Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Baking, Music, and More

by Maggie Sefton

The Holidays are definitely here, folks. We're shopping for gifts, decorating our houses (well, I'm not because I'll spend Christmas in Texas with daughters Serena, Melissa, and Maria), and the weather is cooperating by sending lots of cold and snow. In Colorado's case, lots of snow. We just had two snowstorms in three days, each depositing about six inches of fresh Colorado powder. The High Country got way more, of course, and they're deliriously happy because that means our ski resorts have even MORE snow and are filling up with happy skiers. All is well. I'll buy a fresh evergreen wreath to adorn my front door and call it good. Every three years most of my daughters choose to return "home" to Colorado for Christmas, and that's when I haul out boxes and boxes of cherished decorations. On the other years, I get to travel to their houses and help them decorate. :)

But what really signals the holiday season for me is when I start buying ingredients for my family's beloved holiday goodies and start cooking! I always start by pulling out all the favorite CDs of Christmas music to accompany my culinary efforts. Those songs and each singer's particular renedition of each are engraved in my memory because I've listened to them for so many years. One of our family's faves is a 2-disc set of Christmas Music by Time-Warner. It's ages old, and I pray it doesn't suddenly give out. (Note to Maggie: Record CD to digital file over the holidays, just in case). One of my daughters actually ordered a more recent version of the set but it was different! It didn't include all our favorites!

This weekend, I started with my Gingersnap recipe. I included it in the five recipes at the end of the 6th Kelly Flynn Knitting Mystery, FLEECE NAVIDAD. I purposely had more recipes in that book because of the holiday setting. I "gave" the recipe to Kelly's beloved (and departed) Aunt Helen. I had Kelly find Aunt Helen's recipe and learn to make it (the only thing Kelly has ever cooked. :) Her friends, aka The Gang, absolutely love the gingersnaps, so Kelly contributes the cookies whenever there's an occasion to do so. Otherwise, if Kelly can't nuke it, it ain't happening.

I always double that recipe because I send Holiday Goodies to all my daughters. Daughter Christine and family get a double/triple package. Not only are there Gingersnaps, but I also include my Chocolate Mint Fudge, and an assortment of the following: Pumpkin Nut Bread, Cranberry Orange Nut Bread, Chocolate Pecan Rum Balls, Toffee Bars, and various other recipes I've made over the years. Lots and lots of yummy things to choose from. Sometimes, I've made pinwheels, other times sugar cookies with colored icing, 7 Layer Bars. . .and many many more. Later in December, I promise I'll post these two recipes while I'm off enjoying the holidays with my daughters in Texas.

On Sunday, I started making the first two pans of fudge. I will make many more pans of fudge, believe me. I also send Holiday Goodies to several out of town friends who are like family, plus I give them as gifts to my close neighbors and friends here in town. So. . .you can see that's a LOT of Holiday Cooking. But, I enjoy it all. The familiar carols and music and the wonderful scents and flavors that rise from the mixing bowls and the oven. It's all part of this wonderful Holiday Season for me.

What are some of your favorite holiday activities? Do you cook or bake? Or do you make gifts? Share with us.