Posts tagged with: cookies

On the 9th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …

9 delicious hockey hunks!

I could just stop there, couldn’t I? 9 delicious hockey hunks … yum! We could all enjoy them. Who needs anything more?

See you all after Christmas 😉

Ahem.

Okay, as I’m getting dirty looks from Sven, who wants a proper Christmas post in the Lair, I suppose I’d better do this properly. Jeez – just because Zach and the other hockey hunks pilfered one or two (or several) of Sven’s stash of festive bubbly after their latest win …

It’s great to be released from my writing cave, so I can spend time with you all. Missed you! In honour of the occasion I thought I’d give you some festive cheer in the form of some hockey teams showing us how to celebrate Christmas, followed by a special Christmas Quick Five.

First up, the Belfast Giants and All I Want for Christmas is You …

Thanks, lads!

Next up, the Sheffield Steelers took a different approach to a favourite English Christmas tune, Merry Christmas, Everyone …

Moving over to the NHL, the defending Stanley Cup champs have released a holiday album you won’t want to miss!

Heading north of the border, we have the Ottawa Senators’ rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas …

Ottawa Senators 12 Days of Christmas

Unfortunately, the Calgary Flames didn’t fare so well …

Calgary Flames Ugly Christmas Sweaters

And finally, that Christmas classic, The Night Before Christmas, from the Dallas Stars …

Dallas Stars The Night Before Christmas

As you might imagine, not all goes smoothly filming these videos …

St Louis Blues Outtakes

(I’m sorry the last four were only available on the NHL console.)

Cover2a-APerfectStorm All of which goes to show that just because these guys are hot on ice, they can’t be good at everything! 😉

 

And now, over to you for a Festive Quick Five. In honour of the season, I’m giving away a New Jersey Ice Cats Christmas Ornament and a complete set of my limited edition, Ice Cats’ short stories to one lucky commenter. Don’t forget, you still have a few days to download A Perfect Storm, my FREE December Ice Cats’ short story, on my website in the For Readers section here.

  1.  Christmas sweaters – yes or no?
  2. Are you a fancy wrapper, with bows, ribbons and all the bells and whistles or a toss it in a gift-bagger?
  3. Worst Christmas present?
  4. Favourite Christmas ornament?
  5. What would you like Santa to bring you?

 

Oh, I nearly forgot … a Christmas cookie recipe. This is for Lizzie’s Sweet Treats Shortbread Cookies. Lizzie appears in the NJ Ice Cats short story, A Perfect Party (which is still available for download on my website, in the For Readers section here).

Ingredients: (approx 12 cookies)Cover-APerfectParty

150g self-raising flour
150g salted butter
50g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons or any chocolate pieces (optional)
Cling-film or plastic wrap.

 

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

  1. Add flour, sugar and butter (plus vanilla) to food processor or mixer and pulse until mixture is like wet sand.
  2. Lay out a large piece of cling-film on the counter and pour the mixture onto it.
  3. Using the cling-film to help keep the mixture together, press and roll, until you have a long, solid roll of dough, wrapped in plastic.
  4. Store in refrigerator for an hour.
  5. Slice dough into ¼” or ½” rounds and put onto a well-greased or sheet-lined baking tray.
  6. Cook for approx 15 mins. Note: timing depends on how thickly you cut the rounds.
  7. When cooked, use a spatula to slide onto a wire rack. Note: the cookies will be very soft when warm, so if they’re too fragile, it’s okay to let them cool on the tray for a few minutes to let them harden a little.
  8. (Optional) While cookies are cooling, add chocolate button to the centre of each cookie.

Note: If you don’t use metric measures, keep the flour, butter and sugar in the ratio of 3:3:1 (eg 6oz, 6oz, 2oz)

However you celebrate the festive season, I hope it is a happy, healthy and fun one for you and yours and that 2016 is a great year.

C is for Cookie, That’s Good Enough for Me….To Eat!

C&KhopCOOKIES!!!

I LOVE Cookies.  I love them in all shapes and sizes and varieties.

I love short cookies (not so sweet, more cake-y) and gooey cookies (the gumdrop cookies I put in the recipe book I’ll mention in a minute), and soft cookies (ginger molasses and chocolate and chocolate chip) and crisp cookies (sugar and gingersnaps and pecan sandies).

I love shaped cookies like gingerbread people and sugar cookie stars and hearts and christmas trees.  I love blob cookies (AKA “drop cookies”) that you slide off the spoon and onto the cookie sheet and hope they end up in some kind of vague cookie shape.

TollHouseCookies

I’m good with your basic oatmeal cookie, your peanut butter cookie, and le basic Toll House chocolate chip.  They are the standards.  The “go to” cookie of any season.  They are the blue-chip-stock of cookies.  You cannot go wrong with those basic cookie types, no matter what the occasion.

But when it comes to the Holidays, beginning with Halloween in our household, it’s ALLLLLLLL about the Molasses Ginger Cookies, the soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies, the 7 layer Cookie Bars, the gingerbread and oooohhhhhhh! The cut out sugar cookies.

So when Tawny asked me if I wanted to be a stop on her Cookies and Kisses Author Hop, to celebrate the Holiday Cookie Season, I was all over it.  Grins.  There’s even a Cookies & Kisses cookbook!  Go to Tawny’s website and you’ll find the link!  0Q1qz4d4bo1_500_zpsb68a339fwww.TawnyWeber.com (that’s where my gumdrop cookie recipe can be found!)

Looking up that gumdrop recipe really took me back in time.  You see, when I was little, the Cookie Season began when Mama got out her recipe book – a heavy, black, leather journal-type book – and made cookie dough.

She loved to bake.  Baking was her glory.  Pies were her first love and like our Joan, she entered the Fair and won her “Fair Share” – hahah – of ribbons.  I even have a picture of her with a prize winning pie.

But her cookies were the highlight of my childhood.

So how do Cookies relate to Kisses?  In my Christmas story BEHIND ENEMY LINES in the Anthology, A JEWEL IN TIME, which I wrote with my pals Bestselling Author Barbara Devlin and debut author Caitlenn Ainnsley, there aren’t any cookies, alas, but there are LOTS of kisses!

Behind Enemy Lines is set in the chaos preceding WWII.  I was actually talking to my sons about my Mom and Dad both having been alive during WWII – my dad served in the Army with Patton’s divisions in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.  So was telling my Eldest, now 14, about this time-honored connection of cookie dough, recipes, and cut-out-cookie baking with my Mom and her notes in the margins, many of which were written during the War Years.

Did he feel the connection via these yummy cookies, to his elders, to his Grandmother Pickering whom he never met?

“Ummmm, kinda,” he said, munching on the last of the molasses ginger cookies I made last weekend.  “This was her recipe, right?  The one you won’t share?”

IMG_3162“Yes,” I replied, pleased that he remembered.  “The one she wrote by hand, in fountain pen.”  (You can see an example there below, of her hand written, fountain-pen elegance in recipe writing)

“You said she started that during the War, right?  By the way, what’s a fountain pen?  And are we making cookies this weekend?  You got the jam, right?”

I beamed.  He remembered. (BTW, the jam is for Apricot Jam Tarts.  Grins.  Slurpy Good.)

photoAlthough my sons never met my mother, they knew my stories about her writing notes in her own private recipe book – notes about how to get by without rationed sugar or without shortening or hard-to-get-in-the-city brown sugar.  Its funny, I can tell if a recipe is from the WWII era when it calls for “heavy cream skimmed off the top of the milk” or “lard” or it says “fresh eggs best, esp. from the Reds”  (Mother raised Rhode Island Red chickens as a girl.  Grins.)  So, despite never having met her, my sons and even my husband kind-of “know” my Mom.

I hope, when they’re older, they’ll read BEHIND ENEMY LINES and know a little about that history-shaping time of  World War II.  So to go with your coffee and cookies this fine December day, here’s a short excerpt:

Grace conned enough German to know she was being held until Adolf Hitler himself arrived to talk to her. Somehow he’d learned about her antique jeweled brooch, and the legend around it, and around her family’s ancient Templar origins. Her lip curled in a silent snarl. It wasn’t like anyone had kept the legend secret, exactly. Each generation’s eldest daughter, if there was one, received the brooch. The previous generation’s eldest daughter passed it on to her daughter, or to the niece or cousin she felt should be the recipient. Grace’s Aunt, also named Grace, had passed it to her namesake on the day Grace turned eighteen. Aunt Grace’s brood was large, but they were all boys.

Grace didn’t really believe in the legend. How could dreaming of your “destined love” be helpful in any way? And really.AJewelinTimefinal
Different dreams? Compelling futures?

Balderdash. But she loved the jewel, and kept the tradition of wearing it, always. And because she did that bit, she kept the jewel-journal with her at all times, as well.

Grace looked at her watch as she heard the creaking of the great stairs down the hall from her room. There was a perfunctory knock and the grate of a key in the old fashioned lock.

The same pattern had been repeated for three days now. She’d been here a week, but within the last few days, three more generals had arrived. She’d been introduced, but then sequestered in her room.

“Fräulein Corvedale, your dinner.”  A woman, the lodge’s housekeeper, bustled in. Her name was Frau Shemper and she spoke superb English. “Come, come, I will set it up here, yes?”

She motioned the servant following her to put the tray down on the table near where Grace sat.  As he set down the tray, the man watched her. Harsh white scars ran like claw marks under a black eye patch. His stooped posture and distinct limp should have made him look menacing.  Instead, there was a knowing look in his good eye, an assessing look. It was as if he wanted–needed–to talk to her, but dared not.

“It won’t be long now,” Frau Shemper chirped chattily, pulling the curtains, shutting out the winter landscape. “Tomorrow night our special guests will be here,” the woman said, her smile twinkling, inviting Grace to enjoy the idea of that.

“Danke, Frau Shemper.”

The manservant had tended the fire, and now stood at the door, a hulking, dark-haired reminder that she was a prisoner.  His presence sent a shiver down her back, which she disguised by rising from her seat, moving to the newly awakened fire. There was something about him…something compelling.

Under her shirt, the jeweled pendant shifted against her skin. It was a warm and reassuring weight. Somehow, she’d get out of here.  Grace had been well trained as a spy, and her self-defense skills were superb. Unfortunately, even if she could take out both Frau Shemper and the manservant, there was a guard in the hall, and another patrolling the lower floor. Yet another guard walked a beat in the garden, with one at the gate, and at least one at the end of the drive, which she could see from her windows.

“Come, now, Fräulein. You must be hungry, yes?”

“Yes, of course. Thank you, Frau Shemper, for bringing dinner up yourself. You must be very busy with such important guests to tend.”

She and the man left, and Grace returned to the stew and her questions.  What could Hitler want with her? With the jewel? She didn’t want to think about the diary. She prayed it was still in the lodge, that she could find it. Though not as ancient as the brooch, it told only the stories of the women in her family who’d possessed the jewel through the centuries.

It was a story book, but a precious one. Those stories, magical or not, were her history, her people. Still. They were stories. Fables.  If it were only that, well, it wouldn’t be so dangerous. Unfortunately, she’d used the book to create a code system. She stored her notes in it, and had given her father the key to the code should she die.

“Lovely thoughts, Grace,” she chided herself as she sat brooding by the fire. The heavy tread in the hallway and subsequent scrape of the key in the lock startled her. She rose, expecting Frau Shemper.

The manservant was alone. He left the door open and Grace assessed her chances.

“I wouldn’t try it, Lady Corvedale,” the man said, his voice low and controlled. He spoke English! An American!

“What did you say?” As she watched, he transformed, standing taller, looking leaner and less bulky as he stood straight. His shoulders, already broad, were even bigger when he stood up to his full height, his posture exact and erect.

“Don’t try to jump me and I won’t have to hurt you.”

 

Squidge and CoffeeAnd there you have it, Banditas and Buddies!  A little taste treat for the day!

Do you like your cookies with Coffee?  

(There’s my daily dose with Squidge.  Squidge appears courtesy of the darling JADE LEE! I love my Squidge!)

Do you like your cookies with tea?

With hot chocolate?

With Milk?

Do you leave milk and cookies for Santa – or did you as a child, or with your children if you had/have them?

What’s your favorite store-bought cookie? Pepperidge Farm Orange Milanos?  Oreos?  Keebler Fudge Stripes?

Do you dunk?  That is, do you dunk your cookies in milk/coffee/tea/chocolate or just eat them as an accompaniment? 

 

One lucky poster today will get a copy of A JEWEL IN TIME, and a copy of ENTER THE BRETHREN from Barbara Devlin.  (Her story in A Jewel in Time is a prequel to her Brethren of the Coast series, so you’ll get a great start to the series!!)  I’ll also put a copy of my Thanksgiving Themed novella, Deadly Delivery in today’s prize bundle!  (KINDLE ONLY!)

 

 

It’s that time…

Yeah, it’s Girl Scout Cookie time.  And I’m the proud mama of two Girl Scouts. 

BoxGroup5B_Shadow Now I’m not going to get into whether or not Girl Scout cookies are a Good Thing or a Bad Thing.   They are simply a thing.  A fact of my life as a mom of girls.  They are also a relatively tasty thing.  And if there’s no escaping it (there’s not–just try to evade the Girl Scouts when cookie sales are happening), it might as well be tasty.

I have a particular appreciation for their tastiness as I usually end up buying everything my kids can’t sell.  I’ll probably end up eating at least three boxes of each flavor, so let’s cut straight to the chase.  Exactly how tasty are these babies?

I’m so glad you asked.  Here they are, ranked (in my humble, road-tested opinion) from worst to best: 

ThinMints2Thin Mints.  These are essentially a chocolate-dipped mint-flavored chocolate cracker. People love these with a burning passion but I just don’t get it.  I mean, I respect others’ right to dissent but speaking for myself personally?  If it smacks of toothpaste, I don’t want it for dessert. I just don’t.  I don’t care how much chocolate you throw at it.

Savannah_SmilesSavannah Smiles. Okay, so these aren’t  bad.  There’s nothing wrong with them.  They’re lemon-shortbread crescents dusted with powdered sugar.  They’re fine.  But they’re new in the past couple of years & I like my cookies with a little tradition on them.  But I’ll be honest–without chocolate OR caramel, they’re starting at a disadvantage.  

Trefoils3Trefoils:  These are your shortbread classics, shaped like the girl scout seal.  If I had a big bowl of ice cream & nothing to put on it, I’d settle for trefoils but I wouldn’t be excited about it.  

do-si-doDo-Si-Dos:  Your peanut butter sandwich cookie.  Definitely a contender.  Love that nutty, granola-y texture, & peanut butter is a big favorite of mine.  Crumble these over a bowl of vanilla ice cream & now you’re talking. 

Samoas1Samoas:  Now these are truly a treat.  It’s a shortbread ring, covered in caramel & coconut, then drizzled with chocolate.  That’s the holy trinity of Cs right there, people–chocolate, coconut AND caramel.  Please, thank you, amen.  So why aren’t these at the top of my list?  Because in my perfect world, dessert is frozen.  And when you freeze caramel it turns into a tooth-chipping heart break.  So, sorry, Samoas.  You get the silver.  Next?

Tagalongs1Tagalongs:  Now this is the perfect cookie.  It’s a shortbread patty, covered in a layer of peanut butter.  Then the whole thing is dipped in chocolate.  They’re delightful on their own, of course, but throw these babies in the freezer?  They get exponentially better.  Now chop ’em up & throw them on a big bowl of vanilla ice cream & you’ve just scooped yourself a dish of heaven. 

And guess what ONE VARIETY of cookie my girls managed to sell every single box of? 

That’s right.  Tagalongs.  

You know what we’re up to our eyeballs in?  

Thin Mints. 

I could just cry.

So tell me, are you a fan of Girl Scout cookies?  What’s your favorite & why?

More Christmas Addictions

While Trish admitted to having a Christmas decoration addiction, which I share, I have to admit to another Christmas related addiction. My name is Christie and I’m addicted to making Christmas cookies. I have no excuse. My kids only asked me to make three kinds of cookies, but I couldn’t stop at that.

So far, I have made chocolate chip cookies, mint M&M cookies, brownies with Andes Mints on top, two batches of pumpkin bars (the first batch didn’t make the Christmas cut and went to my son’s friends), and eggnog cookies. I still have the ginger snaps and the sugar cookies to get done this week. Now, if I didn’t work a full time job, plus have another writing contract to finish and have a 15-year-old part time, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But it is!

Of course, I will give a bunch of these away as presents to people I work with and my critique partners. But there is no reason I can’t just give them a card and a small present. It is what most people do.

I must pause for a minute to take another batch of eggnog cookies out of the oven.

Okay, I’m back now…did you miss me? The next batch is in the oven and I already put the powdered sugar on the finished batch. See what I mean? Even as I write this blog, I’m still making cookies. Even as I cleaned my house yesterday, I was baking cookies. This is out of hand!

Help!

But in case you share my addiction, here’s my eggnog cookie recipe:

Kringlas

4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp nutmeg

¾ cup unsalted butter (not shortening or margarine)

1 egg

1 cup eggnog

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until softened. Add sugar and egg, beat until fluffy. Alternate the dd dry ingredients and eggnog. Chill 4 hours. Roll teaspoons of dough into pencil-like strips about 8 inches long and ½ inch thick. On an ungreased cookie sheet, form pretzel shape. This is how they’re supposed to be done. Personally, I roll them into balls and put them on the cookies sheet. The pretzel thing is a lot of work.

Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and nutmeg.

They are delicious.

So now, ‘fess up. How many other Christmas cookies addicts do we have here? I’m sure I’m not the only one. Any ideas on how to stop myself. Do I want to stop myself?

In the spirit of Christmas and giving, I’m giving away an e-copy of Bewitching the Duke to one lucky commenter.

Check back tomorrow night to see if you’ve won! The fabulous Caren Crane will be here tomorrow so stop by and see what’s on her mind! In fact, come back every day between now & Christmas for your chance to win prizes, books and gifties leading up to a HUGE GRAND PRIZE of books and goodies on Christmas Day!!

Cookie Exchange!

Tradition. Tradition!

LOL! Okay, now I have the song from Fiddler On The Roof running through my head. However, for me, and I dare say some of you, tradition plays an important part of the holiday season.

Thanksgiving at my house always has Turkey with oyster stuffing, Southern style green beans, corn casserole courtesy of Paula Dean, my mother’s cranberry relish, and pumpkin pie. For the past few years my daughters have added their touch to the meal with Alison’s crunchy pecan-topped sweet potato casserole and Lyndsey’s caramel apple pie. Both are now a tradition.

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, I traditionally start my baking. First, and foremost, is the making of Buckeyes! (Peanut butter and confectioner’s sugar balls dipped in chocolate to resemble the Ohio State symbol, the Buckeye nut.) This has been a tradition with me since…I was a teenager. The recipe makes 9 dozen and between my kids, their friends, and my co-workers there isn’t a one of these left after Christmas!

The next traditional cookie is Chocolate Mint cookies! (That’s them over there.) Here’s the recipe:

CHOCOLATE MINT COOKIES

I received this recipe while working at THE Ohio State University’s L&D unit. It became an instant hit with my family and a staple of every Christmas celebration from that time on.

Ingredients:

¾ cup butter

1 ½ cups firmly packed Dark Brown Sugar

2 TBS. Water

1 package semi sweet chocolate chips

2 large eggs

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 ¼ tsp. Baking soda

½ tsp. Salt


Directions:
Green chocolate mint wafers, (Andes). About 1 pound. 

1. Heat butter, sugar and water in a large heavy saucepan over low heat until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips, stirring until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large mixer bowl and let stand about 10 minutes until slightly cool.

2. With mister at medium speed, beat eggs in one at a time. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating just until blended. Refrigerate at least one hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil. Roll tsp of dough into balls, place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 12-13 minutes. Cookies will appear soft. DO NOT COOK ANY LONGER.

4. Remove from oven and immediately place mint on each hot cookie. Let soften, then swirl mint over cookies to frost. (You can use the tip of a spoon or a toothpick.) Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

 

We also make chocolate chip cookies, replacing the chocolate chips with red and green candies. Peanut Blossom cookies, Coconut Jam Thumbprint cookies, Iced Cookie Cutter Sugar cookies, and if my husband has been especially good, Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies, just for him!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we started our baking and I had two little helpers with me. They help measure and mix. Then one of their jobs, (you can see them concentrating as they work) is to unwrap the mints that go on last. Hopefully, this will become a tradition they’ll pass on to their kids, too!

.

 

So, what is your favorite tradition for the holidays? Your favorite Christmas Cookie? Want to exchange recipes?  

Quick Five – Let’s Talk Cookies!

I rarely go to a grocery store these days, as most of our grocery shopping is done online and delivered to our front door. However, recently, we had to go to a local supermarket to pick up some things for my father-in-law. Because he has a sweet tooth, we ended up in the biscuits and cakes aisle.

Those of you know me, know I’m usually tempted more by savoury snacks than sweet. So, I didn’t see this as a problem aisle … until I spotted some childhood favourites! Before you could say chocolate chip cookie, several packets of biscuits had made their way into our trolley!

So what treats popped themselves into my trolley?

First, Fox’s Iced Party Rings. Iced biscuits with a hole in the middle in pretty colours.

Fox’s Jam Creams. Biscuit sandwich with jam and cream in the middle. Not to be confused with Jammy Dodgers, which are a prettier biscuit, but only have jam in them!

McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives. Digestive biscuits are delicious plain, but add a layer of chocolate to them and these sweet, wheaty biscuits rock!

McVitie’s Chocolate covered Hobnobs. Hobnobs are the crunchy, oaty version of Digestives and also yummy. Yummy x 2 with that extra layer of chocolate!

McVitie’s Boasters. The ultimate chocolate chip cookies with big chunks of chocolate and whole nuts.

Sadly, they didn’t have my BFF Caroline’s delicious Toll House cookies – my favourtie home-made cookies!

Now, if I really wanted to treat myself, I’d pop over to my favourite decorated biscuits site – the fabulous Biscuiteers! Not only are their cookies delicious, they’re gorgeous too! They have so many wonderful designs, from these cute shoes to the wonderful Royal Wedding biscuits and everything in-between! Look at the fun biscuits they’ve done for the Diamond Jubilee – complete with Corgis! (And, yes, they ship worldwide!)

Over to you …

1. What childhood favourites tempt you in the cookie aisle?

2. Do you bake or do you buy all your cookies?

3. If you bake – what’s your specialty? If you don’t, where is your favourite cookie stop?

4. How do you eat your cookies – nibble, cram it all in, twist and lick any filling etc etc?

5. Do you have a favourite cookie jar, or don’t they last long enough in your house?

 

COOOOOOOKIES!!!!

by Tawny

It’s Cookie Month. Maybe that’s not what the calendar says. Maybe that’s not even any official designation for this month. But in my house… It’s Cookie Month.

Cookies for making, cookies for decorating. Cookies for giving, cookies for eating. Cookies for Santa, cookies for Dad (lots and lots of cookies for Dad!).

So here’s my top 5 fave cookies for this time of year – and my absolute least fave:

  1. Holiday shaped, decorated sugar cookies
  2. Gingerbread
  3. Peanut butter blossoms
  4. Florentines
  5. Rugelach

And my least favorite (but somehow we end up with them all the time anyway – it’s a tradition, after all):

  1. Mexican Wedding cookies


How about you? what are your favorite holiday cookies? And your least favorite?

It’s FINALLY here! The Romance Bandits 12 Days of Christmas Booty! Every day between now and Christmas, one lucky commenter per day will win a daily prize and on some days, additional goodies from that day’s blogging Bandita or guest. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we’ll give away bigger prizes, including autographed books, GR mugs and much more! Come join us! Tell your friends! Let’s make the Season BRIGHT!

Cookie Anatomy

By Donna MacMeans

Christmas cookies have some sensual benefits not always anticipated.

A while back, Cassondra and I were comparing some baking stories (which if you know Cassondra, these are rare stories, indeed). On an earlier blog, Cassondra shared how creative frosting of a candlestick sugar cookie led to an eye-opening discussion of the birds & bees. You might recall her posting was part of a dare from Anna and I. Now I’m obligated to follow through with my story – another lesson in anatomy inspired by cookie dough.

A number of years ago, our beloved next door neighbors moved (sniff, sniff). They were the perfect neighbors in that their children were precisely the same ages as my two. The agonizing months of curiosity about possible new neighbors followed, until November when a “sold” sign replaced the more familiar one on the lawn.

The new neighbors moved in and, wonder of wonders, they had a daughter the same age as my son. She was even placed in his kindergarten class. “Mary” (not her real name) would often come over to play with my son and on this particular afternoon, I was making cookies while the kids were playing.

I like to make gingerbread cookies – not to eat – but to decorate a wreath that I hang on the fireplace. The heat from the chimney scents the air with the rich scent of ginger and spice. I’d decided to use a new shape for my cookies that year – Gingerbears.

The process is simple – first, make up a batch of gingerbread, whatever recipe you can find. Now the fun begins. Make a series of dough balls – 1 medium, 5 little, 3 tiny little balls. The medium will become the bear’s belly, one little will become the head, the others will be arms and legs. The tiny ones will make a nose and two ears. No need to smush them down – they’ll bond in the baking. Here’s a couple of the ones I made to demonstrate. Unfortunately one was the victim of an unfortunate icing accident, thus the unseemly red birthmark.

Let me share a baking secret – parchment paper. If you put the raw dough on parchment paper there’s no need to grease the cookie sheets. Plus you can lay out the cookies on paper on the countertop and then slide them onto a cookie sheet and into the oven with ease. But now, back to my story –

Little Mary sees me assembling these bears and looks at me with big brown eyes and says “Can I help?”

Who could refuse? I had her wash her hands, tied a frilly little apron around her child’s body, and suggested she make up some balls.

“No,” she said. “I don’t want to do that.”

She screwed up her little face then picked up some dough – rolling it between her fingers so it became long and thin like a snake.

“I’ll make the dangley parts,” she said before she slapped her creation between my bear’s stubby little legs!

Now all sorts of questions are forming in my mind about the new neighbors. But first, I quickly remove the “boy parts” explaining that all the bears were girls, which seemed to satisfy her – though she was no longer interested in helping with the cookies.

Afterwards I spoke with her mother and learned that Mary has an older brother whom she has “surprised” on occasion. My new neighbors turned out to be as wonderful as the old ones, even with the mischievous Mary (who has since graduated from Notre Dame).

So my question is – have any fun or bonding experiences occurred while making cookies? Are you finished with your Christmas shopping? Baking? Decorating? Not long to go — Share your comments and I’ll select one for a copy of The Education of Mrs. Brimley.

Oh, and Happy Festivus (for the rest of us) Day!

Here’s my Christmas treat for you – an intoxicating pecan pie. You’ll want to slurp up any pie filling remains with a straw – it’s that good.

Donna’s Pecan Pie

1 pie crust
1 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups light karo syrup
¼ cup bourbon
5 oz melted butter (one stick & 3 tablespoons)
2 cups pecan halves

Preheat the over to 400 degrees

Mix by hand all the above ingredients except crust and pecans
Pour mixture into the pie crust
Put pecans on top in concentric circles.
Bake 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350 degrees
Bake 45 –55 minutes more.