Sunday, December 30, 2007

Food Fight - Only 1 Day Left to Vote!

While it doesn't appear there's any doubt about the outcome, I do feel some responsibility to point out that there is only 1 day left before the poll closes on our final bout.

Alton Brown holds a commanding lead over Giada De Laurentis. We've certainly heard loud and clear from Alton's Army, now let's see if Giada's Armada can come alive and try to close the gap.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best of Your Stuff

Now it's time to take a look at yourself. Today I revisit some of your stuff that I've most enjoyed. The following posts will make your mouth water or curl into a smile.

The Chef From Hell - Lost in the Supermarket

Tummy Treasure - Breakfast Around the World and Cheesecake Anyone?

My GPS Camera Phone - How to Dig a Fire Pit

Fiery Foods - Weird Smokers

Homesick Texan - Comfort me with banana pudding

Barbecue Bachelor - Simple Salmon

A Good Beer Blog - Fact: Beer, Elephants And Electricity Do Not Mix

Thanks for the good reads!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Best of Friday Fun

Friday is the day devoted to fun on Sullicom blog. It might involve food, it might involve games, it might involve creative time wasting. Whatever it is, the purpose is to deliver smiles and laughs.

Among the fun favorites...

Simpsonize Me - meet my family and find out about another fun diversion that will show you what you'd look like if you lived in Springfield.

Bow Man - brush up on your bowmanship with this addictive little game I discovered on the "Say No To Crack" blog.

Ghost Story - one of my Halloween-week posts, I revisit an experience in a haunted inn.

Pez - is it the tiny, brick-shaped candies that's the allure, or the fun, collectible dispensers? Maybe both? Just be careful you don't turn into the crazy Pez lady.

Banana Pudding - who can resist one of the world's greatest comfort desserts? So delicious it has inspired songs and makes me feel like dancing!

Moon Pie - another guilty pleasure snack food. Variations abound, but there's only one Moon Pie.

Finger Safety - maybe the worst corporate video ever made, I hope they at least came in under budget. I wonder what ever became of Earl?

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best of Comfort Foods

Thursday's the day devoted to comfort foods, be they for the tummy, ears or soul. I also consider this the danger zone, because it allows me to flirt with lots of foods that I should stay far away from unless I want to outgrow my pants.

But, I've braved on for your sake, dear readers. Perhaps you can eat, drink or listen to these offerings without giving into temptation. Or maybe your metabolism lets you cave without carrying the extra weight.

Here are the ones I've liked best...

Chess Pie - let me introduce you to my grandmother Lemma, a dear imp of a woman who lived to cook. Chess pie was one of her specialties.

Girl Scout Cookies - my annual battle with the temptation of having boxes and boxes of tasty little cookies in the house continued this year. Again, I lost.

Hot and Sweet - in a burst of energy one Saturday last fall, MoJo and I hit the kitchen and cooked up some hot sauce, then put up several jars of Concord Grape jam.

McIntyre's Bourbon Balls - my friend, colleague and fellow native of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, John McIntyre, has one of the best language blogs around. He also shares a fondness for bourbon and shared this family recipe for an intoxicating candy.

Webb Pierce - speaking of intoxicating, the late, great Webb Pierce sang one of the best-ever drinking songs, "There Stands The Glass."

Martha White - another post inspired by musical memories from my childhood growing up within television range of Nashville and the broadcasts of the Flatt & Scruggs Show and the Grand Ole Opry.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best of Hot Sauce Wednesday

Hot sauce has proven to be more of a challenge to blog about than I would have guessed. One reason is that there are lots of realllllly good hot sauce blogs out there already and many of those bloggers are prolific. Another reason is that I don't have the system for constantly testing hot sauces. By system, I mean tongue, stomach and other parts affected by consuming too much fire.

But there have been some fun posts, especially if you extend the definition of hot sauce to include mustard. Here are my favorites...

Cholula - it's not rare, small batch or particularly fiery. But it comes in one of the prettiest bottles I've ever seen and tastes great on grits.

Boog's Hot Sauce - Baltimore baseball legend Boog Powell can still be found smoking beef at Camden Yards. And he can mix up a pretty tasty hot sauce, too. This one also has a personal connection I'll always cherish.

Cleveland Mustard series - this one bubbled up at the end of the baseball season and dealt with the Cleveland ballparks' famous mustards. The first post posed the question - is there more than one brand of mustard? The second included input from various Clevelanders. And the third (and final?) post was the definitive taste test.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Best of BBTuesday

Tuesday is the day I try to devote to my culinary passion - bbq, barbecue, bar-b-q or however you want to spell it. The smoked meat and sauce not only causes my mouth to water, but it also conjures up wonderful memories of my childhood and good times spent with family and friends.

Here are my favorite smokin' posts from this year.

Chef JP's Mole BBQ - one of the biggest pleasures of the year has been getting to know other bloggers. One of my first blogging acquaintances was Chef JP, proprietor of The Chef From Hell site. His site is witty and one heck of a treasure trove of great recipes. His submission of a mole bbq sauce in the first annual Sullicom Sauce Off brought him top honors.

Kentucky BBQ Dip - this was my own submission in the sauce off. Our old family recipe that instantly brings back memories of my dad lording over his bbq pit in our backyard in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Owensboro - this was a tribute to a town a short drive from Madisonville, where aunts, uncles and cousins lived, but more importantly, where the famous Moonlight Bar-B-Q Inn still cooks some of the best mutton, pork, beef and chicken in the world.

Arthur Bryant's - although I've never been there, this Kansas City restaurant is legendary among bbq joints.

Barbecued Tofu - yes, yours truly was once a hard-core vegetarian. But that doesn't mean I had to forgo the pleasures of bbq. This was once of our favorites from that era.

Enjoy!

Merry Christmas



Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best of Food for the Soul

One of the things I've enjoyed most about this first half-year of blogging has been the Sunday Food for the Soul posts. These essays have allowed me to share with you some personal stories, thoughts off the news of the week, or just some curious observations.

Here are my favorites to date:

Tallpony - This was one of my earliest and the one where I feel I found my voice. Appropriately, the voice you'll hear is one with a sweet, syrupy drawl.

Peach - What's in a name? This post explains how Flannery Bliss Sullivan became Flannery Bliss Sullivan.

Papa - Another story from the family archive, this time recounting the amazing saga of Marcy's grandfather, Ben.

Vic Power - During the week the Jena 6 case flashed up in Louisiana, I found this short, but inspiring anecdote of how a baseball pioneer confronted racism with humor.

Survival Tips - Worried about getting bombed to Kingdom Come by Iran or North Korea? Never fear. My favorite from among a handful of posts culled from the wonderful Bull Cook Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices book.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sweet Saturday - White-Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies

The Remarkable Marcy hasn't made these cookies for a couple of years, and there's a reason why. The last couple of times they were on her baking list, they were at the top of my eating list. They're simply irresistible and I can't keep my hand out of the tins when they're around.

The recipe is yet another from that treasure trove at Better Homes & Gardens. We first picked off this one sometime back in the mid- to late-90s. It combines three of God's greatest gifts to humans - cookies, raspberries and white chocolate.

BHG has the recipe on their site in a form you can print out, so I'll just send you their way for the details.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Fun - Bozo, Ho, Ho

The photo at the left comes from a gallery titled "Santa Trauma" that we have on baltimoresun.com in which readers can upload shots of unhappy visits to St. Nick. I don't know who the terrified tot is, but I'm sure many of you can relate.

I can. Of our three kids, Courtland, our oldest, was the one who was most spooked by Santa. He was also suspicious of the Easter Bunny and Bozo the Clown. Perhaps the most traumatic event of his youth involved both Santa and Bozo.

We lived in Chicago when Courtland was born. And if you've ever spent time in that city, you might know that Bozo holds a special place in the hearts of Chicago residents. For years and years the clown had a Sunday morning show on WGN TV, and getting tickets to the show was nearly as difficult as scoring front-row seats to the seventh game of a World Series (but who in Chicago would know that?).

WGN was and is owned by Tribune Company, which also owned the paper where I worked. Every Christmas, the company held a party for employees' families, during which children lined up to visit not only Santa, but Bozo. They were seated side-by-side - a double whammy that was certain to scare the bejeezus out of nervous little tykes.

Courtland fretted while we stood in line with him and his sister Flannery, but he held it together pretty well during the dual lap-sittings, as you can see from the photo at the right. His trauma came afterward.

The party started winding down and we were on our way out of the building, walking down a long hallway. As we neared an intersection with another corridor, suddenly spinning around the corner was Bozo and his entourage!

Courtland stopped dead in his tracks, as did the clown, who in his big Bozo voice said, "Hi there!" All the color drained from Court's face and he stood stone still and silent, his fingers clamped vise-tight on my hand.

A few seconds later, Bozo and his posse took off. Marcy said to Courtland, "That was so cool! Bozo stopped and talked to you!"

Courtland quickly corrected her. "No. No he didn't. He was talking to dad."

The boy was obviously shaken by the encounter, so we didn't say anything else about it and went on out to the car.

As we're driving home, from the backseat, Courtland finally says, "Did you see his hair? It was really red."

Marcy and I looked at each other. "Yes. It sure was red."

A few more minutes of silence.

"Did you see his feet?," Courtland asked. "They were really big."

"Yes. They were really big," said Marcy.

And that was it.

There's little reason to fear Bozo these days. His show's been off the air in the Windy City for several years. Courtland's 12 years older now and we live in Baltimore. Even if Bozo were to show up this Christmas, with that hair and those big feet, he'd never fit down our chimney.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The People Have Spoken

Fight on!

I heard it loud and clear from all of you who left comments that we should let this food fight continue, regardless of how ugly it gets. As I write this, Alton Brown has a lead of more than 100 votes over poor Giada De Laurentis - and there's still more than a week left in the poll!

I'm curious - what do you folks think about waterboarding?

Anyway, I also wanted to give you a schedule of some of my upcoming posts. This is the time of year we in the nooz biz love because we can fall back on "year-enders," compilations of best-of lists. So, next week I'll be revisiting some of my favorite posts from this first half-year of the Sullicom blog.

Here's the sked:
- Monday: Best of "Food for the Soul," my whatever-comes-to-mind essays.
- Tuesday: Best of "BBTuesday," the day I share bbq recipes, restaurant reviews and bbq-related music finds.
- Wednesday: Best of "Hot Sauce Wednesday." That pretty much says it all.
- Thursday: Best of "Comfort Food Day." Most of the time it's food related, but once in a while I toss in some comforts for the soul.
- Friday: Best of "Friday Fun." Could be food, could be games, could be jokes. Whatever it is, it will make you smile.
- Saturday: Best of "Take My Word For It." This is your stuff. Things I've seen on other blogs and shared with you and others.

I'll be back on my regular schedule on Sunday, Dec. 30. And of course, New Year's Day I'll have a special post that reveals the winner of the Food Fight Final. I'm sure that'll be a big surprise. Yeah.

Really, thanks for all your support. It's been fun hearing from you Alton fans. And to that Giada fan who's voted six times - well, you've got your work cut out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Food Fight - Should we stop the carnage?

Wow! This is getting pretty ugly. As my buddy Pete said, it's a "bloodbath."

I'll leave it up to you guys - should I step in and stop this massacre, or let it play out and see just how far ahead Alton Brown can pull?

Leave me your comment and we'll make the call Thursday morning.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Semi-Final 2

And the winner is...Giada De Laurentis!

No "BAM!" for Emeril in this Food Network Food Fight. This bout was relatively close compared with other recent runaway bouts. The queen of Italian cuisine took out the garlic king, Emeril Lagasse, 17-10. As I pointed out before, the big E has been looking a little paunchy lately and likely ran out of gas against his smaller, younger opponent.

To celebrate her victory, here's a link to one of Giada's holiday recipes that comes from her Dec. 17 "Everyday Italian" program. This one's for her side dish, Raffy's Turkey Sausage and Chestnut Stuffing. And, no, I don't know who Raffy is.

Giada's win sends her to our final, and it's going to be a good one. Miss De Laurentis now goes head to head with the Good Eater, Alton Brown. Mr. Brown's wins have been absolute blow outs thanks to the overwhelming show of support from Alton's Army. I'd recommend that any of you Giada fans out there send up a flare, rally your friends and family to get out and vote.

The polls are open. Voting runs from now until New Year's Eve. Let's have a good, clean fight!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sweet Saturday - Date-Nut Bars

This holiday cookie is one of my stealth favorites. By that I mean it's not one that immediately comes to mind when I start to get excited about the Remarkable Marcy going into baking mode. But inevitably, it quickly moves up the list of cookies I sneak from the tins.

Dates are one of the food world's more unappetizing-looking items. Brown, wrinkly, a little slimy. Sort of like mutant raisins at best, a little like cockroaches at worst. But when chopped up and put into these cookies, they're very tasty.

Date-Nut Bars

1 8-oz. package pitted, chopped dates
1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp grated orange peel
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/4 lb. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbl orange juice
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two baking sheets and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir dates, raisins, walnuts, orange peels, cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar until fruit is coated with sugar. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and orange juice. Add the date mixture and stir until blended. Do not over mix!

The dough should be stiff. Divide into four portions and shape two logs on each baking sheet. The logs should be 12 x 2 x 1/2 inches.

Bake 15 minutes, then cool 15 minutes after taking them from the oven. Slice the logs diagonally into 3/4-inch bars and dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 64 bars.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Fun - Lileks and Moore

I don't mean to sound like Scrooge, but the holidays rarely put me in a jolly mood. So, I set out this morning in search of a few good chuckles.

Always a sure bet to make me snicker is one of my favorite sites, lileks.com. I first introduced you to James Lilek's hilarious site back in August. He's recently redesigned the site and added a few more fun galleries.

Lileks has gathered lots of cultural relics from the '40s, '50s, '60s, and '70s, like advertisements, cookbooks and postcards. He also has a very funny blog and podcasts.

What I particularly enjoyed on this visit was the Coffee & Chrome gallery, a visual feast of postcards and ads for restaurants and diners - the types that most anyone from my generation remember from years past. It's a great, fun time trip.

The Stupidist Angel

Another quick fix for the holiday blues is Christopher Moore's book, "The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror."

For anyone unfamiliar with Moore, he's been compared with Carl Hiaasen and Douglas Adams. His books are far-fetched and funny, and he's got a wise-ass attitude that gives them a delightful edge.

I first discovered Moore through his book, "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal." This thoughtful fiction about Jesus' missing years is funny, insightful, playfully irreverent, but overall is respectful of the Christ story.

"Stupidest Angel" is a delightful, quick read about the chaos that ensues in a Pacific Coast village during the Christmas season. It involves angels, zombies, a former action-film actress, a hyperactive dog and more. Many of the characters are familiar from other Moore novels.

It's been a long time since a book has made me laugh out loud, but this one did more than once.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chinese Food on Christmas

Brandon Walker, a Baltimore songwriter, is getting some buzz for this soon-to-be holiday classic, "Chinese Food on Christmas."

Thanks to my buddy Sam Sessa for pointing out this nugget.



Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Semi-Final 1

And the winner is...Alton Brown!

It was a merciless smackdown! In an avalanche of votes, Alton Brown took out Paula Deen by a margin of 46 to 6. He beat her like an egg! He whipped her like cream! No contest.

Going into this competition I had felt that Ms. Deen might have been a favorite to take the crown. I obviously underestimated the support base out there for Alton. If I were a politician, I'd be trying to track down Alton's Army to help me get out the vote. And if I were Alton, I might consider going into politics. Very, very impressive.

Our practice is to feature a recipe from the winner and here's a good one for cold days from Alton's vault - Curry Chicken Pot Pie.

Our next Food Network face off features Giada De Laurentis against Emeril Lagasse. The poll is open. Come out and keep it clean!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

BBTuesday - Smoked Scallops and Salmon


Today I turn over the blog to a friend, co-worker and serious smoker, Towson Tim. Tim and his wife Gail recently purchased a new smoker and have been busily breaking it in. I suggested Tim take notes and photos and share it with you good folks. And today, he does just that.

Smoked Scallops and Salmon

For those who love to smoke meat and seafood, this is a delicious, easy hors d’oeuvres dish. We had a few of the neighbors over on Sunday afternoon to, hopefully, watch the hated Steelers lose and cheer on the Ravens. This dish can be done ahead of time, which pleases my wife, the amazing Gail, to no end.

Scallops
Marinate large bay scallops (frozen work just fine) for 24-48 hours by covering them in the following brine:
2 parts of your favorite whiskey (mine happens to be Jameson Irish Whiskey)
1 part water
About a cup of maple syrup.

Marinate the salmon for 24-48 hours in the following brine:
1 part white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
1 part soy sauce
1 part water
Brown sugar (at least a half cup)
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Fresh ground pepper

After the salmon and scallops have soaked for a day or two, it’s time to smoke.

Because we relish the quality of life in our later years (translation – I am getting lazier), we use an electric smoker – NWTF brand purchased on the internet from Bass Pro Shops. It has a thermostat and timer, a top-side vent, four small smoking racks, a water pan and a wood chamber overtop the heating element.

Set the smoker temperature to 220 F. Put the scallops on the top rack and the salmon on a middle rack.

Scallops are very delicate, so they only need to smoke for about 45 minutes. The salmon takes a little longer – about 2 hours.

Right out of the smoker, wrap the seafood in aluminum foil and let stand at room temperature for about a half-hour. After it has had a chance to cool and the moisture has settled into the meat, put in the fridge until you are ready to make the platter to serve to your guests. Dress the platter with dill on the salmon. Serve with minced onion, capers, hard-boiled egg and horseradish sauce, all on the side.





Thanks Tim and Gail. Looks great!




Monday, December 10, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Bout 4

And the winner is...Emeril Lagasse!

BAM - no contest here. Even though he's looking more and more like the Pillsbury Doughboy lately, Emeril put away Bobby Flay with little effort in the first shutout of our Food Network celebrity chef showdown.

Emeril now moves on to the next round where he'll be paired against Giada De Laurentis.

In recognition of his win, here's the recipe for Emeril's Candy Cane. Be forewarned - it's not candy. It's a seasonal cocktail that should do fine in taking the edge off the holiday madness.

And now it's on to the semi-finals and our first bout pits Paula Deen against Alton Brown. This one could go the limit based on the support each chef received in the opening round.

The bell has sounded. Make your vote now!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tragedy and Legacy

On Thursday morning I learned that a colleague's house had caught on fire.

It was early in the morning when it happened. He, his wife and their two children living at home were all asleep. It's uncertain whether the smoke alarms went off, or did so and went unnoticed by anyone other than a dog, whose barking wakened my colleague.

By that time the house was engulfed in smoke. His wife was able to scramble out of their bedroom window onto a roof over a porch. He went back to try to reach his son and daughter, but was unable to do so. Finally, almost overcome by smoke, he escaped.

His children did not. Their 11-year-old daughter died on the scene. Their 16-year-old son was rescued, but never regained consciousness. He remained on life-support and passed away yesterday morning. My colleague, who was in critical condition from smoke inhalation and a broken hip, had been in a different hospital, but was moved to the same site as his son just hours before the boy died.

As many of you know, I work for a daily newspaper. We deal with these kinds of stories almost every day of the year. Most of the time we do so with a hard-learned disconnect that allows us to handle the parade of tragedy without it emotionally driving us into the mud. But every now and then something like this happens. A familiar name bores through our shields. It reminds us that we're participants, not just spectators in life.

I've spent a lot of time the past few days watching my own kids. Hugging them a lot. Telling them that I love them. At work, I've noticed everyone is a little more considerate of one another. But shouldn't this be the way it's supposed to be every day? Perhaps that will be the legacy of this awful tragedy.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Be Back Soon


Events of the past couple of days have me down and out.

I'll be back with you soon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Bout 3

And the winner is...Giada De Laurentis!

By a 7-2 margin, voters indicated that the little queen of Italian cuisine would have no trouble dispatching stylish Sandra Lee. I suspect there was some pre-fight carb-packing that worked in Giada's favor.

My advice to Ms. Lee is go whip up one of those fru-fru drinks you make at the end of Semi-Homemade and forget about the loss.

Giada now moves on to the quarter-final round, where she'll have her work cut out for her against the winner of the Emeril Lagasse-Bobby Flay throwdown. Voting for that bout is now open and runs through Sunday.

To celebrate Giada's victory, here's a recipe that will air on the Dec. 10 episode of Everyday Italian that blends Christmas and Chanukah flavors - Parmesan Potato Pancake.




Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Happy Chanukah


Sundown today signals the start of Chanukah, the festival of lights. We'll celebrate this tradition from the Remarkable Marcy's side of the family as we always do: the lighting of the menorah as prayers are said, the unintentional off-key singing of a couple of songs, a few spins of the dreidel and the opening of gifts.

While we've raised the kids in the Christian tradition, we've always felt it was important that they understand and respect the traditions of their Jewish heritage. Marcy has done a typically remarkable job explaining the stories behind the holy days and why we do what we do to observe them. The kids have embraced these lessons and traditions. Especially when it comes to Chanukah. That's because they get stuff.

We try to keep to an "enlightenment" theme with Chanukah gifts, usually going with books, games or music. Oh, yeah - and they get gelt, the chocolate money that has nothing to do with enlightenment. It's some of the worst-tasting chocolate ever made. Perhaps one of the Chanukah miracles is that people not only willingly, but joyously eat the gelt.

So, tonight we recognize the Jewish side of the family. And we remember those with whom we've celebrated past Chanukahs who will be with us in spirit when the candles are lit.

And if you want a real taste of Chanukah tradition, here's a link to a good potato latkes recipe, along with a story about that tradition.

Chanukah Song

This isn't one of the traditional tunes we sing around the menorah. But it does bring a smile to our faces every time we hear it.




Enjoy!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Food Fight, Results of Bout 2


And the winner is...Alton Brown!

In our second showdown between Food Network celebrity chefs, the host of Good Eats gave a good beating to the Ace of Cakes, Duff Goodman. Voters gave Brown an 8-4 edge in the poll. My analysis is that the sight of Alton riding a motorcycle on his series, Feasting on Asphalt, telegraphed a toughness that was simply too much for Duff to overcome.

That moves Alton into the first quarterfinal match against Paula Deen. That should be a good one.

In the meantime, we've got unfinished business in round one. Our next match pits the queen of Italian cuisine, Giada De Laurentis, against Semi-Homemade's Sandra Lee.

The one thing I've always noticed about Giada is that she has the fattest fingers I've ever seen on a small woman. That could suggest a tightly packed mass of muscles under the skin that Sandra should watch out for. Or it could just mean that all that pasta settles in her fingertips. Sandra, while lithe, is likely to throw just about anything into the fight, just as she does in her recipes. If I were Giada, I'd watch out for anvils, horseshoes, ketchup bottles and who knows what else.

This is a quick one - only two more days to vote - so pick your favorite now!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sweet Saturday - Snickerdoodles



It's holiday time and there's magic in the air. Wait - that's not magic. It's the cozy aroma of cinnamon, which means that the Remarkable Marcy has started baking her Christmas cookies!

When I pitched this seasonal series of Saturday cookie recipes, sweet daughters Flannery and Mo demanded that I start with Snickerdoodles, a cookie almost as much fun to say as it is to eat.

The shortbread cookies topped with sugar and cinnamon are fairly ubiquitous. But I say this with an admitted bias and pure honesty - Marcy's 'doodles are the best I've ever had. They're soft, moist and highly addictive.

The recipe she uses comes from the wonderful James Beard American Cookery book, which also includes a brief historical sketch of the cookie. Here you go:

Snickerdoodles (aka Snipdoodles, or Schneckenoodles)

1 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Topping
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

Cream the butter well, then cream in the sugar and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Add the milk and the flour sifted with the salt, soda, and cream of tartar. Stir to combine well, easiest done with an electric mixer. Form into rolls about 1 inch in diameter and chill in the refrigerator. Cut off in 1-inch lengths and roll in the palms of the hand to form balls. Drop into the mixture of sugar and cinnamon, or dip only one side of the ball in the mixture and bake dipped side up. Place on a buttered cookie sheet or baking pan, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. (These cookies can also be made without chilling the dough. When mixed, dip up with a greased teaspoon, scrape off with the back of another greased teaspoon onto buttered pans, then sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon and sugar.) Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven until a delicate brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Loosen from the pans while still warm. Makes about 40 to 45 cookies.

Yummmmm. Enjoy!