Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 12 Days of Cooking

Hello blog readers! Has your Christmas season been as busy as mine has? I thought to myself this morning, "Hey, I have time to blog! Yippee!" Then I looked at the blog and realized that I haven't been here in ages.*

But all is well, because we are here together now, laughing, drinking hot cocoa, and anticipating one of the holiest nights of the year. And how have I been prepping for this night?

By cooking every last lick of raw ingredients in my kitchen into every imaginable Christmas treat for four weeks straight.

It has been exhausting, but a lot of fun. It partly makes me wish that the season went on much longer than December 25 (oh does.) And, it makes me want to break into song.

Lucky you, I don't know how to add audio.

Nonetheless, you get my lyrics. Also in your favor: the tune is a dash familiar to you. Hum along to The Twelve Days of Christmas, won't you?

On the twelfth day of cooking, my kitchen gave to me:

Twelve loads of dishes,

Eleven dozen cookies,

Ten dozen truffles,

Nine dozen cupcakes,

Eight Tums needed,

Seven grocery store stops,

Six mini-meltdowns,


Four weeks of working,

Three dozen brownies,

Two failed attempts,

And a huge batch of TAH-MALL-EES!

That's right! After all those sweets, I went over to my in-laws' house and made tamales.

You know, because I am Mexican now.

Here's the proof:

He's finally going to share all his years of experience.

I see five plates, but six shot glasses. Hmmm, someone is getting the fuel without doing the work.


My first masa-smeared corn husk.

Double yum.

I hope you have a very safe and holy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I'll be sharing my memories with you soon, but don't forget to make your own!

Feliz Navidad!

*More than a couple weeks is pretty much ages in in the blogosphere. I'm surprised the blog didn't have wrinkles.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crumbling Affection


Nothing hits home in quite the same way as a cookie.

Cookies and milk are a treat I still enjoy. Cookies and punch (a far inferior combination) nevertheless remind me of childhood parties, and school dances, and red KoolAid stains on your shirt that blend very well with smeared chocolate chips. Cookie dough ice cream stands alone.

You may have a favorite meal, or dish that mom makes that simply doesn't measure up to anyone else's version. But nothing beats the cookie straight from the oven, having only cooked through enough to keep the warm, soft edges from melting onto your greedy fingertips.

See? This is a feeling that pie could never evoke.

So why must I make you feel this way right now, while you are sitting at your computer or reading this on your smart phone, and very likely not near a bakery?

I must because it's cookie swap time.

Every year before Christmas, the Mastro ladies gather 'round to swap cookies. You bake five dozen of your signature nosh* and swap them with the several other varieties of treats that all your relatives brought. You leave with a bunch of different types of cookies without having to make anything but one type of cookie in your own kitchen.

Genius and delicious. Now, if only we could figure something like this out for weeknight dinners....

Anyway, I don't want you to miss out on an Advent or Christmas cookie swap just because you have no long-standing family tradition to eat way more butter and sugar than should be humanly allowed. Here's a guide to hosting your very own meaningful cookie swap that I really enjoyed reading.

For my cookie swaps this year, I'll be making my signature kolach, a cream cheese dough filled with fruit preserves. They're like miniature hot pockets, but sweeter. And, you can eat eight of them before you realize you're full.

In fact, maybe I need to go make them now.... Happy baking!

*I have totally just given an "out" to all of you Mastro ladies out there currently reading this blog who do not have the time to make your five dozen cookies. The stores have some good stuff nowadays. Feel no shame.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Turkey in the Wine

So it's been a while since I've taken to sitting down and writing about what's up in my little world. Can I blame it on a subdued state since Turkey Day? The continued job hunting and researching? Write it off to too much baking?



Um, I'm going to stop writing excuses now, because you might not find it in your wonderful hearts to forgive me for A) neglecting the stupendous connection between us that is this blog, and B) being annoying.

My Thanksgiving was good. How was yours? Did you eat more than necessary, as is now expected of you until New Year's? I did! And what did I do after that?

Why, I went wine tasting, of course! Nothing quite tops off the Thanksgiving weekend like drinking the equivalent of five glasses of wine whilst being chauffeured around an unfamiliar city.

Want proof? OK! Here's our loot.

And here's some pictures from our wine tasting trip to Paso Robles, which was a birthday surprise for Stephen's cousin, Nick.

Since you are such sweet blog readers, I'll share a little sweet treat with you: a picture of the raspberry-marbled cheesecakes I made for Thanksgiving.

Happy eating!