I am not the biggest fan of Christmas. Decorating to the hilt, Christmas music blaring and baking cookies every night of December used to be what rang my bell. Somewhere along the way, I experienced a shift in my perception of the season. People you rarely see throughout the year suddenly want to “get together before the holidays.” What seismic shift will occur if the obligatory social hour does not happen? Thanksgiving night stores open their doors well before midnight. Then there is Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday and even Cyber Monday. Christmas Eve arrives and many people are making a mad dash for that last minute gift, while some poor old soul is having to work the cash register. And we wonder why we are stressed out, fat from the holiday binge, broke from the excessive spending and sometimes even depressed and lonely. Somehow, I don’t think this is what God had in mind. Just as I was feeling like I had discovered exactly How The Grinch That Stole Christmas, my eureka moment happened last night. Whether I put up a tree or bake that last batch of cookies, people need each other. And regardless of spiritual beliefs, this is a time to check in with ourselves. Think about it. Every culture has a “Christmas.” The customs and traditions may vary, but we as a human race must celebrate one another. I had planned on telling you about some of my favorite farms today as I celebrate why Nashville Loves Food, but I had to get that off my chest. Whew, I feel better!
I’m baking cookies this morning for Jenn Way’s annual cookie swap. First, there is my trusty standby, Nutterbutters. I also am making a new shortbread that I found in the winter 2013-14 edition of Tennessee Home and Farm.
adapted from The Christmas Treasury
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup almond butter
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups oats ground
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
beat together butter, nut butters and sugars. mix eggs and vanilla. process oats into a medium fine flour. add baking soda and salt. combine all ingredients to form a dough. chill for one hour. roll dough into 1-inch balls and then roll in sugar. place on parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. flatten each with the tines of a fork to make a criss-cross pattern. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. don’t worry, but they are gonna spread. cool slightly on baking sheet before placing on wire rack for final cooling. they’re not the prettiest, but they sure do taste good!
Orange and Rosemary Shortbread
adapted fromTennessee Home and Farm
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour ( I use all purpose with a teaspoon each of baking powder and soda)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup rosemary, finely chopped.
preheat oven 350 degrees. cream butter and sugar. stir in flour, powders, zest and rosemary. roll dough into 2 logs about the size of a half dollar and chill for 15 minutes. slice into1/2 inch thick discs and place on parchment lined baking sheet. sprinkle discs with sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.