Last year at this time, I was just finishing radiation treatment for breast cancer, and while I did some cooking for the holidays, I was too tired to cook as much as I usually do. This year, however, I am back on track, as the saying goes. I feel healthy and strong, and my energy level is pretty much where it was before I had cancer. A wonderful present! How great it feels not to be tired all of the time.
With my energy back, I have all sorts of holiday folderol planned for goodies to make and give. I’ll be starting out with a bang this weekend as I make brownies for our library’s open house; chocolate ice cream to go in an ice cream pie (thank you oh thank you, Bob and Kate, for the ice cream maker!); chocolate-covered pretzels with little sprinkles; and caramel popcorn.
I’ve never done chocolate-covered pretzels, but when my daughter Dee mentioned how much she liked them, I thought, well, why not dip your own? It can’t be much different from dipping peanut butter balls. We shall see later on this afternoon.
I’ve made popcorn balls before, but not caramel popcorn. For some reason, the caramel popcorn sounds more appealing to me. Probably because it doesn’t involve burning your hands as you form the balls.
I make a delicious homemade chocolate ice cream, but I’ve never put it into a crumb pie shell. I bought little peppermint chips to add to the ice cream so that there will be a mint taste along with the chocolate. We’ll be bringing this pie to our friends’ house tomorrow night, and if tastes as good as I think it will, then I’ll be making more pies in the weeks to come. (I’ll also be bringing homemade crackers, which I made yesterday, and a spread.)
I love this holiday cooking, and I love tucking homemade goodies into gift bags for family and friends. Somehow, there is such a feeling of satisfaction to give gifts made by hand.
In between all the cooking and planning, I found time to go on a bike ride this afternoon. After yesterday’s brisk ride, I decided to really bundle up today. I put on leggings and fleece pants as well as a turtle neck, a heavy sweater, and a fleece jacket. All this clothing did the trick. I was much warmer on today’s ride, and the fleece was flexible as I biked.
Today Maranacook Lake was gray—no blue sky reflected in the water. As I pedaled by one section, a flock of ducks skimmed and flapped away from shore, heading to the middle of the lake.
I have no idea how much longer I’ll be able to ride, but even the past two days have been a wonderful reprieve. And who knows? If the snow holds off, maybe I’ll make it to the middle of the month.
Later: The chocolate-covered pretzels were a smashing success. As I suspected, covering the pretzels with chocolate was not at all difficult, and when the chocolate is Ghiradelli, you have yourself a pretty tasty chocolate-covered pretzel. The only really annoying thing was that I burnt the first batch of chocolate by having the water in the double boiler boil too hard and by not stirring the chocolate constantly. With the second batch of chocolate, I was much more careful, and there was no more burnt chocolate.