Spritz Cookies, Otherwise Known As “Backbreakers”

Happy post Christmas coma!

I don’t know about you but I feel like Buddy the Elf who has been consuming nothing but the four elf food groups for the past week. In essence, all meals begin and end with cookies or chocolate.

The bf and myself made homemade (alcoholic) egg nog, spritz cookies, and sourdough bread as contributions to the big family Christmas potluck yesterday. I’m happy to report that all three went over well.

I was nervous because I had never made spritz cookies by myself before. I mean, they take a cookie press to make, the dough can be rather finicky to work with, and I didn’t have my mom around to coach me!

Nevertheless, we rolled up our sleeves and for over four hours, we mixed up two batches of my mom’s classic spritz cookie recipe (one white, one green) and tried my hand at my heretofore unused cookie press that I had impulsively purchased from Williams Sonoma last year.

At first, the dough wasn’t cooperating whatsoever. It was too cold, even though I had properly left all three sticks of butter out to soften. The dough being warm and sticky is pretty much the key to getting them to stick to one’s cookie sheets. Also, we had no parchment paper or wax paper, two things I will never again be without. I think something extra sticky to grab onto the dough would have made a difference. But when one is baking cookies at 9pm on Christmas night and no stores are open (and who wants to go out and try to find parchment paper and overpay for it on Christmas?), we just did the best we could.

Normally I’d take a photo of the cookie press and some of the pictures I have of the cookies going into the oven but I am attempting to keep this relatively short and I’m running out of space before this just becomes one long tangent, as I am wont to do.

I arranged the photos yesterday on a platter provided by a relative (and it is her tablecloth, as well) and between those things and the natural light, I managed to snap some very worthy shots of these cookies that made my back ache like crazy.

Below are the efforts of our blood, sweat and tears. And they taste even better than they look! Maybe I’ll actually post the recipe sometime. (Side tangent: I can’t stand when pretty cookies or pastries taste like cardboard, or even worse, like crap. It’s such the disappointment. So I was relieved when my cookies lived up to the memories I have of my mother’s Christmas cookies.)

One necessity that should not be overlooked during the Christmas feasting is the possession of antacids. I don’t know about y’all but I have been following every meal with a Tums chaser. I hope your holidays have been festive and merry! (And perhaps with less indigestion than we’ve been experiencing.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Kringley, Jingley, Cookies and Trees, Gluttony, Family Gatherings and Obligatory Gifts: sounds like Christmas!

suicidal-snowman13Howdy and Happy Holidays, everyone!

It’s been awhile since I’ve written, I’m well aware. Thanksgiving brought with it the last four weeks of getting ready for Christmas; and let’s just say I’ve been figuring out how to make Christmas work this year (read: sleeping, worrying, stress eating, sleeping, watching mindless TV, total avoidance, etc). 2008 has brought many a fiscal disaster and while my finances are far from disastrous, it’s still a small feat to crunch the numbers to find out what I can afford in cash and what’s going on ye olde credit card.

Firstly, I’d like to give a huge shoutout to the Internet (or the “World Wide Web,” as a beloved professor once called it), simply for the miracle of online shopping. I would not have been able to keep calm about everything I had to buy without this fabulous tool. If I’d actually had to go out to multiple stores to find everything I need to buy, I would have given up on the holidays long ago. The only con to online shopping when one lives in New York City is figuring out where to send the boxes. I don’t have a doorman or an apartment that delivery folks have total access to at all times. So I am forced to send things to my office and bring large bags with me to work so I can haul everything home on the subway. Fun, huh?

But still, thanks to virtual shopping, I haven’t had to stand in a huge line to get photos printed, thanks to Shutterfly. That’s my digital print shop of choice. Amazon currently sells 99% of everything under the sun (anybody try that Kindle thing yet?). Short of buying pets on Amazon.com, I’m pretty sure one can find just about anything on there. I made my giant order and was able to carry on with my daily life whilst waiting for the gifts to arrive.

Usually I get stressed out about sending out holiday cards. I’ve actually managed to do the bulk of them but I still have pending cards to write. They’ll probably sit there until December 23. Nothing says Merry Christmas like getting a holiday card on January 3. There’s always one person’s address I don’t have and then the card ultimately doesn’t get sent out. But doing the whole post office thing in NYC is….somewhat traumatic. At no time during the year is the post office ever slow. The post office is kind of like the U.S. Senate – the locations do not go by population. There are a certain amount and that’s it. So take New York – we have 9 million people here. We have a post office for the respective zip codes like everywhere else. So every single post office I’ve ever visited, without exception, is packed, the lines extensive and people impatient. There is always one New York asshole who must stand in line to mutter and curse about the long wait. It’s S.O.P. In fact, let’s just say that if I go to a drugstore or post office without hearing muttering or cursing (and I’ve been known to do it), I wonder where I am. My world doesn’t look like this (if only!): christmas-poster1

You’d think I’m not a fan of Christmas, but I really really am. I adore Christmas and Christmastime. I love Christmas songs, I love all the baking people do, the lights and decorations, the smell of pine trees, stationery and Hallmark stores, “that Christmas feeling,” new holiday coffee flavors, and particular to New York, all the street vendors and the roasted nuts guy – all of it.  

Christmas is just best when you’re a kid, though. You have absolutely none of the worries and ALL of the expectation that when you wake up on Christmas morning, you can run down to the tree and rip open presents for three hours. It’s a divine experience that we take for granted when we’re kids. Now I know all the work it takes to get those presents under the tree on time, the Christmas ham or goose or whatever to come out perfectly, and how much MONEY it takes to really have that Hallmark holiday.

Why does wrapping presents give people diarrhea? If you don’t learn how to do it properly, you give gifts that look like a car ran over them or a 4 year-old taped together. Both of my parents are excellent gift wrappers. I learned from the best. My father is extremely thorough. He’s not just wrapping, he’s making a gift presentation with lots of curly ribbon and bows. He has a wrapping timetable so he can get it all done in time. I’m pretty sure my parents spent many a Christmas Eve wrapping presents until almost dawn – and then knock knock, it’s 6am and the kids are ready to rip! But seriously, I can attest to the fatigue that wrapping brings. I finished the first half of wrapping last night (not including packing things to ship – uuuuugh) and I just wanted to curl up right there in the wrapping paper remnants and go to sleep.

As a token to one of my favorite things, I’m going to attempt to present a link attached to this photo of the Screaming Banshee, an e-card on Hallmark. Let’s try it: banshee1

Click on that shit and enjoy the hell outta it. If that’s not an accurate depiction of prepping for the holidays, I don’t know what is. (Have your sound on!)

But through it all, corny as it is, the real gift is in the giving. I love the anticipation of waiting to see what goodies I managed to find. I’m gonna toot my own horn here because I am a very good gift giver. I could be a personal shopper, I think. Except then I’d have to deal with obnoxious clients. But I use my feminine, Zoe Intuition to really hone in on something thoughtful for the people I love. I hate having to resort to a gift certificate. It happens to the best of us, though. I love when people manage to find something really Zoe-esque that I treasure for years. Otherwise, I have been the recipient of MANY cheap and expensive bath products, because that’s the Fallback Gift that all women receive when someone doesn’t know what to get her. There probably isn’t a man in a relationship that hasn’t braved Bath & Body Works at the holidays, trying to figure out “Would she like this?” and getting an entire gift basket of “Pine cone cinnamon amethyst” or “Honeyglazed lily moonstones” products – you get the point.

Besides trying to get everything done before Christmas Eve hits (and let’s face it, December is the fastest month of the entire year), if you work in an office, you are surrounded by constant offerings of food and special treats. I know I am. Thus far this month we have had popcorn tins on each floor of the office, a holiday breakfast, lavish holiday party (coming up tomorrow night – right when NYC is supposed to be slammed with snow – woo!) and one of my bosses has received a multitude of treats, including chocolate peppermint bark, a huge basket of chocolate covered pretzels, Oreos (!!!!) and graham crackers, and a bunch of us had a holiday potluck of sorts, where we all brought something festive and exchanged recipes. (I brought seasoned pecans – a big hit, not gonna lie.) The other day, in the span of 12 hours, I was offered cookies from no less than three different people. Including myself, people’s away messages are all about “No more cookies – seriously.” It’s gluttony central.

So it’s the last full business week before the holidays. Christmas is ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. I have oodles left to do but thankfully putting up and decorating the tree isn’t one of them. I have no pets or children, so I can relax without wondering if I’m going to come home to a fallen tree in my apartment. By the time January 2nd is here, I’ll be ready to swear off cookies and treats….for a little while. But even I, with my famed sweet tooth, get sweeted out at this time of year. I offered someone a “chocolate covered something or other” and he emphatically said, “NO” and gave me a shoving hand gesture.

In a TOTAL act of randomness, I read in O Magazine about the popularity of the salty/sweet combination. A reader wrote in and said she made a batch of chocolate covered bacon. I’ve had chocolate covered potato chips (which were sinfully delicious) but never thought about chocolate covered bacon. What do you think? Would you try it? I can’t say I wouldn’t try it – my voracious love for salty/sweet is too strong.

I should take the time to ask if anybody likes Christmas but hates Christmas music. My roommate and I have had music playing and had a whole Christmas movie marathon of sorts when we did our tree. We watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and Bad Santa. Three classics. But definitely on the list to watch are A Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (animated OR live-action). I have a bunch of others but there’s only so much time to watch this stuff. I’m definitely in the cult fan club of A Christmas Story. I don’t get people who don’t get it. David, am I right?

In an attempt to put an end to this huge tangent about Christmas, I hope all of you have a fantastic holiday season, peaceful and bright, with at least one fun drunken moment (but without blacking out or puking) and a celebratory New Year. Just avoid getting in front of the camera at those holiday parties. I can attest that not all drunk photos come out great.

Merry merry!

chris_41