Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Candyland

I remember when I played my first game of Candyland. I was probably a little old for it. My parents hadn't really thought of games when giving us gifts. The matching was a bit simple but the ability to move backwards and forwards intrigued me. Also the negotiation of what to do when we reached the end. Did we need the perfect color to finish? What was the perfect color? Blue? The color of the house? Did you move backward if you didn't get the perfect color?

We tended to overthink things as kids.

Well Candyland is again a favorite around here. L, my youngest, loves it passionately since playing it at Grandma's so she is giving him a copy tomorrow. Shhhh.

It's been an odd year for Christmas traditions. Usually we make buckeyes (or so I'm told by certain Easterners of my acquaintance..we've always called them chocolate peanut butter balls). We make sugar cookies. We frost and decorate. We share. We gorge. We decorate.

This year I was unsure about the sugar tradition around here. L is still struggling with his diet some days. Other days he's fine as long as he's a part of the action. Again, what is the perfect square to end on? Will we move backward? The rules negotiation starts again.

But a decision had to be made. No cookies and frosting (he loves them). Yes to buckeyes (he's not crazy about the dates I put in them). Maybe to chocolate mint pretzels. I made up a special recipe for him so he can have 1 of them, but he didn't seem to need it. He's been happily decorating and passing me ingredients. We packed up 3 tins today.

We did make something we've never made before as well. I bought some pecans in bulk and we attempted to toast and salt them.

Usually when I do this they burn to a crisp. I put them in for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. I stir them a few times. They're not done just right by the end, then I forget them until they're singed. Yuck.

This time I set a timer. They weren't done. They weren't done. They still weren't done. Finally in frustration I tasted one and it dawned on me as I chewed that I needed to stop thinking of toasting nuts as you would think about toasting bread. It wasn't the color or stiffness which I was looking for but a change in the amount of liquid in them. Toasting is drying something!

Once I figured that out I lowered the heat to 250 until I felt they were more than half dry, then I stirred them and turned off the oven. By the time the heat was gone they were crisp without changing color at all!

So that's my exploration of the obvious this Christmas. Move forward. Make decisions. Be flexible. Negotiate. Be ready to see common concepts in a new way. Enjoy yourself. And when you get to the little candy house, try not to take all the credit. It was probably half luck anyway.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Catalogs, Blog Direction, and the Holidays

Listening to Bob Dylan, eating chocolate cake, and trying to decide how to keep up with this blog over the long, cold winter.

What do other Northerner's do with their garden blogs?

Only one thing of note has happened since my last post. I received my first seed catalog! lol I think this is the earliest it's ever come. I've added Seed Savers, Totally Tomatoes, and Jungs since then. I have them sitting around with a marker as I circle fruit trees I'd love to buy (in my suburban yard? ha!) apple, pears, plums and honeyberry.

The snows are here and the fantasies have already started. I thought I had another month or two before it would get this bad.

Other than outrageous garden plans, I'm trying to decide whether I should include more day to day things in this blog. Snow shoveling. Homeschooling. Books read.

And I'm thinking of learning to knit.

What do you think? Merry Christmas to you all or Happy Holiday as the case may be. I do appreciate those of you who have stuck with me through this.