I know, I know. Christmas cookies in March? But I promised myself I’d make this. It took me this long to get around to it. The backstory for this is that I brought Mom’s cookie press back with me after Thanksgiving with the intention of making assorted Christmas cookies to give out to everybody. My mom never makes spritz cookies because she hates using the press, so this was no loss to her. She gets together with her friend every year to make Christmas cookies and lets her friend make the spritz. Usually wreaths and Christmas trees. They’re my second favorite after pecan puffs. So I made some for a Christmas party using the recipe provided by Williams Sonoma. I didn’t like it very much, so I asked Mom for Aunt Donna’s. But because the recipe made so many cookies and I’d gotten frustrated with the press, I decided to just make pecan puffs. Those are amazing, and I can make them in my sleep. So the spritz never got made. Until today! It’s my mom’s birthday, so I figured it’d be an appropriate thing to make.
Yes, eggs again. I know. But it’s one of my specialties. I do it so well. Can’t go out without having a well balanced breakfast. The sausage is Trader Joe’s Chardonnay and apple chicken sausage. I’m not a big fan of this one. It seems a bit heavier/greasier than the others I’ve had from there. Good old Foxpoint seasoning in the eggs. Mmm so good. Harney and Sons Earl Grey Tea.
Going to make cookies tomorrow! That’s a promise. We’re getting a smidge of snow tomorrow, so it’s safer to stay inside (Not because of the snow, but the bad drivers.)
Cooking Movie: Galaxy Quest (“Those poor people.”)
I did a Nando’s run tonight, so I didn’t cook anything today. Still living off of those scones. I thought I’d post about spruce beer. My Jane Austen and Food book went on about Mr. Knightley and his spruce beer. Spruce beer being appropriate for gentlemen to drink. And make themselves as Mr. Knightley gives his recipe to Mr. Elton. As I don’t have any spruce branches lying around nor a pot big enough to boil the essence out of it in, I thought I’d try a different alternative. I googled and I found some interesting options. There are alcoholic ones out there and non-alcoholicy ginger ale-esque ones out there. The soda ones don’t seem to be available in my area, so I went with the alcoholic kind. Total Wine carried Yards Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce. (First time I’d ever been in one. It’s very impressive. It made me wish I had an appreciation for beer and wine. I never knew there were so many different kinds.) Poor Richard’s claims to be based on Benjamin Franklin’s original recipe. It uses malt because hops weren’t available at the time. Made with molasses, spruce tips and sprigs. You can actually taste the spruce. It’s rather interesting. But the beer as a whole was just disgusting. I took a few sips and couldn’t even stomach it to drink more. I do admit that I don’t like beer and prefer my drinks to be sweet, so please don’t take my reaction as an end all be all. Give it a try. You might like it. It definitely tastes like spruce. I’m just glad I got two bottles instead of a whole six pack. Maybe I can find a brave friend to finish off that second bottle for me.
Now I’m not sure how different Mr. Knightley and Benjamin Franklin’s spruce beers were. I wonder what Mr. Knightley would think of Benjamin Franklin. It amuses me that they liked the same beer though. The recipe referenced in Jane Austen and Food comes from Food in England by Dorothy Hartley. “One pint good spruce extract, 12lb treacle, 3 gallons of water. Boil all and let stand 1 hour. Add 3 or 4 gallons of water, 1 pint of yeast (the water should be hand warm). Pour into a 10-gallon cask. Filler her up, let her work. Bung her up. Bottle her off.” So now you can see why I wasn’t brave enough to try it myself. Apparently spruce branches are unforgiving when you boil them too long. If I were to make it, I’d try to make it taste less beer-y (if that’s possible?) and sweeter. They also used to believe that spruce beer would help prevent scurvy. There’s a lot of stuff out there if you google spruce beer. A lot of braver people than me have successfully made it. Maybe someday I’ll try making my own. Until then I’ll keep an eye out for spruce beer. Maybe I can learn to like it like Mr. Elton.
ETA: I’ve been clicking around looking at different spruce beer recipes. This one from The Splendid Table actually sounds doable. It’s more like a soda than beer. When I feel like tracking down oil of spruce, I’ll give this a try. Maybe for the family for Christmas?
Fear not, dear reader. I have not abandoned you or my quest. I’ve just been living off of spaghetti and meatballs and TJ’s five layer dip (plus a trip home and other things), so there hasn’t been anything meaningful to post. I was at Trader Joe’s yesterday standing in front of their new products shelf, and this box mix called out to me. I figured it would be a good way to ease myself back into things. I wish all baking was as easy as mixing it with water and putting it on a cookie sheet.
I finally did it! The ever promised hummus crusted chicken. So delicious. The zucchini and squash hadn’t gone bad yet, so I sauteed that too. They go so well together. I’ve made this a few times. When I made it before, I made it with the zucchini and squash on the bottom with the chicken on top in the baking dish. My new cooking dish is small, so it wouldn’t have fit. The new dish barely fit the chicken breast. I’ve made it with a few different hummuses. I tried Sun Dried Tomato, but it melted off. I’d had a lot of success with the Trader Joe’s Kalamata Olive hummus, but tonight it melted off. I must not have layered it thick enough. It needs to be thick like 1/4 of an inch thick. Still tasted amazing though. I put salt and pepper on there and then was suddenly inspired to try out my new seasoning Mural of Flavor (from Penzey’s, of course). I’m not sure if I tasted it, but the chicken was delicious. I baked it for 25 minutes at 450. I got a peanut butter chocolate cupcake to eat after dinner tonight to celebrate the Oscars, but I felt like I’d earned it when I finally got home and already ate it. For some reason I like peanut butter mousse more than peanut butter.
Cooking Movie: Oscars Red Carpet Pre-Show (Flipping between broadcasts. Leonard Maltin geeking out over Gravity on the CW feed is hilarious.)
No fridge chronicles today. I promise that tomorrow they will be finished with the ever teased hummus crusted chicken. I bought a new baking dish, so I am ready to go. I just had to post about my belated birthday present. After Christmas, I got to take a ski trip to Deer Valley in Park City with my family. Every day for lunch I had a bowl of their amazing turkey chili. It was almost as good as the skiing. For days after I dreamed about how good it was. I only found out there was a mix after leaving! If only I’d known! I mentioned this to my friend, Lauren. She remembered and got me a packet for my birthday! I’m so excited. So expect amazing turkey chili in the future! Hopefully I can do it justice.
(I’ve also been too scared to try my lemon curd. I might have to tomorrow since I left my jelly out in my hurry to get out the door this morning. Thankfully there was only a little bit left, so no great loss.)