Monday, December 7, 2009

Virtual Advent: Cookiestravaganza 2009

This is the first time I've participated in the Virtual Advent Blog Tour. In fact... this is the first time I've participated in a blog tour, period. But I really loved the idea, and I love the season, and I am really grateful to Marg and Kelly for hosting!

For me, the holiday season is about two things: food and family. Not necessarily in that order. It's also about snow and giving and carols and memories and traditions, but when I'm thinking Christmas, I'm thinking food and family and the various combinations thereof.

This year, I tried combining those things in a new way. My husband (aka "fishy" here on the blog) and I have owned our house for three, almost four years. For much of that time, being first-time homeowners, we've been grievously under-furnished; but we're getting there, and this year I got the... um, shall we say ambitious? idea to host a cookie bake with my mother's family, as many of them as could join.

When the day arrived, we had representatives of all the six familial contingents (my mother has four siblings, and then there's my grandmother) except the Gatineau group, who were sorely missed but it's understandable that two days' driving for a day of cookie baking is somewhat excessive. They'll be down for Christmas and will possibly be allowed to eat some of the day's spoils.

If there are any left. Just saying.

The spoils of the day included:
  • checkerboard cookies from Grandma
  • chocolate bark with dried fruit and candycanes from Mom (with Valery and Emily)
  • mocha thumbprints and pink peppermint cookies from Aunt Kathy (with Ana)
  • Russian tea cookies and shortbread coconut thumbprints from Aunt Sherry (with Emily)
  • deadly rich chocolate orange shortbread bars from yours truly
Aunt Sherry and I also attempted experimental cardamom merangues, which I really enjoyed despite the egg whites' insistence that they would not form stiff peaks thankyouverymuch. They might have been a wee bit funny looking, but they were delicious. Part of the experience for me was learning; I enjoy baking, and am not bad at parts of it. But my mother's family are creative, inventive, and very good with food, so I like to take any opportunity to soak up the cooking goodness.

Other random details:
  • Valery declared our original Nintendo Entertainment System to be "beast" which I believe is a good thing, and therefore I agree with him. He rocked those 20+ year-old games.
  • Our youngest baker was almost 8, and our oldest baker was almost 80.
  • I have gained the most excellent pair of socks EVER from this endeavour, provided by my knittingest aunt, Kathy:


All in all, a successful food-and-family holiday combination. Ana announced at dinner (fishy's major contribution to the day aside from the cleaning marathon the day before: a double-batch of delicious chili) that we should do it again next year. I am inclined to agree. At the risk of getting a little sentimental and sappy, I feel so fortunate to have this family with whom to share my holiday food love. They're a big part of the reason why this season is so very precious to me.

To keep this somewhat book-related (this is a book blog, after all) I got my recipe from The Complete Christmas Book by the editors of Canadian Living Magazine. This is an excellent, practical and lovely book full of fun crafts, great decorating tips, and most of all very, very delicious-looking recipes. Mmm, food!

Head over to the Virtual Advent blog to find some other wonderful holiday-themed posts! And I am in wonderful company. Today's participants, other than me, are:
The Zen Leaf
Just One More Thing...


Ana S. said...

AWESOME socks :D And it sounds like a lovely time was had by all.

Ladytink_534 said...

Sounds yummy! When I think Christmas I think of candy and cookies too.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

We're reviving an old tradition for us this year: We're having a cookie decorating day!

We haven't done this since our kids were little and my youngest is 22, so that's a long time.

It will be fun!

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Sounds like a good time was had. Love the socks.

Tami said...

I'm so envious that you have family close and can do these things. I may have to work out a way for my sisters and I to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your Christmas.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

'Our youngest baker was almost 8, and our oldest baker was almost 80.'

That is my form of perfection. I love all the generations piling together. We also have a cookie decorating get-together each year. Just sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies, which we decorate with coloured frosting and sprinkles and fun.

Hey - congrats on crossing that NaNo finish line! Me, too!

Amanda said...

Ooh, I love the idea of a cookie cookoff with the whole family!

Cam said...

Love, love, LOVE, this idea!! I'm noting it now for future use. =)

sprite said...

Food and family is totally what the season is all about!

(And those cardamom meringues sound delicious!)

Louise said...

I really LOVE your socks, but I also love the whole cookie-bake-a-thon! What a great idea. Thanks for sharing. The Virtual Blog Advent Tour is a great way to get to know new-to-me blogs and I have really enjoyed your post. I am Louise, and I am from Denmark, I live in Copenhagen and have, unfortunately, never been to Canada.

Melissa said...

Those *are* awesome socks. And a brilliant tradition.

Katie said...

Those are the best socks ever! So pretty and colorful!

Unknown said...

Love the socks, they're beautiful! I think your new tradition sounds like a great success & a lot of fun. You chose delicious cookies and had a great group of all ages. It's a wonderful way to spend time with your family & have fun.
You sound very blessed & fortunate. Thanks for sharing where you got the recipe :o)

Aarti said...

What FABULOUS socks! And a cookie bake sounds amazing to me :-)

Meryl said...

I agree with you about the family and food...and those are some awesome socks!

Lisa said...

Awesome socks! What a lovely new tradition this is for you.

Like some of the others we're having a cookie decorating day this weekend. Just sugar cookies, but all 6 of the the "artists" are under 5, so it needs to be basic!

Unknown said...

I'm glad the socks are such a big hit! I am just home from work and about to put them on now ;)

Nymeth - Yes, it was a lovely time!

Ladytink - It's hard not to think of candy and cookies at this time of year; they do seem to be everywhere and I experience a distinct lack of guilt about eating lots of them. It's the holidays, right?

readerbuzz - I hope you have an awesome cookie decorating day!

Petty Witter - Thank you!

Dave and Tami - I feel very fortunate. Sometimes it's hard work to get everyone together, but it's always worth it.

Julia Smith - Congrats to you on NaNo, too! I think the intergenerational aspect is part of what makes days like this so special.

Amanda - I did, too! And amazingly, after the day, I still do. ;)

Cam - It was well worth it. With everyone else bringing recipes, supplies, and equipment, the most difficult part of the day was finding enough space for everyone. And I did find as hostess that I spent a lot more time getting things for everyone else than I did baking my own cookies. Nothing wrong with that, though - I was a cookie facilitator!

Sprite - They were. Recipe: 3 egg whites, 1/2 tsp cardamom, and... 1 cup granulated sugar, I think? Tried to beat eggs into stiff peaks but only managed very soft peaks, so cream of tartar might be helpful to add. Then bake for roughly 60 minutes on... 250 F, maybe? It's all a blur...

Louise - Thank you for visiting my blog (a little virtual piece of Canada!). I bet Copenhagen is a very exciting place to be right now. Someday I'd like to visit there myself.

Melissa - Thank you!

Katie - Agreed!

Amy - You're welcome. I do feel so lucky to have a family that enjoys these things as much as I do.

Aarti - See, I promised socks! Although the entry was perhaps less sock-centric than you may have been hoping... ;) Combining cookies AND socks is pretty excellent though.

Meryl - Thank you!

Lisa - A cookie decorating day was the germ of my idea, but I didn't think I could handle six dozen+ sugar cookies. I hope you have an amazing day, that sounds like it will be a riot!

Happy holidays all, however you choose to celebrate! Thanks for stopping by to comment.

Mandy said...

I love your soooockks! How did she even get little zigzags into the stripes in the pattern. Fascinating *spock blase* (Bla-say, with an accent on the e)

I look forward to your bloggy advent! Neat neat idea. I also request more pictures of your feet. :)

Unknown said...

Mandy - Not being talented enough to knit socks myself, I can only guess that perhaps it was special sock yarn with the colours already planned out such that they would zig and zag? I know there is such thing... but I do not know if this was it! Re: more pictures of my feet: when there are socks to show off, I can promise there will be more photos ;) 'Tis the season for fun socks!

Nan said...

What a great thing to do and write about! And you are so very lucky they live close enough to do this.

kayerj said...

I love the idea of a family baking event. Happy Holidays

Kailana said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for joining in with the Virtual Advent and happy holidays!

Kerry said...

It sounds like a fantastic day. How wonderful to have so much family so close. Mine is spread all over the country, and even if it's a small country, it's still to far for easy get togethers. Have a lovely Christmas with all your family. And cool socks!

Unknown said...

Nan - I know. I think that every time I see us all together. My hope is that we'll all make the effort as we get older, too.

Kailana - You're welcome! Thank you for hosting.

Kerry - I do consider myself very lucky. I think we all do :)

Rob said...

What a great activity for the family. When I was a boy my Mom made Russian Tea Cookies and I still use her recipe every year. Kudos to the 80 year old baker! Mele Kalikimaka from Kauai.

Unknown said...

Rob - The 80 year old baker was the most organized and efficient of all of us! Practice, I guess. Thanks for stopping by!