Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011 (III)

Whenever I make cutout cookies, the childhood memories of baking Christmas cookies with tin cookie cutouts come flooding back.  I’m particularly a sucker for star shapes, so this recipe caught my attention.

White Chocolate-Dipped Ginger Stars

Ingredients:  1 cup softened butter; 1 cup sugar; 1 egg; 1 cup dark molasses; 2 tablespoons white vinegar; 5 cups flour; 3 teaspoons ground ginger; 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1 teaspoon ground cloves; 1/2 teaspoon salt

Baking:  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, molasses, and vinegar.  Sift dry ingredients into batter.  Gather into a ball, then flatten into a disk.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease baking sheets.  Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut into stars and arrange on baking sheets.  Bake 5 to 8 minutes, until firm to touch.  Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

Icing:  Melt 2 cups white chocolate chips and 4 tablespoons shortening in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring completely.  Dip cookies halfway into white chocolate mixture, then place on wax paper until icing is set.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011 (II)

Holiday House

We’re having some good friends over for a holiday dinner tonight.  It’s unusual for us to entertain on a Thursday night, but it’s coming on Christmas time and it’s time for enjoy some good food and good company.

Kish has been working hard, and the house looks beautifully, and simply, festive.  It’s time to pour a glass of wine, put on some holiday music, and enjoy the season.

My Earbuds Are Duds

During an otherwise immensely enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday, the hang-over-the-ear earphones that I normally use with my iPod were borrowed and now are nowhere to be found.  So, I am relegated to using the “earbuds” that come as standard equipment with the iPod — and thus I feel both frustration and shame.

I experience frustration, because the Apple ear buds simply will not stay in my ears.  They may look cool and sleek, but with the slightest head movement or gentlest jostling, the earbuds will plop softly out of my ears.  The only way I can keep them in on the morning walk is to put on a ski cap that tightly binds them to my ears and then walk with head held stiffly, like I’m wearing an invisible neck brace.  It’s not a comfortable start to the day.

I feel shame, too, because I know that Apple makes only excellent, well-engineered devices.  Steve Jobs himself must have given these earbuds a thumbs-up.  Therefore, my inability to keep them in my ears must mean there is something defective about either the structure of my ears or my understanding of how to use the earbuds.  Perhaps the little flap on the forward part of my exterior ear — called the tragus, for those who haven’t memorized Gray’s anatomy — is embarrassingly undersized.  Maybe Steve Jobs’ ears had tragi the size of catcher’s mitts, ready to hold the earbuds snugly inside.  Or perhaps I’m using the devices improperly.  Maybe they go in upside down, or backwards — or maybe they aren’t intended for the ears at all, but were designed by Apple to be inserted into the nostrils and reach the inner ear through a more indirect route?

It’s time to help our retailers have a good holiday season and buy some new earphones.