Hi! It's been forever since I've given you guys a little life update. I feel like there's so much to catch up on.
The last time we chatted, I beleive it was around Thanksgiving, which was glorious and relaxing. We had some friends over and I cooked a turkey and made some sides, and everyone brought a dish or two and it was perfect. The last time I made a turkey was 7 years ago. Needless to say, I am in no way a turkey cooking expert. I actually find it quite a daunting task, but this year I'm all about traditions and I just felt like Thanksgiving needed a turkey. When the time came, I honestly had no idea where I was going to purchase a turkey, which is no surprise to the people that know me well.
The Monday before Thanksgiving, I was at Safeway picking up some staples. I walked by the frozen meat aisle and saw some frozen turkeys, free-range, from a local farm just outside of Seattle, and they were on sale!! I moved and shuffled the turkeys around practically getting frost-bite looking for one that was an appropriate size, basically the smallest one I could find. I reached a decision that I would have to buy the 26-pound turkey because it was the smallest and I was running out if time. After I got home and did some research I realized that 3 days was not enough time to thaw a 26 lb turkey and 26 pounds was way too much meat for 8 people. lol. I thought, whatever, I am committed now. In the end, everything worked out, I finally found the damn bag of giblets and even had some remarks from friends that it was possible the best turkey they had ever eaten. With the leftovers, I made a huge batch of turkey soup, Sebastian and I ate turkey sandwiches for a week and the rest we gave to the dog. After sorting out the turkey leftovers, which honestly felt like it took an entire day, the rest of Thanksgiving weekend was spent being festive, and we really haven't stopped since.
Sebastian is at such a sweet age. He is so easily excited about things like lights and Christmas trees and Santa (can you blame him?), although he is confusing Halloween with Christmas and keeps asking about the spooky dragons and dinosaurs because everything is about dinosaurs right now. We are flying back to Toronto this weekend for three weeks to visit family. I told Sebastian that we were going on a plane and I asked him who we were going to visit and he told me dinosaurs. lol.
A few weeks ago we went to the children's museum in Everette and Santa just so happened to be there. We weren't expecting him, so Sebastian was dressed in his scrubby play clothes food all over his face, hair not combed, but we let him sit on Santa's lap anyway, me telling myself that we really need a do-over. Santa asked Sebastian what he wanted for Christmas and he replied 'cottage cheese'. I have never laughed so hard. Last weekend, we did the whole Santa experience over again. We dressed Sebastian in his Sunday best, waited in line, and then Sebastian jumped right up onto Santa's lap and leaned in for a cuddle, which is a refreshing change from last years meltdown. It was the sweetest thing. This time Sebastian asked for toys. Nothing specific, just toys. This kid cracks me up.
I've been doing a lot of holiday baking this year. It's a fun activity that Sebastian and I can both do, although when he gets involved the mess is a thousand times worse. Last week we were making cookies and at one point I looked over and he was taking the eggs out of the container and dropping them on the counter one by one.
Last week Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted a picture of these black and white cookies which reminded me that I've always wanted to make them. Soft lemony pillowy cake-like cookies with vanilla and chocolate frosting on top. I wish I'd tried these cookies in RL so I could at least have something to compare, regardless, I used a recipe from my Cook's Illustrated 2011 Holiday Baking Edition magazine, and every recipe from that magazine is so perfect and delicious and foolproof, I figured this was my best bet to get it right. They turned out really delicious, I hope as delicious as the originals. I made them on Saturday, iced them on Sunday, and in my opinion, they tasted best on Monday and got even better on Tuesday. The icing had a chance to set and harden and the lemony flavors in the cookie intensified, which is so weird because you assume that a cookie degrades as the days pass. I thought they were going to be somewhat challenging to make, but they were actually pretty easy. I really hope you give them a try!
BLACK AND WHITE COOKIES
recpie from Cook's Illustrated 2011 Holiday Baking pg 34-35
makes 24 - 26 cookies
prep time: 30 minutes
cook time: 12 - 15 minutes
4 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
16 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup waer
5 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 - 4 tsp water
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy 3 - 6 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract and beat until combined, scraping down the bowl often.
With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour, followed by half of the milk and combine. Add 1/3 of the flour and the rest of the milk and combine. Add the rest of the flour and combine.
Scoop 1/4 cup mounds of batter onto the baking sheet spaced two inches apart. Flatten the cookies slightly with the back of a spoon, but still maintaining a circular shape.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies have started to brown slightly. Rotate the trays half-way through baking to ensure an even bake. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least an hour before icing.
To make the icing, bring the corn syrup and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, remove from the heat and whisk in the icing sugar.
Seperate the icing into two bowls. Add the chocolate and 2 - 4 tsp to one bowl, whisking until melted and smooth. You will now have two bowls of icing, one plain and one with chocolate. You will need the consistency of the icing to be pourable, easy to spread onto the cookies. As you ice the cookies and time passes, the icing may stiffen up a bit. Just add a few tsp of water to thin it out as you go.
Place two wire cooling racks on top of parchment paper on the counter. With a small knife trace a line down the center of the cookie that will act as a divider for the glace. Make sure not to cut the cookie, just mark it. Ice one side with the chocolate icing, using a small offset icing spatula to get it smooth. Place the cookies onto the wire rack to let dry for at least 15 minutes. Ice the other side of the cookie with the vanilla icing. Place onto the wire rack and let completely set, at least 1 hour.