Thankful for a year that brought me more peace than ever. The best news is learning the US Navy has recognized sleep deprivation as a rather big cause of military accidents on ships and across the board has put some rules into place to prevent further tragedy related to lack of sleep. It was early on in my blogging when I first wrote about that issue here.
I also enjoyed some really fun food experiences traveling to Oregon compliments of my Saucy Mama friends then to Alabama for the World Food Championships and most recently to New York City for a holiday baking challenge sponsored by Kellogg’s cereal where I got to hang out with these two.
My next big challenge happens in February and I dare say I will truly be out of my comfort zone. Have you heard of TEDx talks? I’ve been invited to give one at Furman University. The talk is titled, “How to Celebrate a Life A Food Blog”. Never in a million did I think this blog would lead me to the big stage. Surely taking the road less travelled and going public with my grief has allowed William’s light to shine brighter. May it never dim.
Happy New Year and thank you for hanging out with me.
You’ve heard me say it before. When it comes to the holiday season take one day at a time and just put one foot in front of the other. Take your time. Do what you need to do and if you are able to weave your grief into the holiday spirit by all means do so.
If you are a guest among someone who is having a difficult time I encourage you to share some stories about the person who is gone from the table. If they are funny tales then even better. Don’t be afraid that you might make another cry. Those tears are the glue that mend the broken heart. The stories are priceless and allows the grief to be public, to be normal, to not be alone. Your courage to speak out loud is the best gift under the tree. Be the comfort and joy.
Baking brings me comfort and joy. At this time of year it is absolutely a marathon of cookies. So many recipes on this run to Christmas Eve. Some are traditional family favorites like linzer tarts, thumb prints and pressed spritz cookies, but if you know me I have to have some new creative additions, too.
Spritz cookies are the perfect holiday bite. Sweet, crisp and buttery nothing dresses up a cookie tray like these pressed cookies. With a rainbow of colors and sprinkles the fun and festive designs are endless. If you don’t already own a cookie press I highly recommend the Marcato Biscuits Machine as it is so easy to use and every cookie presses out perfectly.
If you must know nutty thumb print cookies are my absolute favorite. The very best recipe comes from Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray book. I never tinker with her recipe because it truly is the perfect cookie. This year I tried Norm’s Farms elderberry jam with roasted and salted pecans in one batch and almonds and mango fruit spread in the other. Fantastic, melt in your mouth sweet sensations with just enough salty crunch.
Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray Thumb Cookies
2 sticks butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 cups chopped nuts
¾ cup jelly
Heat oven 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light. Add egg yolks and vanilla; blend well. On low speed, gradually add salt and flour; mix just until soft dough forms. Shape into 1-inch balls. In small bowl, beat egg whites until fluffy. Place nuts in another small bowl. Dip dough balls into egg white and then roll in nuts coating well. Place on baking sheets two inches apart. Using your fingers, press tops of cookie balls to flatten. With your finger, make a dent in the center of each cookie. Spoon ½ teaspoon of jelly into the dent. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies on parchment paper to a rack to cool. Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies. Store in an airtight container.
Talk about comfort and joy. Invite a child into your kitchen to bake this year. Don’t worry about the potential mess. That is why God invented vacuum cleaners and other assorted cleaning supplies. Oh, what fun……bake some memories.