24 December 2015

Vegan Viands #18: Christmas Spritz Cookies


Shana, my culturally Jewish wife, had no idea what Christmas was like the first year she joined my family at Christmas. The second year, the words above were her refrain; she had the excitement of a 6-year old. The third year, we had to set rules about what time she was allowed to wake everyone else.

If you've been an even somewhat-regular reader of this blog, you'll already know that I love traditions. Although sometimes traditions can stifle, when there's room to take them or leave them or change them to suit your needs/life, they can be wonderful, providing things to anticipate and/or structure in a chaotic world. No matter what (if any) religious faith you follow or grew up with, religious holidays are filled with tradition. One of the Christmas traditions at my house has been spritz cookies. Spritz Christmas cookies come from a long history in Germany or Sweden. Given that Germans and Swedes are two of the major immigrant groups who settled Minnesota, it's no surprise that these cookies make an appearance at Christmas time. They are a sweet, buttery cookie that is squeezed* out of a tube through a disk with a shape cut into it.

Therein lies the difficulty, you can't make these cookies without a spritz cookie machine. Machine isn't a really accurate word for the tool, as the machine is kind of a glorified plunger. But anyway, you need the tool! Although the one I use at my family's house is ancient, one of the more highly rated ones can be found here. After you have the spritz cookie tool, you're on your way to quick, easy, and tradition-filled cookies.

12 December 2015

Killer Kale Salad

This is the weekend in between the last week of classes and finals week.  I've assigned final papers in two of my classes and an exam in one of them. If the lapse between my last post and this one is any indication, it's safe to say this has been a busy semester for me, as well as for my students. I'm a bit behind on grading, though I think that most faculty members are at this point in the semester. Although I'm behind, I am feeling remarkably okay about it. I know it will all get done, and have the perspective-taking abilities to recognize that this is where I am at the end of every semester. In contrast, for most of my students, this is the point of the semester where their "stuffing begins to show," as one of my colleagues says. I think if my students were eating this kale salad, their stuffing wouldn't be showing at all.

This is another recipe that came from our monthly vegan potlucks, which I mentioned in my last post. Shana and I have eaten it a ton and fed it to numerous friends, including one who has never found a way to eat kale that she's enjoyed. This salad has been a hit with everyone. It's so simple, yet there is something magical about it. In all seriousness, the magic is real enough that we've had this twice in the past three days. Once you eat it, you'll believe in its magic.