I have a confession to make: I absolutely, positively can’t stand Mariah Carey’s silly, saccharine “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Earth-shattering, I know. But there are few songs that fill me with rage deep enough to make me threaten to leave a party. I don’t know what it is. It’s just so — happy. And catchy. It’s in my head as I type this, threatening to overpower my vocabulary with generic, candy-coated truths. I mean, the sentiment is nice. The sentiment of the lyrics I generally agree with. I don’t need Santa to bring me toys either. I just want the love of my life. And cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. But I’ll be singing the praises of these deliciously perfect mint mocha crinkle cookies in the deliciously dark key of F minor.
Gingerbread French Toast
When I was a kid, every once in a while my mom would treat us to something extra special: French toast for dinner. Simple. White bread, dredged in egg wash, fried in butter, dusted with granulated sugar, and cut into squares, like a checker-board. It’s the way her mom used to do it when she was little, and it’s probably the way I will if I have kids of my own. The crunch of the sugar on top of the bed of golden bread was unbeatable. Now that I’m older — well, I still let other people make French toast for me. And my goodness can my fella make French toast. He takes his time — makes sure the bread is perfectly soaked (not too little, not too much), and perfectly cooked at just the right temperature — and just knows intrinsically how to flavor it just right. But one day we wondered: what would it be like with ALL the spices? What if we made Gingerbread French Toast? Continue reading →
The Perfect Cinnamon Rolls
Raindrops on fir trees and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and…t-shirts and shorts? It was a warm Christmas this year, which, my fella reminds me, should be the only day of the year that it actually ever snows. Regardless, along with all the gifts and all the love we shared here in our Astoria apartment, we pretended that baby, it was cold outside, and ‘twas the morning of heartwarming and bone-warming breakfast treats: scrambled eggs with cheese, crispy bacon, mint mocha coffee swirled with cream, and, of course, homemade cinnamon rolls.
I was one of those kids who grew up eating Pillsbury, popped open from a wacky cardboard can, baked until puffed, and schmeared with a hearty glopping of sugary sweet goo. We didn’t have them often, but they were certainly a treat. I had the occasional Cinnabon, too, of course, probably as a teenager, at the mall. One time, on a roadtrip, probably more recently than I would like to admit, I even bought some cinnamon bun sticks that one would dip into said pre-made sugary sweet goo, making for a slightly less messy eating experience. Pretty clever. Eating such a thing in a car, however, when one is incredibly prone to motion sickness, is not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. It’s more like one of those things that six-year-old Sarah would have done. In the car or on the couch, half a roll or a stick or two later and hello nausea and sugar headache. And have you seen the ingredient lists?? Partially hydrogenated soybean oil? Monoglycerides? Are you kidding? Continue reading →
Rosanna’s Christmas/Hanukkah Cookies
When I was a kid, Christmas was never a thing in my house. That comes with the territory of being a Jewish family in the suburbs of New York City, I suppose, where we were never alone. We were surrounded by plenty of kids who celebrated Christmas, of course, and we even had our moments of jealousy, but Hanukkah was a-okay. Eight days of presents and candles and yummy fried foods? That should be great in anyone’s book. But Christmas did sneak in while we lived on Long Island, thanks to our neighbor Rosanna.
Every December, Rosanna would make her famous Christmas cookies: strips of dough, cut into diamonds, twisted, fried and doused with powdered sugar; a holiday staple in her native Italy and possibly the most perfect cookie ever made. And she made them not only for her own family, her kids returning from college, her husband returning from the merchant marines, but for her neighbors — her friends — as well. It was always a treat to stop by her house while she was cooking them — we would get a few warm, along with a story or two, and then a bowl of them to bring back to our families. She even made them for Halloween, tucked in those little treat bags with cartoon ghosts and witches on them and handed to the local kids who would ring her doorbell for trick or treat. Those were still the days when neighbors were loved and trusted. Everyone loved Rosanna. She was the epitome of generosity, of warmth.