Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Countdown fact(s) # 9, # 10 and cookie recipe

Christmas Countdown Fact #9: A native Mexican plant, poinsettias were named after Joel R. Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in 1828. Poinsettias were likely used by Mexican Franciscans in their 17th century Christmas celebrations. One legend has it that a young Mexican boy, on his way to visit the village Nativity scene, realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green branches from along the road and brought them to the church. Though the other children mocked him, when the leaves were laid at the manger, a beautiful star-shaped flower appeared on each branch. The bright red petals, often mistaken for flowers, are actually the upper leaves of the plant.

Christmas Countdown Fact # 10: Christmas Lights History begins with the tradition of arranging dainty exquisite candlelights also known as fairy lights to illuminate the Christmas trees. The History of Christmas Lights dates back to the 17th century with Germany as the entrant. Candles were then prepared from melted wax and sequestered to the tree branches by wax or pins.

Candleholders were first used in 1890 whereas other accessories like small lanterns and glass balls started to be used between 1902 and 1914.
Very soon the inconvenience of candle lighting was felt as candles melted quickly and had to be replaced frequently. This necessitated the use of electric lamps. In 1882 Charles Edison first lit up a Christmas tree by eighty electric bulbs. The red white and the blue bulbs of 6/8 of an inch in diameter were hand wired and wound round the trees like the beads of a string. Of course the Christmas trees looked more sparkling and scintillating with the electric light strands. Hence started the new era of electric lamp lighting.

Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Refrigerator Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
A delicious variation on the traditional Mexican wedding cookie, flavored with cinnamon, chocolate and orange zest. The ideal partner for cups of steaming hot chocolate. (Williams-Sonoma Cookbook)


¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons grated orange zest
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 ¾ cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
cinnamon sugar (directions to follow)


Combine the butter, granulated sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide in half. Roll each piece between your palms and the work surface to form a log 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or as long as overnight.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter baking sheets. Unwrap the dough and cut each log into rounds ¼ inch thick. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 ½ inches apart.

Bake until the edges are brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes. Put the cinnamon sugar in a bowl. Add several warm cookies and toss to coat with the sugar. Return the cookies to the racks to completely cool. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

The first Christmas light set was launched in 1903 by the American Eveready Company. The connection could be made by screws in the bulbs and a plug for the socket. Later the lightings were pulled from telephone switchboards and run by a battery. This type of electric lighting was expensive for the common people as services of wiremen were required to do the hand wiring. Moreover generators had to be installed for the people living in the city outskirts.

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