This is our first year as a married couple and we are kickstarting some old traditions. Jene has said many times before that he would love to set up the trains and although I’ve been all for it, he never seemed to move on it until now. So up from basement came dusty boxes of full size Lionel trains that he had bought many years ago for his son. Jene has been saving them for years just in case Sean had offspring. Not that that is totally out of the question but Jene isn’t getting any younger and certainly isn’t willing to hold his breath any longer. He was like a little kid last week, setting up an oval around our tree.
Then we found a Lionel store “The Train Station” in Mountain Lakes, NJ. where we picked up more track and some other necessary items (smoke gel, and a train stop that even lights up). A virtual kid in a candy shop. We set up a loop into the dining room and around the fireplace only to discover that the transformer wasn’t powerful enough to make under it’s own steam. The larger transformer he has is in dire need of repair and so he dropped it at the TrainStation and hopes to get it up and running soon. (An expensive little hobby).
Of course we had Shadow’s head darting from side to side as the train disappeared from view and popped back into site. The novelty of it has worn off and she barely lifts her head when Jene toots the engine’s whistle. She wasn’t impressed with the smoke coming out of its stack either. Who says Christmas is just for kids.. and I am getting a kick out of the small pleasure that it brings to Jene.
I hadn’t set up a real tree since Dani & the kids lived with me. This year we bought a six footer and Jene brought his ornaments from the city to deck the tree along with mine. I bought a blue hand-blown drop at Barking Lizards to signify our first tree together. (A tad corny for sure, but I get like that – it’s who I am)
One of my family traditions is baking Italian knot cookies. A time consuming endeavor but worth it and Jene was more than willing to give it a go again this year. (we made them together last year) I don’t recall my mother making the knot cookies until we were old enough to help with them – (we made butter cookies with the cookie press until we were teens) Danielle grew up helping my mother make them and insisted that we continue the tradition after her passing 20 years ago. We enlisted the help of Rose and Sara a few years ago in this annual ritual and although they loss interest half way through, they look forward to the process of eating them. There aren’t many people I know that bother making them anymore but they all ask if I am in hopes of getting a little gift bagful.
4-5 Cups all purpose flour
12 large eggs
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup Oil or 1/2 lb butter
(I use light olive oil for baking)
1 orange rind grated
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp. orange extract
4 Tbsp. baking powder
Sift dry ingredients in large bowl, add eggs, and liquds, mix together.
(heat oven to 325 degrees)
The dough is sticky and moist like a pizza dough.
Flour the table generously, as well as your hands, drop a few wooden spoonfuls of dough on the the floured surface and knead the dough until is dry enough to roll into small balls that you will roll into small ropes. Pitch off enough so that you can tie a knot. Or shape into a closed loop.
Bake for about 15 minutes until a very light golden color.
Cool on cookie rack. Ice with confectioners sugar when completely cooled.
Makes about 25 doz. small cookies. I make mine about the size of a quarter so you can just pop them into your mouth.