cookie parties and fun holiday to do's

Every year I'm invited to a holiday cookie party and every year I get very excited thinking about which cookies to make. I Google “Best Holiday Cookies Ever” and get tons of information. I click on Grandma's Melt-in-your-mouth cookies first, then I see Paula's Chocolate-Gooey-Butter Cookies next, and then Gingerbread cookies (I like the ones that are shaped like people best), and Molasses Crinkles, Double Chocolate Toffee Cookies, Lemon Raspberry Delight cookies, Maple Snicker-doodles (love the name Snicker-doodle and remember eating them at camp) Peanut Butter with Chocolate Thumb Print cookies, French Almond Madeline cookies and on and on. After cookie internet overload, I venture out to local bakeries to look up close, at the real thing. I walk to The Bread Garden Bakery in Berkeley first and the cookie sales girl is really nice and knowledgeable. I already know about the big, multi-colored Sprinkle cookies cuz my brother used to eat them, Chocolate Chip cookies cuz their popular and so good and I remember making Shortbread Holiday cookies (with frosting and sprinkles) with my Grandma when I was little, but I had to ask about the others. I find out about Granola Nut and Mini Chocolate Chip cookies, Mexican Wedding Cake cookies (traditional with walnuts and powdered sugar), Almond Horns with Dipped Chocolate cookies, Chocolate Nuggets with crystalized sugar and Financiers (almond butter with a texture of a Madeline and Gluten Free!) I notice they sell dog cookies too, which she says are made out of whole wheat flour with 'normal stuff' that's in a cookie, plus beef stock. The cookie salesgirl says that the dog cookies are not very good (she tried them) but dogs love them and beware they are not Gluten free. Next I go La Farine Boulangerie and Patisserie on College St. in Berkeley and the smell is intoxicating. Go there! Everything is amazing and you'll find cookies, breads, pastries and tons more. Next I stop at Bakesale Betty's in Oakland. They are known for their chicken sandwich among other things and cookies. Betty, the owner (the one with an accent and blue hair) tells me they have Chocolate Chip with and without Walnuts, Ginger Molasses, Oatmeal Raisin with Walnuts and Pecan Shortbread. Be careful at Bakesale Betty's because everything is amazing and I doubt it's good for you. Be prepared to wait in line (sometimes they bring free cookies and scones to you while you wait). By this point, I've spent hours on the internet, have been to three bakeries (with out buying or trying any cookies) and still have no idea what I'm going to make for the holiday cookie party. Last year someone made Almond Cranberry Biscotti, another women made Butterscotch and Chocolate Chip cookies and my friend Jamie, from Jamie Living made healthy, Gluten free, Sesame and Anise cookies. Did I mention Jamie was on Martha Stewart Living Radio show this week? Do you see now why I feel pressure? I just want everyone to think that my cookies look and taste the best, but the truth is that every year I buy 2-3 dozen store made cookies for the holiday cookie party. Last year it was Snicker-doodles from Wholefoods which was embarrassing because someone made real home made Snicker-doodles. The year before that I brought Chocolate Star Cookies from Trader Joes and before that I tried to find Entenmanns Chocolate Chip cookies because I think they really do taste like home made cookies. After the Snicker-doodle incident I broke down during my cookie share and admitted that I've been buying store bought cookies all these years and that I don't know how to make cookies and I don't really eat cookies. No one even cared or knew that the cookies were store bought, (I think the lady that made the Snicker-doodles was suspicious) but no one could believe that I don't eat cookies. So for the record, I could make cookies if I wanted to (I did when I was a kid) and I do occasionally eat cookies my favorite are Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Girl Scout Tagalongs (I can see my Mom saying that she doesn't remember me eating any). But honestly I enjoy looking at the small details and the overall presentation of cookies. For example, one holiday season, my friend Diona made the most beautiful, delicate, perfect looking Hanukkah cookies I have ever seen and I was so impressed with her work that I shellacked 5 cookies with artist spray and saved them. For me they were too beautiful to eat. I'm not shellacking cookies anymore but you get my point. Anyway, this year I'm determined to bring home made cookies to the holiday cookie party. I found two little elf's (friend's kids) to make cookies for me. I don't even care what kind of cookies they make or how they look, well I do care how they look but I can't be too hard on the kids and there's always plan B.

Other Holiday to do's going on in Berkeley/Oakland Ca in December 2011

Berkeley Ballet Theater Nutcracker see site for dates and time
Oakland Ballet – Graham Lustig's The Nutcracker see site for dates and time
Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm
Valley of the Moon Pottery, North Eagle Gallery and Christmas Tree Farm Please visit my Aunt and Uncle's Christmas Tree Farm and Galley in Santa Rosa,CA!!
Claremont Hotel and Resort Gingerbread House and tree display in lobby!
Rockridge Holiday Jazz and Wine Stroll in Oakland Fri. Dec. 9th 5-8pm
The Crucible's Holiday Gifty Fair and Fire Performances in Oakland Dec 10 12-6pm and Dec 11 12-4pm
Lights, Menorah, Action! A Congregational Hanukkah Event at Temple Sinai In Oakland Sat. Dec 10 3-6pm
Hanukah Festival of Light at the JCC of the East Bay 1414 Walnut St, Berkeley Sunday Dec 11 10-2pm
Almost Chanukah Fair in Berkeley at Netivot Shalom 1316 University Ave. Berkeley Sunday Dec 11 11-2pm
Afikomen Judaica Chanukah Party and Menorah Lighting at Afikomen in Berkeley Dec 25th 11-5pm Menorah Lighting at 4:30pm

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