Each year for our festive feast, I like to do something different with the place markers. Some years they're edible, some years they're not. Gingerbread makes for a great option as it allows so many creative possibilities. A couple of years ago I made chocolate gingerbread boxes and filled them with treats, the lids of which had everyone's names on it. This year, I opted for gingerbread gift tags.
Since the last time I made edible place settings, my partner's brother has opted for a vegan diet and his wife is vegetarian. My sister eats less types of fruit and vegetables than I have fingers on my hands, and my dad won't try anything he imagines he won't like (which encompasses anything that isn't roast meat or a casserole-type dish). Creating a menu that could suit everyone was definitely a challenge, but a welcome one.
The challenge for the gingerbread tags was finding a recipe that could suit a vegan dietary requirement, whilst still tasting appealing enough for the non-vegans.
It wouldn't be Christmas without a certain reindeer. Rudolph and his famous red nose feature here on a batch of peanut butter cookies.
Peanut butter cookies are one of my boyfriend's favourite ever things. When I'm picking his brain for ideas to bake, he usually requests them and I usually ignore him and look for something new. When I finally give in, it rekindles his love for them and he laments my lack of baking them more often. So when I finally decided on baking some rudolph cookies, peanut butter was the obvious choice.
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose…
I couldn’t go past the fifth day of Christmas without making rings of some sort. Cookie wreaths seemed like the perfect option, but which recipe? I was tempted to make some piped shortbread, but after having made some Christmas shortbread already this year, it had to be something a bit different.
These Italian lemon biscuits were the perfect alternative.
Do you know when the 12 days of Christmas are? I didn't, so I visited my best friend – Wikipedia. They begin on the 25th of December. Of course. Christmas is about Jesus' birth, after all, so naturally the 12 days for follow it. I'd always thought they were the 12 days leading up to Christmas. I felt a bit silly.
Being non-religious, Christmas to me and my family has always been about taking time to acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate the wonderful people and experiences in your life, a time to say thank you. Christian celebrations have not entered into it, so I figured this lack of exposure to it was probably responsible for my derp moment. So I asked my Christian boyfriend, for whom his faith plays an important role in both his daily life and his family's Christmas celebrations, when he thought the 12 days were. His assumption was the same as mine. In fact, everyone who I asked, regardless of faith, assumed the same thing. So we all learnt a little something new.
I'd be planning a 12 days of Christmas blog series, assuming the 12 days where somewhere in December. Sharing recipes after Christmas felt a little moot. Besides, I won't be around much after Christmas, let alone for the 12 days proceeding. So we're going to do this the untraditional way. Every second day from now til the 23rd I'll bring you one of12 Christmas recipes.
This first recipe is something that's becoming a bit of a yearly tradition. Each year, I look for a way to reinvent it. Here's this year's take on it.
1 Christmas Tree…
This month in the Daring Baker's challenge, we got a little bit festive. Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us. She gave us 12 cookie recipe to choose from and challenged us to bake at least one of the 12 cookies, as well as our own celebration cookies.
Here's the two I baked for the challenge.
Double the noms…
Chocolate lace crisps are such a classic and easily identifiable biscuit. The cracked outer layer dusted with icing sugar makes a lovely contrast to the chewy inner layer.
I decided to change this one up a little, giving it a hint of another classic: red velvet.
Crack into them…
Over on deviantART, a group called Artisan Craft was hosting a challenge this month for buttons. My philosophy in life is that everything can be made edible, so I decided to make some edible buttons for the challenge. I had thoughts of make fondant buttons on a cake or cupcakes, but I didn't have time for anything too fancy. But there's always time for shortbread.
Low on functionality, but big on noms…
Last Christmas I received a Christmas card with these two beautiful canines gracing the front of it. I keep every card I ever receive, but this one is definitely among my most cherished. This is Sam and Bonnie, my lovely friend Anna's furbabies.
A fortnight ago, she received the terrible news that brave Sammy had lost his battle with cancer. It had returned with a vengeance and it would be a few short days before she would have to say goodbye.
Having had to say goodbye to a furbaby of my own three years ago this November, I know too well what a difficult time it is. Not just for us who are left behind, but for our loved one as well. It can be a stressful and confusing time for them, unable to really understand what's happening to them. There's nothing any of us can do but shower them with love. No doubt, Sammy got loads of it at the hands of Anna and family.
I felt pretty helpless, but if I could do anything to make his final days a little extra cheerful, I would jump at the chance. I dropped the assignment I was working on and hit the kitchen to make some canine treats for beautiful Sammy.
I’d like to share them with you and your furbaby…
I've been a little quiet on the blogging front this week. I've been finishing off my final assignment for my last subject ever. Now I just have to finish off the research component of my course and I'll have a piece of paper declaring I have mastered science. Exciting. But scary.
While I've not been blogging, I've still been cooking. The masses always have to be fed, y'know. I've got lots to show you guys.
So now that I have time to take a breather, it's time for another cook book challenge post!
I didn't realise until doing this blog post that I took this weeks book from the wrong end of the pile. Now it's out of order. Ah! My OCD! *flail*
It's no secret that I love baking more than anything else in the kitchen. So a whole book on baking is always welcome. This week's book is Belinda Jeffrey's "Mix and Bake".
Crunchy Peanut Butter and Sea Salt Bisuits…
Last week while I was grocery shopping I was heading down my favourite aisle (baking!) when I passed a giant wall of Oreos at the end of the aisle. They were on sale for $1 each. Score. I'm sure normal peoples first thought would have been, "Yum, Oreos". Mine was, "Yay, cupcakes!" I grabbed a box of the strawberry ones and chucked them in the trolley.
It took me a while to decide on what I wanted to do. My initial thought had been cupcakes, perhaps buttercakes baked with fresh strawberries inside. But in the end I went for something a little different.
First you twist it…