Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Great Cookie Swap

This weekend was a big one in the kitchen.

Serious Cheese Party, Chez Beavis

Friday evening our friends Martina and Stuart came over and brought with them, I kid you not, six different cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Blue, Goat, Cheddar, Haravti. We had some Stilton, so that made it a round seven. Martina and Stuart have a Cheese Guy, which Matthew and I agree is the coolest thing ever, and we want one too. I will keep you posted on our efforts.

We were all a bit pooped from a long week at work/study, so we got to business pretty much straight away. We cracked a champagne, and then a white, and then a red. (Sadly we did not get to the rum and eggnog.) After about 3 hours we were feeling a bit cheesed out. It was the most awesome, fromage-ical evening ever. 

Second Annual Gingerbread Baking Day

Saturday morning was bright and sunny. Matthew and I planned to get out in it asap, but there was one enormous commitment we had to fulfill first: festive cookie dough.

Matthew helped me mix up some gingerbread while the sun was high. Although I have been attending the gym on the regular, I'm afraid I lack the upper body strength to really integrate the ingredients thoroughly. Humbling, if not to say humiliating. Thankfully I was able to mix the shortbread myself. Our apartment reeked of molasses and orange zest.

We set it to chill and realised that as we had been at our kitchen industry, the sun had quite gone. Nevertheless, we rugged up and faced the day.

We bussed into town, grabbed a bite of lunch at starbucks *ahem*, and wended our way to West Georgia via the Fairmont lobby (the next closest thing to Vegas after the River Rock Casino), and also via the Urban Fare on Alberni. We went into Urban Fare initially because during the walk we were discussing the game plan for decorating all the as-yet-unbaked cookies at home, and it emerged that we needed some piping bags for the Royal Icing. After a quick survey of Michaels Craft Store, in which we literally 'hemmed and hawed' over piping bags and nozzles, we decided that the humble ziplock bag was a less cost prohibitive choice. While similarly 'hemming and hawing' over the exact type of ziplock bag (my god, how many different sorts are there!?) it dawned on both Matthew and me at the same time that instead of buying plastic bags, what we really needed was to appropriate some free bags from the bulk food section. Done and done.

We continued out of Urban Fare, past all the mouthwateringly visual merchandised fruit, chocolate, hampers and charcuterie, and all the way to the edge of Stanley Park at Denman St (to procure a Christmas present).

By this time the sun was actually down. We knew we needed to high-tail it home because Carolyn had offered her services from 5pm for the Decorating Phase, and at 4:30 not only were the cookies not yet baked but we were still in town. So we raced home on the bus, via the always-closing-down-since-forever secondhand bookstore. Charles Dickens Collection Christmas Stories, don't mind if I do!

We got back in the nick of time, Carolyn arrived, we got started on the Rum, and rolled out the dough to the tune of Matthew's Christmas Mix.

Me, Matthew and our new owl (I'll explain later)

A Jolly Old Chap

Eight Jolly Old Chaps

Belly detail

The thought is what counts. Not gonna lie, I melted a little inside when I saw this.

Brandon Flowers, with a K for Killers on his chest.

Rank and File

Macro rank and file

...and again, because how impressive?!!

The owl

The actual owl, surveying the hoard of gingerbread people

 Cookie Exchange Party

Late on Saturday evening I toasted the last tray of cookies because we were watching an action movie and I got so into it that I ignored the oven timer.

So that ruined my calculations for filling 4 boxes with a dozen each. *shame*

So this morning I went to the corner shop and bought some more flour and baking powder, and whipped up a batch of not-so-exciting Chocolate Chip cookies with a Hint of Winter Orange (ie. the leftover zest from the Winter Orange Shortbreads yesterday). Just to be clear, everything that is Orange in our house has been renamed 'Winter Orange' for the festive season.

By midday, we had achieved four dozen cookies, boxed and ready to exchange. (also pictured, our beautiful new poinsettia and precious Christmas cards from friends and family!)

Alison and Martina arrived at our place, and Matthew very kindly drove us to Burnaby to Danika's house (bookclub ladies, one and all). At Danika's house was an amazing ceiling-tall Christmas tree, and more cookies and snacks than you could shake a stick at, ...including a baked brie (Martina and I were still in recovery from the baked brie on Friday night...urgh soooo muuuuch cheeeese).

Danika is petsitting the most amazing dog: a french/english bulldog puppy called Josephine. Josephine's mum Alana was there and we asked her approximately a million questions about the puppy and she let us play with her. All that snorting! So funny.

At last we got to the cookie decorating part of the party. We sat down with the best intentions and the best equipment. Danika had made beautiful shortbread and gingerbread cut-outs. There was icing in 6 different colours. See below my personal decorating efforts.

Now scroll back up to Matthew's beautiful minimalist precision work. Compare and weep.

We chatted, laughed, decorated, exchanged, and snacked for a couple of hours. Then Matthew and Stuart picked us up (I know, we are princesses to be chauffeured there and back, but you have to understand, it was 5 degrees and raining, and we were each of us carrying four dozen fragile cookies). We dropped everyone home and returned to the nest by 6:45ish, loaded up with cookies and ready to lie low for the evening. Apart from the four dozen from the exchange, here is what didn't make it to the party this afternoon:

Sooo Maaaany Coooookiiiiies
Cookie party at our house! Everyone's invited!

Thank you to Martina and Stuart for bringing the party on Friday
Thank you to Matthew for driving us everywhere
And thank you to Danika for beautiful catering and a lovely afternoon!

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