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Posts Tagged ‘cookies’

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I like this about traditions: they are always a little the same and a little different. You carry forward the old activities, but you and the people around you are a little different every year and customs get tweaked.

I’m posting a few pictures of holiday doings that are both the same and different in our family.

The youngest grandchild decorating a reindeer cookie. My collage gift tags made from scraps. Another grandchild’s Christmas tree watercolors. Luminaria bags with candles. A traditional light display.

My husband and I and Suzanne’s family gathered for a magnificent meal at John’s house, and everyone ended up dancing to Gummy Bears disco videos in the dark.

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Now for something a little different in the Christmas cookie department. How about gingersnaps that look like ancient clay tablets? With cuneiform inscriptions.

As Jennifer A Kingson writes at the New York Times, that’s what Katy Blanchard of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology brought to her holiday party a few years ago. Now everyone wants to try it.

“Ms. Blanchard, whose passions are archaeology and baking, used chopsticks, a fish knife and a gingerbread recipe that came packaged with a Coliseum-shaped cookie-cutter she once bought. Not only did her cuneiform cookies beguile her colleagues at the office party, they also gained some measure of internet renown after a Penn Museum publicist posted an article about how she made them. (Sample comment from the public: ‘Mine will probably taste more like the Dead Sea Scrolls.’)

“From there, cuneiform cookies started to become — as the newspaper The Forward put it — ‘a thing.’ Bloggers were enthralled, including one who said she was taking a class in Hittite and opted to practice on shortbread. …

” ‘It really struck the world in just the right nerdy place,’ said Ms. Blanchard, noting that a number of people, including home schooling parents, classroom teachers and scholars of ancient languages, had taken the idea and run with it. …

“Inspired by Ms. Blanchard’s cuneiform cookies, Esther Brownsmith, a Ph.D. student in the Bible and Near East program at Brandeis University who has been studying Akkadian for years, went all out: For a New Year’s party, she baked four tablets of gingerbread, each on a 13-by-18-inch pan, and copied part of the Enuma Elish, a seven-tablet Babylonian creation myth, onto them. A stunning step-by-step description of this feat has drawn thousands of ‘likes on her Tumblr blog.”

More here, at the Times.

Photo: The Forward and Kay Blanchard
The online world is snapping up recipes for these gingerbread cuneiform cookies by Katy Blanchard of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

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A few Valentine’s Day items.

Suzanne, her son, and I made 50 valentines, and I trotted along Thursday when he carried them in a little striped bag to nursery school. The school had told parents that it was fine if kids didn’t do valentines, but if they wanted to bring any, then they needed to bring them for everyone.

Suzanne reports the cards were a great success: “They decorated bags and then went around putting valentines in each others’ bags. G really liked opening the valentines at home and reading the kids’ names.  He particularly liked the one from a boy whose parents didn’t follow the rules and included a lollipop. 🙂 ”

My Valentine is in New York to help Erik with the kids while Suzanne attends the Playtime trade show. The cookies I made are for him when he gets home.

By the way, if you want to see some funny valentine gifs that listeners made at the behest of the radio show Studio 360, click here.

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After my older grandson (4-1/2) and older granddaughter (nearly 2) let me play too as they decorated their gingerbread cookies, I went home and pulled out the sugar-cookie recipe from the nursery school cookbook John made in 1975. It’s still the best.

Observation on cookie cutters: Swedes know their moose. I have several moose/reindeer cookie cutters, but the only one that works well is the one from Erik’s mother. It has plump legs and antlers. Why is that important? Because skinny legs and antlers invariably break off.

The grandson, granddaughter, and I have the same abstract aesthetic when it comes to decorating.

The Little Mermaid window ornament is from Erik’s sister, who lives in Denmark.

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Getting in the spirit: listening to carols on the radio, decorating the fat tree my husband found, attending my friend Alden’s holiday concert at the Melrose Symphony (a whole post on that to come), and baking cookies.

Even though I try new recipes, I find the sugar cookie recipe John got in nursery school to be the most reliable, and I love the worn cookbook he made, held together by yarn, and his scribbles on the cover.

I especially love this line in recipe: “use good-sized cookie cutters so children can be successful in handling shapes.”

Here I am working away. Please note my five golden rings, Suzanne’s creation.

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Still the best sugar cookie recipe comes from the cookbook John made in nursery school, age three.

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