Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Present! For You!

Merry Christmas for those who celebrate the holiday!  For your present, I give you my coveted recipe of Salt and Pepper Shortbread, slightly famous in small circles.  It is taken from the Scottish Shortbread recipe in Joy of Cooking, but with a few improvements.  You still have time before the big night to make a batch!

1.5 sticks butter
1/4 c powdered sugar
1/8 c white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 c flour
fleur de sel
black pepper freshly ground

stick the butter in a mixing bowl and microwave for 25 seconds.  Mix in the sugars and salt until uniform.  Add the flour and mix until a dough forms.  Divide the dough in half and pat them into two loaf pans.  Smooth as best you can with your fingers.  Sprinkle fleur de sel and the pepper over the top.  Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 45 minutes in a 300 degree oven.  Cut into matchsticks a few minutes out of the oven, but don't remove from pan.  Set on a rack for about 10 or 15 minutes, then fish out the pieces and let them cool completely on the rack.  (You'll have to make a cup of tea if you're going to taste-test this properly).  Enjoy!

I must also include a small confession regarding the compostable Christmas tree.  Two words:  epic fail.  After covering my 11th hour "last tree on the lot" with Clarkia seedpods, rose-hips and Autumn leaves, I decided that it looked a little too....  hippy-dippy and decided to take a different direction.  Because of the tiers of branches and our ridiculous collection of Christmas lights of all kinds, I threw a string of lights on each layer resulting in an Astro-pop Christmas tree.  Orange flicker lights sit at the bottom, red-pink strawberry lights on the next layer up, redder strawberry lights up and a conventional red string farther up.  I topped it off with a string of snowball lights that just add to the bobbley, fuzzy craziness.  Way more modernist of me than the original idea, but I must admit I'm quite smitten with the results.  And that's what it's all about, right?  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my fellow plant geeks!


  1. MWAH! Big Xmas kiss

    & xoxo hugs, to you Christine!

  2. Ooh, shortbread...and always an easy treat to make at the holidays! Your tree sounds like fun too! Merry Christmas Christine! I'm still watching the Viola ocellata for blooms, and will post as soon as it you full credit for your excellent sleuthing of course! Have a wonderful holiday!

  3. Well this tree, just for once, looks like it could have been done with real candles, the way I had my tree when I was a kid, quite a few years ago. Maybe next year, you can try to get some European candle holders that can be clipped to the tree and go that route. No, no tree ever caught fire in the 30 years I spent Christmas with my parents. It was just beautiful...

  4. Wow, they look yummy & very different. Thanks for the gift. Love your tree!

  5. You guys are the sweetest! Thanks!
    Town Mouse, I've always toyed with the idea of candles on the tree- I'm sure it looks so much more romantic than green cords twining through the branches! The fact that your experience has not included spontaneous combustion is drawing me closer to buying those clips...