Sunday, December 02, 2007

Getting Started

Hard to believe, isn't it, but there are now a mere 22 days left until December 24th. So much to do, so little time! Of course, the fact that I've had oh, 11 months that I frittered away when I could have been putting a little time and effort into some of the craft things I like to mess with - maybe even get two of them eventually completed. But no, I really play Scarlett O'Hara to the hilt here with my "I'll worry about it tomorrow" attitude.

Today, one thing DID get accomplished though. Mandy and Kate got the lights, decorations and tree down - got the tree up and all trimmed. They cleared off the mantel, top of the bookcase and also, rearranged much of the stuff on the shelf above my computer too. So the old homestead has a little bit of a Christmas appearance to it now.

I, on the other hand, had different things to work on -like getting my Sunday Bushisms for the coming week post done first. Hey, sometimes I do have priorities that I actually remember too, ya know. So I did accomplish that much.

And, I did cook dinner tonight too -that in itself was a major thing for me to get done. After all, it takes a lot of thought - and work too - putting that roast in the crockpot, slicing onions to put around it, sprinkle some seasonings in there, adding a dab of water to it. Boy, there's some cooking rocket science for you, for sure. I did have to peel potatoes though and get them cut up while the butter, oil and other seasonings for the "oven-browned potatoes" was heating up in the oven. Added the potatoes to the oil mixture, stirred it around a bit, back into the oven it went to bake for at least an hour. Add to that the very difficult "green bean casserole" that I had to open a can of green beans and a can of creamed soup, mix together, sprinkle some french-fried onions on the top of that and let it cook in the oven too. Yeah, really overworked, I was today!

But, I was engrossed in yet another project today - surfing the "Taste of Home" recipe site online for cookie recipes and then, deciding which ones I would print out and MAYBE eventually will bake some of them too between now and December 24th.

In years past, when I was working two jobs no less, I generally baked between 15 and 20 different types of cookies - often doubling the recipes too -and then, I would pack a Tupperware cake taker container with a large selection of all these cookies and cart them into work with me to put in the break room or in the area where I "slaved" away, helping to get weather forecasts shipped out on time to various newspapers, tv stations and other clients so folks around the world would have a clue what the weather was going to be like in their little corner you see.

I started doing that because for one thing, I used to really enjoy baking cookies. I still do to a certain extent but not as much as I did back then. And, I liked to take little "treats" like that into the workplace mainly because so many of the people I worked with there were young guys, fresh out of college, who really liked and appreciated having a homemade snack available to them too. If any of them DIDN'T like what I had made, at least they were all very polite and never growled about the selections or the quality either for that matter. So for me, it was a nice thing that made ME feel good and hopefully, they all actually enjoyed the goodies too from time to time. I keep telling myself one of these days I'm going to have to make some brownies and other cookies and take in there - just for old times sake ya know -and it would give me a chance to visit a little bit with some of the kids I worked with for about 7 years there. Don't anyone hold your breath though that I will actually do that as now it takes a whole lot of planning for me to escape from the house for any length of time -at least to do it without having a four-year-old and a 19-month old in tow anyway. I don't think anyone over there would be very appreciative of any food I might show up with if I had the Princess with me and if she decided to have a meltdown because to get to the work area, we would most likely have to use an elevator. She sometimes has a big phobia about those contraptions - not always, but more often than not, and I don't feel like traipsing up a bunch of steps, trying to carry cookies or whatever in one hand and keeping a very tight grip on her arm with the other hand. My agility is just not quite up to that par level these days!

But anyway, I did find several interesting cookie recipes. Like 22 of 'em, to be exact - as well as three candy recipes.

Now, for me to be interested in even thinking about making something there one element that absolutely must be present in the recipe or it will never, ever, see the light of day in an edible form coming from me. It must be EASY! And, I do mean EASY!!!

I am, you see, the original "Marshmallow Treats" mother - I think they used me as the model for that commercial. I like any and all recipes that look like I may have slaved over a hot stove for hours on end and taste good too but I know I spent the minimal amount of time needed to prepare those things.

And that habit of mine leads me up to confess to a problem in the cookie baking department.

My all-time favorite cookies are the icebox type cookies my Mom used to bake every year for Christmas. Mom wasn't a bad baker or anything like that but she was not one to try out different recipes nor did she do all that much baking throughout the year until Christmas rolled around. My Grandma would always make "Fruit and Nut Cookies" which I really liked too and I have made them on numerous occasions for my kids and co-workers too but haven't made them for quite some time now because it seems, at home, I am pretty much the only one who likes those cookies.

Mom and Grandma always made the cut-out sugar cookies too for Christmas along with Chocolate chip cookies and gingersnaps too. I always make the Chocolate chip cookies and gingersnaps but instead of the cut-out sugar cookies, I make Snickerdoodles instead.

The reason I opt for the snickerdoodles in place of the cut-out cookies is the same reason why I can't make the icebox cookies my Mom always made that I loved so much - date/nut pinwheels and another icebox favorite was one with chocolate cookie dough rolled out and a corresponding piece of the vanilla cookie dough rolled out and placed on top of it which was then rolled up, refrigerated overnight and the cookies sliced off and baked then.

Do you recognize now the pattern of why I avoid making those cookies yet?

It's all because for some reason or other everytime I try to make cookies that have to be rolled out (and cut-out too), it is an invitation for disaster! A rolling pin and cookie dough under my hands is NOT a good mix - not at all. After trying over the years to make any cookies requiring being rolled out and inevitably, ending up pitching the whole kit and kaboodle in the trash, I finally gave up the ghost on making those things.

But, I can generally find enough other cookies to select from that have the dough just dropped onto the cookie sheet or that I roll up into small balls, dip in sugar, place on the sheets and bake.

THere is one exception to my standard rule of thumb about cookie baking though. THere is one type of cookie that is a bit of a pain in the behind to make but for the special occasion of Christmas, I will forget that "EASY" rule of thumb to make "Tassies." For those unfamiliar with that term, Tassies are little tartlet type cookies. You break the dough into small balls, place that in these tartlet pans and press the dough up into the little cup-like shapes and then fill them with a variety of fillings. My older daughter loves the pecan filling; her ex-husband always liked the cranberry-nut filling; others prefer a brownie type filling or some like the lemon pudding filling while a few like the pumpkin filling too. When I make those tassie or mini-tartlets, it is generally pretty much an ALL DAY job as I usually make about 10 dozen of them then. And it is difficult to do them not just because of the way you have to deal with the cookie dough but, in my case, it is a killer on my back and legs. But I make 'em anyway - at least I usually do - mainly because my kids really love them and after all, I sure as hell am not baking upteen dozens of cookies just for myself, ya know!

So, now that I have all these recipes printed out, over the next couple of days - as my legs and back see fit to allow me - I'll be working on making a couple types of cookies from time to time.

The only thing that might stand in my way is that I can't seem to find all the storage containers I normally have that I stash all my handiwork in when they are all baked and cooled! I can only find about three of my nice big Tupperware containers and I know I had at least 10-12 of them but where they have up and gone now is anyone's guess.

That's another reason I dont bake like I used to do too - too many people around here move my stuff and store it in places I would probably never think to hide them and I really hate having to go on "Search and destroy" missions for that stuff. They really don't take up THAT much space in the cupboards and they do come in handy throughout the year for other things from time to time too.

That, plus I paid an arm and a leg to acquire that large a collection and I sure as heck don't want them tossed out or anything of that nature either. Plus, I basically just hate to have to hunt for anything!

Yes, I am the original Lazy Day cook and baker you see!


Paula said...

I love Taste of Home and have subscibed to the magazine for about 14 years now. I have each and every issue!
Like you, when I was a single mom with little kids and working two jobs I baked umpteen Christmas cookies for the neighbors, co-workers, relatives, anybody that I could think of. Now that I'm married, the kids are growing up and I'm at home all day I can't seem to figure out how I could possibly find the time to bake this year. Crazy, huh?!

Anonymous said...

22 cookie recipes!!!! Heather sent me a great one when I put out my Thanksgiving cry for help! You make it with a marble cake was soooo easy and they were delicious. The only other cookies we make at Christmas time are our Little Bear (from Maurice Sendack) Gingerbread Cookies...and the annual flour fight that ensues once they are all in the oven. It's a classic here in our household.

dgibbs said...

I have been meaning to start some christmas baking as well. I do enjoy baking with my girls. I am extremely lazy about it though. :D

One Wacky Mom said...

In my dreams I bake xmas cookies. Truly...something someday I'd like to do.

But isn't it fun to get all the xmas stuff out. Hubby wants to throw it all away...he says throw more away each year...can you?

I walk down memory lane with each box!

Paige said...

I hope to be baking this weekend. I make the usual:
Peanut butter
Chocolate chip
Ginger snaps
Rolled & cut out decorated sugar one
Yummy in my tummy

Saedel said...

Hi Jeni, the commenters in your blog really know each other, based on baking sharing posted above.

I cook simple recipes, I'd like to bake also but I'm always afraid to start. Looks very complicated. Also, for some reasons, I find buying ingredients hard. :P When my mother comes back here in Jersey, I'll ask her to "guide" me through, both in buying ingredients and baking. :P


PS. Where do you get those Bushisms?

Smalltown RN said...

Oh Jeni....22 goodness I get weary just thinking about it....I was talking with my eldest daughter on the phone today, and mentioned that I had to get started on my baking...but I am going to cut back this year...I find so much just gets wasted...and I hate having it hanging there are about 5 things which I traditionally bake and I will stick to that. Happy baking my friend....Let me know which one you ended up baking.....cheers..

Vic Grace said...

I hate baking so don't do it. I figure people don't need the stuff anyway. Most people I know are overweight and heading for diabetes so I will not encourage it. I can be a bit of a grinch at times but if hubby wants cookies he has to make them himself or buy them, therefore we never have any in the house not even for Christmas. I thought when I first came to Canada that this was a North American thing, doing your own baking. I had never seen anyone eat anything that didn't come from a bakery. Just one of the pressures of Christmas that I won't buy in to. Of course if one enjoys it and can stand the calories go to it. I have my grinch hat on today, can't you tell.