Christmas is progressing nicely in the Second Blooming household. Miraculously, ALL the gift shopping is done and now I can concentrate on planning my Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. Expect a menu in a few days.
In the meantime, I've been doing a little baking. Yesterday, I told Jude that I was going to bake some Christmas cookies, and would love for him to help. He cried "Hurray!", gave me a big hug and said "That's the perfect Mother-Son Christmas activity!" I swear to God. Where in the hell did he get that? Could he have been reading Ladies Home Journal behind my back?
Anyway, we made these, which were one of Mama's best Norwegian Christmas cookies. Buttery and nutty, and not too sweet.
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup almonds, chopped fine (I use the food processor)
2 cups butter
1 cup sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
egg whites, beaten
colored sugar for decorating
Sift together flour and baking powder. Add almonds. In a separate large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Form dough into 1 inch balls. Dip each ball first in the beaten egg whites, then in red or green colored sugar. Place on cookie sheets, colored sugar side up. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a little waffle pattern. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, until they are just browning on the bottom.
You have to try this out: Go to Google.com. Type in "Let it snow" then enter. Voila! A Winter Wonderland! Be sure to use the "Defrost" button when you need it.
Yesterday, Jude's Cub Scout pack went caroling at St. John of God old folks home. I, of course, opened my big mouth and volunteered to lead it up, but I must say it was really worth it. I printed out sheets of Christmas song lyrics, and tried to rehearse them a bit. The dads seemed to consider it a rather radical idea when I suggested that we all try to sing in the same key. But the boys rose to the occasion and were very, very sweet and enthusiastic. Lots of happy old people.
Because everybody deserves a "gift of pleasure".
My Daddy's Christmas Joke -
Once there was a small church in a small town, which was in desperate need of new hymnals. The old ones were worn out and falling apart, and the young pastor desperately wanted to get them new ones before Christmas. Unfortunately, the church was low on funds. So the pastor started asking around to local businesses, to see if anyone would be kind enough to buy the churches new hymnals. He was delighted when the local drugstore agreed to foot the bill. The new hymnals arrived on December 24th, just in time for Christmas services. On Christmas morning, the congregation all opened their beautiful new hymnals and began to sing...
Hark the herald angels sing,
Carter's Pills are just the thing!
Peace on earth and mercy mind,
Two for adult, one for child.
(Every Christmas morning, one of the only times Mama and I could drag Daddy to church, they'd sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Daddy would murmur these lyrics under his breath. Daddy and I would get into a giggling fit. Mama never figured out why.)
For all of my Jewish readers...
After making the Norwegian Christmas cookies, I made a batch of Mama's Bourbon Balls. I've mentioned before how Mama and her best friend, my Aunt Margaret, got together almost every afternoon to either cook/bake/can or play gin. And drink bourbon. But sometimes the bourbon actually made it's way into the food. I remember one particularly productive afternoon when these two ladies started experimenting with the contents of Aunt Margaret's liquor cabinet. They made Rum Balls, Kahlua Balls, Creme de Menthe Balls, Creme de Cacao Balls. Just went crazy with the balls. Their only unsuccessful version was Scotch Balls. Sort of taking a good idea one step too far. Anyway, here's their recipe. Feel free to experiment. WARNING: Not for children. Fairly boozy.
Mama and Aunt Margaret's Bourbon Balls
2 tbsp. cocoa
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (food processor)
1 cup finely chopped nuts (food processor)
Extra powdered sugar for dusting
Sift cocoa and powdered sugar into a bowl. Combine liquor and corn syrup, then mix into the cocoa and sugar. Add vanilla wafers and nuts; mix well. Form into 3/4 inch balls and roll in powdered sugar. Let dry for a few hours. Yields 3 dozen. These freeze well.
My choir sang this on Sunday. Not a traditional Christmas song, but certainly in the Advent spirit. I'm afraid that while my choir has soul, we're not quite THIS soulful. Enjoy...
Very good then. Run over to Stacy's for many more random carolers.