In honor of the winter holidays this month, we departed from our usual gathering format and enjoyed two sweet new activities: a traditional cookie swap and a holiday gift exchange. Both of these were so much fun, they may become annual traditions!
Jackie hosted the gathering at her Oceanside home, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays.
Jackie and Sue prepared a Middle-Eastern themed lunch, featuring hummus, baba ganoush and tzatziki with pita; quinoa tabbouleh; beet salad; fattoush (salad with fried pita) and roasted eggplant. Each participant in the cookie swap made six dozen cookies: five dozen to exchange, and a dozen for sampling. We ended up with a delicious variety: bar cookies, drop cookies, rolled cookies, biscotti, and multi-layered Italian rainbow cookies.
Some of us were trying out new recipes: Elda’s lemon wafers represented her first-ever foray into cookie baking, and Mary was making her first batch of shortbread. Others brought a recipe from our youth, including Susie’s holiday fruit bars, Sue’s gingerbread and Becky’s Hello Dolly cookies. A few of us substituted new ingredients, like the chocolate chips in Dianne’s oatmeal coconut cookies, and the chocolate chips and almonds in Jackie’s biscotti. Other members tweaked their technique after their first batch misbehaved, like Christina’s oatmeal toffee cookies or Shelley’s passion fruit cookies.
We each ended up with a beautiful batch of cookies to share, and this month’s vote was one of the closest yet! First place went to Mary’s chocolate dunked pistachio shortbread, second place to Mary Lou’s rainbow cookies, and third place to Jackie’s cranberry pistachio biscotti. Each of these involved some extra handling… Mary Lou’s cookies had the added benefit of being weighed down with a heavy cookbook for 24 hours!
Speaking of heavy cookbooks, we had great fun with our gift exchange. Each member brought a cooking-related gift to swap; we could choose to unwrap a gift or steal one from another member, which led to lots of good-natured drama and suspense. A variety package of maple syrup and salts was a big favorite, as was a set of oven-to-table serving dishes and several spice assortments. Jen scored a copy of The Food Lab cookbook which would be ideally suited to hold rainbow cookies in place!
We were all very happy with our presents, and look forward to doing this again next year.
December’s gathering marks two years together for the San Diego Cookbook Club! Our group has grown both in number and in skill since our humble beginnings, and we can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!
Click here for full photo gallery and links to recipes.