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THE FRONT BURNER

FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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What will you leave for the big guy tonight?

Four years ago, I was lucky enough to get Mr. Claus himself to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts on what he finds waiting for him after he climbs down your chimney. Since he’ll be making the rounds in a matter of hours, I thought I’d re-post his message. Merry Christmas to all of you!

BY SANTA CLAUS

I know that after weeks of cooking for open houses, cocktail parties, family gatherings and potluck suppers, the last thing most moms and dads want to worry about is whipping up another batch of cookies to leave out for me as I make my rounds on Christmas Eve.

I do sympathize with the parents out there who can’t stand the thought of washing another mixing bowl or firing the oven back up, just to leave a treat for a guy who doesn’t even bother to say hello when he drops by every year.

But my obsession with these small sweet bites rivals that of the Cookie Monster himself. Imagine my displeasure after squeezing through your soot-choked chimney and finding not a crumb to munch on upon arrival.

That’s why I asked The Free Lance-Star for space to offer a solution to the problem many of you appear to be grappling with.

I propose that you solve the cookie-time-crunch problem by doing what I do when orders begin to back up in my workshop: delegate.

Get the kiddies involved.

I see them when they’re sleeping.

I know when they’re awake.

I know they can pick up a wooden spoon and–with proper supervision–mix up a treat worthy of ol’ St. Nick.

I’ve been venturing out in the December cold to bring them toys for, what, hundreds of years now? I don’t think a little quality time in the kitchen is too much to ask, and I am sure they’ll sneak enough bites of raw cookie dough to make it worth their while, anyway.

Santa is no parenting expert (I bring the toys, you bring the discipline), but it seems to me that getting your kids involved in the kitchen is a good way to teach them about where food comes from and pass along a skill that will serve them well when they grow up and (hopefully) live on their own.

I have consulted that Google thing we just got up here at the North Pole, and found a no-cook cookie recipe designed especially for young cooks.

The elves and I spent a recent Saturday whipping these up. (We freed up a good bit of time this season by outsourcing the Wiis.) All would be a welcome sight for an old fat man who’s starting to feel a bit neglected.

A good way to get the kiddies cooking is to break down your favorite cookie recipe into manageable tasks.

Measuring flour, chocolate chips and oats reinforces math skills. And what child wouldn’t get a kick out of cracking an egg for the first time–for once, they’re actually being asked to break something in the house.

So today, when the tots are full of anxious energy in anticipation of my visit, consider letting them burn some of it off in the kitchen and leave a little something for the big guy before they settle in for the night.

(And to the health nuts out there who left me PowerBars last year, that wasn’t funny. I get enough of that granola stuff from Mrs. Claus. This is supposed to be my night to live a little. Do it again and you can expect a big lump of coal.)

Merry Christmas to all!

HONEY PEANUT-BUTTER BALLS

1 cup honey (see cook’s note)

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup non-fat dry milk

1 cup Rice Krispies cereal

1 cup flaked coconut (optional)

Cook’s note: White Karo syrup may be used in place of honey, or use 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup Karo syrup.

Procedure: Combine honey, peanut butter, non-fat dry milk and cereal.

Spread coconut evenly on wax paper or plastic wrap. Shape dough into small balls and roll in coconut to coat.

Place balls on plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Wax or parchment paper, plastic wrap or aluminum foil may be used interchangeably for this recipe.

Recipe from: cooks.com

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