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December 9, 2015

Easy #Christmas Cookies and Amazing Books

by Alison DeLuca



I wish I could post the author, but this poem is anonymous.
Have you seen the post on Facebook called The Last Time? We're approaching one of those 'last times' this Christmas. Our daughter seems to be hedging her bets on the whole Santa issue - if she keeps saying she believes, the loot keeps coming. So we'll put out the cookies and read The Night Before Christmas, and it's going to be all the sweeter for being a final year of magic.

Santa's going to bring a sack full of books, of course. Yes, there'll be other stuff in there, the Segway she wants plus all the Japanese candy and fandom articles she's into now. Hello, Pikachu onesie! Yay, Totoro socks! 

I remember those days of holiday magic, the presents under the tree, the Messiah playing in the background. My mom's Irish fruitcake and plum pudding always made their appearance, each loaded with whiskey. When we were old enough to eat them, my sister and I got loopy off the cake. Later we discovered our grandmother's recipe included this line: "While still warm, pour a large tumbler of whiskey over the cake so it can sink in."

Let's just say my mom followed that recipe to the letter.

I still recall the excitement of opening The Man Who Was Magic by Paul Gallico. He's known for his heartbreaking stories about animals (I sobbed for hours over Thomasina and Jennie) but TMWWM is relatively unknown. And it is amazing, a story centered in Magea, a city that's all about magic - the conjurer sort. Adam, a man who can do real magic, interacts with Jane ( daughter of the main magician in Magea) and Ninian, a clumsy would-be performer who keeps dropping his props.

Also, there's Mopsy - a talking dog. 

Sorry - you'd have to buy used versions of this book if you're interested, since it seems to be out of print. But if you read the reviews, they all say how it's a childhood favorite and a wonderful story.
image courtesy of Goodreads

Flash forward to 2015, and my kid is asking for Dorothy Must Die. It's a dark version of Oz (another staple from my own childhood.) She's a purist and wants the print version, but if you want to read it on the Kindle, it's only 1.99. Apocalyptic version of a childhood favorite for under two bucks? Yes, please.

Now I've got that squared away, back to the Santa issue. This year we're going to leave out a plate of cookies 'One Last Time.' While I don't want to brag, I do make some of the best cookies ever. Does the family appreciate them? No, they do not. I've learned to pull back and make these easy favorites instead:

1. Nestles Toll House with M&M's: In the past I've busted my butt to roll out perfect creations of flour, butter, and icing. Guess what happened? Our guests ignore them and devour these babies. Now I make a double batch, bake a few cookie-sheets' worth, and stow the rest of the dough in the freezer in small tupperware containers. Before guests arrive, I defrost a container for about an hour, scoop out the cookies, and top with a few m&m's. Makes your home smell like chocolate chips - better than any candle.

2. Dunked Oreos, marshmallows, and pretzels - I've crushed almonds to make my own marzipan, rolled wafer-thin lace cookies around spoon handle to create delicate curls, made my own ice cream. Each year people ignore them all of those for the Oreos I dunked in melted chocolate at the last minute. The recipe couldn't be easier: melt a bag of chocolate chips in the microwave with a tablespoon of Crisco. Stir at 1 minute intervals, depending on your microwave settings. Dunk the Oreos (or pretzels) with a fork and place on wax paper-covered trays to set. While still wet, you can top with sprinkles, candies, nuts...
Photo courtesy of www.berries.com/

I'm telling you, those who ignore my labor-intensive rolled sugar cookies go wild for these babies.

3. Brownie and cake pops - Make a pan of brownies or box cake, scoop out some spheres with a small cookie scoop (available here) and spear it with a lolly stick (available here.) Dunk in the chocolate mix from above or use some Wilton's vari-colored chocolate melts. Add some sprinkles or decorating sugar. You'll need to throw some flour on your face for this one so you can pretend you slaved all day over a hot stove.


Stand back and modestly lower your eyes amid the Oohs and Ahhs.

Now you can go and read your new books with all that extra time you've saved.


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