Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Christmas!

The tree is decorated and most the presents are wrapped, 

The dining room is even decorated this year. 

I'm looking time with my husband, family, and friends over the next couple of weeks. Tomorrow night we are planning to see the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights (boats are decorated in Christmas lights), we have tickets to see the "Festival of Christmas" at Lamb's Theater, and the weather should be nice enough for some beach time.  

Today I'm having a fat fest in the kitchen.  There was almost a pound of butter out to come to room temperature to make cookies, and (this is a first) I am rendering leaf lard.  

There is a local pork producer, Cook Pigs, in nearby Julien that is now selling pork retail.  It's pastured pork, that eats lots of acorns and avocados.  I have a roast in the freezer for Christmas dinner, and on a whim got some lard too (actually it was pork fat, it's not lard until you render it).  Lard is the newest healthy fat.

Most of the year, I make one kind of cookies... oatmeal cookies.  But Christmas just isn't Christmas without sugar cookies.  It's something I remember making every year with my mom.  This year I'm making 3 different cookies, and made all of the dough this morning. One of them I actually baked, the other 2 are refrigerator cookies that I can bake later to have a constant sugar infusion supply of fresh cookies.  

The cookie I actually baked are biscotti, using the Michael Ruhlman recipe.  These are not hard and dry like as most biscotti.  I added some bittersweet chocolate (about a half cup or maybe a little more), a scant 1/2 cup of toasted pecans, and a 1/4 cup of dry cranberries.  

I also made World Peace Cookies.  These are super chocolaty, with a nice hit of salt.  And really easy to make.  I didn't have Dutch process cocoa and just used what I had, natural cocoa. Dutch Cocoa is darker and has a more neutral pH (natural cocoa is slightly acidic) which can throw off some recipes, but the swap works just fine here.  Also, the cocoa needs to be sifted to get out the chunks, but don't use a can type sifter because you will never get the cocoa out.  Best to use a wire strainer.

And of course I made sugar cookies.  These are not your typical sugar cookies.  The recipe came from Harriet, who I think was a neighbor of moms at the house I was born at.  They are the only kind of sugar cookies I ever eat (I learned early on I didn't like any other sugar cookies). They are very thin and crisp, you don't want to put icing on them as they would get soggy.  I usually just decorate with chocolate chips and nuts, but sprinkles and colored sugars are pretty.  They are also hard to roll... The dough needs to be cold, and you should work quickly.   Here is the dough just after making, the one on the left is wrapped in plastic, the other is not... its very sticky at this point!

I think I will wait until mom is here to make them!  Just a couple of more days.

Sugar Cookies

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon lemon or almond extract
4 teaspoons milk
Decorations – sprinkles, nuts (slivered almonds are a favorite), chocolate chips, etc.

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Cream butter and sugar.  Blend in egg, extracts, and milk.  Blend in dry ingredients.  Make 2 large patties, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  

Preheat oven to 350oF.  Roll 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to ungreased cookie pans.  Don’t re-roll the dough more than once (and I find the cookies made from the space between the cutouts are just as beautiful as the cut shapes).  Using parchment paper will assist with clean up.  Decorate as desired.  Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until just starting to brown.  

Ethan can't wait.

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