Saturday, December 17, 2022

Christmas Cookies as Improv

A long time ago here, we made Christmas cookies from one of those magazine articles that use one dough and many variations. This particular one was based on the book One Dough, Fifty Cookies, by Leslie Glover Pendleton; but you can find other kinds of dough-with-variations in cookbooks and online.

This year, having a small number of people to make cookies for, I decided we would revive the Master Dough, though without the very fancy variations given in the magazine. Crissy and Elizabeth got their fancy aprons on to help us.

Mr. Fixit, who likes gadgets, got out the hand mixer and mixed the dough. Actually the stand mixer would have been a better idea, as it wasn't really strong enough and he had to finish mixing it by hand.  What goes into this particular recipe? One pound unsalted butter; 1 1/3 cup sugar; 1 tsp. salt; 3 egg yolks; 2 tsp, vanilla; 4 3/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour.

We happened to have a box of red and green holiday Rice Krispies (gift from daughter), so I worked two cupfuls of those into a quarter of the dough, and pressed it into an 8 inch pan to make bar cookies. I stuck them in the oven to bake at 350 degrees, but I don't think I gave them quite long enough, because the middle ones ended up underdone. If I were doing this again, I'd leave the bar cookies until the end and then they could have all the time they needed. Later I drizzled the survivors with a bit of powdered sugar glaze.

To one-quarter of the dough, we added half a cup of hot chocolate mix and a cupful of mini chocolate chips, plus a bit of extra water to moisten it. We rolled those into balls, but did not flatten them; they flattened a bit in the oven (375 degrees). They also got a bit of glaze, but that was probably unnecessary as I decided afterwards to dress them up a little more with a squirt of white icing and a few sprinkles.

The rest of the dough was rolled into balls, and we made thumbprints (actually end-of-a-cake-server prints) in each one (and baked them at 375 degrees). Some of them were filled with jam before baking, which you have to be careful with as it can leak over, but this time around we had no problems. We filled the hole in a few of them with sprinkles, which turned out not to look too great, so when they came out of the oven I pressed a green chocolate-covered candy (you know which ones) in the middle, and they went on the plate for the glaze drizzle as well. (I did all the glazing at once.)

And some of them got a peppermint Hershey's Kiss, which turned out WEIRD and NOT GOOD, like something from Cake Wrecks. I'd made Kiss cookies before, but I couldn't remember whether we'd put them on the cookies before or after baking. Suggestion: don't do what Elizabeth did here. Let them bake plain, squirt some icing on top, and add the Kisses after baking (we replaced the burned Kisses with unbaked ones). We also happened to have snowflake dragees from Bulk Barn, so I pressed a few of those into the icing. Yay for last-minute rescues.

And that's it! Just enough cookies and variety to keep us going over the holidays.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Wednesday Chocolatepodge

 From this Side of the Pond

1. The Hodgepodge lands on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Have you visited the memorial? Any desire to do so? Have you visited other WW2 sites and memorials? Do you think we do a good job of teaching current and younger generations about the events of WW2? Do you think it matters? 

I live in Canada, so no to the first two questions.

I don't know how well younger people are being taught about that war, especially as there are few people left who were old enough to serve; there are more still around who were children and can tell things from that perspective. When I was in high school, that war was forty years ago and it already seemed a long time back; but high school for me was also forty years ago, so there's that.

And yes, I think it matters.

2. Many books, both fiction and non-fiction have been written with WW2 as the setting. Is this a 'genre' you gravitate towards? Share with us a book (or two) you've enjoyed that is set in some way around WW2. If you're not a reader, how about a movie? 

Not as a "genre," but yes, I have read various books involving WWII. Connie Willis's Blackout/All Clear are probably the most recent novels I've read. Also Herman Wouk's The Winds of War.

3. According to Better Homes and Gardens Magazine there are seven popular color trends for the holidays this year. They are- red and white, Victorian blue, pops of pink, rich shades of green, rainbow hues, black and white, and nostalgic retro colors. Are you 'trendy' when it comes to holiday decorating in 2022? How so? Does your tree have a 'theme'? 

I wouldn't have a clue! I just figure Christmas decorating should be about Christmas. We only have a half-size tree this year anyway, so we just used what fit on it.

4. What's a current trend you buck? 

See #3, I guess.

5. What's your favorite chocolate something? 

The foil-wrapped chocolate ornaments we bought at Dollarama to help decorate the half-size tree. Which I guess we'll get to eat in January.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I just posted my reading ambitions for 2023. It keeps me sort of accountable. Do you prefer planning reading ahead or taking it as it comes?

Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Mama Squirrel's Reading List for 2023

Alphabetically by author, this time. Some of these have migrated from previous years' lists, but that doesn't mean I'm not still going to try.

The Lazy Genius Kitchen: Have What You Need, Use What You Have, and Enjoy It Like Never Before

Adachi, Kendra 

Wordsworth: A Life In Letters

Barker, Juliet 

The Medieval Mind of C.S. Lewis: How Great Books Shaped a Great Mind

Baxter, Jason M.


The Story of Arthur Truluv

Berg, Elizabeth

How It Went: Thirteen Late Stories of the Port William Membership

Berry, Wendell


The Longing for Home: Reflections at Midlife

Buechner, Frederick


The Principles of Art

Collingwood, R.G.


Clear Light of Day

Desai, Anita


Birder's Handbook: A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds

Ehrlich, Paul R.


How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Ellenberg, Jordan


Walk in the Woods: Portrait of the Ojibway Prairie Complex

Gervais, Marty


A Thinking Love: Studies from Charlotte Mason's Home Education

Glass, Karen


The Aptitude Myth: How an Ancient Belief Came to Undermine Children's Learning Today

Grove, Cornelius N.


Parable and Paradox

Guite, Malcolm


Rallying The Really Human Things: Moral Imagination In Politics Literature & Everyday Life

Guroian, Vigen


The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution

Harkness, Deborah


Dove Descending: A Journey into T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets

Howard, Thomas


The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis

Jacobs, Alan


The Truth and Beauty: How the Lives and Works of England's Greatest Poets Point the Way to a Deeper Understanding of the Words of Jesus

Klavan, Andrew


The Lovely Treachery of Words: Essays Selected and New

Kroetsch, Robert


Invitation to the Waltz

Lehmann, Rosamond


The Art of Repair

Martin, Molly


The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between

Matar, Hisham


Peas, Pigs and Poetry

Mead, Fiona


Trees of North America

Mitchell, Alan


52 Prepper Projects: A Project a Week to Help You Prepare for the Unpredictable

Nash, David


The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and Their Year of Marvels

Nicolson, Adam


A History of Ancient Britain

Oliver, Neil


Why God Makes Sense in a World That Doesn't: The Beauty of Christian Theism

Ortlund, Gavin 


Signposts in a Strange Land

Percy, Walker


A Plato Reader: Eight Essential Dialogues



The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World

Postrel, Virginia


Rembrandt Is in the Wind: Learning to Love Art through the Eyes of Faith

Ramsey, Russ


Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self

Robinson, Marilynne


Unto This Last and Other Writings

Ruskin, John


Democracy in Canada: The Disintegration of Our Institutions

Savoie, Donald J.


The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups

Sax, Leonard



Scruton, Roger 


A Whole Life

Seethaler, Robert


The Wild Idea Club: A Collaborative System to Solve Workplace Problems, Improve Efficiency, and Boost Your Bottom Line

Silber, Lee


The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading

Spufford, Francis


And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind: A Natural History of Moving Air

Streever, Bill


Birding with Yeats: A Mother's Memoir

Thomson, Lynn



Wangerin Jr., Walter


What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World

Young, Jon