Somoas

Homemade Samoas Cookies

Jingle bells, Santa smells, ah hell, bah humbug!

I slaved, literally slaved, over a hot stove, to make these imitation Samoas cookies. They may be homely, as well as homemade, but they tasted finer than those much more manufactured Girl Scout originals. Think of theirs as attack of the clones and mine as true Jedi warriors. Available in Star Wars themes? Not.

Imagine molten caramel and bubbling hot, boiling chocolate, all layered with toasted coconut on top. Double boiled, because, heaven forbid, you can’t scorch your sweets. And as I learned after snapping my first two donut shaped wafers:

If the caramel-coconut mixture thickens too much at any point while pressing it onto the cookies, return it to the double-boiler and warm it until it’s spreadable again.

That was an understatement. Spreading caramel is best done directly from its molten cauldron, preferably with a too hot to handle metal knife. Otherwise the stuff will freeze mid-spread.

Making this “easy” to create recipe was way more difficult than advertised, but that’s not my main complaint, not by half. Its purported preparation time was less than twenty minutes. The seven pictured cookies represent just one hour’s production rate. I made 35 cookies. Which means I performed five hours worth of backbreaking labor and I now have the sore back to prove it.

Still, I persisted. All of this work was for a Christmas cookie party that we annually attend. Anne and I worked right up until the last moment. They were a big hit! I felt so pleased with our afternoon labors that I felt no compunction to make cookies at the party. Every party has a pooper, that’s why you invited me.

Shop ‘Till You Drop

Skating Santa

On Saturday, Anne got all of her holiday shopping done and I helped. I was her chauffer and drove her about town. This spree followed Fun Friday the 13th when inexplicably all the items that I had been ordering for a week showed up simultaneously on our doorstep. A novel take on Amazon’s one-day delivery. This was that one day.

I was sufficiently vigilant to fend off the threat of porch pirates. Either that or we just live in a nice neighborhood. Or maybe porch pirates, like pirates of yore are more to be feared than found in real life. One of those faceless threats that are best served up to compel children not to be naughty.

Speaking of naughty, the whistleblower outed himself, when Santa announced that every Whitehouse stocking had been filled with coal. He knows when you’ve been naughty. He knows when you’ve been nice and he is prepared to testify. So, you better watch out.

I think that we’re done shopping: ‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house mountains of presents lie strewn about. Our credit card balances are bursting at their seams, with daily reminders of our excess, with each new ding. I hope that St. Nick will soon get here, I’d offer him a beer.

It has started to snow, but we have places to go. The next-door neighbor kids have a Rock School concert that we would like to attend. It’s to be held downstairs in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill. Best school concert venue that I’ve ever heard of. I once entertained business associates on the main floor above the Duck Room. There was a real rock band concert underway beneath our feet, which we could both feel and hear, but could not hear much else.

Time to take the new car for a spin and hope for a win-win. Saint Louis has a love-hate relationship with snow. We “enjoy” northern winters, to complement our southern summers, but being a northern city in a southern state there a lot of drivers around here that can’t handle the snow. People have been talking about this storm for days, but like most snowstorms around here, it will probably be a bust. Famously, Saint Louisans will strip the grocery aisles bare of bread and milk on the approach of such a storm, but being in the heat of the Christmas rush, I guess that they have been too busy to do that this time. I hope that they’re not still out-and-about doing Xmas shopping. Wish us luck!

An Afternoon in the Park

McDonnell Planetarium

Thanksgiving came late this year. In the run up to it we were subsumed with the holiday and our guests. Now Christmas is fast approaching. Anne has eleven more school days left before her holiday break. There are a million things to do yet, but why work today, when you can put it off until tomorrow. Today was a wonderful day, sunny, with a high near sixty. So, I took the afternoon off and took off on my bike for the park. Things were pretty quiet there. Allowing me to zone out and enjoy the Zen of bicycling. There are still three weeks left…

Extra Dynamite

Extra Dynamite

The pictured crate of dynamite is at the NYC Transportation Museum. It is part of an exhibit that describes the digging of the subway system. It makes a nice visual, but what intrigued me more it the title of its contents. What is “extra” dynamite? It’s a different formulation that is less explosive than regular dynamite (40% strength), but can be more safely handled. But why is it called extra?

Is it because you would need more of it than regular dynamite or is it just a marketing ploy, making more out of less? That’s not the only mystery. Why is it also affiliated with the Red Cross? That doesn’t make any sense at all. As near as I can tell, Red Cross Extra is DuPont’s brand name for this type of explosive. I found a 1916 company catalog that listed this product and described it as a low freezing insensitive explosive, suitable for situations without water troubles. 

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Last night, we celebrated Christmas in February, with Joanie. Why the delay? A gift that Anne had bought was on backorder and just arrived. I fixed shrimp and zucchini pasta in an alfredo sauce, with garlic bread. It turned out pretty good. We exchanged gifts and had rum bunt cake that Joanie had brought for dessert. On the eve of Valentine’s Day, we enjoyed our very little Christmas together.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Big Blue Tree

The world moves on, with secular concerns of the new year overtaking the spirit of the last. By the time that the wise men arrive, the manger will be long vacant. Dan flies out today. We will miss having him around. Anne has a new mini-long term substitute gig lined up that starts tomorrow. She will be filling in until a permanent teacher can be hired. You can already tell that the days are beginning to get a little longer. I too have begun looking forward. I’ve roughed out the itinerary for this year’s western excursion. Making booking, when necessary six-months in advance. I wonder if the National Parks will have reopened by then? Because of my past booking history, I’m getting solicitations now from the parks service’s lodgers for near term deals. Seems too risky in today’s environment. I like the highlights.