My Material Life

A Few of My Favorite Things (Early December Edition with an Alphabetical Twist)

“A” is for Advent. This is a German Advent calendar called Baumfrevel that I ordered from My Growing Traditions. I’m so glad I discovered MGT last year. I’d already gotten Samantha one of those tea bag calendars for this year, but when I decided to take a look at their site last week and I found this naughty doggie I just had to buy it too. We’re also enjoying Jacquie Lawson’s Online Edinburgh Advent calendar. Oh my goodness, the music, the scenes, the activities. I know it’s not paper, but JL’s calendars are so very special that they have become a tradition in our household. Do you like Edinburgh? I took an imaginary trip there a couple of Decembers ago. It’s not too late for you to join me.

“B” is for bells. I ordered up two dozen of these little beauties in brass and silver. They’re from a site called BellsOnline.Net. They were very reasonably priced and arrived quickly. I just love bells at Christmas time. These are the 1.5 inch size. I have other plans for them, but so far I’ve just been tying some ribbon to the tops and giving one to friends I meet for coffee or what have you. They have been very well-received! The lucky bell above got topped with some of my special Italian candy ribbon stash (not much of a stash really, gone now but see more of it used differently in blue here).

“C” is for creamy polenta. This is the kind of thing to ladle into a bowl and snuggle in with in front of a favorite TV show. Speaking of which, are you watching My Brilliant Friend on HBO? I didn’t read the book, but I’m hooked on the miniseries. The recipe for the dish shown above comes from Katie Lee of The Kitchen. I watched her cook it on TV last weekend and couldn’t wait to give it a try. It’s so yummy and comforting. Find the recipe here.

Hmm … A,B,C … don’t worry I don’t have something for every letter of the alphabet, just two more letters really …

“F” is for Fudge Covered Ritz. I really hope you can find these. They’re so good; they actually taste more like a fudgy salty shortbread than a cracker. Plus I really dig the box. But I’ve only ever found them at one local Safeway and only at the very beginning of the holiday season. I bought four boxes yesterday because I’m thinking about giving some away. I think they’d make a nice gift. Maybe they’re more plentiful where you are.

“L” is for latkes. I made these last Sunday night. You know I always have applesauce at the ready when I serve potato pancakes, but I much prefer them with sour cream. Anyway they were delicious, so satisfying. I used the Latke King’s recipe and I’m so glad I did. He calls for using a food processor for the onion and potatoes. That’s not only a time and arm saver – it made for a better-textured cake if you ask me. Probably the only recipe I’ll use for these in the future. I used crushed up saltine crackers instead of matzo meal because I already had them in my cupboard.

And “L” is for Lebkuchen too! Lebkuchen, Lebkuchen, where have you been all my life?! You know I found a very expensive, but beautiful tin of these cookies a couple of weeks ago – first at Whole Foods and then in Zingerman’s awesome Holiday Catalog for Food Lovers. Have you seen that catalog? From it I purchased an insanely expensive fruitcake for myself (don’t tell my husband; that’s why I’m giving boxes of Ritz crackers as gifts!) and also a torrone bar for my Italian godmother. But back to Lebkuchen. So after seeing this gorgeously expensive Lebkuchen I thought I’d give the Trader Joe’s version a try. Oh my goodness, I’m in love with Lebkuchen! I had no idea these cookies were full of one of my favorite substances on earth, candied orange peels. Also lovely warm spices and something odd, yet very familiar on the bottom … a communion wafer! You can read more about that here, but I highly recommend these Trader Joe’s Lebkuchen. They are the real deal from Nuremburg, Germany. It’s like you’re not only eating a cookie, you’re doing some kind of culinary time-travel. Sorry that I’m only showing you the box. I ate all of the cookies.

Here’s to enjoying the delights of the season

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