Saturday, December 12, 2009

Date Nut Balls

I think this the recipe my mom uses to make these cookies. They aren't too sweet and are a good foil to all the chocolate fudge and frosted sugar cookies rolling around during the holidays.

1 cup soft butter
2/3 cup sifted confectionary sugar
2 Tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
pinch salt
1 1/3 chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter with sugar. Stir in water and vanilla. Add flour and salt, mix well. Gently add the dates and walnuts. Roll into 1 inch sized balls. cook. Bake for 20 minutes in 300 degree oven.Roll in powdered sugar while still warm.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two and a bunny, or "Fifi's on Fire!"

Fifi, the smallest of the clan, turned two years old yesterday. NO MORE BABIES in this house. At the moment, and seeing as I'm a woman of a certain age ohmygawd i turned forty this year, I don't see any happening along in the near future. Unless a stork gets lost or something.

The Feefster got everything every little two year old girl wants: babies, bottles and convertibles, a sit n' spin and a very large bear.

The balloons adorning her crib, doorway and chair at the dinner table, scooter and ice cream for breakfast didn't phase her. She acted like 'yeah, I get this stuff all the time. I'm the princess." (do you think it would kill me to wash the kid's face before taking milestone pictures? Sheesh,...)


That's right folks, only the birthday girl gets to lick frosting off the naked barbie torso. You don't turn two everyday, ya know.

So, yes, in my family (extended and otherwise) I hold the highly esteemed title of 'world's ugliest cake maker' and there are plenty of posts on this blog and my other one to exemplify this fact. So, a barbie cake? Well, that's the pinnacle for me.

I can't do the fondant thing. Besides the fact that it's 6$ a sheet, and doesn't taste all that great, where's the sport in it? It's like placing corn on the back porch and waiting for the deer to come while you sit in a rocking chair sipping hot coffee. (you know who you are). You roll it out, drape it on and voila - beautiful, non creased, non crumbed frosting.

I have to do the buttercream frosting thing. I'd say that the picture I took above of this cake was taken after Fifi sampled the cake (which is true) and declared it 'yummy', but it really doesn't matter. It didn't look much better before that, actually.

I totally cheated and bought the packaged deal - cake pan and naked barbie torso, plus instructions to make six different elaborately decorated barbies including a mermaid. Which I should just throw away now write an apology letter to the company for wasting all that effort on me, and stop my suffering.

It's the big day. The cake pan needs to be assembled. I actually follow the instructions since it includes a screw. When I'm finished with it, I can't figure out how the heck the pan is supposed to balance. It doesn't balance with me. So, I hand it to the twelve year old who is unsuspectingly wandering through the kitchen. He figures out I've connected the bottom plate backwards, turning it around (duh) makes the pan stand straight. This never even occurred to me.

I tell hubby this is the reason he can't die before me and that he needs to write into his will that when he's dead and I'm still kicking around, Jared has to completely take care of me. Because I am seriously helpless. And obviously a true blond and no matter what my relatives say, more than a 1/4 polish.

The cake turns out fine once it's taken out of the pan, the barbie gets placed in with no problems. It's when I've got the naked barbie torso in one hand and a spatula with pink buttercream frosting in the other, knowing that I'm feeding this cake to three little boys, that I wonder if this is where Tiger got his start. But it's either slather the frosting or leave the cake topless. I'm such a prudish American girl, I opt to frost the boobies.

But, I do draw the line at doing my cake's hair. So, no pretty braids, no frosting flowers in those pretty burnette plastic strands.

I meant to put a little 'Happy Birthday!' banner in her upstretched hands but didn't quite get to it. At least with the cake's limbs extended they were out of the way of the fire hazard. I can't say the same for Fifi's hair - she bent down for a picture and between seeing hubby launch at her and the sound of sizzling, I completely attacked her, shoving her head into my side and wacking it, scaring the living daylights out of her.

B yelled, 'Fifi's on fire!" Fifi screamed her head off because I attacked her. All the while my in-laws were on speaker phone waiting to sing happy birthday to their beloved grandchild.

She did live to see her second birthday come to an end. Everytime we ask her how old she is, she shows us a few fingers, says 'two' then tries to make bunny ears and says 'and a bunny.'

Happy Birthday Fifi!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Sights and Sounds of Christmas

This is the tree topper I got for, well, the top of our tree. Notice it isn't on a tree. It's on a table.

This is the topper the kids elected to put on the tree - it's a picture of an angel J made when he was in 4th grade. When we lived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia for a year while hubby did tsunami reconstruction work. In a land where there are no decorations for Christmas because it is shrouded in Islamic Sharia law. So, we improvised. We bought some sort of shrubbery, put it on top of two moving boxes covered in green sheets and used some wacky string as a garland, seashells and corals as ornaments (along with toilet paper tubes wrapped in festive looking wrapping paper),.. and this angel. Which is partly designed with a toilet paper role. This was done three years ago. The angel is still carefully placed by the kids on the top of the tree, taken down and stored for the next year. Here, in the land of plenty. Just goes to show you, I guess, that it really is the simple things in life our kids remember and crave. That time and effort. Or mine are just weird. Go figure.

In the spirit of children, I made this massive Christmas tree cake for a potluck tonight. Two pounds of frosting, sour gummy lifesavers. It almost makes up for the fact that I should have just left the cake in a square shape and not mess with it. Oh well.

Here are the gingerbread blobs the B and Fifi made yesterday and decorated with frostng placed in a ziplock bag with a hole cut in the bottom. What a great way to teach your children that everyone matters, who cares if they look different? That guy doesn't have a head? It's okay - he deserved to be frosted. Three legs? One arm? A weird growth sprouting by what should be an abdomen? Frost him! They all taste the same!
We love to listen to Christmas music, as any family probably does. K's favorites? "That one about the baby in the manger and Silent Hill." (er,.. translation: Away in a Manger and Silent Night."
The girls are fascinated by the Nutcracker Ballet, so we listen to the music during dinner. Hubby is trying valiantly to teach B who wrote the music. When asked tonight she responded: "the nutcrack guy."
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Kingdom for a Star Cutter

I LOVE to bake and cook. The more creative I can be, the better. I don't have time, however, what with the five kids. Nor do I have open silver palettes waiting for me to whizbang them with delectable dishes. So, Christmas is the time to go all out - what kid ever said no to a cookie, especially when I have to make about ten different varieties?

My problem? Cookie cutters. I don't have any. I can kind of remember maybe buying some (or was I dreaming that? Or was it my friend telling me about those awesome stackable snowflake cutters and I just thought it was me?)

Okay, I do have some. I have a rocking horse, a snowman with a hat, a tree and a gingerbread androgynous person, a heart, a heart with an arrow through it, a hammer, the state of Michigan (?????), a really big leaf from some deciduous tree that resembles maple, 10 ghosts, a handful of bats and a crescent moon. Or a banana. Depends on how old you are, I guess. And how you look at it.
It seems that I forget which holiday I actually have cookie cutters for, and keep buying Halloween cookie cutters and turning my head away from the display at Christmas time.
So, it looks like for the past decade I have talked myself into the fact that I don't have any ghost cookie cutters, the last five years I included a bat, and for some reason last year I needed a banana. I mean crescent moon.

The funny thing is - I haven't made any cookies at Halloween. We are so inundated with candy, I can't bring myself to make a single cookie.

The cookie cutter syndrome seems to have gotten progressively worse with the amount of children running around. Coincidence? I think not.