Greetings, Readers! How’s that holiday wrapping coming? *shudder*
Actually, I am quite proud of myself because I have about half of my gifts wrapped. I decided to take a different approach this year and wrap a few gifts every other day or so. It’s still not my favorite holiday jam, that’s for sure, but it seems a little less sucky and overwhelming if I deal with it in small doses. I also kind of gave myself permission not to wrap most of the stocking stuffers, which will make Mama shudder when she reads this. Mama always wrapped everything…even down to the last lip gloss in the stocking.
Then again, she used to bake three or four different kinds of holiday cookies.
Clearly, I’m no Mama. I’m a half-assed Mrs. Claus; the last few years I’ve just baked the cutout cookies and even that seemed like a giant feat.
Speaking of half-assed, the T. family trimmed the Christmas trees this weekend. Oh shall I say, the Christmas tree. Usually, we have two (small) trees at Christmas–the smallish kind that can go on a tabletop. We do this because we have a naughty cat and an exuberant, curious dog and it just makes sense and prevents ruin and catastrophe.
I sent my husband down to retrieve the trees from the basement and as I was busy rummaging for ornament hangers, he yelled, “Honey? Can you come down here?”
When I got downstairs, I saw him sitting on the floor, staring perplexedly at the trees.
“Can I just say this?” my husband moaned. “ONLY our family.”
He’d plugged in the trees to check that the lights worked, and what stood before him was tree #1, which only lit up at the bottom half. The top half? Nada. Also before him was tree #2, also only half-lit, but at the top. The bottom half? Nada.
“Christ on a cracker, you’re kidding me,” I said. “What the Hell? It’s like we’re cursed.”
Then he started laughing. “Well, it kind of makes sense that we have trees like this. Our family does everything half-assed–why not Christmas trees?” Then I started laughing and we called the girls downstairs to show them our sad-sack holiday dilemma.
“Dang,” Miss D. said. “What are you gonna do?”
“Can you just chop them off and combine them into one tree that works?” Miss M. asked.
Alas, we couldn’t do that because the trees come pre-lit and they don’t come apart and besides, we’d bought them at different times at different stores, so no dice.
“I really don’t want to go to Home Depot to get tree # Freaking Three,” I grumbled.
“Mom, we can’t put them up like that,” D. scoffed. “They look ridiculous.”
“Your dad made a good point though, girls,” I said. “The ridiculous trees kind of fit our ridiculous family, don’t you think?”
In the end, my husband tinkered and puttered around and managed to get one of the trees fully lit. This year, we’re a half-assed, one tree family but at least one of them works! I must say, though, every morning when I plug that sucker in, I’m positive it’ll sputter and die, if not blow the fuck up completely.
In other Christmas news, we’re taking the girls to California for a few days right before Christmas (another reason I’m getting a head start on the dreaded wrapping). This means that I’m not too inclined to do much baking before Christmas–why bake cookies if you’re going to be out of town? They’ll just get crumbly and stale. Talk about a waste of butter, so I’m not doing it.
I know, I know, we have a freezer and I could make and freeze the dough or some other such nonsense, but I’m lazy. I’m embracing my inner sloth. We’re ordering gourmet chocolates for dessert this year.
Since it’s the Year of the Inner Sloth, I need something decidedly low-maintenance to hand out to teachers, neighbors and friends when they stop by. This snack mix fits the bill. I adapted it a few years ago from a Bon Appetit recipe–a recipe that sounded perfectly lovely, mind you, but it called for mustard and my family doesn’t “do” mustard, nor does our grocery store carry things called Terra Stix or un-wasabi-ed peas, so this version was born.
And who doesn’t need a little crunchy, savory, colorful bowl of deliciousness to nibble on while addressing holiday cards? Snacks like that make the world a better place.
I must warn you that this stuff is a bit addictive if you’re Salty Snack Queen like me. I had trouble keeping my paws out of it. Still, I managed to fill quite a few gift bags and have a bit left for my greedy self, so don’t feel too guilty if you sneak a bit for personal consumption. Cook’s prerogative, I say.
Holiday Snack Mix
makes about 12 cups
loosely based on a recipe from Bon Appetit
3 cups mini-pretzels (I used square-shaped)
4 cups Bugles (original flavor)
1 cup pumpkin seeds, shelled
2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
2 cups Asian-flavored snack mix (the kind with wasabi peas in it)
2 cups sesame sticks
6 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 250.
Combine first six ingredients together in a gi-normous bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves and cook over low heat until the butter is infused, about 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Stir in Worchestershire sauce, curry powder, 5-spice powder, and a dash of salt and pepper.
Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients, tossing gently but thoroughly to coat.
Line two rimmed baking sheets with non-stick foil. Spread mixture out on both sheets in an even layer. Bake for about an hour, stirring mixture and rotating baking sheets every 25 minutes.
Cool completely and pack into airtight containers.
Am I the only one who turns into a gigantic gassy ball of nonsense after eating copious amounts of wasabi peas? Is it the wasabi or the fact that peas are legumes? I don’t know. Just pass the Beano.
Stomach Oddity Update: Thanks, everyone, for all of your lovely concern and caring thoughts regarding the intestinal fuckery. I did go to the G.I. specialist and he’s not sure what’s wrong, but we’re investigating. He took blood and ordered some sort of internal scope of the upper GI tract. It involves sedation and a tube/scope snaking down my throat, and some rummaging around in there, but it’s not going to hurt, I’m told. I get to go in and do that next week. Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted.