Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sweet holiday demands yield full bellies

Joseph is happy to have a full cookie jar!
"Empty." That is what the sign on our snowman cookie jar has read since we took it out with all of the other Christmas decorations during Thanksgiving weekend. Each day, the lonely snowman has stared at me from its perch on the kitchen bar, silently urging me to add some sweet treats. My kids, however, have not been so silent.

It's not like they are lacking for sugar. After all, we just enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast free of peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard — all of the allergens to which my son is allergic. Joseph, 8, and Pamela, 3, helped me make turkey-shaped sugar cookies, pumpkin pie and a turkey-shaped red velvet cake (I used my favorite recipe for Red Velvet Cake with Velvet Frosting from Cybele Pascal) for the meal. Though it was yummy, the cake provided some entertainment when its head fell off seemingly in slow motion as I set the cake on the table. Just a couple of days ago, we were enjoying the last of the Thanksgiving bounty with the turkey noodle soup I made using the carcass I had frozen from the Thanksgiving bird and we made yummy pumpkin, chocolate-chunk muffins to go with it. (I add Enjoy Life Mega Chunks to the pumpkin-apple muffin recipe in the "The Food Allergy News Holiday Cookbook").

But Christmas treats provide a different kind of pleasure. My kids have been poring over the big stack of cookbooks and Christmas baking magazines that we consult each year, and analyzing last year's Christmas Eve menu to decide what to bake this year. For example, Cybele Pascal's recipe for chocolate thumbprint cookies that were featured in Living Without magazine in December 2009, were a big hit and certainly will make a return for this year's Christmas Eve dessert-fest. Joseph and Pamela reminisce about favorite treats from years past, and then they start asking which dessert we would bake first, and of course, "Can we bake now?"

Pamela agrees the orange cookies are delicious.
Much to everyone's relief, I could finally give in to my children's sugarcoated demands. Yesterday, we decided to bake a cookie we hadn't tried yet. We all agreed that the "Orange These Delicious? Cookies" from Enjoy Life's "Cookies for Everyone!" cookbook were delicious. We freeze half of each batch we make to serve on Christmas Eve or to take out as needed for holiday events. We get to turn the snowman's sign to "Full" and enjoy the rest of the cookies until it's time to taste the next batch. Next, we will be making sugar cookies in lots of Christmas shapes.

The tasty Christmas treats are just one part of our holiday cheer. I have always loved this magical season and enjoy it even more as my husband and I experience it with our children. Both children love looking at all of the special ornaments that grace our Christmas tree, delight in the stories they pull each day from our huge basket of Christmas books, excitedly dance to yuletide tunes, enjoy watching the holiday specials, and look forward to their advent prize each day as they countdown to the big day. I think all of those experiences make the Christmas goodies taste even better, plus it is a joy to create smiles by making those Christmas confections.

Now, back to baking. I don't want to see that "Empty" sign on my snowman again!