January 2, 2011

New Year's Reading and Christmas Cooking

Happy 2011!

The new year is officially here, and after waking up way too early for work on New Year's Day I have subsequently nestled myself on this rainy Los Angeles day in my apartment with my nose in a book. The book is Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. Up until today I had read and enjoyed the book mostly just before bed and in increments of about 10 pages at a time. But today, with nothing better to do I dove in and have only stopped briefly to do some chores, and get my bum off the couch to grab some last minute veggies to cook for friends tonight. I've only 50 pages left in the book and I must say I am in love with it. Walls' first book, The Glass Castle is one of my all time favorites and her second is seemingly going to be a part of that list very soon. I will not bore anyone who actually reads this blog with a synopsis of the book, only because I suck at writing them, and if you really want to know what they're about look them up or go visit a bookstore. What I can say though is both books are filled with fascinating characters, specifically women, who are brave, insane, and amazing.

Walls' books are both about her family, the first centering around her upbringing and the second about her mother's. Truly fascinating stuff. If you've got the time go check them out. Seriously. You won't be let down.

Now that I'm done pitching her book a little about the New Year. Mine was mellow. Went out with a few girlfriends, drank some champagne, enjoyed being out at a bar with other young people since it's something I do so rarely. I've been Martha Stewart-ing all of December and consequently cemented my place as an old lady for the moment. I can however at this point share some of my foodie pictures from Christmas since I haven't done so yet.

First off is the yummy breakfast spread I made with my friend Steve. Although neither of us is Jewish we decided to pay some respect and make latkes from scratch. They came out pretty good, but since I only have a lightweight non-stick pan they didn't all come out as brown and crispy as I would have hoped. Included in the spread is the latkes, cinnamon applesauce, fruit salad, and a side of spinach and tomatoes with lemon juice as a light dressing.

This is just a yummy peppermint cocktail my roommate made us while we watched Love Actually. An on going tradition at Christmas-time that this year coincided with her last day of work at  the job she hated. YAY!

And now comes the fun part. All my cookies! The only things I didn't snag a picture of was the Chocolate Madelines which I generally only make during Christmas for my family because although they are a delicious, require a little more work than most of my other cookie recipes.

 Here's some peanut butter cookies that didn't quite turn out as I had planned, but after baking I melted peppermint chocolate kisses over the top that managed to save otherwise dull cookies. In the end they were festive AND delicious.

Oatmeal raisin cookies are quite honestly one of my favorite kinds. For as long as I can remember I've always loved anything with cinnamon and raisins, so it's not all that shocking. I made this batch specifically for someone who is allergic to chocolate and nuts and wouldn't be able to eat most of my other cookies. Oddly enough, they were my favorite batch this year. I made them with golden raisins instead of dark ones because that's what I had on hand. But I think they make the cookies look a little more elegant.

These were another new creation spurred by the fact that I had many left over cans of pumpkin puree and nothing to do with them. I had set out to make just plain pumpkin cookies, but the recipe I had found made thick doughy cookies that I felt wouldn't be able to stand on their own. So...I whipped up some cream cheese frosting and made pumpkin whoopie pies. They were sinfully delicious and a great new addition to my baking repertoire.

These bad boys are a Christmas staple in my household. Once December rolls around there are a few things you can count on. Meatballs, tamales, and Snow Balls. These little tasties are a piece of heaven. I ended up making a total of 4.5 batches this year. If that's not proof of their high demand then I don't know what is.

Happy New Year and Happy Eating!

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