Monthly Archives: December 2008

If you only eat one Christmas cookie this holiday season…

At Christmas, in Britain, when it’s time to indulge your sweet tooth, you’re bound to get offered up something a bit off-putting–something with orange peel and brandy butter–something that we Americans would view as being of ‘an acquired taste’–something that has loads of dates and figs in it…something like mince pies or the ultra bitter Christmas pudding.

I’ve been over there long enough now that I actually have developed my taste buds a bit and I’m in a comfortable place where I can enjoy the occasional mince pie.  The Christmas pud though, still takes like cognac soaked vomitous fruit cake…which is kinda what it is. 

Merry Christmas, Blarrrrrrggggghhh!

Mercifully, here in the U.S.A., where I am cozily returned for the holiday break, it’s all about the refined sugar.  There’s always a bounty to choose from when you’re ready to pork out on sweets:  pies, brownies, puddings, and a dazzling plethora of cookies.  Cookies–it’s what Santa eats and it’s good enough for me.  They are truly the holiday favorite for most American families.  You made ’em with your Grandma when you were little, you probably make a batch for your colleagues at work this week, and  they’re a dessert that allows you to go apeshit with sprinkles.  As far as varieties of cookies go, when I’m ready to pack on an extra five pounds it’s with a fist-full of today’s favorite thing.

63.  Spritz Cookies
You’ve probably consumed spritz cookies before even if you didn’t know that’s what they were called.  Don’t confuse them with sugar cookies or cut-outs.  They are dense, buttery, crunchy little biscuits.

A teeny bit of history:  Though we know they are ttypically served exclusively at Christmas, this cookie’s origins are a bit cloudy.  They are debate-ably either Scandinavian (they are sometimes know as Swedish spritz cookies) or potentially German (because the etymology of the word ‘spritzen’ is German–meaning to squirt or spray–which is how you make the cookies, by squirting them through a cookie press).  The www.hungrybrowser.com website amicably suggests that Germans may have brought the crunchy biscuits over to Scandinavia.  See.  German history isn’t ALL bad.  They shared their cookies.  Like many Christmas treats (cut-outs, candy canes, and gingerbread men for instance) spritz cookies were probably designed as edible ornaments.  So, before you eat it, why not dangle it from your tree or pin it to your favorite holiday sweater?  Or screw that and just scarf them.

Making spritz cookies is a bit tricky because the consistency of the dough can easily get  too malleable to keep its shape (you’ve got to use room temp–not melty butter) but it’s always fun because you get to use a gun.

A typical spritz gun is shown in the photograph above.  Bang bang!

My Mom had a model more like this one pictured below.  It’s more like a spritz-musket…kaboom!

 

 

 Spritz cookies can come in all shapes.  My Mom’s kit had  patterns that produced little wreaths, trees, pinwheels, dogs, and camels, amongst other decorative designs. 

They are made in all sorts of varieties.  We ate the almond flavoured ones and the chocolate spritzes.  Howver, I’ve seen recipes for butter, lemon, raspberry, coconut, sour cream, and pina colada (zoinks).

The chocolate spritzes are my absolute favorite.  My Mom used the dog and camel patterns for these.  Deee-licious!  But, word to the wise, if you’re not careful, they’ll come out looking like little doo doo piles, so easy on that spritz gun trigger, my cookie cowboys.

a poo log…I mean yule log of Christmas joy

Anyway, I hope you like these cookies as much as I do.  Here’s a couple of pages where you can find the recipes:  chocolate spritz  multiple recipes     for my vegan friends

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Filed under Uncategorized, Vittles

Wedding Singers (Not the Movie)

I’m at work right now and probably shouldn’t be here at this blog typing away. So, I’m gonna make this a quick one.  Call it respect for the workplace or call it a cheap excuse for not actually doing any writing–it’s probably a little of both.

Earlier this month, I threatened to show Horatio Sanz some love. We had his  SNL Christmas song a couple posts ago.  Here’s another memorable entry in his portfolio.  Sure, partial credit goes to Will Ferrell here…but if they ever release a Horatio Sanz ‘best of’ SNL DVD–this has got to be included.

Today’s great thing:

62.  Horatio Sanz and Will Ferrell in the SNL Wedding Singers Sketch


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Will Ferrell and Horatio Sanz. wh

Sigh…sorry to say that this clip has now been removed from the internet.  As soon as I find another clean link, I’ll put it back up!

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It’s ‘Your Turn’, Newsweek

I was all set to write about a really cool music video that I saw (more on that in a future post), but then, in my daily bit of websurfing, I came across a link to a great cover story from Newsweek magazine.

61. Newsweek

I love Newsweek.

It’s the news periodical that my family has always subscribed to.

Thomas J. C Martin started the mag in 1933. When Malcolm Muir took over in 1937, News-week became Newsweek. In the fifties and sixties, with its advocacy journalism about civil rights, its reputation was cemented as one of the more liberal mainstream publications. Its biggest competition is, of course, Time magazine–which skews more conservatively. Newsweek has, historically, given more coverage to liberal issues including: the civil rights movement, the case against the Vietnam War, the case against the Iraq War, and fabulously–gay rights. This leads to why I had to decide to go with the magazine as today’s great thing at the very last minute.  I found a link to this week’s cover story, “The Religious Case For Gay Marriage”,  written with compassion and intelligence by Lisa Miller, and found that this week’s issue spanned so many topics close to my heart.

homer-gay-marriage

Gay Marriage

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright

Harry Potter

Harry Potter

http://keitholbermannisevil.files.wordpress.com/2007/03/wallace-shawn-vizzini.jpg

And Wallace Shawn? Inconceivable!

A magazine that sticks up for my rights and covers all my areas of interest in one fell swoop! There’s even space left over for some of my other favored features: columns by Anna Quindlen, the always-entertaining Periscope page–with its political cartoons and quotes of the week, it’s built for my short attention span, and the regular ‘My Turn’ feature, wherein normal people can kvetch about their circumstances.

An excellent article about the origin and current standing of the magazine lies here: Newsweek

Finally, here’s a link to the magazine’s official website.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll love it.  www.newsweek.com

Go and read that story about gay marriage.

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Horatio’s Christmas Gift To Mankind

What makes a great Christmas song? There’s hundreds of classic carols and tunes that could populate a decent playlist. But, I’d argue that there’s less than…let’s say twenty or thirty…that could make the cut that were written within the last three decades. I’m talking original material here, not The Bird and The Bee’s awesome cover of “The Carol of The Bells”. You’ve got the Mariah Carey tune, The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping”, Wham’s “Last Christmas” and a smattering of others–let’s give a place to Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis”–as it is fly. Today’s great thing is, I believe, a worthy contribution to the playlist:

60. SNL’s “Christmas Is Coming To The USA”

The song has the alternate titles of “Christmas Is Number One” and “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”. The sketch/song recurred every Christmas for a few years running (I think it could have been five) and usually had slight alterations to the verses (with the refrain remaining the same) each year. It is complete and utter nonsense but in an adorably good way. Here’s the clip from one of their performances.

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With Chris Kattan acting as no more than a music stand (which some might argue is his best role to date–ha cha!), and Tracy Morgan’s distracted wobbly groove, this video can be enjoyed at any time of year! In fact, it has. The Christmas quartet of Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, and Tracy Morgan reprised this tune whenever they were given the chance. They took the stage for Memorial Day, for instance, but only to sing a song about how Christmas is better than that particular holiday. Which is true.

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Christmas Caroler

Sanz, pictured here after dropping 100 pounds, is perhaps best remembered as the king of ‘corpsing’ on SNL.  (Corpsing is when you break character and crack up on stage). If you watched the show during the early naughts, you could feel the bromance between Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz.  It seemed like the two of them couldn’t share the stage with each other without getting the giggle fits. This won lots of people over because they enjoyed the sheer silliness of it all but it also turned a lot of people off.

Maybe because of that, it’s easy to forget that Sanz actually produced some solid comedy on the show. He is, after all, a founding member of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade theatre. His credentials check out. In fact, I might be tempted to post one or two of my favorite Sanz performances this month…just to celebrate his weight-loss and his love of Christmas.  I don’t care what anyone says.  I loved ‘Carol’.  I only wish we’d had a chance to get to know her better.

Anyways, after Kattan, Fallon, and Morgan had all checked out of SNL Sanz performed this tune with the help of The Muppets and if they’re on-side, then I am too.

Sanz plays a C.F. Martin and Co. Backpacker guitar in this ditty. If you have any musical talent, you too can pluck out this song.  Here’s link to the music:  Jingle

Here are the lyrics from one year.

  • I don’t care what your momma says
  • Christmas time is near
  • I don’t care what your daddy says
  • Christmas time is dear
  • All I know is Santa’s sleigh is making it’s way to the USA
  • I don’t care what the newsman says
  • Christmas is full of cheer
  • I don’t care if you think it’s a lie
  • Christmas will soon be here
  • I don’t care about anything
  • Except hearing them sleighbells ring-a-ding-ding
  • I wish it was Christmas today
  • I wish it was Christmas today

The one I have ripped onto my Christmas CD has some weirdness on it about not caring what the CIA thinks about Christmas.  Love it.  The embellishment of the Rampage-like monster sound effects from Fallon’s keyboard take it that one step further.  Buffoonery!

I can almost forgive Horatio Sanz for Boat Trip when I watch this.

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