You may think that I have done nothing this week but watch the Nutcracker ballets on Ovation TV, and, well, you would be partly correct. But, you would also be surprised to learn that I have been doing my own dancing around the kitchen. Holiday baking is a tradition I have upheld ever since I left home to get married (the first time) in 1975. Some years I baked so many variations of goodies that we needed to buy those huge tins that typically hold popcorn so I could keep all the flours that I used.
While I am not baking from sun-up to sun-down like I used to do, I have figured out that with the right tools and setup I can get through one recipe per day. I have learned how to pace and also to alternate one day to the next with recipes that are easy and a little bit more time consuming. Also, and this helps a lot, my husband gave me one of his photo posing stools to roll around on in the kitchen. I don’t sit on it the entire time, but it works well when I’m having to stand a while for a repetitious task, like placing cookie dough on a baking sheet or, like yesterday, standing to make a batch of Italian pizzelle. I alternate doing something, then sitting a moment, then doing something else and continuing on that way. I don’t think I could get through a recipe that involves a lot of prep without that handy little stool.
Tools become even more important now that I do not have strength to hold a mixer and do all the cleanup. My husband also got me a Kitchenaid mixer (the Pro 500) with a feature that lifts the bowl with one effortless flip of a latch. I am in awe of this machine and amazed at how much work it saves me. Before I got this, I used a hand mixer and found that between mixing and then cleaning the mixer and everything else, I would be falling-over exhausted. This device really takes all the work out of it for the user so all you really have to do is add the ingredients. Even the cleanup is easy because I do not have to lift the mixer; I clean the bowl and the beater and wipe down the machine that just sits there on my prep table, looking pretty awesome, I must say.
What have been baking during Nutcracker week? Monday was almond biscotti. Tuesday, banana bread. Wednesday, pizzelle. Thursday, pistachio and cranberry biscotti. Friday, to be decided, but probably Scottish shortbread. This was the week of experimenting. Next week I will tweak and repeat. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by. I’ve got plenty of good coffee and tea along with goodies that are just waiting for company.
Waltz of the Flowers is filling my head with sound and visions of the most exquisite dancing. Nothing is better for dreaming than dance.
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