A Super Christmas — Act II

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This is the second part of the performance, and one of my favorites.  That actor in the white beard — and with the long light brown hair you can just barely see from the back as he walks down the aisle — is my son. Plays a good old man, eh?

This particular episode brought up discussions in our household about Joseph’s actual age. Was he much older than Mary, or were they close in age. The answer doesn’t really change the story, but it is one of the perennially debated things.

O Come, All Ye Faithful

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This is what everyone braving the cold, and possible rain/snow will be doing today as they attend Sunday services here in Kansas City. For no matter what the weather, we, the Faithful, are Joyful and Triumphant during the Christmas season.

Below is the Avondale United Methodist Church Chime Choir playing O Come All Ye Faithful on Christmas Eve.

I was thinking, when I was about on Saturday, that most people stop wishing people Merry Christmas after Christmas Day, but we are now in the Christmas season, and I need to get over my reticence and say what I feel like saying, and wish people Merry Christmas during the entire Christmas season. For we need to show ourselves Joyful and Triumphant.

Baking a memory — for Grammy Robords

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I was baking cookies during a vacation day on Tuesday, when a shade of Cedar Sanderson gave me a wonderful idea. I wasn’t exactly baking cookies — these were more of a cooked cookie — and I was rolling the cookies into neat balls, admiring how they looked, when I realized I could do a blog on making the cookies. I just needed to take pictures to go along with it.  Fortunately, I had this thought while making the first of three batches, so I had two more batches where I could take the pictures.

I like to make these cookies every year at Christmas time. I first made them as a kid. My Grammy Robords, Gladys Robords, introduced me and my two siblings to these cookies as something we could help make. I didn’t like coconut at the time, but I ate them because I made them, and didn’t mind the coconut as much as I thought. It was fun to butter our hands and handle the hot cookie dough and roll it into balls.

Grammy Robords was a very educated, elegant, practical and loving woman. We always got the best educational toys from her (the ones that were also fun to play with), and we always had special moments with her, special weekends.

She and Grandpa Robords were snowbirds with a place in Florida, and they always left a couple weeks before Christmas. So Santa always came to their place before they left.  We always got two Christmases, one with them, and one at home on Christmas day.

I still carry those memories, even though my times with here were brief. She was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was 11, and died not long after my 12th birthday. My one regret them was that I didn’t get a chance to see her one last time.

These days I make the cookies by myself, but always think of my grandmother when I make them. Unlike me and my siblings, my kids don’t find these fun to make. Apparently I have a higher tolerance for heat than they do. None of them can stand to roll the hot dough into balls.

So, now that I’ve given the long introduction, I am going to give you the recipe. After that, I’ll give my narration, with pictures, of how I actually make the cookies.

Date Cocunt Cookies

1/4 pound butter

1 cup chopped dates

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sugar

Mix and simmer in fry pan until chick (about 5 minutes). The add 1 cup chopped nuts, two cups rice crispies.

Cool until manageable.Roll into balls (butter your hands) roll in coconut.

You have to work FAST!

And Now, how I actually make the cookies.

First thing, make sure you have all the ingredients before you start!

 

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All ingredients laid out.

 

 

I lay out all the ingredients, along with cooking implements. In past years I would cook them all in a a large 6-quart pot and make a quadruple or sextuple batch. But this year I decided to make 3 double batches and do them in the 3-quart sauce pan that goes along with our precision induction cooker.

 

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Precision cooking with an induction cooker.

 

I added to the cooker the first ingredients: the butter, the dates, the sugar, the vanilla and the eggs.

 

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Add all ingredients to the sauce pan.

 

Once the ingredients are in the saucepan, I stir until they melt into a sauce and come to a boil. I have found that a temperature of 300 degrees is perfect for getting the right sort of simmer.

 

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The mixture melting and simmering.

 

In the past I always was uncertain when the mixture had thickened enough. But over the past few years I have confirmed that if you make sure it is actually simmering before you start timing, that 5 minutes is enough time to get it thickened and ready for the next stage.

 

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Adding the Rice Crispies to the gooey mixture.

 

The next stage is to mix the rice crispies and nuts into the mixture. It has been several years since I’ve actually used nuts. Some people don’t like them, and they are more expensive, so we have tended to leave them out and just add extra rice crispies instead.

I try to make sure to turn the mixture over several times, but no matter how thoroughly I mix them in, there always ends up a spot that doesn’t get as many Rice Crispies and is gooier than the rest.

 

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The butter and the ball of coconut prepared for rolling the cookie balls.

 

Once you get the mixture thoroughly combined, the next step is to butter your hands so you can take small amounts of the hot mixture and roll them into balls. I have taken to using a stick of butter, and running my hands along it gently, then rubbing my hands together to spread it out. I add the lightest bit of butter between each ball, and the stick lasts a long time, and my hands stay sufficiently greased so the hot mixture doesn’t stick to them. If it does stick, you can burn yourself, so this is important.

 

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A ball sitting in the coconut being covered with coconut.

 

The recipe says to roll the balls in the coconut, but I have discovered it is just as easy to place the ball in the bowl of coconut and sprinkle coconut over it. When I try to roll them in the coconut they are more likely to fall apart and lose their shape.

 

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Three dozen freshly rolled Date Coconut Cookies.

 

Once each cookie is rolled in the coconut I place it on a sheet of waxed paper to let it finish cooling and setting up before packing them away in containers to store until they are ready to serve up.