Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Cookie for You

When I was in high school, there was a little homemade ditty I shared with some good friends whenever we enjoyed a cookie after lunch. We called it the Cookie Song.

It went like this:

Cookie for me
Cookie for you

That’s the end of the song

My mother always made soft gingerbread cookies around the holidays to pass around to the family. I really didn’t like gingerbread when I was little, and I still don’t, but at the request of a family member, I made some this year. Here’s my mother’s soft gingerbread cookie recipe:

1 cup soft shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup molasses (12 oz bottle)
2/3 cup cold water

7 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy. Slowly add molasses, blend well. Stir in water. Sift dry ingredients together and stir into molasses mixture. Chill until firm, about 5 hours. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies and place on lightly greased cookie sheets with at least a centimeter space between each cookie. Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 60 cookies.

I would really suggest cutting this recipe in half unless you’ve got a jones for gingerbread. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas in Chicago

I tried so hard not to title this post "Christmas in Chicago." I really did. But when they sing the damn song for the finale AND the encore, it's nigh impossible to get it out of your head for several hours thereafter.

Lemme 'splain.

We went to the annual symphony+chorus Christmas show downtown today. My aunt (the same one from the previous post) sings alto and managed to get us some really good seats. The show was better than the last time I'd seen it. It changes every year, of course, but the old format of "let's do some goony plot with Santa" was held back until after the intermission, so the first hour was great. They didn't even bring out the obligatory children's ensemble until the second hour, so we got to hear all-pro music for a while.

THEN they did the goony plot with Santa. It wasn't bad, but... well, they always end it with a song by Gary Fry, who is known more for writing commercial jingles than Christmas classics. The score in question is "Christmas in Chicago," which sounds very much like a pitch for tourism and very little like something you'd gather around the piano to sing after Christmas dinner. And then there's a grand finale where the plot with Santa gets a happy ending... and then the encore, where they sing the tourism board's favorite carol AGAIN.

Drives me nuts every damn time. I can never walk away from the show with Lo, How a Rose E're Blooming or even the Carol of the Bells in my head, no. I'm bound to come away with "Christmas in Chicago, is my kind of Christmas, it's like no other Christmas at all~" going over and over and over again.

Cheers to the Chicago Symphony and Chorus, nonetheless. Great performance.

(And Fry, you get a pass THIS time because you did a good arranging job on some other tracks. Next year, coal.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sweet Home, My Aunt's House

Ah, Chicago, my hometown... sort of. I was born in Oak Park, which is a quiet little suburb of Chicago. For all practical purposes, I'm a Chicago girl. That's not to say I can find my way from Randolph Street to Wrigley Field, mind you. I know the downtown only in particular bits and pieces.

Anyway, it's good to be back. As per the yuletide tradition, we've driven into town and are staying with my aunt in Oak Park. She's redecorated again -- it seems like every time we set foot in her place, the kitchen has been remodeled or the furniture has been rearranged and upholstered. I can't quite figure out what compels her to do it. A hobby, maybe? Expensive hobby, anyway. The house looks great, but it looked great before, and the time before that, and before that, too.

To go along with the remodeling this time, she even adopted a new dog. It's name is Monique. It is fat, it is friendly, and it has poo breath, making it the perfect companion to the other dog, Rosie, who is skinny, skittish, and smells like poo all over. (These are all compliments in the dog world, mind you.)

And, wouldn't you know it, I came up with the best plan for a mailbox doll on the way up here. All my nuigurumi supplies are back at home. Bah humbug.