Reverb10: Day 9 – Party

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.
– Erma Bombeck

I really was not feeling today’s prompt when I read it this morning:

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

As I mentioned in the Community post (Day 7), I’m not big on social gatherings.  I’m missing the one I’ve looked forward to each year since I’ve lived in D.C. (a co-worker’s annual holiday party) because this weekend is Cookie Weekend with Karen (our fourth year), which definitely takes precedence.  When I tweeted my hesitation, the author (whose book is actually on my nightstand as we speak) tweeted back: “you could define social gathering any way you like, doesn’t have to be a big party!”

That makes it easier.  I loved Thanksgiving this year.  We all went to my grandparents in Frederick, and it was so good to be back (David and I alternate holidays with our families – last year we went to Detroit for Thanksgiving with his family and to Richmond for Christmas with mine; this year, we were with my family for Thanksgiving and we’ll head to Detroit for Christmas).  Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, probably partly because it’s not fraught with the gift-giving anxiety of Christmas.

In my family, everyone’s responsible for something – my grandfather does the turkey, his wife does the stuffing and sweet potatoes, my mom does the salad and other vegetables, Nate (who learned from my dad who learned from my grandfather) makes the gravy (and is starting to teach the Conductor how it’s done – it’s a guy-thing), and I do the mashed potatoes (with an assist the past several years from the Princess – the first year she helped, I told her we needed to wash the potatoes and she grabbed a sponge!).  This year, David got in on the action and made three loaves of (delicious) bread in our bread maker, which we got a couple of months ago and just love.  Everything was delicious as always, and there was much laughter and good conversation around the table.

Before, and after, if necessary, we play Hearts.  Everybody’s family seems to have a game – David’s family plays Euchre, Aimee’s family plays Spades – and Hearts has always been ours.  A few years ago, everybody in my family went crazy and started throwing hearts on the first trick, and when I objected, they all swore that we’d always played that way.  No we did not.  I know this because when my cousin Stephanie and I were just learning the game, we used to play as a team, and when we had the Ace of clubs, we always, always threw it on the first trick to get rid of it because we knew we couldn’t take any hearts in the first trick.  They’ve finally all come to their senses, and now I can teach the Princess the ways of the game:


Such a serious girl.

So that was my favorite “social gathering” of 2010!

Cookies! Everywhere!

I figured if I was going to make the world a better place, I’d do it with cookies.
– Ana Pascal

I’ve got a post in the works about the story behind last Monday’s picture, but I wanted to share with you the madness that was the Great Cookie Weekend of Aught-Nine.

I arrived at Karen’s Friday night, and we set all of the ingredients out on her kitchen table.  Here’s the before picture:

Then we went dancing.  And got home at three.  And then there was a mouse, which gets its own post.  And then we got up at 9 Saturday morning and tore through 9 cookie recipes and 2 kinds of fudge.  Here’s the after picture:

We ended up making two batches of three of the cookies because we loved them so much.  Here’s closer look:

Clockwise from the top, we have:

1. Caramel Pecan cookies, without the pecans (these are made with Rolos and are very chewy)

2. Cinnamon Spiced Hot Chocolate cookies, drizzled with dulce de leche (which I discovered is super simple to make, so now I can get on with #38 on my 101 in 1001 list) (these are very crispy; the texture is more like a gingersnap than anything else, but I really loved the flavor of these)

3. Rosenmunnar, or thumbprint cookies (we used half strawberry jam – Cheesie’s homemade, actually – and half orange marmalade; next year, we’re thinking of using strawberry and mint, to make it more Christmasy)

4. Kissy cookies!

5.  Polvorones de Canele (Polovorones are traditional Spanish Christmas cookies, but these did not turn out the way they were supposed to, though they aren’t bad.  I think we didn’t use enough flour, because they are supposed to stay in balls, not spread out.  I might try these again before Christmas to see if I can get them right)

6. Cream Cheese Sugar cookies

7. Scottish Shortbread (we added peppermint extract to the dough, then dipped them in candy chocolate coating when they were cooled and sprinkled them with crushed peppermint candy – hands down, these are the best cookies we made)

8.  Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies (made with white chocolate chips; nice and chewy – yum)

9. Candy Cane cookies (the recipe called for almond extract, which we thought was dumb, so we added peppermint instead; these are fairly labor-intensive, but they look great)

In the middle we have chocolate fudge and peppermint fudge.

If you’re interested, I can provide you recipes for any or all of these delicious treats!  Just leave a comment or email me.  The three we made extras of were the Kissy cookies, the thumbprints, and the shortbread.  SO good.

ETA:  I almost forgot – we had a special helper:

That’s baby Ben, Aimee’s little boy, who is almost 2, if you can believe that!  Aimee had to work Sunday, so we agreed to watch him for the day.  He’s the best!