oh christmas tree, oh christmas tree, I hope you don't fall down on me
Have yourself a very little blog post: this one. It's Christmas Eve and for the first time in my life I'm not at home, I'm in fact all alone in Wellington. Well, this is not entirely true: there is also Ariel the cat, who I'm simultaneously looking after in the absence of her owners and also trying with zero chill whatsoever to befriend. The reason I'm here and not up home is because I have work tomorrow (another first) and while it's not ideal to not be seeing my family, it is at least interesting seeing what this completely different experience is like.
one for you, three for me
I baked some cookies over the last couple of days, mostly just so I could feel like it's Christmas, since baking is What I Do at this time of year, and partly because I wanted something to pad out a work Secret Santa gift. These cranberry and white chocolate cookies of Nigella's are completely serviceable items for this time of year should you feel pressed to churn out some baked goods yourself, they are sturdy and durable and last for ages, they are delicious yet comfortingly unchallenging to eat; they are very easy to make; and the uncooked dough tastes brilliant. Dried cranberries, like sour little jewels, pair magnificently with sweet, buttery white chocolate, and the red and white has a kind of christmassy holly-and-snow vibe going on which is pleasing. If you want you could add pistachio nuts to really go all out on the colour theme, but going nut-less is way cheaper.
white chocolate cranberry cookies
adapted barely from a recipe by Nigella Lawson. A lot of white chocolate chips and buttons out there taste of absolutely nothing, just a vague waxy textural sensation, so try to get something that tastes like...something. Otherwise take a bar or two of white chocolate and chop it up.
125g soft butter
half a cup sugar
half a cup brown sugar
half a cup oats
one cup flour
half a teaspoon baking powder
half a teaspoon salt
a slosh of vanilla extract
half a cup dried cranberries
half a cup white chocolate chips or buttons
Set your oven to 180 C/350 F, and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Using a wooden spoon or similar, beat the butter and the sugars together in a large bowl till thick, creamy and light. And delicious. Beat in the egg, then fold in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate the mixture for about 10-15 minutes.
Take tablespoons of the cookie dough and place on the baking tray, an inch or so apart. Flatten slightly with the back of a fork and then bake for fifteen minutes, although check after ten minutes - they should be a significant, but not overly dark, golden colour. They'll be really soft at this point but they'll firm up on cooling, so carefully transfer them to a rack or plate of some kind and carry on cooking the rest of the dough.
Makes 24 or so cookies, depending on the size you make and also how much cookie dough you eat. It's really good cookie dough.
Bonus recipe: Ginger Beer Shandy (or just Ginger Beer if you don't like the word shandy for some reason.) Take ginger beer, take beer beer, make sure they're both ice cold and pour half and half into a glass. Drink with utter joy! Any kind of lager or pale ale is good here, and even though I like the idea of the circularity of using ginger beer with the beer, it's actually even nicer with dry ginger ale. This is also a Nigella recipe, from Forever Summer. Thanks, Nigella! You are the reason for the season. The season being "the concept of love and also the endlessness of time itself."
For christmas this year my wishes are simple and rustic as homemade broth. I simply want - a new pair of boots for work, something sturdy yet giving off a 'sullen Victorian ward of the state' vibe; a book deal from a publisher who truly cares about me (or at least pretends to) (or at least just a book deal to be honest); mighty and omnipresent fame in the field of food blogging and being a self-appointed food authority; someone to hold my hand and be nice to me; a bafflingly generous influx of donations into my Paypal; the makings of a killer liquor cabinet (beginning with fancy gin and a selection of vermouths); at least quadruple my current number of twitter followers; chunky black sandals for that summer goth look; something approaching inner peace; these shorts and these shorts; the eternal love of all neighbourhood cats; for all my family to be in excellent health, and lots of candy. Oh and also my own TV show would be rad.
If tomorrow is indeed Christmas for you (well, for many it's just another day) and you're kicking back with like, Buck's Fizz and a laughably enormous feast and so on, maybe think a nice thought for those in hospo and other roles who are going to work as you recline and open gifts. I'm not even going to try and front like my job is as arduous as being in an emergency ward or being a taxi driver or whatever, but like, if you're working and not in bed then you're working and not in bed, you know? Whatever happens when the clock ticks over to the 25th, I hope it's a truly swell day for you, but also that every single other day that follows is also excellent (getting into the same territory here as when I used to as a child make wishes with increasingly nervous caveats, like, I wish for a thousand dollars but it can't fall from the sky onto my head and squash me.) Basically I want things to always be nice forever, that's not so much to ask this Christmas, huh?
Finally, in case you missed it and feel like cooking up some last-minute trouble for yourself, my previous blog post was a list of recipes I've written up here which would make excellent edible gifts. These cookies are now a post-script to said list.
Finally-finally, merry christmas to you from me. xx_____________________________________________________________
title from: Sufjan Stevens, Sister Winter. When he's not doing his usual material, this guy specialises in Christmas music that is aggressively plaintive and gently devastating, which is sometimes just what your ears need to hear.
Christmas Bells, from the original Broadway cast recording of RENT. I mean. This song is somehow ridiculous and ridiculously touching at the same time, and has to be one of the very few songs about Christmas that can claim to contain relationship exposition, drug deals, heavily layered syncopation, parodies of existing Christmas songs, and a reference to Steuben glass. It's wondrous.
Robyn, With Every Heartbeat. This song just slays me, is all.
Taylor Swift, Out of the Woods. This is so dreamy and urgent and Roxette-ish and so perfect and I can't stop listening.
Next time: it might be 2015, but it might not, because I am sure I won't let one last opportunity for pre-new-year maudlin introspection pass me by!