Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Shut up already Rudolph.

Dear Reader,

If I have to hear "Sleigh Ride" one more time I'm going to smash my head into the gingerbread house.  And forget "Carol of the Bells" which inspires nothing short of panic and terror.  It's time for some better Christmas music, and I have the goods. Enjoy.

The Killers have a few really awesome Christmas songs, and this one is my hands down favorite.

Another one by The Killers.  We listen to them a lot in my house.  When when my boss isn't playing Taylor Swift, that is.  She's six.

Ed Harcourt is a genius.  This song is perhaps not for the very little kiddies, but my kids love it, and I will be listening to it all year long.  You should go RIGHT NOW to and buy it.

Angela Mccluskey's voice is so haunting.  You'll never hear Frosty the same way again.

And here we have the BEST CHRISTMAS SONG OF ALL TIME.  Bing Crosby can suck it.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Dear Reader,

Ah, Christmas!  This year my husband and I are getting ourselves a new flat screen television for the bedroom, so the only thing to surprise him with is perhaps a tv stand.  The true meaning of Christmas can not be found in a gift box though.  It can only be found in a cookie.  Tonight I will share with you the recipe for my family's most favorite Christmas cookie.  It was given to me by my mother-in-law who is a world-class cookie maker, from a long line of world-class cookie makers.  This one was my husband's favorite as a child, so of course, I have no choice but to make them.  She can't remember where the recipe originally came from, perhaps an ad for Hershey's chocolate.  Anyway, here they are, and we call them, simply, Chocolate Sandwiches.  Enjoy.

You will need:

For the dough:
4 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup milk (or more as needed)

For the filling:
16 oz. milk chocolate chips
16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
large can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla

As you see, my recipe is not in good shape, and I didn't write down any directions.  I mixed the dough ingredients together at the same time, and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the dough into two plump, round, triple D sized balls.

I then melted the chocolates with the vanilla and evaporated milk in the top of a double boiler.

Glistening gooey melted chocolate.  Wanted to stick my face in it, but refrained, as it was hot.

Normally I leave the dough just dough colored, and cover the top with green and red sugar sprinkles, which add a nice crunch, but alas, I had no sprinkles.  I decided instead to color the dough green and red.  This was time consuming and utterly exhausting.  Roll out half the dough to the size of your cookie sheet, and then spread the chocolate on top.

Cover the top of the chocolate with the other half of the dough.

At this point, the thing was in the oven and I was making tomorrow's lunches for my kids, because in the mornings I am far too bleary-eyed to provide both nutritious breakfast and nutritious lunch, and they would end up with a lunch box full of Ritz crackers and olives.  My son was impressed with this photo, but I pointed out that it is not in focus.  I don't want him getting cocky.  Cook the thing (it's not really cookies at this point, but just one super big cookie) for about thirty minutes or until the dough is browning.  Let it cool completely - it isn't a bad idea to refrigerate before cutting.

Cut the cookie into cookies, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  I can tell you from experience that Santa absolutely adores these cookies, especially when served with a nice Stella Artois or glass of spicy California Zinfandel.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cheese Knives!

Dear Reader,

I told you a while back that I had ordered something from the nice people at CSN Stores.  Something that I really wanted.  Well the cheese knives have arrived!  I don't have a proper set of cheese knives, which is really unbelievable given the amount of cheese I consume.  I ordered the Henckles knives, and I guess I didn't look at the dimensions, because they are really big.  Big and scary looking!  See for yourself:

I'm not sure what the big guillotine one is for, but it's easily a foot long.

Last night we had a family gathering at my father's house in Connecticut.  The perfect setting to test the new knives.  Here's how it went down.

My stepmother, Cynthia, hesitates before slicing into the Camembert.  The extra long handle seems unwieldy, and its glinting blade threatens.

My husband reacts to my instruction to "cut the cheese."

My daughter would win the Hunger Games.  Especially armed with this dagger.

Wresting the knife from my daughter, I attack the Pecorino.  The knife's long handle actually makes it easy to carve a solid slice from the cheese.

The tip of the knife is pronged, allowing for nice flaking action.

The little knife slides easily into the Camembert,

resulting in a perfect slice of cheese to lay upon a cracker, and the remaining cheese is not smooshed down as so often happens with inferior cheese knives.

In summation, these knives are perhaps not the prettiest, but they are really excellent for cutting the cheese.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Goodness from The New York Times.

Sometimes things brought to you by The New York Times are very disappointing or scary or depressing.  Not this though.  This is marvelous.
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays
Christoph Niemann - Holidays


Christoph Niemann
Christoph Niemann’s illustrations have appeared on the covers of The New Yorker, Newsweek, Wired, The New York Times Magazine and American Illustration. His work has won numerous awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Art Directors Club and American Illustration. He is the author of many books, among them “The Pet Dragon,” which teaches Chinese characters to young readers, “I LEGO N.Y.” and, most recently, “SUBWAY,” based on “The Boys and the Subway,” the first entry of his Abstract City blog. After 11 years in New York, he moved to Berlin with his wife, Lisa, and their three sons. His Web site

Never Fry Gnocchi

Here is another goodie. This time from my sister, Lindsay. Thanks Lindsay!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Double Dream Hands!

Dear Reader,

My sincere hope for you is that you have a friend that is as kind as my friend Luke, and that they will bring such delights as this to your attention.  Enjoy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

O Little Town Of Gingerbread!

Dear Reader,

After last year's gingerbread fiasco, I was dreading breaking out the molasses this holiday season.  First of all, molasses is pretty disgusting, and I can't believe that people used to use it as if it were sugar.  I would rather sweeten my hotcakes with garlic than molasses, but no matter.  I began the process this year by sketching what I wanted to build, and I was ambitious!  A gingerbread house is so time consuming and nerve-wracking in construction that it seems a waste to build just one paltry house.  So I set out to make a whole block.  Of course, this was in the throes of my pneumonia, so I had to make a few attempts at the design, as I kept crawling back into bed.

Finally, thanks to Azithromycin, I was able to get at my mixer and make the dough.  As always, I used Martha Stewart's recipe, which results in gingerbread so strong and durable that it will break your teeth if you try to eat it, and usually break your mixer as well.  The dough took a couple of days to make - so many walls!  I had forgotten that the fumes from baking gingerbread (again, vile molasses) give my husband a massive headache for two days, so in total we had two days of baking and four days of headaches.  But we had the walls!

I added windows using the melted candy method, and made some lovely stained glass using Jolly Ranchers.  Ordinarily, I am an advocate of using marshmallow Fluff to hold the thing together, but it took forever to dry.  As it turns out, Martha's "Royal Icing Glue" when made with too much confectioner's sugar, is better.  It dries really quickly and is super strong.  It made the process so easy that I only threatened once that my kids better enjoy this because it was the last gingerbread house we were making.

So how did it turn out?  See for yourself:

Children eating candy that is meant for the houses.

My son was recruited to hold the walls while the Fluff dried.

Walls kept falling down.  You can tell by the sour expression on my face that this is when I threatened to never do this again.

Daughter helping out by eating gingerbread men.

Finished!  Note the hairdryer on the floor which was used to dry the Fluff.

O little town of gingerbread...

24 Gumdrop Lane

Not sure what this building is supposed to be.  A mosque?

Next door to the mosque... the First Church of The Grateful Dead?

Mike Bloomberbread lives here.