I flipped over the numbers on my Christmas countdown Wednesday and found myself flipping out as well.
Thirteen days to Christmas? Are you serious? I can't get everything done in 13 days!
I had my first rude awakening Monday night while talking to my son. He claimed he couldn't talk too loud because he was in the college library doing research for one of his final papers (Final paper? It couldn't be the end of the semester already!) and, oh, by the way, when I sent his care package, could I send it to his apartment instead of his college mailbox?
"Sure, no problem," I assured him - and then went into panic mode. Every semester we send a box filled with goodies, basically junk food, to help him cope with final exams. I thought final exams were weeks away.
So I did what any good mom would do - made a rush trip to the store on the way to work the next morning, boxed up the goodies Tuesday night and mailed the package, Priority mail, on the way to work Wednesday. By now, I'm sure half the food has been eaten.
I don't know what is wrong with me this year. In the past, I would decorate the house until it looked like Santa's home away from home. I looked around the other night at my paltry decorating this year and felt like the Grinch. Yes, the candles are in the window, the stocking are on the mantle - and no, they weren't hung with much care - and there's a wreath on the front door, although for the life of me I can't find the outdoor spotlight and timer.
Our tree won't be going up until our son gets home from college for Christmas break, which will be the Friday before Christmas. He offered to put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but I really didn't want a sevenfoot fake tree dominating my living room for almost six weeks before taking it down New Year's Day.
The good news is I have next week off for vacation and plan to dedicate it to all things Christmas - shopping, decorating, wrapping presents (once I buy some), baking cookies and making other Christmas treats.
I have to make cookies for a cookie swap at the paper and I'm thinking of making one of my favorites - Snickerdoodles. I love the rich, cinnamon taste and the not-too-hard, not-too-soft texture. The recipe I use came from my aunt, Marion Duprey, and I've used it since I was a teenager.
Makes about 5 dozen
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Heat oven to 400ºF.
Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
Shape dough into balls the size of a walnut. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly brown but still soft. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
I'm also sure Guy and David plan to make some Buckeye Balls, one of David's favorite holiday treats. This recipe comes from Guy's sister Gigi.
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. I
n the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer, beat together the sugar, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla at medium speed. The dough should end up slightly crumbly.
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the freezer and chill for 1 hour.
In the top of a double boiler, or in a bowl snugly on top of a pan with a few inches of simmering water, melt the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.
Holding a ball by a toothpick and placing a fork under the ball to stabilize it, dip it into the hot chocolate, leaving a small hole of the peanut butter dough showing at the top of the ball as the "buckeye." Let the excess chocolate drip back into the pot.
Return the buckeye to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, Mass. 01247 or email them to email@example.com.