Christmas Craftiness 2011
I just realised that I’ve made a lot of stuff this month that didn’t actually get documented on the blog yet. For posterity’s sake…
Felt Tree Ornaments
As in previous years, a group of my knitting friends met up for a “Christmas Tea Party” earlier in the month. We always do a handmade ornament exchange. Rather than knit something, I saw some felt tree ornaments online and decided to sew instead. I made a template out of some cardstock and cut out the front and back of several trees. Then I hand-sewed on a selection of buttons to each front. (I’ve got a box of odd buttons.) Then I sewed the pieces together, sandwiching a piece of ribbon at the top for the hanger and leaving the bottom open. I stuffed each tree lightly with polyfill, then sewed the opening closed. I then trimmed the edges with pinking shears and did some decorative stitching with red yarn. They turned out pretty cute! I was very happy to see them go home with Kylie, who has hung them on her mantle. (In a stunning non-coincidence, I got Kylie’s project: a truly amazing knitted Christmas tree!)
Nuts & Bolts and Compost Cookies
Next up was the December meeting of the Inner City brand of the Knitters Guild, and I was on duty for morning tea. I decided to go with a sweet/salty theme and made “Nuts & Bolts” and Compost Cookies. Nuts & Bolts is basically the Australian equivalent of Chex Mix. (Recipe here.) You mix up cereal and nuts with a packet of soup mix and some spices and then bake it in the oven to get crispy. I also add pretzels to mine. This stuff is addictive! The Compost Cookies were famously created at the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. (Recipe here.) The idea is that you throw all kinds of sweet and salty things in there: potato chips, coffee grinds, candy, whatever. I used dark choc chips, meringue pieces, Tim Tams, Sesame Snaps, pretzels, and sea salt crisps. They were pretty good! Even though I chilled them overnight, they still spread quite a bit in the oven. (Always happens. I still haven’t gotten the hang of the new oven yet, clearly.) Both dishes were a big hit at the meeting.
Caramel Walnut Upside-Down Banana Cake
We got some ladyfinger bananas in one of our FoodConnect boxes, so I decided to turn them into a cake. I’d made this Smitten Kitchen recipe before and the Snook really liked it. I actually divided the batter in two and made two smaller cakes this time: one for us and one to take to work. I still haven’t worked out the trick to getting flipping the cakes and getting the caramel out nicely, but the taste outweighs the messiness of the topping. Everybody at work loved it, and the cake I took in disappeared in about 5 minutes!
Candied Gingerbread Men
I had a wild idea to make gingerbread men for our last day of work before the Christmas break. Of course, the only cookie cutter I own is the state of Michigan (don’t ask), so I had to go on a search for a proper one. Then I had to decide on a recipe. I went with Serious Eats’s Candied Gingerbread Men. It uses crystallized ginger, which I know the Snook likes a lot. He actually did most of the prep for the dough since he was on vacation this week. I cut them out and baked them late Wednesday night. I didn’t have any time to decorate them, but they were still tasty. The shapes were amusingly non-standard, mostly because I suck at rolling out dough and cutting consistent shapes. It was good fun though, and it made the whole house smell like Christmas!