I Saw Pundits Polling Santa Claus

23 12 2015

Since it’s Christmas Eve Eve and it’s (still!) Campaign Season, and, in no small part, because I am in the throes of some upper respiratory bug/fever-induced brainlessness, here’s my idea of the notes and cookies Old Saint Nick might find waiting for him when he visits the homes of our current presidential hopefuls (in alphabetical order, so as not to play favorites):

Jeb Bush

Sugar Cookies – plain vanilla

Remember, I’m the good Bush boy, so may I please have some support in the polls?

 Ben Carson

Snickerdoodles – because it sounds like he’d use it as an expletive

Thanks for the tool box, but I don’t do great with hammers. I think need a globe, this year.

 Chris Christie

Molasses Cookies – usually the biggest one on the plate, mixed up with some sticky stuff

Sorry about that delay between NY and NJ . . . you were late, so I ate your cookies.

 Hillary Clinton 

Thumbprints – perhaps should change the name to Fingerprints

I pulled strings to get NORAD off your fat ass; tell your elves to work faster on that server crap.

 Ted Cruz             

Rum Balls –when heritage meets hysteria

My friend Rush says you’re not real, but I know everything I believe in IS real. That reminds me, “Go Israel!”

Carly Fiorina

Ice Box Cookies – the fine line between working woman and the little woman

Don’t need you; I am a self-made woman. Don’t you watch the debates???

Mike Huckabee

Snowballs – may all your Christmases be absolutely white . . . and Southern Baptist

Aren’t your reindeer really Jesus horses? Oh, and can I play bass in my pal Nugent’s band?

John Kasich

Oatmeal Raisin – could be good for you, but no one really likes them

I know I’ve asked for this every year since I was six, but, please Santa, may I have a personality?

 Rand Paul

Biscotti – crusty and nutty

Get out of my house, you NSA spy!

Martin O’Malley

Cuccidati – these are good, but hardly anyone knows what they are

Thanks for knowing I exist!

                 

 Marco Rubio     

Peanut Butter Kisses – kind of pretty, but they make you thirsty

Just let me keep my foot out of my mouth long enough for Trump and Cruz to be declared insane.

Bernie Sanders

Coconut Macaroons – the confectioner’s homage to the Bernie hairdo

Redistribute a few things from me and my wealthy friends to some of your other stops, would you please?

Donald Trump  

Rugulah (two weeks old, leftover from his Hanukkah effort to kiss up to Israel) – dry, tasteless, crumbly messes

You work nights? Holidays? Ride in an animal-towed sled? LOSER!!!

 

. . . and we’ll hear him exclaim as he drives out of sight,

You know Canada’s close; you should be booking your flight!

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What Day Is It?

2 12 2015

Tis the season to overdo, especially, I think, when it comes to our calendars.  For many of us, the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day will be a giant blur of activity, racing from one appointment to another, with every next item on our schedule distracting us from the present moment.

In our effort to not miss anything, we can actually miss a lot.

When you have children, the dates on the calendar hold real importance – they are steeped in counting down from one holiday to the next in school, by their entertainment, and by more than a few eager grandparents.  When your family has outgrown visiting Santa at the mall for the annual photo op, why continue to keep time with those damn twelve drummers drumming? Don’t you always end up feeling more like Snow White’s Grumpy than the Jolly Old Elf?

I am OLD. My childhood Christmas season did not start until after the Thanksgiving leftovers had been consumed.  The fact that decorations were only on display for a few weeks made them truly magical.  To see them in the aisles at Lowe’s when I go to buy a leaf rake in September hurts my brain. That said, I am about to suggest that we expand the season even more.

The spirit of gift-giving, family-gathering, goodwill-to-others – and Christmas cookies – is a mighty fine thing, so why compress it into a few overstuffed weeks just because of numbers on a calendar?

Okay, there’s that tradition thing. Fine. Choose a few things that make your heart sing, but don’t feel you must see every concert, shop every store, visit every acquaintance, or any other thing you do because “you’ve always done it.”

There are plenty of squares on your calendar, just waiting to be declared important.  Think about how much January could use a bit of holiday cheer and make it happen.  You know that your friends are in the same scheduling maelstrom as you are, so move that sewing circle gift exchange out a few weeks, make adult family visit plans for next year that don’t involve traveling during peak times, spread the joy . . . into other months, please!

You can do it all, you just can’t do it all in four weeks and enjoy it.  Get your fill of Christmas caroling, limited-time-only holiday-spice beverages, ornament ogling, and mistletoe kisses while the getting is good; the rest of the stuff will wait for you and a quieter month that could use a little Christmas joy.

The kitchen will smell just as good when you bake cookies in March!

. . . in case you really REALLY need a cookie in December, though, here’s a little gift to you – my recipe for Dulce de Leche Samoas.  Merry Wednesday!

samoas done 2

Yes, the focus is a bit off – I’m trembling with anticipation.

 

Dulce de Leche Samoas

 Shortbread Cookie Base

1 cup salted butter

½ cup sugar

2 ½ cups flour

In food processor, process butter and sugar until creamy.  Add  flour and pulse to dough.  Knead just to mix. Roll to about a third of an inch thick and cut into 1 ½” rounds. Bake at 300 degrees for about 22 minutes until very pale.

Topping

2 ½ cups shredded sweetened coconut

1 can (10-12 oz.) homemade Dulce de Leche*

½ cup good semisweet chocolate chips plus ¼ cup good milk chocolate chips

Toast the coconut either in the oven (300 degrees, stirring every few minutes) or on the stove top in a large skillet, stirring frequently. Allow to cool.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat dulce de leche until warm. Add the coconut and stir until well combined. Using a spoon or small spatula, add the topping to the shortbread cookies. Once all of the cookies are topped, heat the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth. Drizzle chocolate on the tops of the cookies – dip and wave fork over cookies on rack over lots of wax paper to catch spatter.

*Dulce De Leche

Remove label from can of sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand).  Poke 3 holes in top of can.  Cook can, submerged ¾ of the way in boiling water, for about 4 hours.  Watch to be sure water does not evaporate – will need to add several times.

 





A Different Christmas Song

10 12 2014

Ho! Ho! Hum.

Everywhere I look, there is someone bemoaning the season.  Folks are out of sorts because they’re out of work, out of money, out of energy . . .

For many, just plain out of gratitude.

This will be the fifth Christmas without my beautiful Jessica. She was only twenty when she left us. She still believed in Santa Claus.

When I think of that enormous loss, the un-healable wound, I think I need a different Christmas song: Everything I Own https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q1kB0R4Ijs  sounds about right. Then I remember what a magnificent gift it was to have had such a wonder-filled twenty short years.  I also remind myself that there is no going back, only going on, and that to accept the sadness but refuse all the goodness that still surrounds me is just wrong.

It stinks not to be able to fill your child’s Christmas stocking. It is lousy that you can’t get off work to visit your friends.  Things were better before you lost your job.  I don’t dismiss ANY of these kinds of problems.  I must, though, take exception to the idea that you let your holidays be defined by what you can’t do or don’t have.  In spite of the hardships, which visit every one of us, I wish you a happy season, filled with the celebration of what we DO have.

Don’t find yourself singing a different Christmas song.  Sing FA-LA-LA-LA-LA at the top of your lungs, even if your gay apparel is a few years old and your holly’s a bit wilted! Consider the people in your life who make you smile and warm your heart. Tell them.

Joy to the world.





Size Matters

11 12 2013

Raise your hand, if you’re a little (maybe a lot) larger than you were before Thanksgiving started us down the well-greased slide through Cookie Town.

We’re at that cruel juncture of tasty sinful treats at every turn and oh-crap-I-need-to-fit-into-my-good-dress. It’s holiday party season. The pressure to be social and svelte makes for some serious self-doubt – and some downright self-loathing. Let’s just stop that right now!

We’re all obsessed with our dress size. Has it gone up since we last went shopping?  Does our office buddy wear that cute size 00?  How many laps must we run to get down to where we were last year?  Really?  Don’t know about you, but I am not running any laps!

Here’s the deal.

What size am I?

The number on my jeans is irrelevant, the minute I zip them up; the size of my shirt ceases to matter, as soon as I pull it over my head.

I am ME-size. Life-size.  I fit.

Look at your life and make sure it is your perfect fit.  If not, while it takes a little more effort than changing your socks, just change it.  Make yourself comfortable.  It’s your life. Size DOES matter. Live LARGE!





Joy to the World – Every Day

4 12 2013

Hello, December. You’ve arrived, ahead of my internal schedule, yet again, this year. You put a lot of stress on regular folks, you know?  We are all cranked up, trying to get the perfect gifts for friends and family and co-workers and neighbors and Secret Santa and the mailman and the dog groomer and the hairdresser . . . We are decking our halls like we’re preparing for the Rockettes to enter from Stage Right.  We are exhausted and exasperated that we might not be feeling the holiday spirit quite like we should.

Enough!

While it might be “the most wonderful time of the year,” December puts us under some serious stress. We want to make sure we don’t miss any of the goodness it promises, so we rush around madly and overschedule ourselves to the point of absurdity.  I propose we change our approach to the season – let’s spread the comfort and joy out over the whole year, instead of trying to pack all of our family-loving, gift-giving, wassail-quaffing, community-singing festivities into a few short weeks in December.

Sure, this is the time to break out the cookie recipes and tacky – um beautiful – tinsel and sparkly lights, but there are loads of days in the year to show our friends, family, and community that they matter to us. There are plenty of days in the year to enjoy a lovely dinner, a homemade cookie, even a festive decoration or two.

There is no rule that says “No Celebrating” in the other eleven calendar months.

In the spirit of the holidays and to encourage us to be joyful every day, and because I like making up silly words from time to time, here’s my freshly minted good wishes word – joydinary.

May you find something joydinary in every day!





Season’s Greetings from the . . .

19 12 2012

What is it about Christmas cards that turns otherwise intelligent folks into blithering idiots – or at least make them forget their elementary school plural rules.  Today, the last straw for Miss Muse arrived in the mailbox – a Christmas card from someone I know to be a college graduate with a very good job. The name is changed to protect the incorrect, but here’s the gist:

Merry Christmas from the Smith’s.

The Smith’s what?  That apostrophe indicates possession, NOT plural.  What ever happened to the Smiths?  Why does it seem that almost EVERYBODY is using the apostrophe incorrectly and unnecessarily?  I used to see this with names that end in “s,” but it seems to be everywhere, now.

I have one of those “s” names – Lewis.  For years, to avoid the cumbersome and unattractive “Lewises,” I used the phrase “the Lewis Family.”  In the last few years, though, emboldened by the bruising of pluralizing surnames, I have hit on a better way for my “s” last name. I’ve gone old school – Latin. You know, alumnus-alumni, so

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Lewi!





Mmmmmm! THE Christmas Cookie

12 12 2012

I like cookies.

I like the ones I make, myself, the best – ‘cause I make the ones I like the best!

One of my favorite holiday cookies is cuccidati.  Some folks might think these are just fancy Fig Newtons.  Yeah, like a Ferrari is just a fancy Buick. This is not a cookie for the faint of heart chef or the faint of heart diner, but I offer this recipe to you, so you can either make these delicious bites of Christmas joy for yourself or wheedle someone else into making them for you.

Happy Holidays!

Cuccidati                    Gourmet 12/02                                   about 5 dozen

Filling:

1 c packed soft dried mission figs (8 oz)

¾ c raisins

¾ c mild honey

¼ c brandy

1 ½ t finely grated orange zest

1 t finely grated lemon zest

¾ c walnuts, toasted and chopped

¾ c whole almonds, toasted and chopped

¼ t nutmeg

1 T cinnamon

¼ t cloves

Pulse figs and raisins in processor until finely chopped.  Pour into medium bowl and stir in rest of ingredients.  Chill, covered, at least 8 hours, and up to a week.

Dough:

4 c flour

1 c + 2 T sugar

1 T baking powder

1 t salt

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes

2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ c whole milk

1 ½ t vanilla

1 t finely grated orange zest

Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in processor.  Pulse in butter just until most resembles coarse meal.  Add eggs, milk, vanilla and zest and stir just until a soft dough forms.  Halve dough and gather each half into a ball.  Form each into a rough 4” x 6” rectangle.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.

Frosting:  make while cookies are baking

1 c confectioners sugar

½ t vanilla

1 ½ – 2 T fresh orange juice

Stir together to form a pourable icing.

Baking cookies:

Roll one rectangle to 14’ x 15”. Trim to 10” x 13”.  Refrigerate trimmings to re-form and re-roll once. Cut 2 ½” x 10” strips.  Place 1/3 cup filling in an inch strip in center of each dough strip.  Fold edges over to cover filling and pinch to seal. Turn seam-side down and flatten rolls. Cut into 1 ½” slices with floured knife.  Bake ½” apart on buttered baking sheet in middle of 350° oven for 16-20 minutes until golden on edges.  Remove to rack to cool 10 minutes, then frost warm cookies.

These will keep a week at room temperature in airtight containers, layers separated by wax paper.