Monday, December 27, 2010

Gingerbread Folks and Fall Fruit Crisp: An X-Mas Special!

My family doesn't really do X-Mas anymore.  We officially gave it up last year, deciding gifts were unnecessary and we'd rather just have a meal together.  This year, we made like Jewish people and had Chinese food.  Since my father and step-mother are both Jewish by birth, it seemed appropriate.

Still, though, I made gingerbread men and women.  See, a long, long time ago, I bought these gingerbread people-shaped pans at Goodwill for $1.99 and I figured that if I went a-whole-entire-'nother year without using them, I'd truly be a failure as a person not engaging in hoarding behavior.  So it had to be done, despite the fact that I don't have time for ANYTHING these days.  Not even for blogging (which I do while at work -- don't tell my bosses!).

On one hand, I wanted to decorate the men and -- even more -- the women with icing details to give them faces and buttons and dress frills and the like, but on the other hand, I don't like gingerbread all that much but I love me some icing.  I also let the fact that I pretty much suck at putting icing on things in a pretty way also weigh into the decision to just cover the whole thing with white icing.  That looked fine for the gingerbread gentlemen, but the ladies looked pretty much like ghosts.  Or, if I'm being charitable, I could say they look like angels and it was deliberate.  Yeah, that's it!  It was totally by design...
You know, even when I don't try to do fancy icing, and I just keep it simple, it still looks pretty messy.  But that's OK.  No one will look a gift cookie in the mouth.  And I gave these out to pretty much everyone I saw for a few days straight.

But wait!  There's more baking to come!  I work for some attorneys, and I'm not sure if you know this, but around the holidays, attorneys tend to receive fruit baskets.  I cannot really explain this phenomenon, but it's the truth.  And the attorneys I work for, at least, don't really want fruit baskets for some reason.  So I tend to take the apples, pears, oranges, and the occasional grapefruit home.  And they go bad at my apartment instead of in the office.

This time, though, I thought I would avoid the rotting fruit by making The Joy of Vegan Baking's Fall Fruit Crisp, which would use up a couple apples and a couple pears.  I brought them all over to my father's house, along with a stick of Earth Balance, thinking (wrongly) that my bake-tastic step-mother would have the rest of the ingredients.  She mostly did, but she hates nutmeg and allspice so she had no nutmeg and I omitted it, and she only had whole allspice, so I had to mortar and pestle it, which was actually pretty fun.

This was so good!  My step-mother declared it to be better than hers, which is a giant accomplishment for me.
It's got whole-rolled oats and pecans and some walnuts in the crisp on top and it's got these delicious fall spices, which I really think of as being holiday spices, not just fall.  I think I'm really won over to grinding my own whole spices, because this was more delicious than it really had any right to be.  I cannot recommend it more highly!

In other news, my step-mother gave me a late birthday gift -- a cookbook called The Indian Slow Cooker.  At first, I was kinda like, "Oh no, this isn't even vegan" but then I looked through it.  She writes in her intro that her recipes started out vegan and she added meat to them in order to appeal to more people, but that you can make them vegan if you want to.  Yay!  Will do!  Also, she's from King of Prussia -- the town next door to Phoenixville and also the place where I grew up, and yet, as you can see on her Amazon reviews, people everywhere dig this book.  That's cool.  I'm into supporting locals.  Also, a while back, I took my mother's slow-cooker, which was just sitting on a high shelf at my dad's house, replaced by my step-mother's much larger slow-cooker, and I look forward to using it out of respect for my momma, even though I think that the only thing she ever cooked in it was veggie and beef stew.  I'm happy to expand its horizons.  And, last but not least, as you may recall, I fail at cooking Indian, and it usually turns out too spicy.  But author Anupy Singla promises me that it'll be better and easier in a slow-cooker.  I look forward to finding out if this is true, because I'm really sick of failing at Indian food.

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