SoCS: an excuse to eat butter

There was a long period in the US where the dietary advice was to avoid fat, especially animal fat, in our diets. During that time, I didn’t each much butter.

This was sad!

More recently, the recommendations have changed somewhat, so I do use more butter now.

I especially like homemade bread with butter. The usual butter that I use for spreading is a spread made of grass-fed cow-milk butter and a bit of oil to keep it from being too hard.

We also keep both salted and unsalted butter for cooking and baking. B has recently discovered that his family’s shortbread recipe comes out much better using unsalted butter. I ran across an article that explained why; it has to do with the moisture content difference between salted and unsalted butter. The recipe is so old that it didn’t specify the type of butter, but may have gone back to the day when people made their own butter, which likely would have been unsalted. The recipe does call for a bit of salt. Other than that, the only ingredients are flour and a small amount of sugar.

Shortbreads are basically an excuse to eat butter, and a very delicious excuse at that!

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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “butter.” Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2021/03/05/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-6-2021/

SoCS: dough

Today, E and I took ABC to her first theater experience, a performance of Sesame Street Live. The theme was magic, but a lot of the story revolved around things that turned out to be science. One of those things was making cookie dough out of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar and adding heat to make it into cookies.

My other dough experience of the week was making pie dough for a birthday pie for Paco who turned 94 on Tuesday. I wanted to make him a prune-apricot pie. Unfortunately, it had been a loooong time since I had baked a pie from dried fruit. And I was super tired because I had been up at night with ABC and then had trouble getting back to sleep. I realized too late that I had forgotten the salt in the crust. D’oh! I also didn’t put as much water in the fruit when I stewed it as I should have, so the apricots didn’t soften as much as I would have liked and I didn’t have very much juice to thicken. Still, it all worked out okay as Paco enjoyed it very much.

I thought that doing an unsweetened pie might also appeal to Nana, who hasn’t had much appetite lately, but it didn’t sound good to her. She is still eating breakfast, but usually not much for lunch and supper and she doesn’t like things that are too sweet. One of the hospice rules is that she can eat whatever she wants and we are following that. We have gotten some coffee ice cream to keep on hand because it was always one of her favorites, the bitterness of the coffee cutting the sugar. We’ll see if she wants to try some someday soon.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “dough/d’oh”. Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/03/29/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-30-19/

SoCS: cookie time!

There are several tins of delicious cookies sitting on my kitchen counter.

Although I can bake, my spouse B long ago took over making the bulk of the Christmas cookies. Right now, we have cinnamon pizzelles, gingerbread decorated with icing, shortbreads, and cherry pistachio biscotti.

Yum!

Our cookie season is extended more than usual this year because we started with St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6, celebrating with E and ABC before they left for London. We continued our celebration last weekend with my older sister and her husband and we are expecting my younger sister and her family the day after Christmas.

B has made multiple batches of some of the cookies this year, but is making fewer kinds than he has in some years. We often have pfeffernuesse, pecan puffs, and different flavors of pizzelles in our assortment. Also, we sometimes make sugar cookies, including some that look like Reddy Kilowatt in honor of Paco’s many years of service at the New England Power Company.

This year, though, I am happy with fewer types of cookies. Fewer choices to make! It’s hard to have one of each when there are eight or nine types. 😉
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “tin.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/21/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-22-18/

Our Christmas Eve and Day

Two blogger friends, Tric of My Thoughts on a Page and Jay Dee of I Read Encyclopedias for Fun, have done recent posts about their (and others’) and their countries’ experiences of Christmas. Tric is from Ireland and Jay Dee is from Canada but has lived in Japan for a number of years. They each asked for comments about their readers’ Christmas experiences, so this post is doing triple duty – for my own readers and to put in the comments for Tric and Jay Dee.

This Christmas, my husband B and I are very happy to have our older daughter E and her husband L visiting from Honolulu and our younger daughter T home on break from grad school in Syracuse, New York, about a 90 minute drive from here.

With most of the holiday tasks under control, we started Christmas Eve day with a trip to a morning showing of the new Star Wars movie, a second time for each of us, although a first time seeing it together. In the afternoon, we did some chores, finished up the gift-wrapping, and rested or took naps to be ready for a late night.

At 5 PM, we were happy to be able to livestream a radio broadcast of Holidays at Hendricks, from Syracuse University. Although T is in grad school at SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry, she is eligible for music activities at Syracuse University which is directly adjacent to the ESF campus. This year, she is singing with the Hendricks Chapel Choir, so it was extra-special to hear her choir sing on this program.

After dinner, B and I made date nut and cranberry breads for Christmas breakfast and listened to E and T sing Christmas carols, accompanied by L on the piano. So beautiful! I managed not to cry, but barely.

About 11:00, B headed to bed and E, T, L, and I headed to Holy Family for midnight Mass. The church which we attended when the girls were young and in which we all served in music ministry is closed, but we were happy to attend Holy Family where our former music director and good friend landed, along with the music library and handbells from our old parish. T sang and rang handbells at Holy Family before she headed off to grad school. There are enough people we know there that it felt like a homecoming.

There was a half hour prelude by the Genesis (adult) choir, handbell choir, and guest trumpeter, followed by midnight Mass. Father Clarence’s homily brought together the Scripture and our current world, as good homilies do. He reminded the congregation that the Holy Family fled to Egypt for safety as refugees do. He asked what would have happened if Egypt had closed its borders and sent them back. He did not have to mention Syria to get the point across. He also spoke about our need to seek peace, even in the face of violence in the world, by referring to a French man who lost his wife in last month’s Paris attacks but refuses to be bitter.

After a short night’s sleep, most of the household was up at 6:00 to start on Christmas dinner, the gentlemen taking the lead. L was making bread and B made the lasagna, using the recipe from my mother. We started making lasagna for Christmas Day back when my daughters and I used to be involved in music ministry for a Christmas morning children’s mass. We would assemble the lasagna the day before to bake after we got home from church to eat Christmas dinner at noon. Now we continue that tradition.

Between kitchen tasks, we ate breakfast and opened stockings and gifts. E and L went for a walk in the way-warmer-than-it-should-be December weather. A bit before noon, Nana, Paco, and Grandma arrived. Everyone enjoyed dinner, followed by Christmas cookies, fruitcake, and fudge. There was another round of presents. E and L made presents for the grandparents. E made a counted cross-stitch of a row of girls – Japanese for Grandma and Hawaiian for Nana and Paco. L made a paról for each home, including ours. A paról is Filipino star-shaped Christmas ornament, traditionally a bamboo lantern, although these were made from paper. L made them for us in honor of his parents’ home country, where they grew up before immigrating to the UK as young adults.

We had a lovely visit, which was followed by some more family visits facilitated by technology. E and L visited with his family in London by skype. December 25th is also L’s father’s birthday, so there was an extra reason to call. Only  being five time zones away instead of ten as they are in Honolulu was a help. B and I talked by phone with B’s brother. We didn’t talk to my sisters, but they will be arriving in town tomorrow for the continuation of our Christmas celebration.

We played Apples to Apples this evening and have been watching some television while I write this post. I don’t know if our Christmas is a typical US one or not, but it is special for us, especially because we were able to have both daughters here, something that becomes rarer as they get older and head out on their own. I hope other people have had lovely days filled with family, food, and love.

Sugar cookie recipe

I had a request for this recipe from Idaswear’s blog.  The measurements are US, so I hope you still have some of your US measuring cups and spoons…

Holiday sugar cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 teaspoon water

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon *
¼ teaspoon nutmeg *

Color sugars, etc. to decorate

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Add egg and water, then beat until light and fluffy.

Combine dry ingredients.  Blend into creamed mixture.  Divide dough in half, and then chill for 1 hour. (Do not over chill as this will make dough hard to work.  If dough is chilled overnight, you will need to let dough sit for awhile before you can roll it.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough to ⅛ inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes, sprinkle with colored sugar, etc. to decorate the cookies.

Bake on greased cookie sheets at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Makes 6 dozen cookies.

Originally from JC’s mom.

* Notes:
Original recipe did not call for spices.  We discovered that adding spices made a more flavorful cookie

Christmas cookies

I think we are finished baking Christmas cookies. B did the bulk of the work, with assists from me and T.

We have:
lemon pizzelles
chocolate pizzelles
sugar cookies
gingerbread with frosting
pfeffernüsse
shortbreads
cranberry pistachio biscotti

We also have homemade fruitcake which is made with dried fruits rather than candied.

There is still a batch of fudge to make to be ready for Christmas dinner dessert.

Lasagna will be the main course. We started making it for Christmas Day when my daughters and I were involved in choir for children’s Mass on Christmas morning. Lasagna was an easy thing to prepare ahead and pop in the oven after church so we could still have dinner at noon. We always make the lasagna using the recipe my mom used to make. Because she grew up in an Italian immigrant household, she always had Italian food for Christmas, so we appreciate making that our tradition, too. It’s even more special that she is here to share in our Christmas dinner, along with my dad and B’s mom.

This year will be even more fun because daughter E and her husband L arrived today from Honolulu. We are so excited to have both daughters and our son-in-law here to celebrate with us!