Capturing Christmas Memories: Baking/Cooking

Christmas: Baking/Cooking

I love the crazy baking season that the Christmas season is synonymous with. I’m not even sure why we bake so much, and I’m not sure why we always bake the same things. But nonetheless, we bake. There will be baking…because heck…It’s Christmas people!!

Every year is the same story. Bust out the old recipes that have last year’s cookie dough remnants (affectionately smeared into the fading cursive penmanship), and get ready for a new batch this year! Turn Amy Grant’s “Home for Christmas” album on and get your cooking game face on because this is going to be an all day event!!! Everything is lined up and ready for this event. The Christmas cookie tins that formerly housed delicately shaped shortbread cookies, are now empty and ready for Gingerbread men and Christmas Cookies to represent!  The dough was made the night before and is now cold enough to be rolled out onto a marble -floured countertop. The cookie cutters are lined up complete with the entire Gingerbread family. The sprinkles are of the same attendance as years past, but have a few new additions. Hearts are happy (though a little stressed in thinking about how much work is to be done).

The great news is that most of the ingredients are quite simple to find, and often times are conveniently located in the same store. I do not presume to think that the baking season is all happiness and glee, but being on the other side of the world, I sit here and sigh at how I wish it were “that easy” to have an entire gingerbread family come for Christmas. I also wish that it were “that easy” to have a billion colors of sprinkles both assorted and individually sanctioned. And….I also wish that I had a marble floured countertop because they stay so nice and cold while rolling out dough, know what I’m sayin’?

I have been trying to clone a very memorable season that is normally spent with my family, while living here in Taiwan. That being said, I have been attempting to replicate all that my family bakes/cooks during the Christmas season. Now, some of that “attempt”, has caused some mild stress and annoyance but, it’s Christmas, “We’re all in misery” (Christmas Vacation quote)

I started out this attempt by trying to make Gingerbread men without Molasses (Because after searching high and low, I could not find any) I mainly just felt frustrated and sad because what is a Gingerbread man without Molasses? Due to a friend’s incredibly kind heart, and possible sympathetic-ness towards my weak attempts to make gingerbread men without Molasses, the other day my friend went and found Molasses and bought it for me! If any of you out there have made gingerbread men without Molasses I would
A.) Like to hear how you made them
B.) Like to hear how you tricked your mind into believing they were actually legit Gingerbread men.

All of that being said….

1. Gingerbread men…Check!

Moving on…

So I had a Christmas Party to attend last night and had no idea of what to bring. Here in Taiwan, I am tempted by the thought of convenience rather than effort. I could quite easily go down the street and pick up some fried chicken, freshly and perfectly cut fruit, rice, dumplings etc., but my heart would not let me ruin the Christmas season of baking/cooking by buying something pre-made.So what do I do? Oh, make possibly THE MOST complicated thing to make in Asia… homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Dairy products are definitely not the most popular or the cheapest items to be found. But friends, I am happy to tell you that 3 hours and $45 dollars later, I made some kick-awesome Mac and Cheese (maybe depending on who you ask). I also got some great excercise in as I ran back and forth from the kitchen where the stove top is, to the dining area where the oven is. I even made that yummy top on the Mac and Cheese, but in order to make bread crumbs, I needed to buy bread, cut it up, toast it and then put it in a ziplock bag and crush it. I am finding for a lot of things that I cook here, there is a theme attached to that desire and it’s this: “If you want to make that, you have to make this…to make that, to make that other thing that really makes THAT, delicious.”

There is definitely  a lot of running around to different stores to find all of the right ingredients, and a lot of mistakes if you are like me and are learning Chinese characters and know about 7…currently. (None of which are “This is butter” “This is salt” “This is Baking Soda” and well,  “This is MSG”.)

Truth be told, aside from the time consuming-ness of this all, I am enjoying the baking and I am enjoying the cooking in this Christmas season. I’m not sure what is next, but maybe I will post pictures or something super blog-ish like that.

Merry Christmas everyone and happy baking!! Next Blog up: More nostalgia with the recalling of my favorite Christmas music as well as favorite Christmas movies.

(Picture adapted from: http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2007/gingerbread-haka)

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