Xmas Cookies (Memories of Christmas Past)

Good morning Peter.  This post is for you, and any others interested in food in general, and our Christmas cookies in particular.  You can’t pull them off the screen, so get your own breakfast before we begin.

I apologise for blurry photos.  This post is a learning experience in publishing pictures.  It runs down a long way.  I wanted large pictures for detail, but there’s not much text.

1

Cookie Nests 2These are cookie nests – chocolate drops pushed into balls of dough.  Our chiropractor and his family prefer milk chocolate, while we like the darker.  I took the picture below first, before I realized we had one light one left.  We also made a batch with mint chocolate drops, but apparently the last of them followed the daughter home.

2

Cookie NestsMore dark chocolate cookie nests.  Even with a fast digital camera, I manage to get fuzzy photos.

3Maple Sugar Shortbreads

These are the Maple Sugar flavored shortbreads.  The wife found a correctly-sized maple leaf cookie cutter, and I used a small steel cookie spatula to lightly carve in fake veining.

 

4

Meringues

These are some of the hard meringues, two of each flavor.  Grated dark chocolate and hazelnut ones on the bottom left, almonds and Skor Bits at the top, and chopped cherry and coconut at bottom right.

 

 

5Oat Delights

These are the Oat Delights.  No-bake cookies, they’re easy to make and yummy.  Put grated chocolate in a glass bowl in a pot with a bit of boiling water in the bottom, to melt the chocolate.  Mix in the other ingredients, dollop out in spoonfuls on waxed paper, and let set.  These, and the meringues above, are the no-flour cookies the grandson can have without allergy problems.

6

ShortbreadsTrue Scottish shortbreads, just like Grandma used to make.  After much practice, Granma Ladybug makes them just as good.  Five different basic shapes – winter mitt, holly leaf, Christmas tree, star and plain circle.  The pictures don’t show as much detail as I’d hoped.  Again, I used the cookie spatula to cut in a cuff line on the mitts, a center vein on the holly, a Chrysler star out to the vertices of the star, and just an X on the discs.  It makes them easy to break into four mouth-sized pieces.  I used the end of a chop-stick to indent small holes in the Christmas trees, to simulate decorative balls.

 

7Spritz

These are some of the spritz cookie shapes I pushed out of the cookie press.  You may notice that some of them were from the first batch, and got a little too brown.  They’re not burnt, but are not cosmetically acceptable as gifts, so we get to keep and enjoy them.  As you can see, different sized and colored decorative balls (dragees), mini M&M candy, as well as slivers of red and green glazed cherries are used to brighten them up.

8

Sugar Cookies 1

A few of the shapes of iced and decorated sugar cookies we made.  Making and baking is quick and easy.  The icing and decorating takes far longer, but we use the time for some family togetherness, silliness and stress relief.  Note the results my steady hands produce on the candy canes.  The wife sprinkled a little of the Maple Sugar on the reindeer to produce a fur effect.

9Sugar Cookies 2

Some more of the iced sugar cookie shapes.  I can slather red, green or white on wreaths or snowflakes.  The son helps his mom dress up the wreaths, bells and Christmas trees after she’s done with reindeer.  She puts names on all the stockings.  The dressing of the boy- and girl-cookies falls mostly to LadyRyl.  These are just the extra ones we bake in case one of the ones intended for gifts might break, so these are the plain ones.  If I’m still around next Christmas, perhaps I could slip a couple of pictures of the more ornate ones in with a post about motorcycles or sewage disposal.

10

Thumbprints

These are called thumbprint cookies, glazed cherry halves pushed down into walnut coated dough balls.  Of all the cookies we make, by a narrow margin, these are my favorite.  I could, but don’t, eat these by the dozen.  There is absolutely no taste difference between red and green cherries, and my mouth can’t see….but I like the red ones. Granma Ladybug is partial to the green ones.

11

Yule Logs

Last, but not least, we have what we call Yule Logs.  The dough is similar to the spritz, cookie nests and thumbprint.  (They are all shortbread types.) Form small cylinders and bake, next day, someone with a steadier hand than mine (see The Wife, above) dips them in more melted chocolate, and puts them aside to cool and set.

 

Granma Ladybug said that my contribution to this industry is my ability to put the cookies in the oven, take them out to cool and then pack them into the containers.  Wife says without this assistance, she would be very hard pressed to do this.

We feel we can do this for at least one more year, and hopefully beyond.  Friends and family enjoy these, but our caring Chiropractor and his family receive the single largest donation.  They are overly generous in return.  Half a fruitcake goes along to ride shotgun.  No photos were available because it’s shy and wishes to remain anonymous.

Advertisements

Trippin’

Last Friday, as the sun disappeared south of the equator for the winter, I wished that I could follow it.  On that day, I reached my best-before-date of 68 years old.  The decrepitude is decreeping up on me.

I was allowed to choose a supper menu for my actual birthday meal, and decided on chicken schnitzel with fries and gravy.  We have schnitzel about once a month, but it’s usually pork schnitzel, purchased over at Eurofoods.  Chicken is a bit more labor to prepare, but nice to have once in a while.  Saturday night, when the son’s taste buds were more awake, we had bacon-wrapped filets with baked potatoes and fried zucchini.

Friday for lunch, I made myself another platter of nacho chips.  The son works a midnight shift and is done Saturday morning at 7 AM.  As sometimes happens, the joy of weekend freedom kept him awake.  Instead of going to bed around 10 AM, he was still awake when I finally rolled out about noon.  Since he doesn’t get Tex-Mex as often as I do, he suggested going to Taco Bell for lunch, while we were doing some shopping.  I should have been eating up leftovers to clean out the fridge, but couldn’t resist some face-time with him.

When we got home and admitted what we’d done, the wife asked if I’d forgotten what I’d had for lunch the day before.  I asked her if she’d forgotten what we’d planned for supper on Sunday, when the daughter, grandson and fiancée came over.  The stuff we picked up while we were out was for beef fajitas.  Tex-Mex three days in a row!  Am I happy?  Si, senor!  Muy bueno!

The loot presents I received on Sunday for my birthday included an Esso gift card that I can use for gas this coming weekend, and a Chapters bookstore gift card that will continue to come in handy anytime.  My grandson and his fiancée presented me with a lovely carved letter opener.  When I slid it out of its holder I thought that it was ivory, because I saw off-white, but when I turned it over, I saw amber/honey color, and realized it was banded agate.  The end of the hilt is a Scottish thistle, to commemorate my heritage.

The wife and I got me a coin for my birthday.  Since the Canadian Mint no longer stamps out pennies, they are offering a twenty-dollar, 99.99 fine, silver coin.  It has three Maple leaves as the penny did.  When I ordered it, I thought it was penny-sized, but when it arrived I found that it’s as big as a quarter.

We’re off to metro Detroit for the weekend.  I have to remember to add the “metro”, lest someone think I’m entering the war-zone.  I made a mis-turn one time, and wound up right down-town.  Ours were the only white faces, and none of the well-tanned ones looked too welcoming.  We stay at a motel 20 miles down I-75.  It’s down the street from a big Meijer store, where we plan to do some shopping, and right across the street from the Gibraltar Trade Center, a gigantic flea-market/food-court/display arena, where you can lose an afternoon, and we plan to.

Not that we need one, but the excuse for the trip is a knife show.  We’ve been down for spring shows several times, but this is the first time we’ve come down in the fall.  We’ve never had a problem getting our choice of room type.  It may have to do with college football, but when I reserved the room a week ago, all the ones with king-size beds were taken.  The wife and I have trouble fitting in a standard double after years of a king-size.  I once missed an exit in Pennsylvania, coming home from Charleston, and drove from Pittsburgh, almost to Buffalo, before we found an officially un-open motel with a vacancy at two in the morning, because of college football.

We’ve offered to take the grandson and his fiancée with us.  She politely declined because her job includes weekend work.  If we’d got a king room, we could have got a cot for him.  He’s spent a year out of high school thinking about a career.  He wondered about horticulture, working one summer at a greenhouse, but jobs in that area are scarce (aren’t they everywhere?), the pay is poor, and the work is seasonal.  He currently has a half-day job at a transport depot.

He has decided to go back to school for a year to train for welding.  His schedule will be; walk to school for two hours of class, bus to co-op placement for four hours of training, bus to part-time job for four hours of work, then bus home after a 12/14 hour day.  It’ll be a killer schedule but the job prospects for a welder are fairly good, and the pay is decent too.  His co-op hasn’t kicked in yet and he’s booked the evening off at work.  By the time you read this, we should be on our merry way to the Motor City.

His Mom had to put a rush on his passport.  We provided a copy of our reservation to justify the hurry.  All goes well, he will have picked it up at the local passport office Thursday afternoon.  As partial justification of an earlier claim, we will be taking some orphans back to the U. S. with us.  In just over two years I have accumulated 36 American quarters, 36 dimes, 25 nickels and eight rolls of pennies, for a total of $17.85.  The daughter is sending the grandson with a roll of quarters, six rolls of pennies and a handful of assorted change about half as large as mine.

We’ll wave at Chatham for KayJai as we pass.  We will enjoy the knife show on Saturday, do some shopping, including some beet sugar at Meijer’s Sunday morning, roam the flea market in the afternoon and just generally enjoy the trip and the change of routine and scenery.  Blog to you early next week.

Skinny Dipping

Good Lord!  There was a bigger stampede that time than when I said to have a drink with me.  You people should be ashamed of yourselves….or party-proud.  Sadly, for you, I’ve led you astray again.  What I’m doing is dipping into recent newspaper stories, to give you the skinny, about a few of the things the local newspaper has seen fit to print recently.  Interesting?  Maybe.  Amusing?  Perhaps.  Entertaining?  I hope so!

First of all, does anyone know how the term “The Skinny” came into being?  If you don’t, don’t feel badly.  Not even Wikipedia can come up with a solid answer.  I don’t like the term.  Personally, I feel it’s too affectatious.  It’s used, fortunately sparingly, everywhere English is spoken, but it seems to be mostly a New York City piece of slang.  Montreal can hate Toronto, but I think we can all hate NYC!  It seems to be a newspaper term that started when some editor wanted to “get down to the skin” of a story.

A local woman has given birth to triplets.  That in itself is a one in ten thousand occurrence.  These three are all identical, which makes it literally, a one in a million.  Her doctor asked her which fertility specialist they’d gone to.  That confused the couple, since these three were naturally conceived.  They have a four-year-old son at home, and just brought home three more boys….and already she wants to try again, because she wants a girl.  She’ll end up with a baseball team, and no cheerleader.  Apparently she named the boys Blake, Lucas and Timothy, because the husband said that, with three chances, he still didn’t get to use his favorite name, Silas.

KayJai blogged about getting ready to withstand Hurricane Leslie, at her home in Newfoundland.  We’ve had a picture in the local paper, of a car, up to the top of its wheel-wells in water.  Seawater or fresh, that’s not going to do it a lot of good.  There was also a picture of a man in St. Johns, who had a three-foot thick tree split and fall on his house.  The ironic part was that Hurricane Leslie brought the tree down on this man’s house on Leslie Street.

Over in the next small city, a female preacher from the Church Of Holier Than Thou, felt that marriages at City Hall should be performed by more than just a clerk.  She went to the council and offered her services as City Pastor, essentially creating her own second, paid, part-time job.  But her particular sect would not allow her to marry same-sex couples, so she fobbed those off onto another preacher she knew, who could and would.

Gay and lesbian couples complained about discrimination, and getting second-tier service.  A court has decided that whoever does the job, needs to perform the entire job, so her fill-in has been appointed.  She “feels let-down”, and, of course, one of her church members has already had an op/ed letter printed, claiming she was discriminated against.  I see no discrimination against her, only her church against gays.  She wasn’t forced to marry gay couples.  She wasn’t forced to remain on the job, against her morals.  The city council had to choose between a city official who would do half a job, and one who would do the complete function.  I know which one I’d choose.  How about you?

A Nova Scotia folksinger has released an album entitled No More Pennies, which is all about the disappearance of the Canadian penny, now that the Mint is no longer stamping them out.  As part of the cover art, he had several images of Canadian pennies.  The Canadian Mint sent him an official cease-and-desist letter, saying that all image rights to all Canadian money belong to the mint.  If he were to sell more than 2,000 album copies, he would be subject to a $1200 royalty fee.  Several days later, after the public outrage died down a bit, and the Ritalin kicked in, the bureaucrats offered him a one-time exemption.  Take ‘er an’ run, me boy!

My wife said recently that my letters to the editor have died back a bit since I’ve taken up blogging.  I had another letter printed recently.  After our local by-election a man had a letter printed, in which he complained about getting an automated phone call, touting one of the candidates, at five to midnight, long after he’d gone to bed.  What particularly irked him, was that he does not live within the riding boundary.

The election committee apologised and blamed the service provider for both the timing and location.  Another man actually took the time and effort to send in a letter pointing out that the victim is now a member of the “connected” generation.  If he didn’t want to be wakened at night, he should “just turn the phone off.”  I submitted a letter which suggested that Mr. Sympathy could provide his own phone number.  That way, if Victim’s mother died of a heart attack, or his wife was involved in a traffic accident, or his son was pulled over after a late party for DUI, and needed bail and a drive home, Sympathy could take a message, and run over to the house and deliver it.

Some people can afford to be disconnected; others can’t.  Some people need it.  For a while, years ago, the local transit company had 888 numbers assigned to every stop in town.  If you called the stop number, the automated system would give you the expected times of arrival for the next two buses.  My daughter’s then-current boyfriend got sick of his drunken buddies calling him up in the middle of the night.  He paid for phone service which included call-forwarding.  Before he went to bed, he would set the system to call one of the bus-stops, or the answering machine at one of the local funeral homes.

  1. H.E. ELLIS says:

September 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm (Edit)

Hello Archon and his league of illustrious Canadian-types. I’ve just gotten word that next week there will be a new blog that has to do with Canada. Here’s more info:

http://speaker7.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/canadica-is-coming/

Pass the word along to Kayjai and Harem.

By this method I have been a good boy and done that.  I also include SightsNBytes and all the other readers who would get a kick out of reading about Canadian/American comparisons and contrasts.  It can be reached directly at www.canadica.wordpress.com