Happy New Year

We got back from our annual Christmas trip to Southern Cal safe and sound. As usual it was an exercise in excess: eating too much meaty Toishan meals, and home-baked cookies; visiting not one, not two, but three ‘amusement parks’: Sea World, Legoland and Wild Animal Park; and watching college blow-out games (UCLA vs Michigan basketball, Cal vs. Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl.)

In all, much to be thankful for. We got to spend quality time with our nephew and niece, whom we hadn’t seen since last Christmas. Right now, they still think we’re the heppest cats around, but pretty soon they’ll become tweens and find us square. I dread that day when Kaylie and Riley don’t want to chase paper airplanes or play soccer anymore.

The Holidy Bowl was sweet revenge on the Lone Star State, from last time when Cal was trounced by Texas. It’s funny to imagine that I almost went to A&M for grad school. (Shudder.)

The Selfishness of Baked Goods: Joe’s mom and sister always bake up a storm, nay a tempest, of various cookies at Christmas. Everyone would get two mooncake tins’ worth of almond sandies, toffee saltines, white chocolate peanute crispies. etc. (Usually we don’t finish them until Forth of July). Several years ago, I made mashuga nuts for them, based on my Minnesota grandmother’s recipe. They all liked it and asked for the recipe, which I obliged. They they added to their repertoire; which was good, because I got to eat it, without having to make it myself.

The bad thing was now I had nothing to make, since one of them would make enough for the whole family. Which was not such a bad thing, since I usually didn’t have time to bake anything, all my Decembers consumed with cards and lagniappe CDs.

This year, I was shopping at the Milk Pail Market after Thanksgiving and came across almond paste. I bought a chunk, not knowing exactly what I’d make with it. It was simply an urge, that I would and could create something edible with it, and that with the Internet I could find a recipe.
It turned out to be Almond-Apricot Shortbread bars. I guinea-pigged them on my Chung relatives and co-workers. I then made another batch, but used rasberry instead of apricot and took them down to my Southern Cal family.

“They’re good,” Joe’s sister pronounced. “Can I have the recipe?”
“No! Otherwise I’ll have nothing to make for the family in the future, just like I lost the mashuga nut recipe to you and Mom.”
“Please, please, please. I promise I’ll only make them for my friends, not family.”
Nope. Well, now I’m on the hook to bake them every year. . .


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