Friday, December 31, 2010

Time To Play

Guys, Christmas was a hit this year, and we all somehow ended up on Santa's nice list. When I first got home the weather was in the seventies...and yesterday it snowed (snowed!) in Phoenix. More like flurries, but potato-potato, its the same thing.

I've loved all this time off work. Which means, of course, time to play. Play with my friends, play with my parents and brother and sister, and play in the 70 degree sunshine in AZ by playing tag with my dog, Dolly.

From The Vagabond Table

I miss those days of elementary school where the biggest question you had to ask all day was, “Hey, do you wanna come over and play?”

We played in the kitchen a bit too. My Aunt Deb got me and my mom signed copies of Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Was That? I also snagged Good to the Grain: Baking With Whole-Grain Flours by Kim Boyce which I’ve been pining after for months now. 2011, you’re looking to be a very tasty year.

One slower eve of my 12 days of Arizona Christmas we made a Beef and Barley Stew, inspired by, but not totally followed, from Ina’s new book. And honestly, I “helped” by shopping for it, tasting it, and peeking at it while my mom and dad put it together. During this time I also took Dolly for a nice long walk,and returned to find the soup nearly done. So much for my helping in the kitchen, but what I can do rather well is appreciate a hearty, homemade stew.

From The Vagabond Table

And whether you're experiencing snow in DC, Wisconsin, Boston or AZ, this stew has a lovely broth that warms up your bones a bit. Good convo and multiple episodes of 30 Rock seem to cozy you up pretty well, too.

From The Vagabond Table

Tonight's the big welcome of 2011, kids! Be safe, be happy, or just be. Whatever you want since it's your year, and you should start it out how you want to live it.



Monday, December 20, 2010

The Family Jewels

So, I feel like December has wacked me over the head with its busy-ness and hasn’t stopped schooling me all month. Or maybe, November and December are in cahoots to distract me with things like road tripping to Cleveland for Thanksgiving and bussing to NYC to do some serious twinkle-lights appreciation. Seriously! I’ve barely been home, or if I do make it home, I’ve been in a collapsed heap on the couch catching up with United States of Tara and eating things like edamame beans and almonds for dinner.

It makes me feel unbalanced to not be constantly thinking of new blog posts, taking pictures, and squirreling away in my kitchen to concoct something new and fun.

But as my Christmas gift to you, I have a family recipe for one of my favorite holiday cookies that I whipped up for a really fun brunch we hosted recently: Rum Balls of Awesomeness!

From The Vagabond Table

Or, as I like to think: The Ferm Family Jewels. *snerk*.

I think any cookie that takes about ½ hour total to make deserves a prize. Any cookie that tastes this good and incorporates things like walnuts and chocolate and Nilla Wafers deserves First prize. And when they’re balanced with rum and a sprinkling of sugar, well…it’s a GRAND prize for everyone who gets one (or five).

These Rum Balls make an appearance every year in my mom’s epic cookie-baking-whirlwind. She usually bakes 12-14 different KINDS of cookies, of course having 2-3 batches per type, so really an entire part of our pantry is taken over by boxes and tins of the most delicious Christmas cookies you can think of. We laugh in the face of plain old sugar cookies…they are so 1980, I’m afraid. Instead, you should try her pecan tassies (mini pies…bite-sized!) or the ricotta cheese cookies that take the idea of sugar cookies, softens them up real nice, and puts them on steroids. Or the walnut crescents with their fine dusting of confectioner’s sugar, the coconut-chocolate cream cheese bars, the lemon bars, classic fudge, or the brand new chocolate truffle cookies, that, I’m sure, are worth flying across the country for. My mom, in truth, is the best durn Christmas cookie baker in Arizona, if not the country. And I’m one of the lucky few that get these cookies…for 12 days straight…at my fingertips. I promise you more cookies to come, but I think I'll start with Rum Balls.

From The Vagabond Table

This year’s Rum Balls are me attempting to make Mamasan proud by taking the torch and doing the Ferm Family some justice on the East Coast. And, based on their popularity this time around, I’m definitely on the right track.

As an aside, I’m back to AZ starting tomorrow, so there'll be plenty of time to post some goodies on here for the holidays. Much love and hugs to you all!