game? I’ve seen different coverage on how it was reported in NK since it was showing live. One saying that they cut off the broadcast after the 4th goal and cut to an interview with Kim Jong Il and a biscuit factory, and the other was a live video with lots of heavy edits and North Korean broadcasters saying that North Korea crushed Portugal. Either way, I’m worried for the lives of the players…so scary!), and then a movie. Busy Wednesday, and I’m looking forward to it-we’ve been a bit locked up in the house lately, and as nice as it is, it’s even nicer to splice it up with some good times in the city.

Baking bread!

We decided that we would combine our efforts today and make a few loaves of homemade bread. Partially inspired by the fact that Jon’s mother owns a bread making machine that sits forlornly on the kitchen counter and has never been used. Not that our plans included using it-to the contrary, we wanted to make bread without the use of said bread maker, just because a bread maker is so unnecessary (although I’ve never independently made a bit of bread one way or the other, so my opinions are thoroughly ignorant, but that is how Jon feels about the bread making machinery). According to him, it’s easy as pie to whip up some delicious loaves, and he did it often as a poor college student. Mmmmkay.

Maxi waited patiently, hoping for crumbs of anything to be dropped to her level-poor, eager little thing.

Unfortunately our efforts heeded nothing in the category of “edible foods”. For one, Jon forgot to add the sugar and salt. Oops! And then it turned out that the yeast we used had expired in 2003…hence, there was no rising, even after we left them out like this in the back garden to rise in the afternoon sun:

After we’d given up, pathetically, Jon’s mother still tried to salvage them and popped them in the oven. What emerged was two rock hard somethings that no one could ever eat. Similar in my mind to the hard tack that the pilgrims used to travel with-bread that wouldn’t go bad after months at sea.Yes, something like that. We didn’t taste test it.

Tomorrow we’re going to buy more (new) yeast and try again. This time I’m in charge. Wish me luck!