Sunday, December 22, 2013

A little baking, a little listening... a whole lot of ice...


We are having an ice storm today, so this is definitely a day to stay indoors and cook and maybe watch a Christmas movie or two...

It is now three sleeps until the big day and I am at the point of my preparations when I turn my attention to the baking.

I do not bake before December 22nd for various reasons, the greatest of which is that frankly, it will all be eaten before the big day!  I don't know about you, but I do a lot less baking then I used to.  We just don't eat a lot of sweets anymore. 

Having said that, it wouldn't be Christmas without some decorated cookies, so my daughter and I will be making a couple of different batches of sugar cookies, one of which will be vegan for the son, as well as something chocolate-y, and I plan to make some chocolate truffles as well. 

I always use Martha Stewart's sugar cookie recipe and I always dream that they will look like this...


...but they never do.  Oh never mind, they taste good!

Here is the basic recipe I use:

Basic Sugar Cookies Recipe

A100453_SugarCookiesNew.jpg
         
Yield Makes 32

Ingredients

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Assorted candies, sprinkles, or colored sugars, for decorating (optional)

Directions

  1. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Reroll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks. To ice cookies, spread with the back of a spoon. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes. Decorate as desired.
 
You can check out more recipes from Martha here.
 
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There is another reason I held off my baking until today.  All day today, CBC Radio 2 will be playing their Joy to the World concert, a Euroradio broadcast of a full day of holiday music programming from the countries of the European Broadcasting Union.
 
 
But you don't have to live in Canada or Europe to listen, you can listen here!  For those of you tired of regular Christmas music by now, this is a palate cleanser of beautiful choral music and will certainly fill your spirit with the beauty and meaning of the season.
 
What's going to be playing today?
 
9 a.m.: Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall, Zagreb, Croatia
Your morning begins with the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra and conductor Tonči Bilić in the nation’s capital city. They’ll perform Ottorino Respighi’s Gli Uccelli (The Birds) before being joined by the Croatian Radio and Television Chorus and soloists for a performance of J.S. Bach’s glorious Magnificat.

10 a.m.: St. Martin in the Wall Church, Prague, Czech Republic
Czech baroque specialists Ensemble Inégal give a concert dedicated to the music of Bohemian composer Samuel Capricornus. Known for his vast output and short life, Capricornus is one of the most important composers of the 17th century. Ensemble Inégal, led by Adam Viktora, is giving the world premiere on period instruments of Capricornus’s Missa Nativitatis Domini.

11 a.m.: Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, Budapest, Hungary
On Mahler’s copy of the score for Bruckner’s Te Deum, he scratched out "for chorus, solos, orchestra and organ ad libitum" and wrote "for the tongues of angels, heaven-blest, chastened hearts and souls purified in the fire!" Hungarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra join together to perform this jubilant work under conductor Gregory Vajda. The performance continues with the scherzo from Bruckner’s Symphony No. 1 and concludes with evocative music from Hungarian composer Miklós Kocsár entitled O wunderbare geheimnisvolle Nacht.

Noon: Barbican Hall, London, England
The hectic streets outside London’s Barbican Concert Hall are packed with last-minute shoppers, but we’ll travel inside the hall for Hector Berlioz’s reflective and luminous retelling of the Christmas story. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus are led by François-Xavier Roth and joined by Trinity Laban Chamber Choir and four soloists for Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ oratorio.

1:45 p.m.: Blauwe Zaal, deSingel, Antwerp, Belgium
Enjoy an all-Bach program from Belgium, with festive music from the Ricercar Consort and soloists led by Philippe Pierlot. You’ll hear two less famous Christmas cantatas by Bach. The icing on the cake is the bombastic and exuberant opening from a third cantata, which features dazzling timpani and trumpets.

3 p.m.: Kallio Church, Helsinki, Finland
It’s off to the heart of the Finnish capital for the eight-voiced Lumen Valo. They’ll be performing unaccompanied music from the Middle Ages right through to present day. Included on the program is music by Gabrieli, Palestrina, Praetorius and a new Christmas carol by composer Matthew Whittall, who came to Finland from Canada some 10 years ago.

4 p.m.: Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich, Germany
The Bavarian Radio Chorus and members of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Radio Orchestra bring you two sacred choral works with orchestra: Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten, preceded by Lauda per la natività del Signore by Ottorino Respighi. The performance will conclude with a rousing chorale by J.S. Bach.

5 p.m.: Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, Montreal, Que.
A wildly popular Montreal tradition since 1980, the annual CBC Sing-In celebrates the season with your favourite Christmas tunes performed by the Choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, the Sing-In Brass, organist Jonathan Oldengarm, conductor Jordan de Souza and more than 1,500 carollers singing along.
 
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Finally a reminder to let me know if you want to be part of the blog giveaway.  Details are here.  I will be drawing names tomorrow afternoon, so still plenty of time!
 
 
Stay warm and cozy if you are in the storm belt and if you are some place warm - send it along to us!  Stay safe out there!
 

40 comments:

  1. I hard never heard of an ice storm until the film, how incredible, I wish I could see it. The sugar cookies look as beautiful as their name.
    I'm cleaning today, the house seems to have gotten filthy in two days.

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    1. Tabs - that's what I did yesterday - the house was a disaster!!!! We have friends coming through town from Brazil tomorrow, so want it to be a bit presentable!

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    2. Tabs I'll get a picture of the tree outside my window, wait until you see the ice. Everything looks like it will break off and shatter!

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    3. Brazil, oh wow did they move there? I'd love to hear what their life is like.

      Dani - loves it! I have never seen anything like that in my life.

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    4. She is a Brazilian and they met in Toronto and lived here with their boys for awhile and now back there for a time...

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  2. We are warm and rainy here. Rain all day. Saw The Hobbit (part II) yesterday and did enjoy it. Just kind of pissed me off where they ended it. Also finished up Orphan Black. We are going to go to The Fall (Netflix series...only 5 shows) binge watching next. Have a wonderful Sunday. Much love.

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    1. BB our whole family went to The Hobbit yesterday... I loved it though it seemed like it was 6 hours long, my butt was killing me from sitting so long. What an ending, now we wait a whole year for the rest!

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    2. I didn't mind but I think it could easily have been 30 minutes shorter....

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    3. It was rather lengthy. At the two hour mark Em asked what time it was. We had a good though.

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  3. Snow storm here, so staying cozy, minus a sledding/snowman foray at some point. Cookies sound delicious!

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    1. We now have Dani's ice storm - am seeing the pictures coming out of ontario and am worried...

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  4. We've had the ice all night long and it continues. There is an ice build-up of 1.5 cm on every surface I can see out the window just now, the trees, the clothesline. I hate ice storms, very scary but luckily we still have power.
    We are definitely staying home today and I'll be doing the same thing... listening to CBC and baking cookies, the piggy cookies of course!

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    1. Dani, do you know what I am craving? Not sure I would eat them, but they look so sweet.

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    2. Me too Get Fresh, they look fab.

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    3. Yay to piggy cookies! We did two types og sugar cookies (one vegan!) and chocolate espresso cookies. 3 hours, I need a rest!

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    4. Chocolate espresso cookies, WMM, if any left I will be right over for my fix...

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  5. WMM, listening to the same thing right now, in same general corner of icy Canada. Smiles across the miles :-) Only I am sad to be working, not baking. Will definitely drag M. upstairs to listen to the bit from his old workplace, the Barbican.

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    1. Am listening to it right now! Never knew he worked there!

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    2. Yes, that is home turf for the London Symphony Orchestra.

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  6. I think you are getting the worst ice up there, O Canada; we are right on the line down here. I *hope* no one loses power today!

    GF, hope you are getting some good time off this week?

    Baked yesterday with the one daughter who is home-- ginger cookies and pecan butter cookies. Made the farro salad from this Wed. NYT twice this weekend ( with way less salt and olive oil). All I want to do is sit and look at my tree and read. So that's what I am doing today. 5 parties last week and none today.

    Christmas Eve-- the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's Chapel is broadcast live by NPR-- 10 AM our time. The beginning is my favorite: one boy is selected, I think at the last moment, to sing the first verse of Once in Royal David's City,a capella, before the rest join in. Gets me going every time. Enjoy the day!

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    1. Thanks Lane - will put that on for sure - I love that song and king's chapel! The ice is getting wicked here now as well.

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    2. Ah, thanks Lane! Working today as work busy all week and still bits and pieces to attend to. But home at my Dad's, so much nicer than an office. Off to hunt that NYT salad later; fan of farro. It's my new quinoa. Enjoy your reading day...

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    3. Don't skip the part where you add cider(!) to the cooking water! I used a fraction of the absurd salt and oil advised. Also I skipped the radishes. It is sooo good.

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    4. Don't think I'd find radishes at the little market near here anyway. But can definitely scrounge some cider. Will let you know what I think.

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  7. Hi Wendy, I'm sure your cookies will be scrumptious! I don't do much baking either, but will do a little tomorrow. This afternoon we are all going to see American Hustle - not Christmassy, but it sounds like it will be very good.

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    1. P.S. - thanks for the link to the music!

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    2. Hi Patricia! I definitely want to go see that over the holidays - let me know what you think!

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    3. Hi Wendy - it was really enjoyable! I must admit, I found the story a bit complicated - sometimes I wasn't really sure what was going on - but just went with it. Wonderful performances.

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    4. Oh great! I love those actors, so will definitely go!

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  8. I'm thinking of baking some shortbread cookies, now that I see those sugar cookies! :)

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    1. I'll post pictures on Tuesday - they were good!

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  9. We are right in the middle of the ice storm - so many downed tree branches and our entire neighbourhood has lost power. The hydro company estimates it will take about 3 days to get power back. So, no hot water or heat in the house for now. We are camped out at a friend's house right now.

    The sugar cookies look delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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    1. Oh no! And so close to Christmas! Can we do anything to help!

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  10. Like BB said,it is warm and rainy down in the south.All day pouring rain and dark skies:(.
    Hope you stay safe in the icestorm!
    We will bake tomorrow,just some sugar cookies decorated.

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    1. Ours turned out great! Tomorrow is pies!

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  11. Ice storms are so beautiful but dangerous. A perfect day for staying in baking cookies with lovely music playing. The cookies will turn out even better, I say.

    It is sunny here and a warm to you, cool to us, 65F right now ... sending cozy thoughts to you and yours!

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  12. We are in the heart of the ice storm as well and had to cancel out annual trip to see The Nutcracker. Pity. But at least we are safe and it sure is pretty. You made good use of the day indeed. Those cookies are gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks Jen! Sorry you missed The Nutcracker! I love it!

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Kindness is a virtue...