It’s Christmas Eve. You’re almost out of time. Quick what can you make or buy at the last minute for Cousin Sadie or Uncle Bob? What about that nice fella who delivers the newspaper or runs the service station where you take your car for repair?
Let’s face it, folks now we’re down to handmade, homemade or a quick trip to the grocery store. For those who enjoy the challenge of 11th hour shopping, here are a few suggestions.
Handmade: Write or draw something, sign and date it, and put it into a frame. String beads on stretchy elastic “thread” and make a necklace or bracelet.
Homemade: Stay in where it’s warm. Make salad dressing, decant it in a bottle, label it and tie a ribbon around the neck. Make your house smell great with a last minute batch of cookies to share with friends and neighbors. Put them in a tin with a tight lid. Don’t forget to leave some out for Santa.
Store bought: Buy a gift certificate or card for someone’s favorite store for clothing, groceries, electronics or dining out. A scarf is always welcome. Score a nice one on sale at a department store or a consignment shop.
Grandparents and out-of-town aunts and uncles always appreciate framed school pictures. Or how about homemade ornaments? You can turn scraps of fabric, a few sequins and a small picture into something beautiful and memorable in just a few minutes. I still have some my children made 30 or 40 years ago, and treasure them more now than ever before.
If you decide on the cookies, here’s the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe with a twist or two. Isn’t it the best? These have gone overseas to soldiers, to colleges to comfort homesick kids, and to potlucks for decades. I used to make them every Sunday afternoon at my grandmother’s house. They were part of growing up. I still love them.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12 ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans are good), optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about five dozen cookies.
For added yumminess, I add a cup of white chocolate morsels. After all, we eat the cookie to get to the chocolate anyway, don’t we?
I also find that chilling the dough after everything is mixed in and dropping the cold dough by teaspoons onto the cookie sheet makes a softer, “fluffier” cookie. Take them out of the oven when they just start to brown around the edge and follow the recipe from there.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at email@example.com.