Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!
Christmas was beautiful this year in Vancouver. I love looking out the window at the snowy North Shore mountains, and all the lights and decorations around the city and our apartment. Red and green garlands deck the halls of our living room and the earthy smell from our noble fir Christmas tree mixes nicely with the rich smells of home-baked goods, melted butter and sugar.
I decided to make home-made gifts for the special people in my life this year and, as usual, my plans were ambitious. I decided months ago that I would make soaps again (they were a huge hit 3 years ago), but I left the actual purchasing of supplies to the second week of December. This wouldn’t have been much of a problem except I also had plans to bake gluten-free strawberry almond sandwich cookies… and chocolate caramels, and chocolate-dipped peanut caramel squares, and peanut brittle. I quickly realized my time was running out and I’d better snap into action. Hence, the holiday workshop was born!
Our two kitchen counters and marble island acted as my work station. Each night for two weeks I’d come home from the office and go straight to work in the kitchen again. The counters were covered in pots, pans and soap molds in various stages of the melt and pour process. I had baking sheets lined in parchment paper at my ready, waiting patiently next to bags of sugar, flour, almonds and cubes of chocolate. Pretty much all my good kitchen utensils were constantly being washed and dirtied again, and there was wrapping paper, cellophane and bits of ribbon everywhere! (Not to mention all the pine needles.) Our apartment really did feel like a real holiday workshop. At the end of each night my feet hurt and my hands were dishpan dry. I wondered if this was how the elves felt?
By the end of the two weeks I’d created an impressive tower of home-made goodies: 8 different designs of melt and pour soaps (101 bars total!), plus a tower of individually wrapped chocolate caramels, peanut brittle wrapped in cellophane bundles, and boxed up chocolate-dipped peanut caramel squares and strawberry almond sandwich cookies.
I have to say, after all that work, I’m proud of myself. Enjoyment is a cook’s greatest delight and I know all these goodies are bound for good homes and appreciative souls. Now I can dust off the couch and put my feet up: my holiday workshop is finally closed for business!