Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,

Holidays in Review

Before the year in review, the last few weeks in review.

First, we have a not-quite Gift of Magi story from before Christmas.

Chad and I are dreadful at thinking of presents to buy for each other, which I attribute partly to our poor impulse control and partly to our tendency to give all the obvious ideas to others. So I suggested to Chad that he might look for a watch to replace my broken one, which I thought would require some looking. And indeed, after a day of holiday shopping, he said he hadn't found anything.

One night over dinner, something got me on the subject of either presents or breakfast, and I said, "You know what? Screw the watch, I want a new toaster oven for Christmas. This one is the bane of my morning existence. [*] It was really cheap, we'll just give it to charity and get one that doesn't drive me crazy."

Because Chad knows me, he knew I wasn't kidding. So he agreed, and we passed on to other subjects.

[*] It was also new, actually, but I really didn't like it. I had not fully expressed my dislike for it until then, because I'd sent Chad to buy it alone one weekend when I was working, and it seemed tactless and unfair to criticize a choice I'd explicitly opted out of. Especially since I might have chosen the same, not realizeding I didn't like certain things before I'd tried them.

One night in the middle of December, I got a haircut and hit the shopping centers, picking up quite a few presents, and, in passing, a 50% off watch from a mall kiosk. Came home triumphant, displaying my shorter hair, my full shopping bags, and my new watch . . . and then saw the look on Chad's face.

"But I told you to forget about the watch!"

After apologies, explanations, and jokes about my cutting off my hair, I said I would return the watch the next day, and then realized—

"—Hey! Does this mean I'm not getting a toaster oven?"

"I didn't say that."


Maybe ten minutes later, I went into the kitchen. Halfway through filling my water bottle, the thing I'd been seeing out of the corner of my eye finally registered, and I laughed and laughed.

It was, of course, a new toaster oven.

Merry Christmas to us.

(My new watch is also very nice.)

* * *

As a general matter, we were better about dealing with holiday stuff in a rational manner this year: we did almost all of our shopping on weekdays, when things were less hectic; I actually wrapped presents ahead of time; I was able to take a reasonable quantity of time off for travel; and I made good use of my external brain, a.k.a. my Palm, to keep track of things. (In full geek-out mode, I created a database listing everyone we buy for and what we got them for Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries where appropriate. Next year I'll add new columns for 2007; never again will I say, "but did we get that for them last year?")

So while we had a lot of travel over Christmas, we were in reasonably good shape for it. Saturday and Sunday still passed in a bit of a blur: party with Mom's side of the family - crash for night - drive drive drive - crash for a couple of hours - Christmas eve with Chad's father's side of the family - CRASH. Good times, though.

Also, toy of the year: marshmallow guns. Make your own, or purchase from a variety of places online.

As is becoming traditional, Chad's folks came up to our place for dinner post-holidays. Last year we had an awful experience at Buca di Beppo; this year one of our favorite restaurants, Cella Bistro, was a bit slow because they were really busy, and then was very slow because the kitchen had to re-do two of the entrees because (believe it or not) they weren't quite rare enough. Which is very unusual and welcome in a restaurant, but still, twice in a row is enough: next year we're cooking.

Last night I, err, was asleep at midnight. I'd been at a party next door, but started feeling a little unwell and came home to lie down. I made it to about 11:40 and then, despite my best efforts, I was out until Chad came home around 12:30. (His comment: "I knew you should've taken a nap."). Oh well.

* * *

Finally for the last few weeks, dear Internet, will you help me tweak a recipe?

This is from Alton Brown's baking cookbook, I'm Just Here for More Food, except halved, because the original recipe is only managable with a stand mixer. The one below made 27 cookies scooped with a #30 scoop. Measurements given in weights except where volume seemed more appropriate. Digital scales are nifty.

Oatmeal Raisin Coookies


  • Fats and sugars
    • 10 oz (284 g / 2.5 sticks) unsalted butter (whoops, I used salted)
    • 6 oz (170 g) dark brown sugar
    • 3.5 oz (100 g) granulated sugar
  • Eggs and extracts
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I refuse to do anything the size of a teaspoon by weight, but if you insist, that's 4.5 g or 1/6 oz)
  • Dry goods
    • 7.25 oz (205 g) all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder (5 g)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (3.5 g)
  • Extras
    • 8.38 oz (234 g / 3 cups) rolled oats (plain old oatmeal)
    • 4 oz (114 g / 1 cup) raisins (I suspect volume is more important than weight here, and possibly for the oatmeal too)


  1. Cream ingredients together, scoop onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.

    Oh, wait, you wanted more?

    1. Get the fats to room temperature.
    2. Combine the dry goods with a whisk, or in Brown's preference, by pulsing in a food processor (I'm not willing to wash that much extra stuff).
    3. Beat the egg and extracts together in a small bowl.
    4. Mix the fat alone to spread it around the bowl and get air into it.
    5. Slowly add the sugar. Mix until sugars no longer visible but can still be felt.
    6. Very slowly add the beaten egg mixture.
    7. Slowly add the dry goods until each installment is no longer visible.

      (Optional: Promise your poor old hand mixer that it's done soon as it starts crying. Resolve that if planned new hand mixer still cries at cookie dough, you'll make space for a stand mixer, dammit.)

    8. Stir in the extras, here oats and raisins.
  2. Bake at 375.

    Brown's recipe says bake two sheets at a time, rotate the pans at 8 minutes and bake 15-17 total. For a #30 scoop and one sheet at a time, rotate at 6 minutes and remove at 12 total. The goal is brown around the edges, which is thankfully very obvious.

  3. Let cool on sheet for two minutes, then remove to cooling racks.

Anyway, we like these, but they're a lot more cinnamon-y than 1 tsp would have suggested to me. We think that we might drop the cinnamon by, oh, a quarter to a half, and double the vanilla. That sound reasonable to you bakers? (Or is the salt in the butter throwing things off?)

Oh, and really finally this time, for those of you who read manga and don't follow my booklog, I posted on Planetes and vol. 1 of Emma yesterday.

Tags: [time] in review, food

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