Holiday Craft

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I wanted a better way to display our holiday cards. We’ve done the “sh*t, the tape on the back of the card peeled the paint” thing around the doorway, and the “floppy card on the mantle” display. I saw a little craft where string was strung between a doorway and from it, with clothespins, hung cards. When I rummaged through my ribbon box, I found this old roll of wintry themed ribbon – it’s super thick and vintage. I remember the yard sale I bought it at, along with a bevy of other ribbon, all for $1. It’s really almost too large to use to wrap a gift, that’s why it’s been tucked away for a few years, neglected. I pressed it, tacked it up above the mantle and swiped a few handfuls of clothespins from our drying line outside. I doubt the whole thing cost more than 10 cents, and it makes me smile to see the lovely cards we’ve been receiving (can you spot W’s grandma kissing “santa”?) every day.

Slowly, hints of the holidays are creeping into our house. In a highly uncharacteristic and timely fashion (!), I ordered cards online (made in the USA!) to send to family and friends. We’ve been listening to the perpetual loop of holiday songs on our local radio station when we cook dinner, we’ve brought out the cozy pajamas, and have been enjoying fires in the fireplace. W came home with a balled and burlaped (ie root ball intact) Blue Spruce, a few nights ago. We decided not to bring it into the house at all this year – it’s rather heavy (~300lbs) and an evergreen tree shouldn’t be brought in and then out of the house if you can help it, when it’s been cold outside. WV was napping when W strung it with twinkling colored lights – when he woke up, the grin on his face was priceless. That is our most meaningful, treasured gift – smiles on our babies’ faces. We’re looking forward to our annual post-Christmas tree planting.
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Ciambella Deliciousness

We got Marcella Hazan’s cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking as a wedding gift over three years ago. Until recently, the only recipe we had tried from there was her pizza dough recipe. Yes, in three years, the only recipe we had even attempted from quite possibly THE Italian recipe woman was pizza dough… (but it’s damn good pizza dough)

Well, we were out all day, ate a late lunch, so by the time we finally got home it was after dinner time and we really weren’t all that hungry for a meal, but still needed something in our bellies. I knew I didn’t want to be up all night preparing something, and we didn’t really have a whole lot of stuff in our pantry, so I knew just who to turn to.

I dusted off our copy, found the desserts section, and started reading through the various recipes until I found one I felt like attempting. That one was her grandmother’s ciambella recipe. Pretty straightforward, not a lot of ingredients, and not a whole lot of time. Perfect. L got the boys bathed, and I got to cooking. An hour-ish later, the boys were in their PJs, the counter was covered with flour, and we were eating delicious cake. It is now going to become one of our regulars, and we’ve made a decision to actually open up her cookbook and try some new things. Recipe is below, permanent link lives here. I’ll post a photo when I make it again… we dug into before I could snap a quick pic.

Ingredients
8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
4 c flour (preferably non-bleached, all-purpose)
Skin of 1 lemon, grated
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 c milk
2 eggs

Procedure
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients while melting the butter (but don’t let the butter get too hot – 10 second increments in the microwave and stirring until melted does the trick, or putting it in a pan over low heat works too).
3. Add the butter, milk, 1 egg, the white of the other egg, and all but about 1 tsp of the other yolk to the dry ingredients and mix together.
4. Transfer everything to the counter and knead, adding more flour/milk as necessary to get a good dough that is dry but still holds itself together.
5. Make the dough into a roll about 2″ in diameter, then try as best as you can to make it into a circle.
6. Smear a baking sheet with butter, sprinkle with flour, then put the dough ring in the middle and brush with the leftover 1 tsp of egg yolk (and maybe a little bit of water).
7. Stick it into the oven and let it bake for ~35 minutes.
8. Marcella says to let it cool, then wrap it up in foil or store it in a tin bin and enjoy the next day. Do what you want. It’s delicious.