Sunday, December 5, 2010

I wish I had a river...


It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Oh I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on


December is always a very mixed month for me. On the one hand, I get to indulge my very favorite winter activities: choosing and giving presents and roasting and eating hot salted chestnuts... and on the other hand, I get to remember daily my loved one's excruciating December death, which is an activity rather like having your heart scooped out of your living chest with a very dull spoon. Not surprisingly, my creative endeavors have stalled. I try very hard each year to get everything finished before December begins because of this mind-and-body-numbing emotional fugue, but some years I fail and this is one of them.

With four projects on the needles and two not even started yet, I think my gift giving might be somewhat truncated. I have one project that I've knitted and frogged four days in a row already and I just can't see torturing that lovely silk yarn any more.

I have been very interested in cooking, though. My plan is to make one Holiday cooking project each weekend. I'll share one of my favorite recipes with you if you like. This is my own creation - meringues shaped like mushrooms! (or toadstools, really):


This is the famous $75 Voges chocolate toadstool. We wont' be making chocolate toadstools, but this is what they will look like, so you can use this picture as a template.

For the meringue, use 3 egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, a pinch of salt, and 3/4 cup of sugar.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt (I use a rotary hand egg beater) until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, two tablespoons at a time and beat until rather firm peaks form. One time, one of my friends said that he always turned the bowl upside down to make sure that the peaks were firm, but unfortunately, that time - as he showed this off to me - the entire bowlful of stiff meringue slid out of his bowl onto the floor. So I don't recommend this methods. Just sort of 'notice' when the peaks are firm - maybe by observing if they hold their shape when you lift the beater out of the bowl.

Gently spoon some of the meringue into a gallon size zip-lock bag and close the bag. Cut one lower corner diagonally, to form a hole that is about the diameter of a pencil.

Using this innovative "instant pastry bag", squeeze a round of meringue onto the parchment by going around and around in a circle until you have the size and shape of your mushroom cap. Make the same number of "stems" by squeezing the meringue into the shape of a narrow Hershey's Kiss.

Bake the shapes for one hour. Don't let them brown - you may need to take them out of the oven before one hour is up.

To assemble your toadstools, place a small amount of white tube frosting on the tip of the stem, and gently press this into the underside of the Toadstool cap. Using a paintbrush and red food colouring, paint small red dots all around the top. Set out for a bit to dry. These will keep pretty well in an airtight container, but are fragile, so don't crowd them together. They make lovely decorations for the top of the Christmas cake or Yule log, too.

We don't get much light here in December. The sun is low, the sky is heavy with grey snow-bearing clouds, and the sun sets in the mid-afternoon. But cooking is a very cheering occupation, and really does brighten up the day.

1 comment:

Mette said...

Sorry to hear about your December loss. I had it like you in October. Please do not put a lot of pressure on yourself.