Thursday, December 10, 2015

Theme Post: Gothidays Day Four

Gothidays - a week long holiday extravaganza for the darkly inclined, hosted by The Curious Professor Z - what's not to love about that theme and who wouldn't be thrilled to participate? And, as usual, the insomniac is arriving four days late to the party ... hey, at least she made it to the party, unlike the one on her birthday.

It's been said before and definitely bears repeating - the holidays really are all about the food in this family. So for the 2015 version of Gothidays, the insomniac  would like to share (and re-share) a few of her favourite recipes for the holiday season.

Right after her birthday mid-November, preparations for the holiday fruitcake and mincemeat begin (click here for that post and those recipes). Although one has been threatening to make her own candied peel for years, this year - as she was standing in the grocery aisle wondering why the peel was marked at 50% off, assumed it had been reduced in price as it was approaching its Best Before Date, searched the packaging for an expiry date and found none, watched as the slimy contents of indeterminate colour turned over and over inside their somewhat grubby plastic container whilst she pondered the ages old question of how long does candied peel actually last before it has to be marked down to half price - at that moment, she decided 2015 would be the year she'd make good on that threat.

There are plenty of excellent sites (Martha Stewart's comes to mind) that show exactly how to make your own peel, so there's no need to go into much detail here - other than to say it's fiddly work but not terribly difficult.

The insomniac  used three lemons and three oranges, and it
was exactly the right amount for three dark fruitcakes and a half batch of
Grandma Smith's mincemeat recipe ...

Truthfully, the peel doesn't look that much more
appetizing than the stuff in the grocery store.

But it certainly tasted a lot better.

Now if you think fruitcake is difficult to get rid of at Christmas time, mincemeat is twice as hard to unload on unsuspecting friends and family:

Insomniac:  So ... I'm making homemade mincemeat this year. Would you like a jar? I've made my own candied peel, too. I'm pretty excited about that!
Friends:  What's in mincemeat again?
Insomniac:  Raisins, apples, almonds, candied peel, spices and a bit of suet.
Friends:  What's suet?
Insomniac:  Oh, it's just raw beef fat taken from around the joints and kidneys.
Friends - every last one of them:  Thanks for the offer. Terribly generous of you. I think we'll be out of town for Christmas though, so there's really no need. But thanks awfully for thinking of us. Much appreciated ... **spoken in hurried tones while backing out of room**

This is half of the mincemeat recipe ... it's hard to tell, but it's a very large bowl.

Should you be the only one who loves mincemeat in your family, you could probably
quarter the recipe so you're not eating tarts right up until Valentine's.

And this is how much it makes, even after you've managed to
unload give away two small 8 oz. jars ... you'll notice the sister-in-law did accept
a loaf of fruitcake though.

You'll also notice there are roughly 17 pounds of butter hoarded in the fridge,
as apparently there will be a butter shortage in Alberta for Christmas this year.

Back when the offspring were little, the baking continued from mid-November right up until Christmas Eve. By Christmas Day, there were at least fourteen different varieties of cookies in the freezer, two or three kinds of spiced nuts and at least five types of candy. A few years ago, the insomniac  decided to cut back slightly on her baking - for the sake of her waistline. And when she asked her family which cookie they absolutely could not live without, their unanimous response was Moon Cookies.

Although the recipe is called Rose's Crescents and comes from the book “Rose's Christmas Cookies” by Rose Levy Beranbaum, the offspring always called them Moon Cookies and they have been on the baking repertoire every year without fail since they were old enough to eat cookies - which was around three months old, if one remembers correctly. Little chips off the ol' block of suet, those two.

The book falls open to the page automatically.

You can click the picture twice to enlarge the recipe. Should you have difficulty
reading it, the insomniac  would be more than happy to scan a copy for you.

This is all the recipe makes ...

Not very many for a family of four, really.

You'll notice by the shapes of the uncooked cookies on the left that it doesn't really matter if they're perfect little crescents or not, as by the time they've finished baking they've puffed up nicely and all those little defects are unnoticeable. Rest assured, your family will not be scrutinizing the cookies and saying, “Oh, look. That one's not quite perfect. Shame.” Rather, they'll be doing a few quick calculations in their head as to how many cookies are left and how many they can stash in their pockets before anyone else notices. Well, they might be saying, “Oh, look. That one's bigger than all the rest.” as they furtively grab it before anyone else can get their mitts on it. There's no spirit of Christmas generosity in this house when it comes to Moon Cookies - it's every man or woman for him or herself.  

The reject cookies that aren't quite perfect are placed on a plate, and everyone who happens to be here on the day they're made gets two, plus a mug of hot chocolate - equal parts milk and cream, plus one tablespoon each of sugar and cocoa per cup. The youngest prefers her hot chocolate without cream, as she says it's too rich for her stomach. We believe she's a changeling, switched at birth. Nobody in this household has ever  said anything was too rich or too sweet for their stomachs. Not ever.

This is probably the only day of the year the eldest seriously regrets not living at home anymore.

You might want to get that tin into the freezer as quickly as possible.

Before your family discovers how good they are,
and you have to make another batch the following day.

In the spirit of the holiday season, one would like to offer a couple of giveaways for her first Gothidays' post. Firstly, for an apron in a festive black twill with purple skulls and crosses ... the perfect attire for whoever does the Christmas baking in your household. It comes covered in Martha Stewart Coarse Crystal Glitter, because along with the baking for Gothidays, there has also been a bit of crafting happening in the Little Gothic Cottage this week.

In hindsight, it might have been smarter to save the baking for a day other than the one also spent mounting taxidermy crows on their stumps, replacing all the red glitter that had fallen off last year's dollar store candle, or hot gluing broken necklaces onto bottle brush trees.

And to those who receive a tin of baking from the insomniac  every year for Christmas ... check those Moon Cookies carefully before inhaling them, so you can flick off any red glitter that may have made its way into your batch.

Those little specks on the apron are glitter - it's all over the cottage.

Secondly, for a set of Gothic Font star ornaments, which look nice on a plate or something as a decoration and really have nothing whatsoever to do with baking Moon Cookies except - you know - stars, moon. It certainly sounded better in one's head at 2:00 a.m. when trying to come up with giveaway items than it does now. But they're purple. They match the apron.

This glitter is the kind that actually stays on a project,
so no worries there should you win them ...

To enter, simply comment on this post as to which (or both) of these terribly special prizes you're interested in. Winners will be announced Monday, December 14th as an addendum to the insomniac's  final Gothidays blog post on Sunday, December 13th. That post will also have prizes - none of which have much to do with anything she's writing about, but sort of fit the Dark Holiday theme. Kind of.

The Gothidays 2015 week-long blogging event runs until December 13th - please be sure to check out the rest of the participants for a little peek into how they celebrate their holidays!

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.



  1. Fooooood!
    Such strange looking flavors I've never heard of! Of course, I live under a rock so it is no surprise.
    Perhaps one day we can trade food goods, as I love introducing people to new flavors as much as I love tasting them.

    1. A fellow foodie, Madame MM! LOL So what sorts of things are on your Christmas baking list, I wonder? I'd love to trade food goods - I'll try anything at least once. ;)

  2. Too funny! I've had that reaction to mincemeat! I as unaware suet was even in the recipe too! Isn't suet what you hang outdoors for birds in the winter?

    1. I think suet was used waaaaay back in the old days more than it is now, Mark. I've left it out of the recipe more often than not myself. But apparently this is my year for experimentation! Yeah, the woodpeckers, jays and nuthatches like suet a lot. I suppose if I can't finish off those two jars myself, I could try putting it out for the birds. Oh ha ha. As if. ;)

      What? You don't want to throw your name in for an apron?

  3. Oh YA.? Well it is a good thing WE don't live close CAUSE I LOVE FRUITCAKE AND MINCEMEAT, In my house it's all mine! Well until I made both and they didn't smell or taste like " his mother's". Now my ball and chain looks for this and welsh cakes every year.
    Must look for that cookbook, mine is really tattered.......well I'm on my 3rd husband after all.
    Now I have two of my three grandsons living just down the road, so I know your Moon Cookies...will be a hit! Thank you!
    Of course I like both gifts you are kindly offering, but I wouldn't wear the apron for would be a creative magicians frock!

    Thank you for the fun and informative read! PS your homemade peel add some brandy.....wink wink.

    1. No kidding, Debi ... another fruitcake slash mincemeat lover! We're a tiny little club, aren't we? LOL I've never had Welsh cakes before, so there's a new recipe I'll need to try seeing as the spouse's family hails from Wales. :)

      I understand your ball and chain's need to recreate the tastes of his youth, I really do. Even though I have my mum's shortbread recipe, it just doesn't taste the same when I make it. I suspect it's because she used margarine and not butter, but I just can't bring myself to test out that theory. Margarine. Ewwwwww. Brandy. Two thumbs straight up. **wink wink**

      I shall put you down for both giveaways! Good luck!

  4. I laughed all the way through this post -- so well written! Yes, I'm one of that rare breed who LOVES mincemeat. I don't understand why others don't. I have this fantasy about how I'm going to make my own homemade mincemeat when I retire and eat it all myself. Just right out of the bowl. Screw putting it in tarts and pies! And for that purpose, I'll throw my hat in the ring to take a chance on that apron you're offering since I don't own an apron and will need one for my mincemeat endeavours some happy day.

    1. Wow - really, Debra? I thought this post sucked. And I guess this is the reason I do so poorly at craft fairs ... I really can't figure out what people will like! LOL

      If you win the apron, I'll include a small jar of mincemeat - as long as you promise to bake it in some tarts and not eat it directly out of the jar. I'd hate to be responsible for any tummy upsets due to the addition of suet in this year's batch. ;)

  5. We grew up with mincemeat and it was my favorite of all of the pies! My daddy loved it too. I do not recall if Gramma made it from scratch though. I think there was canned mincemeat somewhere on the grocer's list. After she left us to go on permanent holiday, we started buying the frozen kind. As far as the prizes go, you mentioned a horrific word. You know what it is. Are we too late for the "thankful" posts? As in, I am thankful that I am not on the food list... Gosh, that sounds terrible. Not that I am not thankful for anything anyone would want to give me. Really and truly, but... oh hell's bells, either prize would be lovely and if something sparkly happens to come in the package, then I shall just cry for a bit and get over it. Now about that butter....

    1. I love ALL Christmas food, and I think what makes it so special is all the family memories that go along with it. I had no idea that you could get canned or frozen mincemeat! Our butcher makes it, but it's all raisins and I don't think it tastes nearly as good as grandma's recipe. But at least he sells the suet, too! LOL

      I do know what the horrible word is. What I don't understand is why I keep pulling the damned stuff out, knowing how much I hate the resultant mess! I shall put you down for both giveaways Debbi, and hope and pray you don't win the stars. ;)

  6. Those Moon cookies look so cute and fluffy :'D I definitly will try to make them, maybe to give as presents to family at christmaseve.

    And I now got huge cravings for that amazing apron, so I hope for luck and enter the contest :D

    1. They are the Best. Cookies. Ever. Just know that if you make them once, you'll have to make them every single year, Lesthi! So worth it though.

      I'll put you down for the apron ... good luck! :)

  7. It's so interesting to see that your Christmas traditions in Canada really retain that British colonial character that ours do too, in Australia. Not that I'm an expert on American Christmases, but I get the impression that they don't do the whole fruitcake/plum pudding/mince pie thing. Just quietly, I don't actually like the fruitcake/plum pudding/mince pie thing, and neither does my sister, which I think is a huge disappointment to our mother, who always goes the whole hog with the Christmas baking. (Well, not this year, of course. Thanks to her misadventures with a certain ladder. Ahem.) Normally, she would have a few social functions, like get-togethers with her embroidery friends, so she can share the fruits of her Christmas cooking labours.

    The apron and stars are adorable! I headed straight over from Insta when I saw those pretty stars. (I'll post a link to your giveaway on FB and Twitter.)

    1. It's funny ... my dad's side of the family was British and mum's were Swiss, but it's the English holiday traditions I've kept in our own family. It might also have something to do with the epic fail I made of the fondue I attempted around five Christmas Eve's ago - now we just celebrate the Swiss side with Lindt chocolate and Toblerone bars! And the spouse really doesn't care which side I've chosen, as long as there's baking and plenty of it. ;)

      I know some really dread the whole Xmas baking thing, but I love it. I'm glad to hear your mum enjoys it too, but sad she won't be able to do it this year - damned blinds! And she embroiders, too - how cool! What sorts of things does she make?

      It's so terribly sweet of you to repost these things for me, Emma! Perhaps some day I shall take the time to learn how to navigate the whole social media spectrum myself. Or perhaps I'll put my time to better use and just knit everyone more socks. I'll put you down for both giveaways. ♥

  8. People who don't like fruitcake have never had actual fruitcake.

    Hnnnnng, fruitcaaaaaaake.

    1. I agree, Tante! And writing about it has made me even more inclined to open one of those foil packages just to see if the homemade peel has made a big difference or not! But I probably shouldn't do that because, once you open it, well ... you know how that goes.

  9. That apron is really cute, count me in the competition. The little moon cookies are nice, I would make them but I dislike almonds so much :(

    1. I'm not the hugest fan of almonds either, Natalie. In these cookies you really can't taste them all that much. Maybe make them for family and try just one. ;)

      I'll put you down for the apron ... good luck! :)

  10. Wow, your mincemeat sounds perfect. I just love mince pies!

    You have been busy and I especially love the moon biscuits.

    I'm not entering your give-away (as gorgeous as it is), I'm actually just dropping by to wish yourself and your family a very happy Christmas. I'm not able to get online often these days and am currently borrowing a laptop for the morning, as my own computer has ransomware and I'm having no luck finding someone who can remove it. Hopefully things will be back to normal by the new year (fingers crossed) and regular blogging will resume.

    Take care ♥

    1. I love mince pies too, Yvonne! Taken with a nice cup of tea, life is perfect at that moment. Funny how all my perfect moments seem to centre around food, isn't it? Food and family, not necessarily in that order. ;)

      I had to look up ransomware, and how despicable is that! I hope you get it sorted out without having to pay too much for a tech to fix it. I miss your presence on the internet. And a very Merry Christmas to you and yours, too! ♥

  11. Those are some fabulous giveaways, dear Insomniac! If I were a humble creature I would say to leave me out of the draw because you had already given me a fabulous gift - but of course I am no such creature.
    Your cookies look delicious and I feel inspired to start my own Christmas bakes right now!

    1. I felt the giveaways were a little dismal personally, but I do have to start learning to live within my retirement budget at some point, I suppose! Anyway, small things that won't cost an arm and a leg to mail. :)

      I'll enter you in both draws, Ms. Misantropia - good luck! And you really should try the cookies. They're awfully good. Maybe even too good. ;)

    2. Hello - budding in on your conversation again - how rude! Love your post. How do you get your pictures so beautiful? I love the shadows in them. And clean - how do you keep your counters and fridge so clean? Mine looks like a bomb went off in there. Moon cookies sounds scrumptious and if I get a chance I will have to try them. I love almonds. I am not a big fan of mince but it think I could be tempted by yours - it looks delish. His Lordship, of course, loves it, being born and raised a Brit. Yes he really is a Lord. So I should make it for him sometime. Count me in on anything your giving away because I am greedy like that plus your stuff is too cool.

    3. Totally my fault, lady M ... I slapped up the post and totally forgot to start you off with a comment! Ms. Misantropia said she had some difficulties with commenting too, but somehow she solved them. Maybe she could enlighten us as to what she did!

      I take my pictures on the Low Key setting. Makes them very dark - a look I'm quite fond of. LOL Don't forget we've only been in the cottage for a little over a year. It hasn't had time to get too filthy yet. As for the counters - well, they're already showing spots I can't remove and will need to be dealt with after Christmas.

      You know, his Lordship looks British! I thought that when I saw the picture of you two at some event - the one where you look very 20's glamorous. Does his title come with scads of money? I hope so. :)

      You're in the drawing for everything, lady M ... good luck! Don't forget to come back Sunday. I'm trying to think what to give away for that one besides a Krampus pillow. ;)

  12. I think the apron is lovely but I better face the fact that I have four lovely aprons hanging in the pantry and I always remember to don them only after I've gotten covered with ingredients. So STARS! STARS! STARS! Please enter me.

    I shouldn't have read your post so early in the morning because now I want to eat cookies but thank you for reminding me that I need to pick up a very specific fruitcake for my mother. :D

    1. I'm sort of the same, Goth Gardener. Although I just have one very stained apron, it too hangs in the closet unused, although I was very diligent about wearing it when I had a stove I could hang it on. Now that it's in a completely different room ... not so much.

      I've been eating nothing but cookies all day. Last night's failed cardamon spritz cookies - not good enough to save and not terrible enough to throw away. ;)

      You're entered for STARS! STARS! STARS! Did you remember your mum's fruitcake?

  13. While I'm not a particularly Christmasy guy I can clearly see the advantages to visiting the Little Gothic Cottage at this time of year.

    1. Apparently people do enjoy coming over here at Christmas just for the baking and cooking, Nightwind. LOL

  14. You've made me sooo hungry... and I'm feeling the urge to play holiday music, too.

    We don't start decorating until the day before the Winter Solstice. So there is nothing that screams holiday around our house yet. I shall delight in yours. ;-D

    And of course, I'm very selfish, so through my name in the hat for everything *cough*.

    1. Oh no, not holiday music!!! I've only been in the city a couple of times since the first of December, and I'm already tired of it. :)

      My decorating this year is not terribly Christmas-y. I think I could live with it right up until the end of February before I feel the need to take it down. ;)

      You're in for everything, Magaly ... good luck!!

  15. Thanks for the cookie recipe! I may be baking this weekend.
    I inherited my grandma's fruitcake recipe and made it for several years until my dad's health became too bad and he wasn't allowed to have it. It was an amazing work of fruit and nut art that weighed so much...I miss making it, really.
    Pleas enter me in the drawing for a prize - perhaps the stars. Purple is my favorite color and glitter is awesome.
    I found you through the Curious Professor Z and am going to follow you - you're quite cool!

    1. You're very welcome for the cookie recipe, Bobbi! I hope you do try it. It's very yummy. :)

      It's sad when we have to give up foods we love for health reasons. The fruitcakes do tend to weigh a ton, don't they? Fruit and nut art - I like that. :)

      I've entered you in the draw for the stars, and please be sure to enter today's draw, too. I'm glad you found me via the Professor, and thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! You think I'm cool? Really? That's awesome. LOL

  16. You got me at mincemeat. And crescent cookies. And everything. sigh ... I can smell that yummy candied peel from here. SO DIVINE!

    1. I'm really excited to try out the mincemeat this year, Professor - only nine more days to wait! Today I made a candy we call Almond Crack, that's how addictive it is. It's in the freezer right now and I dare not taste even a small piece for fear of consuming the entire cookie sheet. And Ginger Penny cookies. Mmmmmmmm. It's a good thing Christmas comes only once a year. ;)