Monday, December 24, 2012

Some last minute chit-chat

date bars: my favorite
I wasn't going to do any baking this year, but yesterday I stayed in and baked. I've been in a dark and forbidding mood and I notice something dark and forbidding in my choice of recipes. No crowd pleasers here. Each contains at least one ingredient many people dislike. I don't understand why some people dislike dates, but they do.

date bars 
source: The Homesick Texan
why: I'm really into the The Homesick Texan.
objectionable ingredient: dates
verdict: delicious. I have eaten too many of these. I have to remember to make them next year because they are a perfect Christmas cookie, but you could serve them any time of year. A version of the recipe is here. Highly recommend.

pfeffernusse: very German


source: Joy of Cooking
why: My grandmother loves pfeffernusse. There were always bags of stale pfeffernusse in her house, probably bought on sale the day after Christmas. I wonder if it was pfeffernusse she loved, or a bargain.
objectionable ingredients: candied orange peel, black pepper
verdict: Delicious, soft, brown, spicy, and totally different from the pfeffernusse my grandmother bought, which were pale, round, rock-hard, and glazed.

mincemeat tarts: very British
miniature mincemeat tarts

source: Nigella Lawson's Christmas
why: a jar of mincemeat in the pantry, no idea where it came from.
objectionable ingredient: mincemeat
verdict: tasty and very cute tartlets, although the similarities between chutney and mincemeat are disconcerting. No one has touched these but me.

burnt cookie, perfectly baked cookie
date and sesame drops

source: Dan Lepard's Short & Sweet
why: love his recipes
objectionable ingredients: dates, sesame seeds
verdict: Would have been better if I'd read the recipe and rolled the cookies in sesame seeds as directed rather than mixing them in. Also would have been better if I hadn't burned most of them. None of these made it into the Christmas boxes. Too imperfect.

Last night I made West Texas stacked enchiladas from The Homesick Texan and even thought they they seemed skimpy -- insufficient filling -- I loved them. I look forward to every meal I cook from this book.

Since we're all on vacation now, after dinner, Mark and I tried to make the kids watch Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. They resisted and complained and tried to bargain their way out of it. I told them they only had to watch for 15 minutes and if they weren't hooked they could leave. After 15 minutes, they both left. I still feel like there's lots I don't understand about Ai Weiwei, like practically everything, but at least when I hear his name at a cocktail party I'll know generally what people are talking about. Now someone just has to invite me to a cocktail party.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


  1. I love well-made Pfefferneusse, but the store-bought ones usually aren't. I guess the jig is up now, but maybe white pepper would have escaped notice.

  2. Oh, I wish I was in a cookie exchange with you. I love all these things, but I admit I have never had soft pfeffernusse. I will have to try them. The ones that I receive are very small and hard, but quite tasty. Sounds like you were in a dense, spicy mood, ready for complex tastes. I wasn't going to do any baking either, but there is something about the holidays that compels me to do so. Thanks so much for a year of delightful, entertaining, and often educational posts. Happy Holidays!

  3. I have learned to my sorrow that I am not cookie exchange material. Too many people whose tastes I disagree with. I can't imagine any of the poor souls at the debacle I last attended making something as fun and seasonal as pfeffernusse. And I second Beckster--thanks for your enjoyable, enlightening blog!

  4. Thanks for giving so much of yourself to this blog during the last year. You have such a full life and we readers are lucky to be part of it. Happy New Year.

  5. Merry Christmas! If only your readership could exchange cookies, that would be a sight to see! Looking forward to hearing about your 2013 adventures.

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