As 2012 barrels to a bittersweet close, here’s how I’m handling the last couple of weeks of gift-giving and gatherings for the year. If you’re like me and have come uncomfortably close to holiday deadlines, feel free to take a page from my notes.
There’s still time to bake. Marion Cunningham’s “Caramel Date-Walnut Rolls” are one of my favorite sweets for the season. I give them as gifts from my kitchen and keep a stash in the freezer for unexpected callers. Not quite a cookie, not quite a candy (although they remind me of a See’s bonbon), they are a California confection that ships well and are sort of healthy to boot. I’ve reworked Marion’s recipe from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book (Grammercy, 1996), reducing the amount of sugar and browning the butter for the glaze to reflect the way she liked to make these at home. I’ve also added a sprinkle of fleur de sel at the finish. Khadrawy, Halawy, Honey, and Deglet date varieties yield a perfect bite-size cookie. You can listen to the recipe on KCRW’s Good Food Market Report.
Do you need a gluten-free cookie instead? It just so happens my daughter Rebecca recently posted this easy, delicious, and naturally GF salted cashew treat on her blog, Salts Kitchen. She’s got lots of GF desserts, including a beautiful bundt cake, shown below.
Spoiler alert for those on my cookbook gift list: this year I’m giving Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich; Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu; and Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tammimi, which reminds us that in cooking, there is no Middle East crisis.
A big chunk of my holiday spending goes to helping families in need (One Voice, St. Joseph’s Center), replenishing the soil and air (Tree People), and sowing the seeds of food literacy by supporting school gardens (Garden School Foundation, Sustainable Food Center of Austin, and Children’s Nature Institute).
This year I will also be contributing to Sandy Relief, and I just received an email from my friends at Tadpole in Boston with a list of ways to send solace to the Sandy Hook community: Newtown Youth and Family Services, Newtown Parent Connection, Newtown Memorial Fund, Lutheran Church Charities (sending comfort dogs to visit the school children).
As for what I wish for this holiday season and 2013? I’d be very, very happy with a renewed sense of mindfulness, safety, kindness, and friendship.