20 December, 2009

Backseat Adventure - Chopping Your Own Christmas Tree

You would think that after a trip where we got lost in the forest and ran out of gas on the way home in minus 30 I would be smart enough not to want to ever chop down my own Christmas tree ever again. You would think that after not checking the Junior Forest Warden's site and mistakenly assuming that the chopping spot was in the same location you've been to three times to discover it is an hour away we would take the girls and dogs back home. That would be a safe conclusion, but our annual Christmas tree chop is the one holiday tradition that I simply can’t do without.

The tradition is an inherited one from my husband’s family. They would load everyone into the classic Aspen Wagon and trek out to the forest on the last weekend before Christmas. Following a romp through the woods there was the inevitable debate over just the right tree. Was it full enough? Were the branches strong enough for all the lights and ornaments? And, most importantly, was it tall enough?

With more than a few years experience of tree chopping under my belt, and subsequent decorating, I can safely tell you that the answer to those questions in the forest always seem to be no, but they are a resounding yes once you get home.

Your first clue that the tree is just a bit too big is when the branches hang over the sides of the car when you strap it down and you are required to put a fluorescent orange strap to the end of the truck so the cars behind don’t hit it. Oversize Load.

Then you get it home. And it’s at least 6 feet too tall for your living room and you have to remove more than the side table to just find a spot for all the branches. So you cut off about half of what you brought home (from the bottom so you preserve the integral shape of the tree) and plunge into decorating. And if it’s my house you eat cookies and watch Will Ferrell in Elf while you do it.

Even if you do run out of gas and are left running from farm house to farm house to call the other party – hey, this was a few years before everyone had a cell phone – the exuberance of running through the forest on a single-minded mission is worth it. It is worth it for the long-standing and memorable family tradition. It is worth it for the freshest and most local tree you can get. And it is worth it for the hot chocolate and cookies that come at the end of the journey.

Aside from a few new and old favourites I tried the trendy Butterscotch cookies I've been eyeing in my original Five Rose Cookbook. To me, they were a perfect dough and a lovely fireside and snowsuit compliment to our day.

Butterscotch Cookies
(Adapted from Five Roses Flour Cookbook)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

1. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix well.
2. Sift together dry ingredients. Add to wet and mix well.
3. Roll into a log and chill in fridge 1 hour - overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice cookies from log roughly 1/4 inch thick.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes.


Anonymous said...

I think it's because I live in such a warm climate, but I am such a sucker for bundled-up, rosy-cheeked kiddos!

loved reading about your adventure--your kids will not forget those traditions when they grow up. do we get a picture of the decorated tree? please?

also, butterscotch cookies = yum. I'm thinking they would make especially tasty ice-cream-sandwich building blocks!

Merry Christmas, Cheryl.

Charmian @Christie's Corner said...

OMG! I swear my grandmother made a version of these cookies. I'm practically sobbing. These are the cookies I remember baking in her teeny-tiny kitchen -- only no one can make the recipe the way she did.

I'm trying these TODAY!!!!!!!!!

Thanks so much for the early Christmas present!

Aimée said...

Truly a memorable excursion.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Got some amazing granola today....THANKS!! Really sweet of you....