Cool Yule

November 25, 2009

Christmas is one month away as of today. I’m stunned, to be honest. I really can’t believe that the year is almost over (life is moving so fast that I almost feel like it’s flashing before my eyes!)

Given the symmetry of the date, I’ve chosen today to launch my holiday gift guide series that I’m calling Cool Yule. Anyone can toss a bottle of wine in gift bag and make a gracious offering; however, giving gifts that are on trend and show off your good taste is so much better, don’t you think?

At about $300 I’ve chosen a high ticket item to kick off Cool Yule 2009; however, it’s just so perfect for the oenephile (that’s a wine lover, btw) on your list. This wine essence set features 40 aroma flasks that can be used to help train your nose and isolate the aromas in wine.

Besides being a great gift for a wine lover, it’s also fun to pull out at a wine tasting, so if you’re planning one during the holidays, it might make a good gift for yourself, too.

Smaller kits featuring 12 aromas commonly noted in white or red wine are also available at a considerably lower price.

Contact Browne & Co. in Canada for information on availability in your area.


My regift to you

December 25, 2008

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Merry Christmas!

I hope you’re having a peaceful, delicious day. If you find yourself with a few minutes for yourself between tearing wrapping paper from boxes and breaking bread with family, why not spend them browsing these posts that were reader favourites over the last year?

(What, you expected a fresh, brand new post on a statutory holiday? You’ve heard of regifting right? Just think of this post as my regift to you!)

As the list below reveals, my readers often have sweet thoughts!

Gorgeous gourmet cupcakes
Divorce cake
Gourmet cupcakes in a jar
Butterscotch pudding
150-calorie breakfast


Cookies for Santa

December 24, 2008

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When I was a little girl, my brother Vincent and I always left out both a treat for Santa and one for the reindeer before we let our parents nestle us snug in our beds on Christmas Eve.

Every year it was the same menu, a glass of milk and an assortment of my mom’s holiday baking for Santa. On the plate we’d place a date square and both a hermit and a chocolate nut drop cookie. (I think all the recipes came from the Five Roses Cookbook!) Although Santa’s health wasn’t a concern, our snack choice for the reindeer was always a healthy one: carrots.

What happens at your house? Should Santa expect a surprise or will your children give him the same thing as last year? Or, do you offer Santa unconventional refreshment? (For instance, I know of a mother – a lover of coca cola – who always encouraged the children to leave Santa a coke to wash down his cookies.)


Perfectionista free baking

December 15, 2008

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Normally, I’d be up to my eyebrows in flour by now but this year I’m cutting back to ensure that when the holidays arrive that I’ll be ready for fun and not a nap . In fact, I’m only baking a few essential items that we need to feel festive. Here’s what’s on my family’s essential holiday baked goods list:

Ultimate Buttertarts

Holiday Hermits

Barb Holland’s Double Ginger Crackle Cookies (see recipe below)

Yup, it’s only three items and not an exhaustive Christmas offering by a long shot. But, since we’ll be doing lots of visiting, I’m sure we’ll get to have a shortbread and few sugar cookies along the way. It will all work out. (I’m repeating that mantra over and over and over.)

How many different items will you bake this holiday season? Are some of these recipes essential for Christmas to be Christmas or do you mix up your repertoire every year?

Barb Holland’s Ginger Crackle Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

3/4 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp finely grated lemon peel

1/4 cup coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour with baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and crystallized ginger. Toss until crystallized ginger is well distributed.

Beat the shortening until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until light. Beat in molasses, egg and lemon peel until smooth.

Gradually mix in the dry ingredients; scrape down the sides as needed. Place the coarse sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll dough in small balls or scoop using a 1-inch ice cream scoop.

Roll each ball in sugar and arrange on prepared baking sheets. Flatten gently with the heel of your hand.

Bake for 10 minutes or until cracked on top and golden. Cool on a rack.