Friday, January 6, 2012

Catching Up: Sing-Off Stars and a Whole Lotta Bakin' Goin' On

Every year, in December, the Dartmouth Aires, a men's a cappella group from Dartmouth College gives a concert hosted by the local Dartmouth Alumni Club here in New Jersey. The group tours the East Coast after fall term exams and before they go home for the holidays.  This year, the Aires were on the TV show "The Sing-Off," a competition for a cappella groups, and after competing against 15 other groups from all over the country, the Aires placed 2nd!
All of the publicity from the TV show meant that our concert audience was 3 times what it usually is, and there were lots of Sing-Off fans asking for pictures and autographs of these college "rock stars."
The Aires sang songs from the TV show, along with some audience favorites and ended with the Dartmouth Alma Mater.  It was a wonderful concert.
As you can see, they are as energetic in person as they were on the "The Sing-Off," just not as well dressed! ;-)


 The arrival of the Aires is always a reminder that Christmas is coming, and there's baking to be done.

I usually make a dozen kinds of cookies and give them as gifts to friends and family.  I keep a list of what I make each year and try to make a few different kinds along with traditional family favorites.  This year, when I started baking, I had good intentions of posting each batch on Facebook, but after the first few, getting out the camera and uploading the pictures became just another chore after cleanup.  So here are some of the early batches:

In the foreground, pistachio coins, a recipe from an old Gourmet magazine that I tried for the first time this year.  It got good reviews from my tasters, but I wasn't bowled over. 

These are cinnamon stars from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake, one of my favorite baking books.  They are made with ground almonds, cinnamon, lemon zest and meringue.  Part of the meringue is painted on the cookies, then they sit out to dry for an hour or two before they are baked.   Labor intensive, but worth it!

 Also from Nick Malgieri (and also labor intensive) are these checkerboard cookies.  I have actually had people ask me if I put all the little squares of dough together for each cookie!

These Chocolate Kissed Gingerbread cookies are from the blog Becky Bakes.   I think they are gorgeous, but the next time I make them, I'm adding more ginger so the bite of the ginger contrasts with the sweetness of the chocolate.

This is the first plate of cookies I made to take to a friend's house.

When all the cookies are baked and stored in the freezer, it's time to pack them into boxes for gifts.

                 Each box looks like this when all the cookies are packed and ready to be delivered.

And so the Christmas baking is done!

While all this baking was going on, I took time out this year to help my cousin make a t-shirt quilt for her granddaughter who just started college.  

                   Sifa, my cousin's bluepoint Siamese was quite intested in the whole process!

 Our trusty quilt display models are holding up the almost-completed quilt!
The quilt has been tied and the binding sewn on.  I left my cousin with the tasks of clipping the threads and hand sewing the binding to the back of the quilt.
I hope it was a hit on Christmas morning!

Happy New Year to all!  May 2012 be a year of peace, health and prosperity, and may all your dreams, quilty, bakey and otherwise, come true.


  1. I can vouch for the quality of the Christmas cookies, in both flavor and presentation. My sister bakes like she quilts -- perfectly!

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