Archive for December, 2012

Pistachio Piezadas, My New Favorite Cookie – Unless That’s Black Walnut Honey Drops

cookies pistachio, lime cornmeal, honey black walnut

Left to right: Pistachio Piezadas, Lime Cornmeal Biscotti, Black Walnut Honey Drops.

Around here, it’s not too late to be trottin’ out the recipes. Holiday cookie season isn’t officially over until 12th Night and I still have plenty to go.

The assortment is always a mixture of old favorites and new thrills and ideally there would be about half of each. But now that this has gone on for years and years (and years), I feel like a long-running hit restaurant: there isn’t much room for anything new because the menu is already crowded with dishes that cannot be removed or the customers will rebel.

This year, I’ve again made most of our classics – everybody’s classics, like gingerbread persons and butter cookies,  and our personal classics, like chocolate rum balls (recipes for those and more here).  Also some equally must-have Universal Suit Yourself Fruit and Nut Bars.

Also, thank goodness, three new ones, all of them cookies that should come in useful whenever cookies are needed, regardless of the season:  Pistachio Piezadas, Lime Cornmeal Biscotti and Black Walnut Honey Drops.

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Securing Special Seeds (Martian Jewels Corn, for instance)

martian jewels corn

An ear of Martian Jewels on the stalk – note the rich color of the stem and husk. (See end of post for useful tips on choosing and ordering vegetable seeds).

As far as I’m concerned, this time of year is already plenty busy enough. Had I my druthers, I’d just let the seed catalogs pile up until that lovely lull between Christmas and New Years when most of the baking is safely done but it’s not yet time to go see the accountant.

However. Thanks to the ballooning assortment of esoteric goodies for which not even the largest company has sufficient room, waiting is not an option. Between “last chance” and “limited supply” something unique is going to get sold out soon, and she who hesitates is going to be

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Eric’s Pet Plant: Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica)

Parrotia persica (persian ironwood)

Classic Eric caption: “When all others have disrobed, the Parrotia, whether through shyness or due to acumen at strip poker, still hangs on to its leaves. Yes, it is somewhat in need of a shaping up by way of pruning, but spring is the time to best tackle that task.”

When I first asked my friend Eric to post some of his pet plant reviews here, I did it for two reasons:

1. His taste is somewhat different from mine, and because he’s in charge of a good-sized public greenhouse complex and research garden (Marsh Botanical Garden, at Yale University) his brief is very different indeed.

2. He has an endearing tendency to wander far from horticulture on his way to discussing things like  exposure and soil pH. That  aspect of his writing has been somewhat in abeyance lately, but on this occasion he has beyond outdone himself. Those who want to (metaphorically) skip directly to the recipe are encouraged to scroll down to the headline: On the Parrotia Itself.

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