A few Friday links


A quick post this afternoon to share some of the food-related articles I’ve written for my newspaper lately. Happy Friday, everyone!

The Free Lance-Star’s first Instagram challenge is going on now, and the theme is cookies! Entries are open through Tuesday, Dec. 17. Just tag your cookie photos with #fxbgcookies. So pull out your phone and get baking!

My roommate and I hosted our annual cookie swap this week, and I detailed the party on the Front Burner blog. Can you share any tips for hosting a successful cookie exchange? Snacks and drinks make for a nice beginning to a party, before the cookie-tasting begins. Stay tuned for a story I’m working on now about a group of women that’s celebrated the holidays with a cooke swap for 26 years.

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Grandpa Bob’s Date Nut Pinwheel Cookies

I wrote this piece for a food writing course at JMU, and then adapted some of it for a newspaper article about cookie exchanges. These treats were my contribution to this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. Date Nut Pinwheels are my absolute favorite Christmas cookie, for they are soft, subtly sweet and sentimental. I hope you enjoy.


Dozens of tins cover the wooden table in the dining room at my Aunt Margot’s house. The unlabeled tins, stacked on top of one another, beg to be opened so we can see — and sample — what’s inside. Every year, we see many of the same types of Christmas cookies: crunchy peanut butter topped with criss-crosses; hard biscotti from my Sicilian uncle; bite-sized “world peace” made with rich chocolate; chocolate chip, simple but familiar; almond cookies drizzled with chocolate; Mexican wedding cakes dusted with powdered sugar. Every branch of the Thisdell family brings an assortment of cookies for the piles to grow, and after we are all done snacking for the few days in town, we fill up our own tins to take home the fruits of the season. But despite the variety, there’s only one kind I yearn for year after year: date nut pinwheels.

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