Report from the Forsythia Bush


Before we get to the report from the forsythia bush, I would like to share a useful cookie recipe. Here’s what it’s for: Christmas is bearing down on us like a Giant Fruitcake Monster, growling and patting its stomach–ho, ho, ho–and your hair is standing on end. You would like–feel compelled–to bake some cookies, but can’t face the thought of a cookie cutter or a rolling pin. You want to remain calm. Almond Cookie Brittle cookies are here to the rescue! You bake a big, free-form blob of cookie dough to a crispy golden brown, let it cool, and then break it apart. Put it in a Christmas tin, and everyone will think it’s a Christmas cookie. Then you can go back to lying on the sofa, reading a good book.

Here is the recipe:

Almond Cookie Brittle

IMG_48081 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out the sliced almonds onto a cookie sheet and toast for 7 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool. (Note: You don’t have to do this, but it does make the cookies taste toastier and nuttier.) Line another cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine softened butter, sugar,  and almond extract until smooth and fluffy. Mix the flour with the salt. Stir in flour mixture gradually. The best way is to use your impeccably clean hands. Then mix in toasted nuts. Knead mixture briefly–it will be firm textured and crumbly. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet, and lightly press down with your fingertips into a big oval. You can keep pressing down your fingertips until the dough is about 3/8″ inch thick, but I found it easier to lightly sprinkle it with powdered sugar, and to finish the job with a rolling pin. But if you have a fear of rolling pins, using your fingertips is fine.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. (The edges will be golden brown, along with patches of the dough surface.) Allow to cool completely, and then break apart like peanut brittle.

Notes: If you don’t have almond extract, don’t worry. In the toasty, buttery flavor of this cookie, the almond extract actually plays a small role. Use vanilla instead. Note that the dough should be rolled 3/8″ thick. This is on the thin side of 1/4″. Just estimate. A thinner cookie baked to a golden brown will be nice and crispy.

Rolled out cookie dough–the edges don’t have to be even since the cookie is going to be broken apart anyway.
The texture of the cookie is a brittle and crispy.
The texture of the cookie is a brittle and crispy.

Report from the Forsythia Bush

Today is a rainy December day, and I was glad when the sun peeked out for a few minutes, illuminating the world with golden light.The forsythia bushes in the back of the garden suddenly came alive with sparrows, twittering and flitting. Here is what they are up to:

IMG_4785 IMG_4793 IMG_4794 IMG_4795 IMG_4796

Goodbye, chipmunks! They are hibernating now.





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