Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Baking 2008

Two finished bags in front of a bag of treats for my husband to take to work (he assembles his bags at work).

I'd apologize for the lack of updates if I didn't think everyone was just as busy as I and therefore not really missing the distraction of my posts. I've been on a baking treadmill over the last week and a half or so getting baking goods together as gifts for students.

Last year, the CH and I gave students a goodie bag with a variety of chocolates and peanut butter cookies. This cost quite a lot and I'm not sure that the students necessarily were keen on the chocolates anyway. They seemed to be far more impressed by the cookies. This year, we decided to go with bags of only homemade goodies both because we felt the students would enjoy them more and it costs about 1/3 of what buying a bunch of candy cost.

Because of this, I've been trying to streamline the baking process and string it out so that things are fresher. Instead of baking 6 dozen cookies and freezing the finished product, I made a double batch of the dough, split it into 6 discs and froze the dough. When we need more cookies, I thaw out the dough and bake up as many as needed for the following day. All in all, this is a labor saver and it also spares me one day of absolutely exhausting baking. One of the biggest drawbacks of of living in Japan is that the oven is so small that you can't get make many cookies at once. I can't even bake two trays at once because they won't bake properly.

What I'm saving time-wise on the peanut butter cookie front, I'm losing on the fact that 3 baked goods take more time than one. Well, "baked goods" isn't really quite right because one of the items is Rice Krispies treats. Yes, I know they are low rent and considered pretty nasty by a lot of people, but the truth is that the students really enjoy them. One of the CH's students liked them so much when she had them during a homestay that she special ordered boxes of the cereal so she could try to make them for herself in Japan. Unfortunately for her, they were spoiled by Japanese marshmallows (which are not make with gelatin like American ones so they don't lend the same texture or flavor to the Rice Krispies treats).

The third item is brownies. Tonight, I made the third pan of them and I think that should be the last of them, but there's still more need for pans of buttery molten marshmallow and another tub of peanut butter dough. We aren't giving the students that much per person (5 cookies, 1 brownie and 1 treat for the CH's students), but when you're doling things out to about 30 people, it really starts to add up. Anyway, I'm hoping to see some free time starting the last week of December and hopefully can get back to life as usual.


Kelly said...

Hello Orchid! I happened onto your blog and never realised this was you from Japanese snack reviews!!

I've added this blog to my bloglines so i can keep track of this one also and intend to read back through the archives.

How do you get american marshmallows from Japan? Do you special order them in?

I think it's a lovely thought what you and hubby are doing. What nice teachers you are!

Also, knowing they don't really celebrate christmas in Japan and all, and you probably won't get time off, do you and hubby still celebrate in your own way? Or has it lost the meaning in Japan?


Orchid64 said...

Hi, Kelly, and thanks for reading and commenting. I guess it's harder to find the links between the two blogs since I left my profile off the snack reviews blog. You'll discover that I have a whole other blog as well which I abandoned for reasons you'll learn as you read back through these archives.

We get American marshmallows from Costco, but the same brand is also sold down the street from us (for a much higher price) from a Family Mart.

As for how we celebrate, for a long time, I made a serious effort to have my own special celebration the weekend before or after Christmas day, but the hassle of finding a turkey and the depressing fact that I was always behind or ahead of everyone else eventually caused me to give that up. That being said, I still decorate most years, and always try to do something special for the students if possible.

The CH and I used to give each other presents, but as we've gotten older, we don't really need or want anything so it seems unnecessary (though he gives me special food gifts around this time of year as well as sporadically throughout the year). We're just happy to have more time together when he's on New Year's vacation.

I think I can say the meaning has changed to one where it's much more about giving than receiving which is fine. Students give us gifts all the time as part of Japanese customs or habits, so it's nice to have a reason to give them something back. Most of them are really delighted to get a little bag of baked treats, and I think it's because they're not accustomed to teachers giving them gifts.

Tess said...

Rice Krispies treats! Yummmm. I haven't had them in years, but they always seemed special to me. For some reason, my mom never made them so I'd only get them at friends' houses.
(openID is not working?)

Orchid64 said...

I don't think my mother made Rice Krispies treats more than twice in my lifetime. I think I also mainly got them from the parents of other kids.

Blogger is being wiggy about OpenID. I tried it from my Wordpress identity to check it out and it won't work for me either. It's probably a temporary thing, but it's annoying.

Thanks for your comment!