A few last minute things…

Hanukkah is only days away and Christmas is fast on it’s heel… I thought this weeks blog would cover a couple last minute things.  Steering away from the decor, decorating & presents I though we’d focus on some charitable initiatives and our stomachs with a great recipe we can take on with a loved one.

Have you ever thought about taking a portion of your holiday spending and giving to charity. I’ve met a couple families this year that are completely forgoing gifts and giving 100% to charity.  Here is a list of 10 charities to check out this Holiday Season; see if one fits you and your friends/families criteria for giving.

  1. Because I Am a Girl (becauseiamagirl.ca) ~buy a goat for a family in a developing world; or rock a fashionable tee that gives proceeds to help Plan Canada’s overseas efforts.
  2. Breakfast for Learning (breakfastforlearning.ca) ~Buy a stylish apron to help feed hungry school kids.
  3. Children’s Wish Foundation (childrenswish.ca) ~Help fulfil a special wish for a child with a life-threatening illness.
  4. Free the Children (freethechildren.com) ~Donate a medicine kit to a family or grant a loan to help a woman in a developing country start her own business.
  5. One Drop (onedrop.org) ~Support easier access to water by making a donation or by purchasing swag such as transparent place mats.
  6. Humane Society of Canada (humanesociety.com) Make the animal lover on your list an honorary guardian of a creature in need.
  7. Red Cross (redcross.ca) ~Aid disaster relief efforts as home and around the world.
  8. Ten Thousand Villages (tenthousandvillages.ca) ~Pick up a Fair Trade paperweight, soap or delicious jam and support artisans around the world.
  9. The Hospital for Sick Children (sickkids.ca) ~Make a hospitalized child’s Christmas brighter with decorations for their room or a surprise stocking.
  10. World Vision Canada (worldvision.ca) ~Help feed a Canadian family, or give text books to a child on the other side of the world.

Now to focus on our tummies… here’s a great Double Vanilla Sugar Cookies to bake with friends, family members or loved ones.

Prep Time:  50 mins

Total Time: 2 1/4 hrs

Makes: 48 cookies

Two sources of vanilla give these cookies a deep and complex vanilla taste.  Put the scraped bean posd into your sugar canister to add flavourful notes to granulated sugar.

  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Using paring knife, scrape seed from vanilla bean; reserve bean pods for another use.  In food processor, pulse sugar with vanilla seeds to combine.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar mixture until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture in 2 additions to make smooth dough.

Divide in half; wrap each and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 24 hours; remove from refrigerator 15 mins before proceeding.)

On lightly floured surface or between waxed paper, roll our dough to scant 1/4 inch (5mm) thickness. Using floured 3 inch (8cm) snowflake cutter, cut out shapes, rerolling and cutting scraps.  Arrange, 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart, on parchment paper lined baking sheets; refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Bake in top and bottom thirds of 350F (180C) oven, switching and rotating pans halfway through, until golden on bottom and edges, about 12 minutes.  Transfer to racks; let cool completely.

Happy Holidays to you, your friends & family!

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