Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Spin 12.8.09

Two batches of cookies down, two to go. I usually start with an easy recipe, just to ease myself into the holiday baking routine. But this year I dove headfirst into the Norwegian Berlinerkranser, and unlike some of the other chances I've taken in recent months, I'm pleased to report that this one did not result in an epic fail. In fact, they turned out pretty darn good if I must say so myself.

Now I'm not Norwegian, but I feel justified in making these due to the fact that the word "Berlin" is in the title. ...Although my baking genes actually come from the Croatian side of the family. Whatever. Consider my kitchen a melting pot. I'm sure you'd all love to learn more about the intricacies of incorporating both raw egg yolks and hard-boiled egg yolks into the dough, or about how many four-letter words I utter when I break the legs while taking them off the cookie sheet. But I'm going to write about parks now, so you'll just have to e-mail me if you want the recipe.

Silver Dollar City would also like to share some holiday recipes with you. If you'll recall from Scott and Carol's visit last year, taking a class at the Culinary & Crafts School is but one of your many options while enjoying An Old Time Christmas at this park. But if you'd rather partake than bake, fear not because "Tastes of the Season" can be found around every corner. By the time they roll you out of those eateries, all you'll be able to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the Gifts of Christmas Holiday Light Parade, or perhaps Silver Dollar City's original adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. With four million twinkling lights and a five-story "special effects" Christmas tree at your fingertips, being uncomfortably full never felt so good.

Now that I've whet your appetites, who wants some Peanuts? Well you may have to chase them down, because they'll be parading through the midways of Knott's Berry Farm throughout the holiday season. A certain beagle is even starring in his own ice show, Snoopy's Cool Christmas. It's all part of the park's annual transformation into Knott's Merry Farm, a holiday extravaganza whose centerpiece is a Victorian Christmas Crafts Village where more than 100 skilled artisans peddle their wares. You can even catch a glimpse of Santa's workshop by hopping aboard Elf Mountain, a tricked out version of the park's Timber Mountain Log Ride featuring lights, carols, and plenty of elfish fun. Don't forget to catch breakfast with the jolly old fellow himself while you're in town!

Our next stop is none other than the Sweetest Place on Earth, whose many fine products always play a starring role in my holiday baking efforts. [Speaking of which, when the heck is somebody going to design a specialized container for storing Hershey Kiss cookies? Because seriously, the traditional "layering" method just isn't working out for me.] This year, many of those products are also playing a starring role in the brand new Holiday Chocolate House, a 13-foot tall, 100-square-foot, candy-bedecked chalet which will be available for your viewing pleasure at Hershey's Chocolate World all season long. Don't you dare think about nibbling on it, though! There are plenty of opportunities for that at Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane, where you can also visit with Santa, meet his reindeer, take some rides, and experience the magic of the new Nights of Extraordinary Lights (N.O.E.L.) show. Since I'm all about choreographed light shows this year, I've embedded a sneak preview for your enjoyment. Visit the Christmas in Hershey web site to find out what else is cooking in Chocolate Town, U.S.A. this holiday season.

And to you your wassail, eggnog cheesecake, and peppermint fudge hot chocolate too! Those are just three of the sweet holiday treats you can sample at Busch Gardens Williamsburg this year. The park's inaugural Christmas Town event promises to dazzle, featuring a wide array of strolling carolers and performers and four inspirational live shows. Select rides will also be open. And of course, it goes without saying that you can pick up some amazing gifts while you're there. In addition to the usual outlets, you can also peruse a host of unique handmade treasures at Mistletoe Marketplace. The sweetest treat of all? Peep this: A recent blog entry promises "an up-close encounter" with LIVE penguins! Now that is one holiday tradition I wouldn't mind adopting.