Monday, November 28, 2011

Delicious cookies with an unfortunate name

Eggnog Logs. Weirdly alliterative name. Delicious taste.

These are the cookies I elected to bake for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. These are a dense butter cookie, swathed in rum flavored frosting, and dusted with nutmeg. Three lucky winners, Steff in Austin, Erin in Brooklyn, and Suzy in San Francisco will soon be receiving boxes in the mail with one dozen freshly baked Eggnog Logs.

I vacillated between Eggnog Logs and Norwegian Christmas Rings. Both are sturdy cookies with sugary toppings - holiday cookie staples. But, after extensive customer research, I decided that the Norwegian Christmas Rings, which use hard boiled eggs mashed through a fine sieve (instead of butter) as their creamy base, might be too weird for my new food blogging buddies to taste. So, Eggnog Logs won.

In my earlier, more adventurous cooking days I found the recipe for
Eggnog Logs. Not sure where, or when, but they've been a staple of my holiday baking for nearly 20 years. With that said, here's the recipe:

Eggnog Logs

1 c butter - softened
3/4 c
granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp rum flavoring
1 egg
3 c flour
1 tsp nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Add egg, vanilla and rum flavoring. Blend well.
  4. Add dry ingredients. Mix well. (After flour is added the dough might get crumbly. At this point I knead by hand to get the dough nice and creamy.)
  5. Shape dough into "logs" about 1/2" wide and 1" long. (I roll by hand into ropes and then slice into logs).
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until golden brown.
While the cookies cool, prepare the rum frosting.

Rum Frosting
3 tbsp butter - softened
1/2 tsp rum flavoring
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c confectioner's sugar
2-3 tbsp milk.

Mix butter, rum flavoring, vanilla and 1/2 c of confectioner's sugar together. Gradually add the remaining 1 & 1/2 c of sugar and up to 3 tbsp of milk. Tint the frosting if you choose. (I never choose to - who ever heard of a red log?)

When cookies are cool frost them. Draw the tines of a fork lengthwise through the frosting. Dust with nutmeg.

Merry Christmas and happy eating!

PS: Are you an adventurous baker? Want to try the Norwegian Christmas Rings? Here's the recipe.

Norwegian Christmas Rings
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 & 1/4 c confectioner's sugar
1 c. + 1 tbsp butter - softened
vanilla (few drops)
2 & 1/3 c flour
1 egg yolk - beaten
sugar crystals
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Boil (3) eggs 10-12 minutes. Peel in cold water and strain through a fine sieve.
  3. Stir in 1 egg yolk and confectioner's sugar.
  4. Gradually work in butter and vanilla
  5. Knead to make a soft dough.
  6. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. After chilling, roll dough into 4" pieces approximately 1/4" wide. Brush the ends of each piece with egg yolk and form into rings.
  8. Brush tops of rings egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar crystals.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Eat and enjoy!

Joy to the world, er, I mean to me

What joy do the holidays, er, let's face it, I mean Christmas. What joy does Christmas bring to you?

I ask because my Twitter buddy Robyn shared this status update yesterday: "Remember, people, the holidays are conquered one day at a time. Do a little every day and you'll get through."

I LOVE Christmas. I love them so much that I had my outdoor twinkle lights turned on at my house before Thanksgiving this year. The idea of slogging through, or approaching the season with the marauding energy of Attila the Hun, makes my skin crawl. This is the time of year when I want to slow down so I can savor the smell of the tree, reflect on the holiday greetings hanging from the mantle, feel the anticipation of Christmas morning, when my carefully selected presents are finally opened. I want to wring every last moment of joy from them.

But I don't do anything that I don't enjoy. (This is why I don't have kids, and am not a lawyer or investment banker.)

Apparently neither does Robyn's friend Laura, who wrote early in the virtual Facebook discussion, "When some part of the holidays starts to feel like a wretched chore, it's time to drop or change it. Seriously."

Amen* to that! So I "liked" it.

And I started to think, "What are the parts of Christmas that bring me joy? Am I doing all of them?"

Here's my list of holiday joys:
  • Having and seeing outdoor light displays, from the ridiculous to the serene
  • Browsing elaborate holiday displays; it doesn't matter what is on the display - ornaments, candy, socks - if there is a Christmas feel and an abundance of items on the display I'm all over it like a moth to a flame
  • Researching unique - but not extravagant - gifts for, and then shopping for family and friends
  • Elaborately wrapping gifts and artfully displaying them under the tree
  • Baking cookies, (but not eating them so I give them all away)
  • Listening to and singing traditional carols
  • Choosing, decorating, and then watching the tree (mine is lit as I write this)
  • Opening and displaying holiday greetings that arrive by mail (The Golden Rule or karma or whatever, dictates that I then need to send cards)
  • Spending time with my family - opening gifts, eating special foods, and playing with our new toys
What brings joy to you at the holidays? Are you getting enough of it this year? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, or head over to my Facebook page to add your $0.02.

*Does the Christian alternative to Facebook have an "Amen to that" button instead of the "Like" button? It should.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Now let us sing, sing, sing, sing!

On Saturday, December 3rd at noon at the Christian Science Plaza, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will attempt to break the World's Record for the Most Carolers Singing (Carols) Together (for at least 15 continuous minutes). The current record is 9,100 people, set in November 2010 in Adelaide, Australia.

So I'm going. I HAVE to go. I'm not a joiner as a general rule, but this is an extraordinary event. How many opportunities does a girl have to be part of a group trying to break a World's Record? And for something as fun as singing carols? Well, not carols plural. Just one carol. As I understand it the group will be singing "Joy to the World" for 15 minutes. Regardless, it is going to be fun!

In 2010 the BSO tried (and failed) to break the record in December 2010. This year, because I'll be there, they'll break the record.

I'd LOVE for my Boston friends to join me. Here's the scoop on being part of the fun. I'll be at P.F. Changs outside the Pru at 11:15 AM. No later than 11:25 - ideally before - I'll head across the street to become part of the caroling scrum at the Christian Science Plaza.

I have NO idea what to expect. A handful of questions run through my head. How will they count us? Will we get sheet music? How many people can fit at the Christian Science Plaza?

While there are many things I don't expect to know until I show up on Saturday, I would like to know if you plan to join me. Drop me a note in the comments section or on my Facebook page so we can work out our rendezvous plans. And afterwards, we can grab cocoa or a martini somewhere?

Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Can this be real?

BMG and I signed our "Purchase and Sales" agreement last night. We finish our mortgage application on Saturday. We meet our architect on Monday.

Are we seriously buying and renovating a house? In the suburbs? Because we've strategically decided this is the best route to have enough money to eventually buy a condo in the city?

I'm having a Talking Heads moment as I contemplate the idea of us moving from wish talk to real life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Great Cookie Swap

Thanks to my Twitter buddy, @cavecibum, I'm now participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

This means I have to ship one dozen cookies to three separate people by December 5th. And...I have to post the recipe here. (Oh, and I get three dozen cookies mailed to me.)

Think I'll crowd source this one.

Which Christmas cookie would YOU want to get in the mail from a stranger?

I'll be baking the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Look forward to getting your thoughts before then!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tolerating Intolerance

This middle-aged body has become lactose intolerant in the last six months. As the current partner and roommate of the provocateur at cheese and other dairy treats have been an essential part of my life for a long time.

Needless to say, lactose intolerance is taking some adjustment.

I've been moving through Kubler-Ross' stages of grief as I mourn the loss of cheese. I started with denial. "What" This can't be true. It must be a stomach bug."

So I kept eating cheese and dairy. And I kept feeling bloated, crampy and uncomfortable.

Now? I vacillate between anger, bargaining, and depression.

What does this look like? I'm testing the boundaries of what I can and cannot eat (bargaining).
  • A little bit of blue cheese on a salad - ok
  • Caesar salad with Parmesan shavings - most assuredly not ok
  • Homemade pizza with glassy soy cheese - fine, if you go for that sort of thing
  • North End pizza with mozzarella - stomach churning
  • Hollandaise on eggs Benedict - fine
  • Croque madame at Brasserie Jo - never again
  • Saag paneer - not so bad in small amounts
  • Sour cream-based veggie dip - also do-able in small amounts
And the anger? The depression? At the grocery store, in restaurants and watching Top Chef and other food shows on tv when I realize there is one more thing to add to my list of foods I'll ever be able to eat a full (or even a half) serving of again:
  1. Ice cream (Don't give me that "But you can have sorbet!" b.s. Sorbet is NOT the same as ice cream)
  2. Grilled cheese sandwiches
  3. Macaroni and cheese
  4. New England clam chowder
  5. Yogurt
  6. Chicken cordon bleu (I didn't eat this a lot, or ever, but now I want it simply because I can't have it)
  7. Cottage cheese
  8. Nachos
The Lactaid pills (and their generic equivalent) don't seem to have much impact on the issue, and I'd rather just avoid the food that makes me feel so uncomfortable, than put my body through the turmoil of having to adjust to something I naturally shouldn't be eating.

And over time I'll pass into acceptance. I smile wryly when I hear myself saying "I love soy milk and coconut milk ice cream WAY better the original," and can see the bright side of savoring a nibble - rather than a gobble - of fine cheese when we visit places like Formaggio and Farmstead. This is my body. I can't fight it, so instead I'm trying to tolerate my intolerance.

Have you adjusted to lactose intolerance? How'd you do it? If you HAD to give up dairy, what would you miss the most?