After reading a couple of newspapers, watching the latest news on TV and logging in to news stories on the Internet, I’ve come to a conclusion regarding holiday spirit this year.
Scrooge and the Grinch have hooked up, are in cahoots, and determined to impose their lousy attitudes on the rest of us, spoiling the holidays as much as possible.
Note that I said “holidays,” not Christmas, which is actually what I first typed in. It is, as we’ve been told too many times, no longer “politically correct” to incorporate the word Christmas into any public presentation, and this is a public newspaper, after all, so I must be careful not to offend anyone with the wrong terminology.
As I was saying, Scrooge and the Grinch appear to be winning the war against holiday cheer and good will, handing out Bah-Humbug pills to people all over the world. Angry demonstrations in cities throughout the world, thousands of people bent on destruction filling streets, even shoppers looking for bargains trampling each other to death as they barge through doors to be first to grab whatever they can; it’s enough to take the joy out of any occasion.
Even poor Barbie has been affected. Mattel put a tiny video camera in her ample body, thinking to make her more interesting to little girls, and the first thing we hear is that Barbie may be used as a tool for pornography. Ken is not spared either; the current joke is that there is a Divorce Barbie in the works. She comes complete with all of Ken’s stuff. Are we as sick as that in this country now?
I find myself looking at virtually every toy on the shelves with jaundiced eyes, wary of what evil connotations I might be missing. After all, I’m searching for gifts for the little kids in my life, and I wouldn’t want somehow to damage them by inadvertently giving them a toy with the wrong “message.”
I believe, however that there is a cure for the Scrooge/Grinch malaise, and I intend to put it to use immediately.
First, I’m going cold turkey on the news; turn off the media barrage until January. No more killings, rapes, destructive demonstrations, suicide bombings, rhetoric about political negotiations, hysteria about Christmas trees or even the word “Christmas,” and I’ll say whatever I feel like saying to anyone I meet, whether it’s “Have a merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays.”
Then I’ll go see “The Nutcracker,” still one of the most upbeat, happy “get in the right mood” holiday productions and a sure antidote to the holiday blues. And I’ll use the time I would normally spend reading or watching current news to make Christmas cookies, or should I say holiday cookies, dozens and dozens of cookies, decorated with Christmas trees and stars.
While I’m baking them, I’m going to play all of my Christmas carol music, loudly.
No matter how messed up the world may seem right now, no matter how far away we’ve come from the ideal of “peace on earth, good will toward men,” we will not let Scrooge and the Grinch win. Charles Dickens and Dr. Seuss would be the first to agree, I’m sure.
If it’s almost Christmas, there must be cookies, many, many cookies. Sure, we eat cookies all year-round, but for the holidays, something special is required.
So, you didn’t make fruitcake for the holidays?
You say you don’t care for fruitcake? How about cookies filled with fruit, like little, delicious bites of fruitcake but a lot easier to make. This is a very old recipe I’ve used in place of fruitcake for many a Christmas, and they never fail to spread a little joy.
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
¼ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
4 T. butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 T. brandy
8 oz. pitted dates, chopped
4 oz. mixed candied fruit, chopped
4 oz. candied red cherries, chopped
4 oz. candied pineapple, chopped
½ cup chopped blanched almonds*
½ cup chopped Brazil nuts*
Sift together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon (sift on to waxed paper to make it easier to add to mixture).
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in egg and brandy.
Stir in the flour mixture, half at a time, blending well to make a soft dough. Stir in fruits and nuts (all remaining ingredients).
Drop batter by rounded teaspoons, 1-inch apart, onto lightly greased cookie sheets (or line with parchment paper, or use silicone baking mat). Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 12 min., or until firm and lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 12 dozen.
* You can vary the chopped nuts as desired; I like Macadamia instead of Brazil, for example. You can also vary also vary the fruit mix as desired.
These melt-in-your- mouth Bonbon cookies will make you look like you spent hours making them; not so. The kids can help with the rolling part.
So many wonderful cookie recipes, so little space. Here’s a spritz cookie recipe, easy to make, fun to spritz and decorate.
2¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ t. baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 t. almond extract
Food coloring of choice
Decorating candies (or icing of your choice) for decorating
Sift together flour and baking powder.
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and almond extract. Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Tint as desired with food coloring (or not).
Fill a cookie press and form cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, using shapes of choice. Decorate with tiny candies, if desired, or bake and then frost. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for
10-12 min. Remove immediately to wire racks to cool. Frost or decorate as desired. Makes 6-7 dozen.
1 lb. pitted dates
½ lb. walnut meats
3 egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
Green food coloring, optional
Put dates and walnuts into food processor; pulse until both are finely chopped. Remove from processor and shape into 72 small balls.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until mixture holds its shape (stiff peaks). Add vanilla. Divide mixture into two batches and add color if you’re going to color one green (or any other color of choice, but I like them to look like little snowball bonbons.)
With a teaspoon, roll the date balls in the meringue and place on buttered cookie sheets, swirling the top of each just a bit with the tip of a spoon. Bake in a preheated 250-degree oven (yes, 250) for 30 min. Makes 6 dozen. These should be stored in an airtight container and can be frozen.