Tuesday, December 5, 2017

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

"Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver-white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things...."


Maria is one of my favorite things!
It's always a great family debate, "why is this song always included among the Pantheon of Christmas tunes?"  It's certainly not what you would call a traditional Christmas Carol.  And by Christmas Carol I mean a tune that Wiki says "whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas and which is traditionally sung on Christmas itself or during the surrounding holiday season."  A few of my Favorite things surely does not rise up to those carols like Good King Wenceslas or the Holly and the Ivy whose origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages and when Santa Clause was a young stud.  The song got it's original Christmas introduction by being performed by Julie Andrews on the Gary Moore Show Christmas Special in 1961.  So I guess by definition then, because the song is sung around the holidays and talks about snow, by loose correlation it can be deemed a Christmas Carol.  It just goes to show you that if you are consistently complicit enough you will eventually get associated with whatever you are tying to be complicit with.

Anyway, I love this time of year because I get to do so many many of my favorite things.

Which by they way, looking up and retelling useless facts about music is one of my favorite things!

Another one of my favorite things this time of year is the annual Oxford Dictionary "word of the year."  Yes, I admit I am often complicit in all of these annual end of the year events.  Oh wait, complicit is actually this year's word of the year!  :)  Wait that was 2015's word of the year.

Well, I guess that is a good word for me as it's really questionable why I continue to make silly blog posts and continue to log into a ridiculous social media site dedicated to "married dating."  And yet here I am continuing to be complicit to all!!!

Well my other favorite thing to do this time of year is JZ's annual holiday cookie post.

And so to be complicit in choosing to continue to be involved in a few of my favorite things I'll give you a cookie idea from a place I've know for many years and is truly one of my favorite places.

Moravian Cookies

If I was going to accuse smells of being complicit with the Christmas spirit, the following would be at the top of my list:  ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  And where would you find all of those complicit smells?  Well one place is inside of an Old Salem style Moravian cookie!

There is just something about Old Salem, NC and its Moravian roots of brotherhood and peace that makes the area so special at Christmas.  I love the beautiful Moravian Stars, the crisp Carolina pine air, and of course the smell of baking cookies.

So here is how to make those cookies:

Ingredients:

0.5 Cup         Light Brown Sugar
0.75 tsp         Baking Soda
0.5 tsp           Salt
0.75 tsp         Ginger
0.75 tsp         Cloves
0.25 tsp         Nutmeg
0.75 tsp         Cinnamon
0.25 tsp         Allspice
1 Cup            Molasses
0.5 Cup         Shortening
4 Cups           All-Purpose Flour

Instructions:

*     In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, soda, salt, and all the spices
*     In a medium saucepan heat the molasses just to the boiling point but do not boil (does not take long so don't get involved in a Charley Brown Christmas).
*     Stir in shortening into molasses until perfectly smooth and cool slightly.
*     Transfer molasses and shortening to a mixing bowl and beat in sugar and spice mixture.
*     As you are mixing add small amounts of flour, stirring to combine.  Continue adding flour until mixture becomes a sticky dough texture.
*     Empty dough mixture from bowl onto a well floured counter surface.
*     Knead the flour with hands until dough holds together.  Dough does need to be stiff.
*     Roll dough into a ball and refrigerate until firm.
*     You may wish to wrap dough in plastic so it does not dry out.
*     Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
*     Cut off portion of dough and roll on floured surface until paper thin.
*     Cut cookies into 2" circles (or your favorite cookie cutter image).  You may need a spatula or even a sharp paring knife to lift cookies off counter and onto baking sheet.
*     Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and place cookies 0.5" apart.
*     Bake 4 minutes; rotate tray and then bake for 2 more.  Allow cookies to cool on tray before you remove.
*     Store cookies in airtight container and they will last for some time, though usually not long enough to go stale as I usually eat them in one sitting!


Here are the rest of those complicit cookie bloggers!

May the cookies be with us.  :-D








And here is that original Christmas version of Julie Andrews singing My Favorite Things


Thursday, November 30, 2017

I Can't Get to Sleep, I Think about the Implications



Well the good news today is that I am writing a post which means I survived my bi-annual trip to my in-laws, the DINKS.  I've written about them before (here); DINK's meaning double income, no kids.  This trip was particularly stressful because we were there a full three days.  An overnight at the DINK's is survivable, just like when you get a colonoscopy; you simply need to make sure you are hydrated and you pretty much can survive the 36 hour period with no non-alcoholic infused liquid intake.

Just to explain the DINK's (by definition) don't have kids so they don't live or eat like normal human beings.  Mr. Dink lives off of approximately 3-4 cheese and crackers, micro-brewed IPA's, and small batch artisanal bourbons.  Mrs. Dink lives off leaf lettuce varietals, old world grains, and various nut milks including Cashew, Almond, and free range organic pistachio infused acai coconut water.

To be fair we disrupt their lives by bringing a very scary invasive species into their virgin ecosystem; namely two common teenagers.  The teenagers lie down on couches that are not even supposed to be sat upon, they wipe their face with ornamental towels that are not actually supposed to be used at all, and wash their hands with decorative soaps that you don't actually use.  The teens don't understand stuff you look at but don't touch and the DINK's don't understand being around humans who expect constant service, technology, and nourishment.  Heck, Mr. Dink is not even on Facebook so he has no concept of the need to check Snap Chat every 8.5 seconds!

The mixture of these worlds is difficult at best, dangerous at worst.  Hell, they don't even have cable for Christ Sake.  And that doesn't mean they have like a satellite dish, they actually don't have ESPN. How do you not have ESPN in a first world country.  I couldn't even watch my second favorite college rivalry game on Thanksgiving Night and had to keep track of my idiot Redskins via stats-tracker; in a word I felt violated!  I felt like I was in Antarctica!  I had to make major logistical plans to make sure I would be in a place I could watch Big State U last weekend and had to go through considerable angst when we then determined to watch the game at one of the Dink's favorite pubs. Until I actually saw the game on TV I was sure I would find myself at a wine bar with a jazz band and a pack of 40-something hipsters talking about net-neutrality and their short game.

Yesh!

The first night I woke up around 2 am and my mouth feeling like I had woken up in the Sahara Desert.  I walked to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator.  In a normal human home (or at least mine) you could hydrate with fruit punch, OJ, sweet tea, lemonade, maybe even Kiwi-Strawberry lemonade but bottom line you can go back to sleep with your thirst quenched.  As my eyes blearily perused the refrigerator panic slowly infiltrated my soul.  The refrigerator was completely full yet with nothing a normal human could drink.  There were, as stated above, no less than 4 varieties of organic nut related milk; bleck!  There was enough beer varieties to put an Irish pub to shame.  And yet nothing to actually quench a normal persons thirst.  And then I saw it a small bottle of clear liquid.  WATER!  Yes water, I can drink that!  I grab it and start to twist off the cap.  DAMN!  It's Club Soda.  It's Mr. Dink's club soda he splashes over his small batch artisanal bourbon.  That's not water that's fizzy water that fakes you out, kind of like ocean salt water. OMG, I'm going to die!  I finally had to settle for tap water.  But first I had to gently grab a glass glass to pour the water into.  Who drinks out of a glass glass?  In our home we have all plastic cups, like normal people.  If it drops on the floor, no worries!  At the Dink's, weary and unstable from dehydration, I have to gently handle a glass from the 1998 Kiwanis Golf Scramble, knowing it simply can't be dropped and broken as that is the one Mr. Dink won the closest to the hole competition.

Also disturbing was the presence of the Thanksgiving bird sitting uncovered in the fridge wilting from dehydration just like me.  I walked away somewhat hydrated by lukewarm tap water but couldn't help but worry about what that dry old turkey would taste like tomorrow.

Btw, Shannon and I are both pretty good cooks having both served in the hospitality industry for many years.  In spite of our differences, in the kitchen we are a power couple churning out food like a well oiled machine.  But that bird was not bound to be well oiled, it was likely to be as dry as my tongue.

On Thanksgiving Day after a long walk I broke down and found an open grocery store and brought home enough hydration to get through the rest of the weekend for myself and the teens.  To my teens delight I even found Cheer Wine, a delicacy hard to enjoy when outside the Carolinas.  But when I got home I saw the trepidation in my teens eyes.  I asked what's wrong?  Apparently Ms. Dink had been seen with Brussel Sprouts!  Brussel sprouts ain't for Thanksgiving!  My daughter mumbled "I just want the regular Thanksgiving stuff like turkey and potatoes and green beans..... I don't want anything organic."

Thankfully the meal ended up OK.  Ms. Dink basted the turkey in garlic butter and it was fine.  The brussel sprouts ended up as a salad which I tasted and survived.  Dessert, OK as well; though I have to admit enjoying the frustration Ms. Dink exhibited after thrice failing at her home made chocolate tart dough; not understanding the concept of flouring the table to roll your crust.

I know I'm a jerk, but when you can't watch the State-UNC game you take entertainment where you can get it.

Friday, I did convince the group to go out and see a live college basketball game which gave me the opportunity to load up on needed sustenance from the vegetable, starch, and processed cheese food groups with a large popcorn and nachos and cheese from the concessions stand.  For a moment I felt like a married man again!

Oh speaking of married.  Over dinner the married Dink's asked about Christmas.  They were looking into treating each other to a spa weekend in Sonoma and asked what we were doing.  Shannon and I mentioned that we were considering buying for one another a sexy stainless steel refrigerator washing machine combo!  Yes the contrast is pervasive.

Oh well, I'm not such a good house guess myself.  I don't start drinking until 5 pm and I don't know when or why you would use a 5 wood vs a long iron.  Anyway, I gleefully made everyone stay to the last second of my favorite college rivalry game, merrily watching to the bitter end Big State U's gazilianth straight #ss kicking of Pompous Preppy U.

And now I'm home and comfortable and glad I don't have to venture back into the desert until well after the rainy season.  I'm sure the Dink's were happy when we left, able to get back to their novels, golf game, and aroma therapy.