Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Anti-Cookie Cutter Christmas

That's right. I did not use a single cookie cutter in all of our culinary adventures over winter break 2011. It wasn't neccesarily planned that way but it turned into a nice challenge and after all, who wants a cookie-cutter celebration?
Christmas day photo shoot

Interestingly enough the lack of snow had little effect on our holiday accept for me. I was waiting to get in the spirit as we read cards, hung decorations, decorated the tree, all while listening to the Christmas radio station of course, but I did not get nearly as excited as years past. That is until Christmas Eve when I woke up and found my recipes staring me in the face.

I could browse recipes longer than an osso bucco can simmer (in one of these beauties-Merry Christmas mom) so of course I had carefully selected my cookies after months of inspiration. It was like a storm in me that thundered for hours, the oven burning from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. I knocked out four different batches of treats that day and it was pure joy. That was the birth of the jam swirl pastries, walnut shortbread snowballs, chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies, and great grandma's beloved cookie bar.
This sudden downpour of desserts gave a christening to another tool that was new to our kitchen: stacking cooling racks. #spacesaving3
The grandest adventure, I must say, was the Christmas Day duck experiment. We paused our movies to season, dry, and roast the duck and chop up some root vegetables for pan frying in the liquid gold –rendered duck fat. My brother got to test out his Christmas present, a digital meat thermometer that he had asked for. Was it perfect? No. But we did enjoy it fast enough to not get a picture. It was the juiciest piece of meat I think I’ve ever tasted.

My last hoorah was the New Years Day √©clairs. I had come across the recipe on Christmas Eve in the booklet that accompanied our old cookie press and decided that they deserved their own special day to be enjoyed. My father used to make cream puffs for my mother when they started dating in high school so the idea has always been romantic to me. The shells were fantastic, rising to triple their unbaked size. The custard filling however fell flat, thin, and runny, still it tasted quite lovely. The dense bittersweet frosting, my own invention, was a hit with everybody. I could have eaten that with nothing but a spoon.
With all the food we ate, we tried to hit the YMCA just as hard in the weeks after. As much as a don’t like running on treadmills, I don’t regret a moment of my winter break. We had a lot to celebrate and it definitely was not a cookie-cutter holiday. So Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Kwanza, Boxing Day, and Happy New Years, a little bit late.

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