Well I said I was going to start my Christmas baking last weekend, but at the time of writing have yet to make anything happen.
Actually that's not entirely true. I did make a batch of white chocolate peppermint cookies last weekend, but they are long gone. And I *did* make a batch of dough for Nicky balls, but something was wrong with my ratios and the texture was wrong.
I've mentioned before that my friend Alison and I have a Nicky ball-rolling and Love Actually-watching tradition, and we had our date this past week. But, you know, it's 2020 and nothing really goes as planned these days.
Another friend of ours wanted to get together as well, and with people's schedules being what they are, the 17th was the only day she could make work so I invited her to join. I should say here too that one of my pet peeves is when I have plans with someone and they invite someone else along, so not only was I messing with tradition, I was doing something that I hate having done to me.
Alison heard that I'd invited our other friend along, and said something like, "Ok well can we just agree that she gets *some* Nicky balls, but not as many since she's not emotionally invested in the balls like I am?"
That's the holiday spirit!
But yes, Alison is VERY invested in the balls (and in balls generally) so I decided to try and make things right by making a ⅔ batch of Nicky ball dough rather than the ½ batch we typically do. (A full batch is a huge amount of balls, even for two ball-loving ladies.)
I told her how I was planning to make things right and she cautioned me against messing with the ratios, but I assured her I'd be measuring everything in grams, which are very easy to adjust.
I mixed up the batter late Wednesday night, after a VERY long day at my computer, painstakingly converting cups to grams and then figuring out what a ⅔ measurement would be. At first I thought it didn't look right - the mixture seemed much looser than usual, more like cake batter than cookie dough. But then it seemed to be thickening up so I figured the cookie crumbs just needed to do their thing soaking up all the moisture, and it would be fine the next day.
It was not fine.
Alison, certainly the less experienced roller of the two of us, but definitely a seasoned veteran at this point in our friendship, immediately picked up on the off texture. It was still much, much softer than usual.
So I panicked, and then started to really mess things up.
First, I mixed in a whole bunch more cookie crumbs, then threw the bowl back into the fridge to see if it would firm up. We had dinner, some wine, and then some more wine, and then when the mixture still did not feel right, I tried to think back to what could have gone wrong.
I *think* that in my efforts to ⅔ all of the ingredients, I *might* have used the full amount of sour cream but ⅔ of everything else. So then, after my friends had gone home, and after *several* glasses of wine, I decided to add ⅓ of everything except sour cream.
I'm sure you can imagine how well that turned out.
I ended up scraping the entire batch into the garbage on Friday morning and then running around town to pick up more ingredients, so will have to start over today or tomorrow. With a half batch. Like we always make.
In addition to the Nicky ball fiasco, we also had my company's Christmas party this week via Zoom.
I didn't have high expectations for yet another Zoom meeting, but they actually did a great job of it. They couriered a package to everyone in the company with some snacks and drinks, and had put together a 2020 highlight (and lowlight) reel that had me in stitches.
They had also mailed out gingerbread house kits with some candy and other decorations, so there was a gingerbread house competition that was wrapped up and judged at the Zoom party.
I truly hope that by next Christmas we'll be having parties IRL again, but this was honestly a fitting end to a weird year.
Remember the colleague who mom-shamed me for not having Christmas decorations? Well it came out during the Christmas party that he didn't have any up yet!
He says he typically gets his Christmas tree on the 20th of December or so and then gets rid of it as quickly as possible. Wtf, dude?! Do you know how much money I spent on decorations because of you?!!!
Since I was on a roll with decorations I decided to keep it going and ended up getting a "Nissedörr" (translation: Elf Door) for the kids. It's basically Sweden's answer to Elf on the Shelf, and involves setting up a tiny door in your house that the elves use to come in at night and check things out to report back to Santa.
I was also tipped off to this app called Santa Spy Cam where you can make videos of the elves coming through the door and getting up to some sort of mischief during the night. The kids are super into it, and go to check out the scene by the Nissedörr first thing when they get up. It'll be a fun tradition to keep going next year, with some added components to the set up.
On a quick housekeeping note, I'm testing out some changes to the newsletter format.
Another blogger (it was Sarah ok? She gets mad when I refer to her by things like "another blogger") let me know she'd been testing sending her newsletters out without any images in it, and both the open rate and click rate went up. Apparently images in the newsletter cause some email providers to filter it as spam.
So I tested this out last week, and sure enough both rates went up noticeably.
I did get some feedback from subscribers that the newsletter is not as engaging to read without the images in it, which I totally understand. I'm going to do some A/B testing over the coming weeks and see if I can pinpoint where the difference is, so you may be getting a newsletter with or without images. Let me know how they seem!
Not subscribed to the newsletter? Let me know and I will add you to the list!
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
Things are winding down for the year here on HNL, and since December tends to be my slowest month traffic wise I've decided to take it easy for a bit. So you won't be seeing any new recipes until after Christmas, but I'll still be sharing some seasonal favourites.
First up, I updated this post with 18 Easy Edible Gifts. Pretty much everything in there is quick and easy to make, so even though the clock is ticking, there's still time.
And then I shared one of my favourite holiday cookies, Brown Sugar Shortbread. This recipe uses just THREE ingredients and is incredibly delicious.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
Yeah, yeah, we all know that Mung Bean and Coconut Curry is in number one. So let’s look at what else is trending.
1. How to Cook Mung Beans. Again. Still.
2. Turmeric Latte Mix. A great homemade gift!
3. 10-Minute Vegetable Ramen Noodles. So easy and delish!
4. Chia Fresca. This one is having an unseasonal surge and I am here for it.
5. Amazing Vegan Gravy. Mmmmm, sooo good.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Emily left the following comment and 5-star review on my Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup recipe:
This soup is amazing! I loved it, my meat-eating husband loved it, and to my surprise my two toddlers ate it up and loved it too. It’s going onto our regular meal rotation now.
Yes! It's been far too long since I've had this soup, I need to plan it into a weekly menu sometime soon.
THIS WEEK’S MENU
Thanks for all of the suggestions on last week's post for what to have for dinner on Saturday. I decided to make a baked Mac and Cheese (this is my favourite recipe for an indulgent mac and cheese) but when Saturday rolled around I was so wiped out from the week, had a sore back that necessitated lying down a lot, and was just done.
I decided to phone it in and ordered takeout Indian food, and boiled up some tortellini for the kids. I figure we'll be making enough big meals in the coming week that takeout is just what the doctor ordered on a Saturday night.
HERE’S WHAT’S ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
Sunday: A plain cheese pizza just for me.
Monday: Kale salad and perogies.
Tuesday: Maybe I'll make the mac and cheese on Tuesday instead.
Wednesday: Fondue! I'm going to introduce my boys to the Trant family tradition of Christmas Eve fondue, but one day early. Really hoping they'll be into dipping stuff into the cheese, and if not, consider it a snack dinner.
Thursday: Holy crap, it's Christmas Eve! We're doing dinner at a friend's place (in our bubble) and I'm bringing some sides like Miso Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts and maybe a sweet potato dish.
Friday: Christmas! We're doing a small family dinner. I'll be making my Instant Pot Stuffing among other things.
Saturday: Assuming we'll be having leftovers!