happy christmas!

photo by Baking Addict.

Tick tock, tick tock.

Christmas is practically here!

I think I hear the faint jingle of sleigh bells!

Better check my list to make sure I’ve got everything covered.

Shopping? Done (hooray!), 80% of it online.
Wrapping? Check (like doing the paper, not the ribbons/bows). 
Shipping of gifts? Check (USPS Flat Rate boxes are too dang small)!
Decorating? Yes, with the help of resident bears.
Christmas cards? Mailed (receiving and sending fewer this year).
Baking? Done for now, large percentage already consumed. ☺
Carol singing? Not yet, better practice on the piano.
Stress factor? Abating.

         Wreath in Old Town, Alexandria, VA.

Is it just me, or has anyone else ever thought that if it weren’t for women, there wouldn’t be any Christmas?

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show me your red and green!

photo by eclectica miami.

The gathering of the red and green!
They’re definitely great colors for book covers.

Would love to see what you’ve got! Post a pic or leave a comment with your red or green titles.  ☺

photo by stephen.hughes56.

Happy Reading this holiday!

Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

here, cookie cookie!

I saw this adorable image at CakeSpy.com recently, and simply had to ask Head Spy, Jessie Oleson, for permission to post it here. It’s got to be one of the cleverest ways ever, to present a cookie!

Turns out she created the drawing for a guest post she was doing for Serious Eats (see it here), featuring the recipe for Berlinerkranser wreath cookies. I love to make these buttery wreaths flavored with orange zest, because they always look beautiful on a cookie tray and are totally scrumptious, melt-in-your-mouth heaven. In case you’re looking for a new cookie to impress your guests this holiday season, try Jessie’s recipe, or the one I’ve always made, from the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook:

(makes 54 cookies)

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp. grated orange peel
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg white, beaten
red and green candied cherries, chopped

1. In large bowl, measure 1/2 cup sugar and next 5 ingredients. With mixer at low speed, beat ingredients until just mixed; increase speed to medium and beat 4 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. (Mixture may look dry.)

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Take a heaping teaspoon-ful of dough at a time and roll it into 6-inch rope. Place each dough rope on cookie sheet in a circle, crossing ends over.

3. Brush cookies with egg white and sprinkle on some sugar. Decorate with red and green cherries.

4. Bake 10-12 minutes until light golden. Allow wreaths to cool on cookie sheet. Store cookies in a tightly covered container.


*Bonus Recipe

Speaking of looking beautiful on a cookie tray, I also love these Neopolitan Cookies. They take a little more time, but are totally worth it. Nom nom all the way!

(makes 72 cookies)

photo by mmwm.

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract
5 drops red food color
1 square unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. With mixer at low speed, beat flour, sugar, butter, egg, baking powder, vanilla and salt until just mixed. At medium speed, beat 3 minutes.

2. Divide dough among 3 small bowls. Add almond extract and red food color to one portion; stir until thoroughly mixed.

3. In 1-quart saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate. Mix chocolate into second portion; mix walnuts with remainder.

4. Line 9″x5″ loaf pan with waxed paper and spread almond dough evenly in pan. Then spread walnut dough and finally, chocolate dough.

5. Cover layered dough in pan with waxed paper and place it in refrigerator until firm, about 4 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Invert pan over board to turn out chilled dough and peel off waxed paper.

7. With sharp knife, cut dough lengthwise in half. Slice each half of dough crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

8. Place slices on cookie sheet, 1 inch apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes unti light brown. Remove to wire racks and cool.

by erin taylor.

If you’ve yet to experience the unending deliciousness that is CakeSpy, make sure you click on through lickety split. Jessie and her fellow cake detectives have been posting all kinds of wonderful holiday recipes. Check the CakeSpy Online Shop for adorable Cuppie merchandise — cards, prints, t-shirts, accessories, etc. Yummy!


Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing:
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
~ Grace Noll Crowell

*Berlinerkranser image used by permission, copyright © 2009 Jessie Oleson. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

the big snow adventure, or, cornelius bear steps out

Ho ho ho! Big Snow!

You probably know we had a BIG storm over the weekend.

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friday feast: pudding and pies, oh my!

Victorian kitchen at Shugborough Hall, UK.

by Anonymous (English/Medieval)

All you that to feasting and mirth are inclined,
Come here is good news for to pleasure your mind,
Old Christmas is come for to keep open house,
He scorns to be guilty of starving a mouse:
Then come, boys, and welcome for diet the chief,
Plum-pudding, goose, capon, minced pies, and roast beef.
The holly and ivy about the walls wind
And show that we ought to our neighbors be kind,
Inviting each other for pastime and sport,
And where we best fare, there we most do resort;
We fail not of victuals, and that of the chief,
Plum-pudding, goose, capon, minced pies, and roast beef.
All travellers, as they do pass on their way,
At gentlemen’s halls are invited to stay,
Themselves to refresh, and their horses to rest,
Since that he must be Old Christmas’s guest;
Nay, the poor shall not want, but have for relief,
Plum-pudding, goose, capon, minced pies, and roast beef.

The countdown is in earnest — just one more week till Christmas!

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