2nd Annual Blog Cookie Exchange! Come in, come in!
Welcome, everyone! I'm a little late getting started today, due to a brief power outage, but we're good now. Come in and get comfy. There's some of my favorite Christmas music in the CD player -- quite a variety, with Handel's Messiah, Odetta and Emmylou Harris. Tip: can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Mix well and reheat before serving. Asparagus Rollups
Random Acts of Christmas
Early yesterday morning, I got a phone call from a friend I hadn't seen in nearly a year. I had talked to her once over the summer, telling her about WTF. She called to tell me that she had held a cookie exchange "in my honor" and that she had a large tray of cookies for me, in case I wasn't up to baking this year. Now, how nice is that? I was so touched. I might feel like baking, but now, if I do bake, it will be because I want to do it for fun with my kid, and not because it is one more thing on my holiday to-do list. What a gift she gave me, the gift of freedom from have-to.
No cookie recipes here this time. But I will share a delishus cookie go-with: Dreamy Creamy Hot Chocolate (not my own, thank Paula Deen). I have never had, nor can I imagine, a hot chocolate that tastes better than this one.
Dreamy Creamy Hot Chocolate
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 cups hot water
mini marshmallows or whipped cream (optional)
In a large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in water; heat through, stirring occasionally. DO NOT BOIL. Top with marshmallows, if desired.
And an appetizer that always disappears quickly and completely:
This is my creation, based on input from blogfriends Greenie and Mamaramma, from back in the days when dooce comments was a place to hang out. I don't know how much of anything you need, but just get you some:
Fresh asparagus (a bunch)
Thinly sliced (not shaved) prosciutto ham (1/2 pound?)
Whipped cream cheese with chives (or plain, or any other flavor you like, just make sure it's whipped, for easier spreading)
Spring onions (you want the green tops) or a package of chives
Cut the ends off the asparagus spears. Drop the remaining spears into boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Then put them immediately into ice water to stop the cooking process. You want them "crisp-tender."
Take a slice of ham and spread a thin layer of the cream cheese on it, covering entire slice.
Put an asparagus spear at the edge of the ham, and roll it up, wrapping the ham around it. The cream cheese will act as glue.
With a very sharp knife, cut the asparagus into bite-size pieces (about an inch, or just a tiny bit longer). Sharp is important, because a dull knife will pull the ham off the asparagus, causing you to curse and throw the knife. And how Christmasy is that, really?
Next, with your very sharp knife, slice the green onion tops length-wise, into long, thing "strings." (If you've bought chives, they're already string size.) Tie a green onion string into a bow or a knot, around each little package. Is that cute or what? And people eat them like crazy.
We'll still be doing the Star cake and LG's homemade Christmas card, that I told you about last year. Here are a few more things that we do every year.
Like many families, we watch "Rudolph" on TV. Call me an old fogey, but I remember, and am wistful for, the days when Rudolph (and all the other Christmas shows, and The Wizard of Oz) came on broadcast television ONCE a year, and if you missed it, well, that was tragic. There were no DVDs, no videos, in the sixties when I was in grade school. Everyone looked forward to the Christmas shows, and watched as a family. We watch Rudolph together now, at least one of the umpteen times it's on one of the bazillion channels. But we are not alone. We have, in our possession, the entire cast of Rudolph. And every year, LG gets them out of their plastic tub in the basement closet, to watch the show. A cast party, I guess you could say. Then they stay out the rest of the season to play. Here they are, assembled last Friday night to watch their glory days.
These folk were part of a promotion that Rite Aid drug stores offered some years back. I remember that some of them were elusive, and Aunt Jen in Maryland and Granny in North Carolina diligently hunted them down. I don't know what year it was, but it was long enough ago that a toddling LG called Yukon Cornelius, "Chew-pon Bee-nee-lee-us," so of course, that is still his name. Chewpon.
Another tradition we have is one that comes from our church. Every year, the kids in the Sunday School make paper Advent chains. One paper link in the chain for each day of Advent. On each piece of paper in the chain is written an assignment for the reader to do on that day. For example, "Sing Joy to the World," or "Pray for those who have no homes. Donate some money or food to the Food Bank," or "Call someone who lives alone and wish them Merry Christmas. If they're not home, sing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' on their answering machine." Good stuff. The Advent chain is residing on the tiny Advent tree in our kitchen right now. The tree gets a new tiny ornament every day.
And here's a tradition that we don't do, but I've always admired. The reason we don't do it is because another family in our church originated it, and it was sort of "their thing." When their children were small, they would save up empty toilet paper rolls and then fill them with small candies and toys, then wrap them up with the wrapping paper gathered beyond the ends of the roll and tied with ribbon, so they looked like "Christmas crackers." Then the kids would give out the wrapped presents to anyone and everyone at church, usually on Christmas Eve. But you could do it at school, in the neighborhood, wherever. I once asked the mom where they got that tradition, and she said that it was important to her that her children have the experience of giving to people from whom they had no expectation of receiving anything in return. I liked that. Giving just to give, not to "exchange" gifts.
And one more tradition. We discovered some years ago, quite by accident, that Santa has a tradition at our house. When LG was a preschooler, Santa actually borrowed some of OUR wrapping paper on Christmas Eve. He left LG's presents, with tags that clearly indicated they were to her, from him, BUT she recognized the wrapping paper as some she had seen in our closet! And, bright child that she is, she concluded that Santa will use your wrapping paper if you leave it out for him, but ONLY that which has his picture on it. He takes that to mean, "It's yours if you want it." Makes sense to me. Ever since then, we've left out a roll of paper with Santa's face prominently featured on it. We don't wrap any of our gifts to each other in that kind of paper. So now Santa doesn't have to tell us what is from him. We can tell by the "signature" giftwrap. (I love Christmas.)
When I Don My Gay Apparel
At some point, I'll wear my "Kids Need a Stable Background" sweatshirt that I showed you last year. I also have a thing for fun, but tacky holiday jewelry. Like rhinestone Rudolph earrings and colored lightbulb necklaces:
Almost every year I add to my little collection. Last year I even tried my hand at making some holiday jewelry, which I believe might be on display this year at Bucky's place.
What I'm Giving
Oops, I almost forgot! These are a couple of gifts that I will be giving this year:
Most of my shopping has been online, for better and for worse. I found these two little somethin's: a no-battery flashlight, that actually works and is quite bright. Only $7 -$8. And a box of three Philosophy (I LOVE Philosophy) lip glosses: "the ginger bread man, the milk man, and the ice cream man" are the three good men inside. You can give the whole box to one someone, or take them out of the box for stocking stuffers, about $25 for all three.
So, that's my party today. Stay as long as you like. If you don't have a blog, tell us about your holidaying here. If you do have a blog and you're joining in the Cookie Exchange today, leave a note and I'll come visit. I hope everyone who visits here will visit everyone else who extends an invitation, too.
Oh, and if you missed the invitation last week, this will get you started. Tell us:
Favorite holiday recipes
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel :)
Thank you for stopping in. Merry Christmas. Surf safely ;) xxx
Tip: can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Mix well and reheat before serving.