Monthly Archives: December 2009

Jack Frost is Nipping at My Nose

To quote Nat King Cole (the first to ever record “The Christmas Song,” and the only one to ever really master it – the only one who really counts, in my opinion), it is COLD outside, and yes, jack frost is nipping at that nose of mine.  Nothing quite says Christmas like this classic song…and egg nog (no spiking please, for I am an egg nog purist!), and spending quality time with loved ones, while acting out old traditions and starting new ones.  What really gets me in the Christmas spirit is putting on the Charlie Brown Christmas album and decorating the Christmas tree with my family and some egg nog (at the moment, I’m really enjoying Maple View Farm’s egg nog, and the adorable glass bottle it comes in.

I love making my great grandmother’s fudge and waking up Christmas morning to her two famous coffee cakes that my parents and relatives drunkenly slave over until the wee small hours of the morning – it’s a glorious frenzy that has ensued over the past few years on Christmas Eve, and in the midst of the labor, somehow everything winds up getting coated with a nice dusting of flour.  Who knows, this year I may even take part in the madness!

I love listening to Christmas music and prefer classic over cheesy and poppy.  I love watching Christmas movies and cruising around, admiring everyone’s Christmas lights and decorations – both classy and tacky, they’re all amusing.  My favorites are those beautiful balls of lights people hang in their trees, that give the illusion that they are floating.  They’re almost planet-like and they are fantastic.   I like finding gifts for the people I love and waiting ’til the last minute to wrap them all…Bagging counts as wrapping, right?

I miss the excitement of believing in Santa – the excitement that would keep me in bed, unable to fall asleep and then overwhelm me first thing in the morning.

I love the idea of stockings.  I love that my friend Donna wraps everything she puts in them.

So in lieu of my Christmas spirit and anticipation of this lovely and crazy holiday, I present you with my favorite Christmas play list and my list of favorite Christmas movies.


  • Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Death Cab For Cutie
  • Baby it’s Cold Outside – Zooey Deschanel & Leon Redbone
  • Frosty the Snowman – Fiona Apple
  • Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
  • O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Christmas Time is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • What Child is This – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Lou Rawls
  • The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
  • White Christmas – Otis Redding
  • Merry Christmas, Baby – The Beach Boys
  • White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • A Christmas Story
  • Love Actually
  • While You Were Sleeping (not exactly what you’d think of when Christmas movies are generally considered, but hey, it’s one of my favorites and it does take place during Christmas…)
  • White Christmas
  • The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (believe it or not, and yes, I know this may be sacrilegious, but I speak of the Jim Carey version.  I find him absolutely hilarious and perfect in this and love Anthony Hopkins’ narration).

What do the holidays mean to you?  What kinds of traditions do you share?  Whatever the holidays mean to you, I hope you savor and enjoy them because they come and go oh so quickly.  I am off to bed, to dream about sugar-plums…or the delicious Humming Bird Bakery lemon Bars and Smitten Kitchen marbled brownies I am going to bake on Thursday ; )

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Brunch Anyone?

What you need for the perfect Sunday brunch:

  • A mimosa or bellini and a quality cup of French Press coffee (I prefer Peets, Counter Culture, or Larry’s Beans)
  • Some creamy scrambled eggs with some cheese and herbs de provence
  • A side of bacon
  • The Sunday Times
  • Good company
  • This Blueberry Pancake Recipe:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Combine the milk and rolled oats in a bowl, and set aside.

2. Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.

3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the buttermilk and whisk together. Then whisk in the vanilla extract and the oil.

4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and quickly whisk together. Do not overbeat; a few lumps are okay. Fold in the oats and milk. Let sit for one hour, or refrigerate overnight.

5. If necessary, spray the hot griddle with pan spray. Drop by 3 to 4 tablespoons onto the hot griddle. Place six or seven blueberries on each pancake. Cook until bubbles begin to break through, two to three minutes. Turn and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute on the other side, or until nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and continue until all of the batter is used up.

6. Serve hot with a small amount of butter and maple syrup.

Yield: A dozen pancakes.

Advance preparation: You can keep these, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze for up to a few months.

*Courtesy of Martha Rose Shulman, posted on The New York Times’ website, on December 7, 2009*

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/10/health/nutrition/10recipehealth.html?ref=dining

These pancakes truly were amazing.  They were hearty and fluffy, simple to make, and they were the perfect thickness.  They are luxurious but don’t weigh you down.  I wouldn’t alter anything about this recipe.  It might be fun to try some lemon zest in the batter next time, but it doesn’t even need it.  I served them with some butter, real New Hampshire maple syrup (made by a friend’s uncle) and some whipped cream I made.  They were pretty damn sublime.

Here are a few of my other favorite brunch treats:

  • Captain Crunch French Toast (aired on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, on The Food Network).  http://www.recipezaar.com/Capn-Crunch-French-Toast-311788  *I always use Challah bread for French toast (sourdough is a second favorite)*
  • Boozy Baked French Toast (courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.com, one of my favorite food blogs).  http://smittenkitchen.com/2006/12/new-years-day-2001/  For my liquor, I use a mixture of Frangelico and some Baileys.
  • Sausage and Egg Casserole with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sausage-and-Egg-Casserole-with-Sun-Dried-Tomatoes-and-Mozzarella-106411

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What’s Inspiring Me Lately…


  • Pushing Daisies (currently watching season 1, courtesy of Netflix).  The aesthetics of this show alone inspire me.  It’s like a perfectly delightful and creativity bursting 60 minutes of Amelie meets Tim Burton, meets Scooby Doo, with Dr. Seuss like narration.  With a cast of talented theatre veterans, including the original Wicked’s Kristin Chenoweth, and vibrant, theatrical-like sets and settings, and colorful, quirky costumes (predominately on the female characters), watching this show is almost like watching a play.  Creator, Bryan Fuller has crafted a whimsical show that knows no boundaries as far as reality is concerned, in fact, he’s created his own reality and you can’t help but want to be in it.   He’s even created somewhat of a fictional time period.  We assume the time is the present, but the clothes, cars, houses, furniture and even the fictional towns all seem to periodically contradict this, leaving us to decide for ourselves and maybe it is simply more fun not to care.  This show is  unique, witty, sentimental, suspenseful and somewhat campy but all too enjoyable nonetheless and I haven’t seen a show with such quick-paced, witty banter and chemistry since Gilmore Girls.  Plus, I totally want all of Anna Friel’s outfits.  It’s a shame it was only given 2 seasons, as it was canceled by ABC in early 2009.  It ended all too abruptly, with a life span almost as brief as the amount of time it takes for its characters to come back to life and then die again, with the magic touch of the pie maker.  Watch it, it will make you want to bake pies and share kisses through saran wrap.  ; )

  • Duffy.  She is a blonde British import who bears a little resemblance to Brigitte Bardot and a voice that sounds reminiscent of 60’s motown.  In my opinion, her style is somewhat like that of Amy Winehouse’s, but better.  Not to mention, I don’t believe she’s ever had so much as one stint in rehab.  My favorite songs of hers are “Warwick Avenue,” “Syrup and Honey,” “Mercy” and her most recent, written and produced especially for the film An Education, “Smoke Without Fire.”  She’s catchy, sexy, has a keen sense of fashion and delivers the kind of music we need more of these days – what soul should sound like.  I highly recommend her.

  • The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, which I was given recently for my birthday (thank you mom)!  There are so many things in this book that I cannot wait to tackle, specifically, lemon bars, frosted brownies and blueberry cake.  I had the serendipitous opportunity of visiting this lovely American inspired bakery in England (the one on Portobello Road, in London), when I was over there in 2007.  It provided the perfect moment of comfort and bliss for me (in brownie and cupcake format), just after an upsetting incident of wandering all over Notting Hill, trying to find the Police Station and filling out a report after I became a sudden victim of debit card/wallet/ipod/mobile phone theft.  Somehow, with the first bite of that brownie, all of my frets seemed to dissolve.  I’m all for any bakery that is capable of accomplishing such a magnificent feat.  http://hummingbirdbakery.com/flash.html

  • Anthropologie.  This entire store inspires me.  I would graciously empty it in a heartbeat…(if only my pocket allowed).  I’m really excited, because when I was there just the other day, I discovered a perfume that was practically a clone of Closer, which was my absolute favorite and was only a seasonal perfume, discontinued by The Gap about six of seven years ago.  It’s called “Darling Blue,” and is made by Oiseau.  Hello Christmas present.

Now, for the films I am eagerly awaiting seeing, and the play list I recommend for your listening pleasure:

Films:

  • Up in the Air
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Precious
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Nine
  • It’s Complicated

Play List:

  • Goin’ Home – Dan Auerbach
  • Smoke Without Fire – Duffy
  • Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
  • Whispered Words (pretty lies) – Dan Auerbach
  • Hero Song – Regina Spektor
  • Shame – The Avett Brothers
  • You Really Got a Hold On Me – Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward
  • Choux Pastry Heart – Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Baby it’s Cold Outside – Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel
  • No Other Way – Paolo Nutini

With that, the newly 23 year-old typed her last sentences of the evening (err…morning rather), as she prepared to retire for bed and happily greet Friday morning in just a matter of hours.  She let out a satisfied yawn, shut down her laptop, turned off her red lamp and poured herself into bed.

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