Thursday, 8 December 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree

I think I got my love for the Christmas season from my mom. She has so many traditions and each and every one of them are special to me. 

One of her traditions has to do with choosing a particular kind of tree. She would bundle all four of us kids into the van, drive to the tree farm, and off we would run to find perfect one. 

We wouldn't look for the biggest tree. We wouldn't look for the straightest tree. We wouldn't even look for the prettiest tree. What we would look for would be a tree with a bird's nest hidden in the branches.

I am not exactly sure what my mom liked about trees with a bird's nest but, if I had to guess, it must have been because what a bird's nest symbolized. To me a bird's nest symbolizes love and life; a whole family of birds grew up in the tree. 

What could symbolize Christmas more than love and life? 

Now, I will forever look for a tree with bird's nest hidden in it when I am choosing my Christmas tree. 

And I will have to ask my mom why she always loved a tree a with bird's nest too!

Here are one of my mom's favourite Christmas cookies, Bird's Nest Cookies. And if you're not a big fan of coconut, try using chopped up peanuts in place, they're delicious that way too!

Bird's Nest Cookies - makes about 36 cookies and takes about 2 hours to make them in total (the rolling and the thumbprints are a bit time intensive, but worth it!)

1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten and mixed with 1 tablespoon milk for an egg wash
1 cup coconut flakes (or finely crushed peanut bits)
1/4 cup jam

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter and sugar, then add vanilla.

3. Next, gradually add salt and flour and mix until the dough starts to come together.

4. Roll dough into 36 1-1/4 inch balls. Dip each ball in the egg wash, roll in the coconut, place on a cookie sheet, and press your finger into each to make an indent.

If your fingers are getting sticky, just give your hands a rinse every once and while. It will help making the cookies and indents.

5. Drop a small spoon of jam into each indent and bake cookies for 20-25 minutes or until coconut turns a lovely golden colour.

Incase you're wondering, I did not find a tree with a bird's nest in it this year. But I have a few ornaments shaped like birds and you could always carry on the tradition for me this year if you like. :)

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