Friday, December 24, 2010

Russian Christmas Cookies for Santa

For Santa's much-needed midnight snack we made a classic Russian Christmas cookie: tea cakes. With the help of my youngest son these simple, yet delicious morsels were ready for Santa in under 45 minutes.

To make these delicious treats, mix:
1 part softened butter
1/2 as much powdered sugar 
vanilla extract (about 2 tsp/cup of butter)

To this mixture add:
2 parts flour
a generous pinch of sea salt
1 part finely chopped walnuts (preferably soaked overnight in salt water and then dehydrated)

The mixture should be crumbly, with the ability to hold together when squished together, but not sticking to the bowl.

Roll little balls about 1 inch in diameter and place, slightly separated on cookie sheet (I prefer stoneware).

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 325-350. Pull out before they golden. Quickly roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Cool and set them out for Santa to enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Homemade Beef Jerky

Making beef jerky is becoming a holiday tradition, and a big hit with the men in the family on Christmas morning. This year my five year old son helped with every single step.

First, we make a marinade of soy sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, and worchestershire sauce. S carefully measured and mixed the ingredients before we carefully cut the London Broil into 1/4 inch-wide strips. It is important to use a lean cut of meat as fat makes the jerky tough and unchewable.

After all the meat was cut into strips, we layered it in a glass dish, carefully pouring some marinade over each layer. This mixture sat in the fridge for about 12 hours, soaking up flavor. For this batch we used about 4.5 pounds of meat which resulted in just over a pound, or half gallon jar full of jerky.

After soaking, the jerky is spread out on racks and placed in the oven over parchment paper (to catch the drippings). The meat dehydrates in the oven at 140-160 degrees for about 8 hours at which point the temperature can be lowered to 120-130. The jerky should be closely watched at this point to prevent the creation of jerky chips. The meat should bend and crack slightly without breaking when it is done. It is then removed from the oven and allowed to cool before packaging and storing in a cool, dry place.

S was soooo proud of the jerky he made this year! He can't wait to have his own hand-made gift to give to his grandfathers this year.
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