Advent Treats

On the third day of Christmas, my true loves gave to me: three tasty treats, two U.S. passports and a mushy brain with no memory…

They say things happen in threes. I don’t really know what ‘things’ exactly. Besides celebrity deaths. And maybe insults.

I’ve had three pretty good ones in the last three months. First there was the woman who congratulated me on expecting a baby…..after I’d already had said baby.

Then there was the woman at a jewelry party I attended recently. ‘Nicola, you look so beautiful!’ she exclaimed. She was surprised, nay shocked, I could tell. Sure enough, she continued: ‘I see you at school (insert hand motions to indicate drab, crazed, frantic appearance) and you look so tired!’

I've always wondered if 'tired' wasn't a euphemism for 'not wearing any makeup' and/or 'terrible hair'. Or just plain unattractive.

I couldn't help but chuckle at her bluntness. I guess I wasn't exaggerating when I bemoaned my less than stellar appearance for kindergarten pick-up and drop-off.

And then my oldest got in on the action as well. When I picked him up from school today, he announced: 'Amy's mom is younger than you. You're older.' Intrigued, at the sequence of events that led to this revelation, I asked: 'how do you know?' It seemed implausible that the two Kindergarteners had been standing around sharing their mothers' ages.

'Because she looks younger than you,’ he explained. Wrong answer kid! And he repeated it once more, for emphasis. Fast forward to several hours later when the professor arrived at home. ‘Hey, why don’t you tell your dad about how you told me that I looked older than Amy’s mom,’ I prompted my oldest. Who was still oblivious to the fact that it may not have been the most flattering thing to say.

So he repeated the exchange verbatim to the professor. Jason asked him to elaborate why he thought she looked younger in an effort to understand the young man’s logic: ‘because she’s lower than you’ my oldest replied. Complete with a hand motion to indicate her increased proximity to the ground.

Ah yes. He still associates height with age: since her mom is several inches shorter than I, she must be younger.

On the brighter side of things, I’ve found three tasty recipes to compensate for my lackluster appearance. We’ve made these peanut butter cookies twice in the last week, because they’re so good.

And my friend Jenny emailed this recipe (for Chocolate Cookies, below) to me when I had to make six dozen cookies for a cookie exchange last week. They were delicious. Even with subpar Canadian Chipits and Skor bits. (Note to Canada: Please consider stocking Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. Thanks!)

The ginger cake recipe is from another friend. It’s reminiscent of the Starbucks holiday ginger bread…but without the icing. I could eat the whole thing in one sitting, and may have come close.

What can I say – I may look old and tired, but I can out-eat anyone when it comes to dessert.

Salted Chocolate Covered Caramel Cookies
(adapted from Culinary Muse)

2 c bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temp
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking powder
1 c caramel bits (or Skor bits)
fleur de sel

Melt 1 1/3 cup of the chocolate either in a microwave or double boiler. Stir in the butter until melted.

Whisk the eggs & vanilla together. Quickly whisk in a little of the melted chocolate to temper the eggs. Add remaining melted chocolate & brown sugar then stir until completely mixed. Stir in the flour & baking powder, mix well. Fold in the caramel bits & remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chips. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Scoop batter by heaping tablespoons onto a baking sheet that has either been greased or covered with a silicon pad. Flatten the cookies slightly. Sprinkle each with salt & press to make the salt stick. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes (you want the caramel to have a chance to set before moving the cookies) then cool on a rack.

Makes 36 cookies

Very Gingery Ginger Cake

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup each vegetable oil and fancy molasses
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp minced gingerroot
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 tbsp icing sugar

1. grease and flour 10 -inch 3L Bundt pan; set side

2. In bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, ground ginger and salt. In large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, molasses, eggs, water and gingerroot; stir in flour mixture, one-third at a time. Stir in crystallized ginger. Pour into prepared pan.

3. Bake in centre of 350oC oven for about 1 hour or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely on rack. Dust with icing sugar.

8 thoughts on “Advent Treats

  1. yeah! nicola-endorsed recipes. I just recently discovered the smitten kitchen…love it! maybe next you could make the cappuccino fudge cheesecake and let me know if it is worth all the effort. 🙂

  2. Bwahahahahahaha!! Gotta love the 5 yr. old..too bad he did not know he got least fav that day!! I am excited that you posted those choc. cookies!! I loved and was wanting the recipe!! With all of your cookie eating confessions lately I have decided that you either have a tapeworm or a hollow leg.

  3. Excellent – by his logic I will always be younger than you. Quite a bit younger.
    I’m glad to hear the cookies were good – I haven’t made them yet, but I think I will add them to the list for the cookie party…which is Sunday! Yikes.

  4. First off, I think that anyone, even a mother, telling someone/their child thta they look tired is the worst possible thing one could ever say. I loathe that comment. I think I would almost tell me I look like I have gained 5 lbs. Seriously…
    Second, I plan to e-mail you some recipes that I found yesterday that are how to make “Snickers,” “Twix,” and “Reese Cups.” Of course they aren’t really those things and come with different names but they are healthier immitations of those candy bars. I think you would maybe enjoy making them!
    Third, Have a great weekend. And get some rest already, you look so tired!…haha! J/K…haven’t seen you in a year!

  5. I’ll be making the ginger cake TODAY. Thanks for sharing your recipe! Something to help wash down the apple cider. Miss you guys. Are you coming back to IN for the holidays at all?

  6. Molly – I hope you love it as much as I do! Jenny, if you’re still getting CARDED there’s a good chance you do look younger than me, not just in inches but also ‘in your face’ as he likes to say. Amy, as soon as I get a springform pan I’ll try out said recipe!

  7. About the “tired” comment–I’ve always liked the line from “Stepmom.” Julia Robert’s character comments to Susan Sarandon’s, “Are you feeling OK? You look tired.”
    “I hate that. You know, it’s just a different way of saying, ‘You look like s**t.'” 🙂
    I’m sure I’ve been looking like that these days…but no brave souls have mentioned it yet!!


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