Wishing You Moments of Captured Time for the New Year

Since writing my last post, I’ve been pondering the evolution of holiday traditions. How they started. Why we continue some and not others. New traditions that spring up and are adopted…Shelf Elf…or not. I choose “not.”

What occurred to me is that many of our traditions started out of scarcity.

Feasts were thrown around holidays because there was a scarcity of food. If you wanted a chicken or a “fatted calf” you actually had to raise that chick or calf and fatten it up, butcher it, roast it, carve it, and serve it.

There wasn’t a grocery store nearby with shrink-wrapped boneless skinless chicken breasts or, ahem, a pre-cooked Thanksgiving meal a-phone-call away. To treat your family and friends to a feast was a generous undertaking.

Gifts were given at the holidays because there was a scarcity of tangible, material things. Any of us who have read the Little House on the Prairie series were awed by the extent to which Mr. Edwards went to bring Christmas gifts to Laura and Mary.

Amazon online prime-time shopping with free 2-day shipping, or malls opened from 8am til midnight did not exist. To actually give a person a gift usually meant you had to hone your elfin toy-making skills and make it yourself.

And Hanukkah, well, that’s an entire week’s celebration based on the scarcity of oil.

All of this made me think further about what it is that is scarce today. What can we give that would be a bit of a hardship? And what kind of traditions can we build around that scarcity?

I’d say….time.

Time is scarce. Wouldn’t you say it’s finite? Precious? A nonrenewable resource? A scarce commodity? Less time now, even though we have more time-saving devices available to us now than ever before?

I had all of these grand plans to send out this La Pomme post before Christmas. To wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Love and Peace. To give you a recipe you might want to make for friends and family.

But, whenever I thought I had some time to do it, my littlest one would want to give me a dissertation-type explanation of his latest drawing, or my eldest would want to practice her driving by offering to take me to our local Starbucks again and again, or my middle guy would want to pile us all on the couch together to watch a movie starting at 10 pm, or the Rooster (aka Mr. Christmas) would want to discuss plans for the big day, or we would be filling our plates to enjoy a scrumptious meal prepared by my father while sitting amongst my mom’s beautiful Christmas decorations that conjured up all sorts of childhood memories.

Maybe it’s because of what happened here in Portland, or what happened in that little school in Connecticut, or because of things going on in my life that compel me to recalibrate my priorities…I can’t be sure but, whatever it is, I find myself almost frantically searching for bits of time I can capture with my family, friends, and neighbors. Small moments of time I can share with them.

As we head into the New Year, I wish you all many moments of captured time with those you love, and I hope you had many of those moments throughout the holidays.

As always, thank you for spending bits of your precious time with me.

I’ll be back in 2013 to talk about my word for the New Year and to hopefully hear about yours.

Cheers,
Carrie

PS: Yes, yes I realize that it’s a bit late to be sending out a holiday cookie type recipe but hey, bookmark this, and simply cut hearts instead of stars and you are set for Valentine’s Day.

PPS: While I simply dipped my graham crackers in microwave melted chocolate, here’s an article that explains the art of “tempering chocolate” should you want your treats to have a professional look. How to Temper Chocolate.

Chocolate Dipped Cinnamon Graham Crackers
Print
Course: dessert, cookie
Author:
Serves: About 40 cookies
One of my favorite local grocery stores, Zupans, makes all sorts of chocolate dipped graham crackers. Simply chocolate. Chocolate and caramel. Chocolate and peanut butter. Sea salt. Peppermint bits. And I have purchased and devoured these squares of chocolate bliss, but with one teeny tiny suggestion for them....less chocolate. The chocolate to cookie ratio is off and I adhere to a very strict chocolate v. cookie ratio as I talked about in my post, "A Little Insurance Policy in the Form of Chocolate Chip Cookies." In an effort to achieve a better ratio, I decided to make my own. I have to say the homemade graham crackers were such buttery, cinnamon-y goodness that they really didn't need the chocolate, but the chocolate was a nice finishing touch. Just make sure to use a butter knife or really shake your graham cracker after dipping to get the excess chocolate off.
Ingredients
  • 3⅔ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⅓ cup (12 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling
  • ¾ - 1 pound of good quality dark chocolate disks, or bars cut into pieces
  • (Note: I used 70% cacao chocolate but anywhere from 60-70% would work. Resist the urge to use chocolate chips. They have a different consistency.)
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Whisk together your flour, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together your butter, brown sugar, and honey until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce your mixer speed to low and slowly add your dry ingredients to the butter/sugar concoction. Mix until just combined.
  4. Roll your dough up in some parchment paper, or plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a nonstick baking mat.
  6. Roll out half of your dough on a lightly-floured, clean work surface to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Using a cookie cutter with about a 3-inch diameter (star, heart, scalloped circles) cut out the graham crackers. Place them on your prepared cookie sheet about ½ inch apart. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar to make them sparkle.
  7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch them carefully at the end. They go from golden brown {good} to dark brown {not so good} very quickly.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  9. Continue rolling, cutting, and baking graham crackers until your dough runs out.
  10. Once the graham crackers are baked and cooled it's time for the finishing touch.
  11. Put ½ your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. I actually used a 4-cup Pyrex measuring container because I wanted the chocolate to be deeper for dipping than it would have been in a bowl.
  12. Melt the chocolate at 50% power, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  13. Dip ¼ to ½ of your graham cracker in the chocolate. Shake or use a butter knife to take off the excess especially off the back. (Melt more chocolate when first batch runs out.)
  14. Lay on parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat. Sprinkle the chocolate with a tiny bit of sea salt. Allow to harden completely.
  15. Bundle up in little bags tied with string and hand out to friends, family, neighbors...those you love. Enjoy.

 

Comments

  1. I like how the holidays force us to put things into perspective. We could all use a little dose of that from time to time. Love these cookies, even if they are posted the day after Christmas ;-)

  2. Carrie,
    I like anything dipped in chocolate! Impressed with the use of w/w pastry flour in the recipe, too. Happy 2013, friend!

  3. Betty Cook says:

    Beautiful post Carrie and the home-made, chocolate dipped graham cracker cookies were fabulous!

  4. Kirsten Crombie says:

    Well I thought they were snow flakes, and that’s rather timely for January!

  5. Absolutely stunning home made graham crackers. Love them dipped in chocolate. Great shot that first pic in particular. Happy Holidays!

  6. Ah, yes.
    Time, the seemingly scarcity of it and the demands that are put upon the remaining bits left to you after the “responsibilities” have eaten the rest.
    Like Barb and I here @ Tate and Tate Catering, you move from immediate task to the next task, looking up to a year flown by; friends have aged, some have gone completely.
    And you wonder…………

  7. I really enjoyed this post and your photos are really beautiful. Happy Holidays… I look forward to visiting your blog more in 2013!

  8. Susan Hebert says:

    Love your post, recipes and photos. So grateful to Marilyn Bergevin for introducing me to your blog a few years back. Keep up the wonderful work.
    Cheers!

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