Like I said last year at this time, cookie season is not over, but it’s winding down. But boy, reading last year’s summary compared to this year makes me feel like I had it great last year. Not only was the party on a Friday, so I had all day Saturday to recover, before starting in on packing and shipping, I had both Rach and Toni helping me pack up the cookies. So civilized. We even got a tree.
This year felt like a sprint instead of a marathon. It was basically a one weekend cookie season, since it was such a late Thanksgiving. I mean, I had cookie season begin something like November 18th, with high hopes. But I let things slip, didn’t re-make the not-perfect cookies, and the weather was against me. We had a long stretch of really cold days in November (the high hopes period) and snow for Thanksgiving, so the vestibule was nice and cool for the cookies. But the last week or so it’s been in the 40s and brown and muddy.
The springerle got damp and spotty – but it could be because I baked them on parchment, rather than the weather. Although the spots were alarming – they looked like mold. Tracy said no one saw them but me. I am going to re-make them, and see if I can perfect that recipe. The biberli got damp and stuck together – I’ve never had that happen before. Too many of the chocolate toffee bars de-laminated. The raspberry almond bars, that seemed so nice the day I cut them up, seemed sticky by the time I was plattering then for the party, and even stickier on Sunday when I was bagging them for shipping. The Moravian ginger thins were too thick, and because I left them in the oven longer to crisp, lots of them seem a little dark. It’s either because I used a different rolling pin, or because I didn’t make the pumpkin mousse & spice crisp turkey cookies for thanksgiving, that are practice.
The party was smaller than last year. I’d say there were still at least 50+ people, and two overlapping waves. There was the little kid wave, and then the old fogeys wave, which was also when I had gotten all the food out, and could have a glass of wine. We talked about our kids getting married and neighborhood history. And toasted absent friends.
I’m copying last year’s list and editing:
- Buffalo chicken dip from the Frank’s hot sauce website, with celery sticks – last year, I said “coulda made a double batch”, it was inhaled – so this year I did – and half was leftover. (sigh)
- 3 pounds of hamburger made into cocktail meatballs – used leftover cranberry sauce and American Spoon jalapeno jelly in with the Heinz chili sauce for the sauce – not one left
- 3 dozen hard boiled eggs made into deviled eggs – I went kind of plain this year, no curry powder, jut the yolks, mayo, and Dijon mustard and a little honey and lemon juice – again, not a one left
- Spicey peanut dip with carrots & purple carrots, and beauty heart radishes from my CSA box, and cucumber that I bought. A little of all leftover – but really only enough veggies for lunch
- Caramelized onion dip – Mark said it was too mild so I added some dehydrated onion, but then it seemed too strong so I added more sour cream, and there was almost a quart leftover
- Cheeses: Stilton, Wili’s bandaged cheddar, Farmer John’s smoked Gouda, and Marieke seedy Gouda and a Mobay that I never put out. With crackers.
- Sausage & cheese platter with Christopher Columbus salami and Tillamook cheddar from Costco (the 2# logs of Tillamook are my favorite thing to buy at Costco). Megan sliced it up. Used the last of the sliced salami to make scrambled eggs with salami and cheese on Sunday morning, but there’s a still a small hunk not sliced yet
- 3 loaves of French bread – got Mark to slice that, and only a few slices left
- Red pepper hummus with pita crackers and regular pita – I cooked the garbanzos from dried, which make a superior hummus, I think
- Pesto and sun dried tomato torta – about 1/3 leftover.
- Costco mixed nuts, pistachios in the shell, cheap crappy olives – black from a Costco jar, and green from a can – that I simmered in olive oil with lemon and rosemary and garlic, until they were good
- About 100 little weinies in wrapped in homemade yeasted pastry, plus six kosher dogs. A whole tray of un-cooked weinies was leftover, but we ate all the kosher dogs. Rach helped me wrap the dogs the night before
- 4 pounds of shrimp, served hot – baked in butter and black pepper. Enough left to make a batch of pesto pasta with shrimp, I think.
- Hot spinach dip that I didn’t put out, on purpose – it was supposed to be a vegetarian hot dip to follow the Buffalo chicken, but we didn’t need it
- Bacon wrapped dates – stuffed with the more traditional Parmesan this year – like the weinies, one whole tray left
- Squash gratin tart, like I made for pie palooza, with roasted winter squash and tomato sauce and Gruyere, in crust – this was all devoured, although I made 8 and one got snatched out of the garage by some animal, so there were only 7
- A Brie wrapped in puff paste and baked with cranberry sauce inside, and a gluten-free Brie, baked with cherry jam mixed with a dash of balsamic and almonds on top
- A ham with a big hunk of Jarlsberg and cocktail buns. I got the ham at Costco, and choices were Kirkland ham, or Kirkland Signature Niman Ranch Applewood Spiral Ham – that cost a little more per pound, but was a better size, and I thought the Niman Ranch name meant it was more sustainably produced. But, it’s Costco – who knows. Factory organics. Still, it tastes good – and a nice size hunk left.
- A layered taco dip with home made refried beans, cooked from dried Rancho Gordo beans, and corn salsa with corn and roasted poblanos & bell peppers that I froze last summer. Lots of salsa left – and Rach bought a carton of Whole Foods corn salsa when she brough in salads for dinner on Friday night. I think I’ll make it all into enchiladas. None of the beans or layerd part left tho – I made that into quesadillas that John & Megan & I ate for dinner Sunday
- A pistachio-cranberry cheese log from the Milwaukee Journal. I left out the mint and used a little lemon zest. And elderflower liqueur (St-Germain) instead of Grand Marnier
I woke up Sunday morning fretting about all the leftover food, and then the emails began arriving – I sold cookie boxes to Cheryl and Susan, and Natasha bought three big cookie trays, and the leftover weinies and dates and onion and peanut dips and that un-cooked hot spinach dip.
On Sunday I cleaned up and packed and bagged cookies until 11:30 at night. Missing my helpers of last year. For some people, I tried a new shipping method where instead of bagging, I packed the cookies in plastic containers. I think it might’ve been a little faster, but I think the recipients get less cookies. On Monday, I shipped off the big boxes UPS to my brother in Seattle and Worcesters in Oregon, and packed up 19 more boxes. And labelled them and scheduled a pick up with the post office, during my regular delivery time, between 2:00 and 4:30 on Tuesday. I left the boxes in the vestibule, with the front door to the vestibule open, and the inner doors to the house locked, and went off to work.
And was pretty devastated when I got home Tuesday at 5:30 and all 19 were still there. I reorganized cookies, and got all the leftovers into my closet – the second coldest place after the vestibule when it’s in the 20s or lower outside. Natasha came and picked up her food. Megan helped me load the car and take everything out to the full service 24 hours drop at the Struck Street Post Office. I was sure my boxes were gonna jam up the package drop – and they did – but not til the last one. That must be some kind of luck. Now that’s done, and I only have to unload the dishwasher and wash a few trays. Then I can take a shower and get into PJs. Maybe watch a little TV. Truly the winding down part of cookie season. I can even see to the back of the fridge now.