Monday, December 26, 2011

the transitional Christmas

This was my first Christmas as wife and mother, not as daughter and sibling. It was totally freaky. I think I'll get better at it as the years go by. One thing I am really glad I did was put up a tree (even though it was really small) and hang stockings over the fireplace and put a few decorations around. I am also glad I mustered up the ambition to send out Christmas cards. I considered not doing all these things this year because I was afraid it might make me more homesick, but I think it had the opposite effect.

Both sides of the family sent gifts which was great, so I made sure anything that wasn't wrapped got wrapped and our tree looked really generous the night of Christmas eve. Maybe the saddest part was stuffing my own stocking. I actually think it would have been less depressing to just leave it empty.

One lucky thing is that Tim was working nights, so even though he worked through the holiday, he was home Christmas morning. So we were able to open gifts with Parker in a pretty normal fashion. The only thing that was off was I'm not used to "playing Santa" in the morning. My brother always does this, so I forgot that we are supposed to open stockings first. After the first gift was opened, I realized we were doing it wrong, so then we did the stockings. Parker is not even 8 months old yet, so he was a good sport for the gift least for a little while.

I also made a really simple dinner this year. I did the whole Thanksgiving turkey dinner this year, so for Christmas I decided to make my life easier, especially since it was only Tim and I eating. I got a small Boar's Head sweet slice ham, glazed it, and baked it. We also had mashed potatoes and asparagus. The ham was every bit as delicious as the commercials make it look. TRY THIS HAM! But don't forget the glaze.

All in all, I say this year was a success. I can't wait for future years when Parker gets really excited for Christmas and for Santa to come. I'll have to make sure I remember little things like setting out milk and cookies...and of course opening the stockings first.

One last thing, mostly so  I don't forget this for next year: My sister and her boyfriend were up here visiting and made gooey butter cookies with this recipe:
Gooey Butter Cookies (recipe by Mathew Rice of Nightwood Restaurant)
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped (optional (Tim thinks it is optional, but important))
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioner’s sugar for rolling and dusting
Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, butter, vanilla bean seeds, and sugar together until fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract.

Incorporate the flour mixture.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.  Scoop roughly 1-ounce balls and toss in the confectioner’s sugar.  Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment, a couple of inches apart.

 Bake at 325° F until they spread and puff slightly, about 12-16 minutes.  They will be really soft in the center.  If they start to brown, they’ve gone too far.  Cool to room temperature.

From this point, Mathew usually refrigerates them on the tray because as the cream cheese and butter get cold, they’re easier to pick up. It is a good tip.  Dust with more confectioner’s sugar before serving.  Mathew always serves these cookies straight out of the fridge. He thinks they don’t taste as good warm.  I agree with Mathew! Store these in the fridge and you can serve them cold/cool.
These will keep for up to a week in the fridge. Yeah, good luck with that.

As a side note: I disagree that these taste better cold. I think they are amazing when they are warm. But they are disturbingly delicious either way. 

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