cookie capers, reindeer poems, and a holiday blog break

Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight;
Make me a child again just for tonight.”
~ Elizabeth Akers Allen

Ramona Quimby dropped by!

‘Tis the season for cookies, cookies, cookies, those crispy chewy crumbly tokens of love, sweet love ❤️.

If pies are the best part of Thanksgiving, then cookies are definitely the best part of Christmas. We all have our favorites — cookies we make for gifts, parties, exchanges, or just for ourselves (because we deserve it, right?). What will be on your cookie platter this year?

from Baby’s Christmas by Eloise Wilkin (1980)

Hmmmm, let me guess — sugar cookies cut in the shapes of stars, bells, or candy canes? Or maybe Chocolate Crinkles, Snickerdoodles, Mexican Wedding Cakes, rich Butter Cookies or old fashioned Gingerbread? Oh, I know! Molasses Spice! Spritz! Raspberry Thumbprints! Pecan Shortbread, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Classic Chocolate Chip? Maybe you’re into Stained Glass Cookies, Coconut Macaroons, or (you saucy minx) Rum Balls! Oh ho! 🙂

As much as I love eating cookies, I must admit I like making them for family and friends even more. When you hand someone a homemade cookie, you tap right into their child heart. After all, a cookie is more than just a cookie — it’s comfort, after school, Grandma’s house, a glass of milk, good times. Did you know that no matter how old you get, your ‘cookie age’ always stays the same? 🙂

Kevin Pilkington’s poem transports me to Aunty Ella’s kitchen. She was the one who made popcorn balls and gingerbread boys every year, who owned Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book (which I frequently borrowed), and she was the only person I knew who had a cookie press (I still find them magical).

I wish you a fond memory with each cookie you devour this holiday season. Don’t forget the milk. 🙂

Chocolate Reindeer Spritz via Wilton.com

EATING A HERD OF REINDEER
by Kevin Pilkington

My wife is in the kitchen making
holiday cookies she will place in tins
and send to family and friends.
I walk in to find her humming as she
mixes eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl
with a wooden spoon like the one my mother
chased me and my brothers with as kids.

 I watch her fill the press with dough
thick as clay then rest the front down
against a pan and clicks the trigger
until there are enough wreaths to hang
on every door in the apartment building.
On top of the oven a tray of stars cools,
an entire galaxy covered in white icing.

She sifts powdered sugar over another
batch on the counter, it falls over them
like a light dusting of snow, that covers
everything but the street. And I enjoy
watching her — maybe it has to do
with the way she measures things
exactly, or how I can always find
a smudge of flour on her neck and forehead.

The world I knew is the one I bolted
the door against every night when I got home.
But this is something I didn’t expect, a world
that is as warm as a favorite old sweater
with holes in its elbows. And I can simply
walk into it, open a tin of reindeer cookies,
bite off an antler or two, sit down at the table,
eat a few more, then pour a large glass
of milk to help wash down the entire herd.

~ from Feast: Poetry & Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner, edited by Diane Goettel and Anneli Matheson (Black Lawrence Press, 2015).

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🍪 MR. CORNELIUS’S COOKIE CAPERS 🍪

After reading Mr. Pilkington’s poem, Cornelius was keen on making some edible reindeer of his own. Though we have two cookie presses, neither came with a reindeer plate. But. Cornelius had been reading about the good people at Kellogg’s, who removed their ads from a controversial website that features racist, sexist and anti-Semitic content. Could we make reindeer using one of their products as a way to say thank you?

Cornelius found just the thing at one of his favorite sites, Kitchen Fun with My Three Sons: Reindeer Rice Krispies Treats! With just a few ingredients — pretzels, red M&M’s, and candy googly eyes, he and the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers were able to turn plain Rice Krispies Treats into funny Rudolphs. 🙂

We think everyone should make some of these for gifts. Or you could make Ina Garten’s English Chocolate Crisps like we did last year (they’re made with cornflakes). Both are easy, no-bake holiday treats with a conscience, sure to be gobbled up by munchkins and short grownups of all ages. We love you, Kelloggs!

*

Ten minutes after Mr. Cornelius polished off the last Rudolph, the doorbell rang. Eloise and Ramona Quimby had invited themselves over for tea!

Eloise was craving Linzer Cookies (rawther delish!) — those luscious Austrian sandwich cookies filled with raspberry jam. But of course we needed something to go with our tea that was easier to make, so the ever-resourceful Mr. Cornelius (gotta love him) baked up the next best thing: Raspberry Lattice Bars.

There was no flour-y fuss or muss with a rolling pin and cookie cutters. Instead, twelve of us each rolled a small ball of dough into a long strip, then we crisscrossed them over the jam.

Needless to say, all the resident bears were ecstatic — they LOVE anything with jam in it. Even the Paddingtons were happy to forego their marmalade for a nice raspberry lick. And of course Eloise and Ramona were only too pleased to sip sip sip and nibble nibble nibble all afternoon.

Do give these a try — they’ll look lovely on your cookie tray!

Raspberry Lattice Bars

  • Servings: 30 cookies
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 teaspoons water, divided

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, the brown and granulated sugars, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in mixing bowl. Mix well. Using two knives, a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add egg and almond extract. Mix with a fork. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

Press the remaining mixture into a greased 9-inch square cake pan. Spread jam evenly over top.

Add 2 tablespoons flour to reserved mixture and stir to blend. Stir in water until the dough holds together (it will resemble pastry dough). Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll into pencil-like strips. Crisscross the strips diagonally over jam to form a lattice.

Mix the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Brush over lattice.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Cool completely in pan on rack, then cut into bars.

Jama’s Tips:

  1. Use a thick jam for this recipe.
  2. I used an 8″ x 8″ pan and lined it with parchment for easier slicing. I also used an 8″ x 8″ sheet of parchment as a guide when making the dough strips.
  3. It’s a little tricky making the longest strip (that is laid in the pan from corner to corner). The dough was pretty resilient, though, and stretches easily.

~ from Robin Hood Baking: Over 250 Recipes from Robin Hood’s Baking Festival and Home Baking Cookbooks (Robert Rose, 2010).

*

I will be on holiday blog break until mid-January. Thank you for visiting Alphabet Soup this year; our humble table wouldn’t have been the same without you. I appreciate your taking the time to read, comment, and share. You are the smartest, best-looking, hungriest blog readers ever, and I wish you the merriest of holidays!

More than ever, we need these things in abundance:

PEACELOVEJOYHOPE EMPATHY

Let’s stick together, support each other, stay active and vigilant for what promises to be a very challenging, transformative 2017.

In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit. ~ Anne Frank

*

poetry fridayTalented and tantalizing Tabatha is hosting the Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Take her a reindeer treat and a raspberry lattice bar, then check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week.

*

wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put your bells and Santa caps on and come join the fun!

*

REINDEER REPORT
by U.A. Fanthorpe

Chimneys: colder.
Flightpaths: busier.
Driver: Christmas (F)
Still baffled by postcodes.
Children: more
And stay up later.
Presents: heavier.
Pay: frozen.
Mission in spite
Of all this
Accomplished —
MERRY CHRISTMAS!

*

🎄A BEARY MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH AND HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎁


Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

76 thoughts on “cookie capers, reindeer poems, and a holiday blog break

  1. Jama, thank you so much for this delectable post – the poems are comforting, and the desserts look scrumptious! I’m in the middle of a cookie-baking marathon myself (I do most of the baking this time of year), so I’ve got to get back to my hot oven – but enjoy your holiday and your time off, and we’ll see you next year!

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    1. I can smell those goodies baking in your oven all the way from Virginia. I’d be happy to help you polish off any of them whenever you like. 🙂 Wishing you and your family the merriest of holidays, Matt!

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  2. Oh my, Jama! What a wonderful post… Words and pictures that just keep going and going and have put me in a truly festive mood this morning. Love your statement: “If pies are the best part of Thanksgiving, then cookies are definitely the best part of Christmas.” So many Christmas traditions connect with cookies in my family… recipes handed down for four generations; grandkids in my kitchen, decorating and baking sugar cookies; the first serving of our “family cookies” on Christmas Eve. May you and yours be blessed this holiday season.

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    1. Love hearing about your family cookie baking traditions, Alice! It’s the only way to celebrate the season. Glad you enjoyed the post; the furry kitchen helpers send you extra bear hugs. 🙂

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  3. The world I knew is the one I bolted
    the door against every night when I got home.
    But this is something I didn’t expect, a world
    that is as warm as a favorite old sweater
    with holes in its elbows.

    …how healing is a world with love, and cookies. Beautiful. Also: lattice bars are the bomb! Also, have a happy break and holiday time! We’re traveling, but expect to hear from me soooooooon…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t made rice krispie treats in years, but these reindeer are so cute I may need to make a batch. Have a very happy holiday. I’ll look forward to seeing what you are cooking up in the new year.

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  5. I’m on my way to the store for more than one thing, but think it’s time for Kellogg’s rice krispie treats. Ingrid is spending the afternoon with me, so time for baking! Jama, I count on your posts all the year to cheer me up, this year especially I guess. Thank you for all wonders, and Merry, Merry Christmas! I love the treats, and the poetry too. I do have a “favorite old sweater/with holes in its elbows” – special to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m wearing a favorite old sweater even as we speak! The reindeer treats are perfect for kids to make. Love how the eyes and noses stick on easily. Merry Merry and all good things over the holidays and in 2017 to you, Linda. Thanks especially for all your wonderful comments all year long. You keep me going!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a lovely and delicious post to wrap up the year. As for next year, “challenging and transformative” is a very nice way to phrase it. Here’s to hope and love and empathy and all the good stuff you bring to us in every post. Warm holiday wishes to you and your family, Jama, and enjoy your time off! ❤

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    1. Thanks for the warm holiday wishes, Linda. “Challenging and transformative,” to put it mildly . . . none of us knows quite what to expect, none of us has ever felt this way before about the future of our democracy. Scary for sure.

      Wishing you the best of holidays, too. We can and should focus on the love of our family and friends to sustain us, and be grateful for the work we can do.

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  7. Oh, what a beary delicious post to send us straight into the holiday. The world sure could use more Aunty Ella’s and Mr. C’s, but I suppose they are one of a kind, like you!
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful poems and your fancy Spode tea party with the literary girls. Have a glorious holiday break, with trails of cookie crumbs. XO

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    1. Mr. C sends you a special holiday hug, Robyn! He has already volunteered to clean up any cookie crumbs and will even help you eat any extra cookies you have at your house too.

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  8. Oh, Jama, I’m so glad that reading about all your deliciousness doesn’t add to my waistline! I love Pilkington’s poem: “an entire galaxy covered in white icing” – such great imagery. And I love Mr. Cornelius’ conscientious reindeer treats – yay for Kelloggs! Happy holidays, Jama, sending you much love! =)

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    1. Right back at you, Bridget — we are only too happy to sacrifice our waistlines here at Alphabet Soup on your behalf. It’s hard work, but somebody has to do it . . . 🙂 Happy Holidays!

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  9. Very yummy and happy holidays to you, Jama!! Thanks for the recipes. I make tons of cookies and brownies for friends/family, thumbprint cookies included (though mine use apricot jam 😉 )

    Happy 2017!!

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    1. Yay, another cookie baker! Thumbprints are definitely one of my top three faves — and I like them with different kinds of jams. Have a delicious holiday, Maria!

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    1. Thank you so much, Valerie! So nice to get to know you and your boys a little better this past year. Piano and violin — my favorite instruments! Have a fun holiday with your family (I know you’ll be playing and singing lots of Christmas carols)!

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  10. Ah, the comfort a cookie brings… Thank you for sharing this delightful holiday tea with us! Those raspberry bars look scrumptious, and I wish I’d had the reindeer treat directions last week when my little nephews were here. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Jama! Looking forward to seeing you in 2017!

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  11. Yes, let’s stick together through thick and thin and get through whatever comes our way in 2017 with love and humor, good food and friendships. You are a treasure, Jama. Thanks for your amazing posts. Give the supporting cast hugs from my child-heart (your cookies worked their magic even if I’m not eating them!).

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    1. Sticking together will be very important in the coming year. We must be grateful that we have the comfort of friends and the support of like-minded, SANE colleagues in our lives. We’ve never been tested like this before, never had so much at stake.

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  12. Your post is rahther delish, Jama! I love making sugar cookies, rolled, cut and decorated. This year my daughter knocked over the red, white and pink sprinkles. Do you know they hurt when you walk on them? Oh my, the memories from all the years of sugar cookies. Every year, new ones. 🙂

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    1. Watch out for those sprinkles! I spilled a few recently but luckily not on the floor. I used to do decorated sugar cookies but I’ve switched to less time-intensive recipes, like bar cookies and spritz. I only take out my cookie press once a year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Takes three different days for sugar cookies, which is daunting, I admit. Yet, to me they are the very soul of the season. Work, decoration and sweetness. 🙂 Plus my friend is a cookie-baker-whiz and every year sends me Russian Tea Cakes, fudge and Peanut Blossoms. She’s a keeper. And a fellow wordsmith. That just leaves the sugar cookies to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m sure your sugar cookies are spectacular and definitely worth all the time and labor. I do love that you continue to uphold this wonderful family tradition and are making new memories with your daughter each year. 🙂

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  13. Another absolutely fantastic post! I have had that Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book since I was in junior high and I STILL use it. I made cookies from it just a couple of weeks ago for a cookie exchange party.

    Mr. Cornelius and friends are having WAY too much fun — I love those reindeer crispy treats and the lattice cookies … well YES! (lots of shouting going on over here.)

    And HURRAY for Kellogg’s — well done.

    Happy holidays — whichever you celebrate.

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    1. I was lucky enough to inherit Aunty Ella’s copy of the Betty Crocker Cooky Book after she died several years ago. It had made its way to my mom’s house, and when we went through her things two years ago, I found and claimed it! I love that there are some of Aunty Ella’s notes in the margins. Real handwriting!

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  14. Mmmmmm! Your post makes me want to get out the mixing bowl and start baking right now! My grandma used to come from Chicago about a week before Christmas every year. She would make Spritz cookies and decorated sugar cookies. And I’m thinking those reindeer rice krispie bars would be perfect for my reading intervention groups on Wednesday– quick and easy (I only have thirty minutes with each group), but lots of fun! Wondering if I can find those candy eyes at my grocery store! Thank you for all of the sweetness you bring into our worlds each Friday! Merry Christmas!

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    1. I found the candy googly eyes at Party City, where they have a big display of Wilton baking products. I imagine they might be available at some larger grocery chains too in the baking section. If not, you could always use other types of round candies for the eyes, or even frosting. Loved hearing about your grandma visiting from Chicago and baking!

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  15. Oh, Ramona came over! 🙂 That makes me so happy. 🙂
    I am so hungry now for cookies, and have a hankering to bake some, which I will do with my Ramona very soon. And Atticus loves Rice Krispie treats, so the reindeer may be in our future, too.
    I also recently stocked up on some Kellogg’s products. 🙂
    Have a wonderful holiday, Jama!

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    1. Yay for Ramonas! You are lucky to have a real-life Ramona to help you bake cookies. I think Atticus might find the reindeer Rice Krispies treats to his liking. I’m thinking of buying more Kellogg’s cereals and other products to donate to a homeless shelter nearby. 🙂

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  16. Such a great post. I loved the cookie poem. My mom gave all of us the Betty Crocker Cooky Book when we each moved out of the house along with a set of cookie pans and cooling racks and I still treasure mine. Raspberry jam bars are one of my very favorite things and these look especially delicious. Yum!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday break, as well as a happy, healthy New Year!

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  17. I love the reindeer cookies, but no press 😦 However, will be making those lattice bars, if I do any sweets baking. Mostly trying to avoid sugar, which is why I’ve avoided Kellogg’s and similar for years. They foist way too much sugar on the public.

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  18. Jama, your post ushers in Christmas in a wonderful way. I love the amazing bear tea party photos, as always. The raspberry lattice bars are just what I need! Thank you for helping us cling to what’s important – family, friends and food!

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  19. “Eating a Herd of Reindeer” made me cry and just as my tears had receded, you posted the Anne Frank quote which teared me up all over again. On another note, I saw the Downton tea tins. I miss not having a new season to look forward to. Mr. C’s little pie brought to mind Thwaites Market in the town just south of me: http://www.thwaitesmarket.com/index.php?link=homemade I thought you’d enjoy the variety of pub pies. Have a great Christmas, Jama.

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    1. Yes, it will feel strange and sad not to have another season of DA in January. But PBS will air “Victoria,” right? That’s supposed to be good.

      Thanks for the Thwaites Market link! Mr. C and I love all those cute savory pies — they even have a chicken teriyaki one!

      Hope you have a beautiful Christmas, Diane. I think we’re in for a cold snowy winter . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  20. We always have a small-sized tupperware filled with macadamia/chocolate chip cookies these days bought oh-so-conveniently from Singapore Famous Amos (that’s the brand, seriously). 🙂 Christmas holidays is for cookies! Loads of ’em! Happy holidays, dearest Jama!

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  21. Yummy. I want one of everything! The rice krispie reindeer are so cute. Kids (of all ages) would love them. I’m a big raspberry fan so I know I’d love the lattice bars. We had a big raspberry patch growing up and and always had a supply of raspberry jam. When my parents moved, my dad made sure he had a plot of land for his raspberries (and other goodies) and to this day he and my mom (87 and 85 years old) still make jam. They were just here, all the way from Colorado, and we opened a new jar to have for breakfast with biscuits.
    Thanks for the festive post, Jama. Enjoy your holiday celebrations.

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