Thursday, December 20, 2007

Getting In The Spirit

The holidays are all about giving for me (and spending time with loved ones). So for Christmas gifts for family, friends, and coworkers, I headed into the kitchen and did some serious baking. In preparation, I got out all the ingredients for each of the seven kinds of cookies that needed to be made. Then I separated my measuring cups and spoons into those for dry ingredients and those for wet (this greatly decreased the amount of dishwashings in between batches). And of course, I put on my DTV apron and cranked some tunes (Amy Winehouse, I know... I think her parents asked us to boycott the album so she'll get help with her addictions, but I really like cooking to it).

All in all, I think I baked up something like 120 cookies, and that's not counting the biscotti. Here's what I made: chocolate hazelnut biscotti, pistachio cranberry biscotti, chocolate chocolate chip walnut cookies (all from V-con), sparkled ginger cookies, non-gigantoid peanut butter oatmeal cookies (both from VWAV), white chocolate macadamia nut cookies (ED&BV), and homestyle chocolate chip cookies (Vive Le Vegan). I packaged them up in cute holiday boxes and shipped them out to family and friends, hopefully they won't be stale by the time they get there! (a definite bonus for the biscotti, since it's supposed to be crunchy). I was happy with the way it all turned out, especially since the biscotti, ginger, white choc/mac nut, and choco chip cookies were all first timers for me. You can't even ask me to pick a favorite, I just won't do it.... though of the leftover the chocolate chocolate chip ones were the first to go.
In addition to cookies, I decided to make mini-breads for my coworkers. I made the pumpkin spice bread from The Joy of Vegan Baking. I tried both the no-fat (applesauce instead of oil) and not no-fat versions. I found that I baked them quite a bit longer than the 30 minutes suggested for mini-loaves. The result though was a moist, pumpkiny bread that was perfect for the holidays. I wrapped them up and included a handcut, handstamped tag. Though you can't see it from the photo, on the back of each tag I stamped one of my favorite quotes " Be the change you want to see in the world" -Mahatma Gandhi. Oh, and the green tinsel inside marked those that I made with walnuts, since there are a few of my coworkers with nut allergies.
And finally, to help me get more in the spirit of the season, here is a picture of "Our First Christmas" ornament I ordered from Serendipity Crafts on etsy. We don't have a tree, so it's just hanging in the kitchen, but I figure maybe someday we will (and actually, we aren't even spending christmas together, John heads to Boston tomorrow :-( And also I have a Christmas meme that I saw on zippiknits blog. It was kinda fun to fill it out, you should too (even if you're somewhat of a scrooge)!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? The last two years I have been using cloth gift bags. I got mine this year from the Ole Bag Lady on etsy.
2. Real or artificial tree? Neither. And eventually when I do put one up in our house someday, I'm not sure which to choose. I've seen arguements for both sides. What do you think is more environmentally sounds?
3. When do you put up the tree? Since I don't put one up, and there's lots of other questions about the subject of trees in the meme, I'll answer for my mom (plus I helped her put it up this year anyways). Shortly after Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take it down? Shortly after New Years.
5. Do you like eggnog? Bleh bleh and bleh, but I'll take some chocolate peppermint soymilk please.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Tough one, especially since I have a horrible memory. It was probably some of my stuffed koalas since I loved them so much as a child.
7. Do you have a nativity scene? Nope
8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad
9. Easiest person to buy for? My mom
10. Worst Christmas present you ever got? Oh I can't say, that's just too mean for the holiday season... now where are those tacky christmas sweaters....
11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Until this year, I never really sent out a card, but this year I did (a photo from our wedding, a faux pas I know) and it was sent via postal mail (of course now I feel guilty for this).
12. Favorite Christmas movie? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer... didn't you read my Island of Misfit Toys post?
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually in October, and I shop right up until the last possible day (I'm just slow, or as I'd like to think of it, thoughtful)
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Can't really recall. I'm sure eventually I brought clothes to Goodwill, after all fashions change!
15. Favorite thing to eat on Christmas? Every Christmas I looked forward to my mom's almond puff for breakfast. This weekend I'm going to do some testing to veganize it, I'm trying to be hopeful (but it has lots of eggs:-()
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Always colored. Although I think white ones are classy, I find them a bit boring.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Not a huge fan of Christmas music, but if I had to pick, the Petrosky version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (that was my elementary school, we had our own fun noises and words mixed in) .
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? At home in Houston this year, although for awhile there our family went skiing for several years (Washington, Colorado, Switzerland).
19. Can you name all of Santa's Reindeer? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.... and of course Rudolph.
20. Angel or star on top of tree?My mom has an angel that moves, the noise the fabric or plastic makes is kinda creepy I think.
21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning? Always one present on Christmas eve then the rest in the morning. Since all us kids have become adults, we've also instituted a new tradition, instead of everyone ripping open their presents at the same time and being done in two minutes, we go in a circle and let everyone open one present at a time, rotating around till everyone is out.
22. Most annoying thing this time of year? Driving, everyone is especially crazy in their car during the holidays. Oh, and I always hated the Christmas music at the Gap (thank goodness I don't shop there anymore!).
23. Do you decorate your tree in any theme or color? Every year growing up we bought or made a new ornament. The tradition continues and that's how we decorate our tree!
24. What do you leave for Santa? Not much these days, but certainly the standard when I was growing up.
25. Shopping? I've done it all online this year and 80% handmade. Thanks goodness because I really couldn't handle the malls right now.
26. Do you decorate outside for Christmas or just inside (or at all?) We have some white lights strung outside that have been there since a xmas party two years ago, does that count? Inside I have our "First Christmas Together" ornament hanging in our kitchen (since we have no tree). Dang that reminds me I have some Christmasy holly stuff I can put on the table, be right back!
27. Favorite Christmas cookie? Okay, much more festive. Now, cookies. I know it's not a cookie but my favorite is fudge. A definite tradition at our house.
28. Do you own Christmassy clothing or jewelry? Definitely not. Does that make me a Scrooge?
29. Do you believe in Santa? Oh how I wish I could....


Kumudha said...

Cookies look delicious!

Gift bag and the ornament are so cute.

Happy Holidays!

Vegan*asm said...

Wow, you really got in the spirit! The cookies look fabulous. Lovely packaging, too! The first batch I made this season failed horribly, but I have plans for more. I'm not quite in the holiday spirit, but I love the excuse to bake and eat nothing but cookies for a couple of weeks!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

All the cookies look great (I started Christmas-cookie baking today, but only got a few batches done!)... and that ornament is super-cute!

Anonymous said...

Nice baking spree- I'm planning to do the bulk of my holiday baking tomorrow, so your abundant goodies are quite an inspiration!

aTxVegn said...

The holiday spirit indeed hit you! I'll probably bake the ginger cookies (again) and something with pumpkin. I'm actually a little tired of sweets, but I need the baking mood to kick in soon!

Emilie said...

that's some delicious looking spirit you have there! it's good inspiration...i really need to get on the baking...

the pleasantly plump vegan said...

i love the 1st pic of yr organization skills in baking! mad impressed girl!
the cookies look like they really turned out wonderful. yr friends, family and co-workers are lucky people.

springsandwells said...

oh my!
all the cookies look absolutely wonderful!!! I wish i was one of the recipients! lucky devils!

what a busy bee you've been.

the little one said...

I'm thinking we have similar taste in music . . . first you had a reference to Garden State's soundtrack (post on your wedding), which is my favorite album and now Winehouse. That was one of the CDs in the rotation for my party tonight. Definitely good tunes to cook to.

Anonymous said...

Those cookies looks awesome!!! I really love this post.

Cakespy said...

OH! Those cookies. And the review...much more entertaining than those "holiday letters" my insurance agent sends.

VeggieGirl said...

ahh!! another fun survey!! oh and of COURSE I'm loving the ornament, cookies, and mini-breads - the recipients of those treats don't know just how lucky they are!! :0)

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Oooh, everything is so fabulous! Happy Holidays!

Candi said...

Congrats on a beautiful wedding and amazing honeymoon! I loved reading through those posts of yours. :) I even read in your other blog about the story of the engagement ring. Very cute. I loved the tracings of your rings in order to get your ring size!! :)

Your cookies look great! I'm really loving those pumpkin cakes with home made tags you added that beautiful quote to. What a wonderful gift!

<3 The ornament is adorable! <3

LizzyQ ~ Vegan Mother said...

Wow, the people in your life are really lucky.

I think the best environmentally friendly tree would be one you can plant. We did that last year, it was great :)

Ruby Red Vegan said...

the receivers of your cookies are in for a treat! this makes me sad that i don't know any vegans in my daily life who bake. wouldn't it be fun to have people to constantly swap/sample baked goods with?!

good luck veganizing your mom's almond puff! sounds yummy! i agree with you about chocolate peppermint soymilk - i'll take that vitasoy stuff any day over soynog, bleh (i'm proud to say i have never tasted the horror of real eggnog).

wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice cream said...

I'm jealouse where are my cookies?

bazu said...

Your cookies look fabulous! And I love your 1st xmas ornament... Daiku and I have never had a tree either. We're always traveling this time of year. I'd love to do something crazy and tacky one year, like an inflatable tree, a pink tree, a palm tree... a bonsai...

urban vegan said...

You are a true hoiday goddess! Last year, I went crazy making all sorts of things. This year, I didn;t even bake one batch of cookies.

textual bulldog said...

I am so impressed with your cookie fabulousness. I did my first cookie mailing this year (smaller than what yours seems to have been), and I never realized just how much work it is! whew.

re:the question about real vs. fake x-mas trees:
my husband joking-but-not-jokingly said about 4 years ago that it was environmentally unsound to have a tree, so we just started decorating our ficus with lights and a tree skirt and calling it our "Christmas ficus." we sort of love doing this now, but someday we'll probably get a tree because i miss the smell of pine. anyway, i researched this, and basically the most environmentally sound way to get your tree is to buy one in a pot and to keep it all year long, moving it into the house for the Christmas season. the second best way is to go to one of those "cut your own" Christmas tree farms because then you know the trees weren't shipped from far away. they replant 3 trees for every 1 cut down, so you're actually doing good things for greenhouse gasses by cutting one down (since 3 more will be put in its place). apparently the worst option is the fake tree because they're made with so many crazy chemicals and they eventually go into landfills where they fail to degrade adequately and when they do degrade they leech poisonous gasses and things. i just read an article about this, which is what makes me such a fount of information! ;)

Ashasarala said...

I just don't know how you do it. Everything looks so wonderful! I try baking two cookies in the same day and I get more flustered than anything. Kudos to you!

vko said...

you truly baked in the true holiday spirit- I might be motivated to try next christmas! love your first married holiday ornament- cute...