What I Made For Christmas

It's been a pretty quiet Christmas for G and I. We only had one family function to attend since my parents weren't up to having anything (meaning a combination of no money and predictable mother meltdowns). So we got to spend Christmas on our own at home, only venturing out to take a short walk through the woods. Good thing we got our walk in yesterday, as we had a fairly substantial snowfall today and the library actually closed. This has been my first snowday in ages, and for it to come at a time so as to extend a long holiday weekend, well, that was a lovely gift indeed.

Sometimes I feel a little melancholy that our holidays are somewhat solitary aside for one or two family get-togethers. Part of me wishes we were dressing up, swishing from function to function, catching up with old friends and making new ones over drinks and hors d'oeuvres with barely enough time to catch our breath. But then I think just sitting with G, watching the snow fall outside while we play board games, Maisy knocking around her new catnip ball lazily, isn't such a bad thing at all and is a lot more than many have. And I set those nagging regrets aside.

I did a ton of baking last week for G's family. I like to bake a variety of goodies and give each family group their own little box of treats to take with them, which they seem to like and appreciate. Sometimes I worry that it's not worth all the hassle and stress, as I admit I had a few meltdowns of my own last week when recipes or time frames went awry. I think I try to do too much sometimes, but it's a challenge, and I do enjoy making nice things for people, despite the headaches it sometimes causes.

It was also a good distraction from financial worries. G has been laid off for a while and the impending fiscal cliff is a concern if unemployment benefits don't get extended. The library has been another source of stress for me, as contract negotiations between the administration and the staff association (our pseudo-union) have gone pretty shockingly bad, so for the first time ever I'm a little concerned about my own job stability. Just a lot of changes, a lot of uncertainty. I'm afraid once again my creative energy has been sapped by it all, but I am proud of my finished baking products, so I figured I could at least share them here for posterity.

I like to do a variety of items and tried to stagger my preparation throughout the week so I would do one or two items per night when getting home from work, and paired easier items with more time consuming ones.

Here's what I made:

Jam thumbprints with lemon curd and raspberry jam (cookie dough from a mix though)

Cinnamon coins (little icebox cookies with cinnamon chips in the dough, rolled in turbinado sugar to give it a nice crunchy crust)

Coconut macaroons (baked with chocolate kisses inside)

Pumpkin pecan tassies (these were so stinkin' cute and pretty easy. I used prepared pie dough but the filling was from scratch)

Almond crescents (I'm not a huge almond fan so I'm not sure what possessed me to make these. They turned out well though.)

Apple Cider Caramels (made with an apple cider and mulled spice syrup reduction. These turned out yummmmmmy.Cut them and wrapped them in wax paper and everything.)

Gingerbread drop cookies with chocolate chips and dried cranberries

A chocolate/banana/cinnamon chip cake

I also attempted, in one of the most scary cooking projects I've ever tried, to make homemade Violet Crumble. Also known as Crunchie bars, or in the states as seafoam, honeycomb, or sponge candy. Basically involves heating a sugar/corn syrup mixture to about 300 degrees, and then adding baking soda to aerate it and give a lofty, fluffy yet crunchy texture with a hint of molasses flavor. The mixture foams up like mad, as you know what happens with science project volcanoes. Seeing boiling hot sugar rising towards you like the Blob with such feverish determination is rather terrifying.

 My mixture set properly and looked/tasted pretty much like Violet Crumble, but I think my temperature went too high and the baking soda didn't get totally incorporated as it ended up slightly burnt/salty tasting. Not good enough to use for gift giving, but for my first try, I was pleased. I'm pretty confident next time I can get it totally right and get to the final stage of breaking it into pieces and dipping them in chocolate. This is what the stuff looked like after dumping it in a huge foamy lump from the pan:

The Blob

And finally, here are the little gift boxes that I made up for the family:

Well, I'm suspecting it will be back to work for me tomorrow, so it's time for bed.
 To all, a good night!

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  1. Everything looks so yummy! I wish I was coming over to get my own box of goodies :) Your Christmas sounds lovely and relaxing! I hope things start looking up in 2013 xoxo

    1. Thanks Su! If you'd like the recipes to any of these just let me know. I've got my fingers crossed for next year too :)

  2. Those look like wonderful treats! :) My boyfriend and I run around like chickens with our heads cut off every Christmas for both our families. This Christmas, we only had about 2 hours with each other & our pets. We gave our cat his new catnip toy and our hamsters a special Christmas breakfast. Take it from me, you have it nice to get to spend Christmas with your cat and your love. :) The grass is always greener I suppose. But you're not missing out trying to speed across town to get to everyone's house on time to arrive and have them pissed anyway because they wanted you there even earlier. Bah!

    1. Thanks for the perspective, I stopped feeling sorry for myself after ready that! I guess I just miss the more tight-knit family of my childhood, but things change and you either have to change them back or accept those changes and move on :)


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