Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Sweet Season

Thanksgiving will be here soon and Christmas won’t lag far behind. It’s the hap, happiest season of all. That is, if you’re not half-dead from shopping, decorating, entertaining, Christmas card writing and baking by the time it arrives. Oh, never mind. It’s the happiest time of the year, dang it! I’ve learned to trim and not stress. Get an early start.

Yes, I say this every year, but this time I really mean it. The older I get, the more sense this makes. They didn’t call the wise men wise for nothing. I’m actually very thankful I can shop and bake and share. So many this year will need all the extra everything we can give due to the economy.

Here’s something cheap and lovely. Ribbon candy. Not only is it yummy, but I love its jazzy looks. I’ve been known to dangle the candy on our tree branches, which mysteriously disappears, one piece at a time. It’s also dazzling in a glass bowl. If you don’t snatch it early, you’re not likely to have it, though. Hint: you can find it at Wally World, that colorful, shiny candy in pretty little boxes.

Now, I don’t make the stuff. It looks like a job for Martha S. She could not only whip that candy up, but sell the heck out of it, too. Thankfully, people expect a lot less from me, and I’m quite charmed with that. Christmas cookies are easy.

These pumpkin cookies with ginger cream cheese frosting are one of my Christmas favorites. I make them every year, giving them to neighbors, friends, the mail man, and on and on. One year the waste management guys even left me a new trash can lid the day I left the cookies out for them. It might sound stupid, but I was so excited to get that lid. I really needed one. Anyway, the cookies look right special wrapped in clear cellophane and dolled up with curly ribbon.

Homemade gifts are the best kind. Please raise your hand if you’d prefer a lovely package of homemade goodies over something you don’t need or want, let alone remember what you received a month later? Me, me, over here!

Okay, then. Tis the season to share.

This recipe calls for raisins and just in case you don’t know how to plump them, it’s easy. They do add pizazz. Here’s how: Boil two cups of water and add however many raisins you want to add to your recipe. Boil for about three minutes then drain with cold water. The raisins will be so soft they’ll melt on your tongue. Promise.

Now to the cookies.

Pumpkin Cookies with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.

2 ½ cups flour, ½ tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp. salt, 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed, ½ cup granulated sugar, ¾ cup butter, softened, 1 large egg, 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 cup raisins

In medium bowl, combine first 4 ingredients. In mixer bowl, combine and mix sugars, then add butter and beat well. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix again. Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix until light and fluffy. At low speed, blend in the flour mixture. Add raisins, mixing only until well blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until cookies test done when touched in center. Cool before frosting.

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temp 4 tablespoons butter, room temp 1/8 tsp. ground ginger 2 to 2 ½ cups powdered sugar 2 tablespoons- or more- milk

Beat cream cheese, butter and ginger together until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and thin with milk to proper spreading consistency. Spread on cookies and eat!