Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oma's Pecan Tarts

Pecans are a Southern treat; pop-up stores and mall shopping carts are peddling them all over my hometown during the holidays, and my family is known to ship candied, chocolate-covered, chocolate-and-toffee-covered, and butter-roasted gift sets of them to each other for Christmas, birthdays, and other occasions (a gift card just doesn't remind one of home in quite the same way!).

Every year my grandmother (who we have always lovingly called "Oma") collects and shells her own pecans in the late summer and freezes them for the winter months, so that we can always have her special pecan tarts for the holidays. Tiny pecan pies, they're little bites of a Southern classic (though you may decide you'd like two bites, or four...). Oma makes plates of these to exchange with her friends but keeps plenty around for us to have all we can eat, too. This year she let my sister Olivia and I help her make them. She also gave me her recipe so that I can continue the tradition by making my own, and I am happy to share it in this post, for anyone else who might like to try a taste of my family's holiday treats.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday treats made by friends in SC

I hope everyone had a great holiday! I did, and in spite of all the rush I was able to spend some time in the kitchen as well. I'm back in Brooklyn now and excited to blog about what I made very soon. I don't have much time at this very moment to write a lot of details (I'm in the midst of planning a New Year's Eve dessert project and almost late for yoga class!), but I did want to take a minute to share some photos of a couple of my favorite holiday creations other people made that I got to enjoy when I was at home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chocolate-Dipped Mint Wafers

I'm going home today, so last night I decided to make some cookies to bring home (and procrastinate about packing!): Chocolate-Dipped Mint Wafers (or Girl Scout "Thin Mints").

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chocolate-Champagne Truffles

Working at a design studio, I've seen some beautiful holiday confections circulating the office for the past couple of weeks (supplied by both clients and crafty coworkers alike), and I've been waiting and hoping for things to calm down so that I would have my own chance to get in the kitchen and bake something pretty for my coworkers too (because when the rare opportunity to make small personal food gifts arises, one must take advantage of it!). This weekend I had my chance: my friends went out of town and I got up early to finish my holiday errands before the afternoon shopping rush, leaving one whole day to myself to cook up whatever confection I pleased. Not to mention we had a big beautiful snowfall on Saturday night to make staying in the next day feel even more romantic and cozy.

My first thought was to make some kind of rolled-and-cut-out cookie like I did in my previous entry, since I had so much success with the sugar cookies. However, two of my coworkers eat gluten-free and I wanted to make something we could all enjoy, so I decided to make chocolate truffles instead. Two kinds: champagne truffles rolled in powdered sugar, and Grand Marnier truffles dipped in dark chocolate and garnished with candied orange peel.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jam-Filled Cream Cheese Cookies and Citrus Sugar Cookies

For the past few years I've lived away from my home in South Carolina, going home for the holidays has usually involved a considerable amount of time spent in airports. I get ridiculous travel anxiety: with all the steps it takes for me to get from my house in Brooklyn to the airline gate (subway, airtrain, security), and the fact that I travel so infrequently that I can never remember the exact amount of time it takes for me to travel from Point A to Point B, I'm one who's prone to grossly overcompensate on the time it takes for me to get there, and then I end up with lots of extra time to kill in airport newsstands. I guess it's better than being unprepared, but I always end up buying magazines to help me pass the time.

This year, while browsing the racks, my recent fixation with baking drove me to buy Martha Stewart's Everyday Food (December 2009 issue). Personal sentiments about Martha aside, it was my first time reading this magazine and I fell in love with it-- the photography is delicious and the entire magazine is only seasonal recipes, which really got me into the holiday mood. I studied the "Sweet Treats" article all the way home, plotting my Black Friday Shut-In Cookie Fest. I chose two rolled-and-cut-out cookie recipes: Jam-Filled Cream Cheese Cookies and Citrus Sugar Cookies.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chunky cabled scarf

I have the luxury of writing this post on a Monday, since I'm trying to use up some vacation days before the end of the year by extending my weekends. It's pretty great-- I had time this weekend to finish this scarf I started working on a few weeks ago. It is two strands of dark brown (sometimes charcoal, in the right light) Cascade 220 yarn knit together in a chunky cable pattern I made up.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Classic apple pie

In installment #3 of what has become a Sunday baking/crafting ritual, this weekend Christine and I made an apple pie.