If you’d like, cue up, Christmas Time is Here…..
I watched her walk toward me through the snow. Snow at least 2 feet deep. Deep by Portland standards. A steaming mug of tea precariously balanced in each hand. A few tense minutes later she successfully arrived at my front porch and handed me one of the mugs. We sat down in the weathered adirondack chairs. We chatted. My neighbor and I. We watched our children build their snowmen and engineer their sledding jumps. We enjoyed these cups of black tea with a pinch of cardamon and a smidge of milk. Something so seemingly simple and yet, she was sharing with me, the way her Persian mother makes tea for her. I was touched.
“Carrie,” she said to me tapping me on my hip. “Are we going to have those drinks again?” I must have looked puzzled so my 6-year old neighbor continued. “Remember, the ones in the Santa cup? The ones with the sprinkles on top? Those drinks we had last year.” “Oh…the egg nog.” Every Christmas growing up, my Granny served her grandchildren egg nog in Santa cups, complete with a dash of nutmeg on top. Those mugs were eventually passed down to me. I continue the tradition. Nothing fancy. Egg nog bought from a store. A pinch of nutmeg. But always in the Santa cup. Last year, I had set out a round of egg nog for the neighbor kids as they decorated cookies. Such a simple thing. But, remembered.
With the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holidays upon me, I struggled with what to feed my boys who were apparently “famished” from the long day at school. It had to be quick. It had to be mess-free. I grabbed the corn chips, a can of black beans, some grated sharp cheddar cheese. I quickly assembled some nachos, popped them in the microwave for 45 seconds and set them down for the boys with a scoop of salsa. A few hours later as I unpacked another box of Christmas decorations, my Kindergartner skips up to me and says, “Mom. I really like those nachos you make. I’m not just sayin’ that. It’s for real. I love ‘em. Really. I’m not just sayin’ that. I love beans. Really. This is for true. I’m not just sayin’ it.” And off he skippped.
We curled up on the couch. The winter sun was beaming through the window warming us. We each held a cup of peppermint tea. A plate of ginger crisps rested on the ottoman next to us. And she, my dear friend, talked. She, who just needed someone to listen. And somehow, that pretty little plate of cookies, took a sad moment and helped bring a little cheer. Nothing fancy. No elaborate frosting. No sprinkles or silver balls. Just a simple little cookie. But it was enough.
Sometimes, when I find myself at the height of holiday madness, embarking on yet another crazy project, I have to stop and ask, “Carrie, what are the bits and pieces of the holidays that people actually remember?”
Simple Little Ginger Crisps
Adapted from Cookie Cutter Ginger Crisps by Susan Branch
These really are so easy to make and they don’t need any extra adornment. They are perfectly sweet as is. My favorite part about them is that they freeze really well. So, you could have a friend or two drop by unannounced over the holidays and before you panic as to what to set out for them to nibble on, you remember that you have Ginger Crisps in the freezer. By the time you’ve pulled some cookies out of the freezer, made everyone a cup of tea (or coffee would be good too) and set it all down in front of your guests, they are defrosted and ready to nibble. They are also nice alongside a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.
1 c softened butter
1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c molasses
2/3 c light corn syrup
4 1/2 c flour (sifted if you have the time)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Begin by creaming your butter and sugars until light. 3-4 minutes. Then, add your molasses and corn syrup and mix well. Next, mix in your cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking soda and cloves and combine well. Finally, add your flour, little bits at a time, ensuring that it is all incorporated into your mix. When it is finished being mixed, the dough should have a smooth appearance.
Wrap your dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
When you are ready to bake, preheat your over to 350 degrees. Roll your dough out on a lightly floured surface to less than 1/8 inch thick. Cut with floured cutters. I personally like to choose just one shape – little gingerbread men, scalloped edges, snowflakes. There is something pleasing about the repetition of a single design. Bake on greased cookie sheet, or one lined with silpat, for 8 min. Cool and store in an airtight container or freeze them. Enjoy.
Yield: 3 dozen or so depending on the size of your cookie cutter
The calendars are IN!!
And, I have to say they look quite lovely. A huge thank you to all of you who have already placed orders. I’m so touched. Truly.
Out of the 200 we had printed up, I have about 16 left so if you were hoping to get one, email me or get your order placed on Etsy soon. They are $15.00 a piece.
If this is the first time you’re “hearing” about these calendars, below is the link to the original blog post explaining the calendars as well as the link to my Etsy “store.”
All orders leaving the Portland area have been shipped. East Coast and Mid-West orders were mailed Friday, 12/10. All Southwest and West coast orders were mailed Saturday, 12/11, as well as a few Portland area orders. Everyone else, I will contact you on Monday or Tuesday for the “pick-up” schedule.
One last note, after the original 50 I had listed on Etsy sold, I’ve only been able to list 3 at a time. And being the Etsy rookie I am, I can’t figure out how to change that. So, if by chance you want more than 3 calendars, email me and we will work it out so you don’t get charged twice for shipping.
Email: carrieminns (at) me (dot) com
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010