Tired of toasting the New Year with the same old glass of bubbly? Then try this delicious cocktail from Celebrate! by Sheila Lukins. It’s sure to impress your New Year’s Eve guests. Just make sure there’s some Bud heavy for your boyfriend.
A romantic, sweet, fragrant, bubbly, tangy–this dazzling sparkler is a holiday gift in a glass of champagne. Now that’s festive.
When you think of Hanukkah nosh, you think latkes: delicious fried potato pancakes with dollops of apple sauce or sour cream. But did you know that jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyot, are a traditional Hanukkah treat in Israel? Follow the recipe below from Judy Bart Kancigor’s Cooking Jewishto make about 3 ½ dozen of these popular pastries:
Pnina Shichor’s Sufganiyot
½ cup plus scant 1 cup warm water
(105 to 110 degrees F)
3 packages active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, beaten
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
Canola or corn oil, for frying
Jam (any flavor)
Preheat the oven on the lowest setting for 15 minutes, and turn it off.
Pour the ½ cup warm water into a very large (at least 6-quart) bowl. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve it. Then add 1 teaspoon of the sugar, stir, and set the mixture aside until bubble, 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir the scant 1 cup water, salt, oil, remaining sugar, and eggs into the yeast mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour, and mix. Gradually knead in the remaining flour until the dough is spongy and elastic but still feels slightly tacky. Remove the dough and oil the bowl (no need to wash it). Turn the dough in the bowl to coat it all over with oil, and loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise in the turned-off oven until it nearly reaches the top of the bowl, about 2 hours.
Punch down the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is ¼-inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or glass, cut out the rounds of dough. Place the rounds on a baking sheet and set them aside to rise, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch into an electric frying pan (preferred), deep fryer, or large, heavy skillet and heat it to 365 degrees F.
Dip your fingers in flour, and lift up a round of dough. Move it back and forth between your two middle fingers to stretch the center of the round quite thin without tearing it. This will be the depression for the jam.
Quickly drop rounds in the hot oil, depression side down—a few at a time, without crowding. Cover the pan and fry until the doughnuts are golden brown but not dark, about 30 seconds. Quickly turn them, cover the pan, and fry until the other side is golden brown, 30 seconds more. Drain the doughnuts on both sides on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough.
Fill the depressions with jam, and dust the doughnuts with confectioners’ sugar. These are best when eaten warm. They don’t keep well, but no matter. You won’t have any leftovers.
Queue up Tchaikovsky on iTunes, decorate the tree, and while you’re caught up in the spirit of decorating, pull out the crayons and scissors for some holiday playtime.
From puppeteer Noel MacNeal, author of 10-Minute Puppets, here’s a brand new 10-Minute Puppet just in time for Christmas! Maybe you can help these two archenemies from The Nutcracker become friends in time for Christmas (how’s that for a plot twist?). And while you have the crayons out, prepare for Act II by making a whole fleet of Sugar Plum Fairies (download the Teeny Ballerina template, here)!
1. Download and print The Nutcracker & Mouse King template. Color in the two designs.
2. Cut out the two designs from the page.
3. Carefully cut around the dotted lines of the Mouse King’s ears and gently curl or fold them forward.
4. Attach strips of tape along the white edge of each of the templates, then lay the templates facedown (so the tape is sticky side up). Press an empty toilet paper tube into the tape on each template and wrap the template around the tube.
5. Secure the open ends with tape. Then insert the tubes onto your fingers, and it’s on to the Kingdom of Sweets!
The Nutcracker & Mouse King are a brand-new puppets by professional puppeteer Noel MacNeal, based on his book 10-Minute Puppets.
It’s that time of year again—time to break out the tinsel and the holiday sweaters and, of course, the cookies! Yesterday was the Workman holiday party, and we really pulled out the stops. In addition to gifts under the tree, a rockin’ holiday band, and a record-breaking dance number (more details soon…!), the party also saw the return of a favorite holiday tradition: the annual Workman cookie swap.
A very small sampling of the many desserts at the party
What is a cookie swap, you ask? It’s just that: a swapping of cookies. Partygoers whipped up a batch of their favorite cookies—often, you probably won’t be surprised to learn, out of a Workman cookbook—and then laid them out for display. Then everyone who brought in baked goods could put together a sampler of all the other cookies they wanted to take home. And even those of us who didn’t make anything were allowed to try a few—you know, in the generous holiday spirit and all.
This year the edible offerings were as great as ever, with cookies running the gamut from peanut butter thumbprints to chocolate whoopie pies. Among the many highlights were treats from two of our favorite cookie books: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrichand Lauren Chattman’s Cookie Swap! Below, check out (on the left) some Snickerdoodles from Chewy Gooey and (right) some Chocolate Peppermint Dirt Cookies from Cookie Swap!, lovingly baked by Workman employees.
Gearing up for your own holiday party? Whip up a plate of delicious ginger cookies from Artisan’s spectacular Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy and you’re sure to wow all the holiday revelers you know; the recipe’s below. (And keep scrolling for a few choice shots from the party!)
Partygoers mingle and jingle.
Red-and-green peanut butter thumbprints (!!)
The Reprints---Nancy (at the back on the spoons), Erin, Liz, Bob, David, Jeanne, and Mike (below)---rock out.
No keyboard? There's an app for that.
Donated gifts under the tree---and Cheryl and Griffith Day of "The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook" on top!
As a publicity intern at Workman, my regular work includes putting together press kits and mailings. But every once in awhile, I get a task that’s a little more out of the ordinary! Like when I was recently asked to find a snake piñata for a Splendid Spotted Snake event.
After some brief research, I became determined to make a piñata myself. When I left work that day, I had my mind set on a large, snake-like balloon and papier-mâché piñata, which I would then paint and cover with crepe paper. Once I arrived home and consulted my mother, however, my plan quickly changed after she wisely reminded me that papier-mâché has never been my artistic medium. (To bring you up to speed, I’ve had some scarring formative papier-mâché experiences: Picture a bespectacled third grader attempting to make a festive paper bowl with just a balloon, newspaper, glue, and a dream. Now imagine a loud balloon pop, a crumpled blob of gluey newspaper, and a newly disillusioned third grader. You get the picture.) Not to mention, my mother was also careful to point out that the piñatas of my youth were radically unsafe (thanks, Mom), and that newer piñatas are equipped with colorful strings that, when pulled, open a secret trap door in the body of the piñata. The candy is then released into the ecstatic and, most importantly, uninjured group of waiting children. Oh, the wonders of modern piñata technology!
My very splendid, very spotted piñata!
I decided to go to Home Depot to look for a wide pipe of sorts that I could cover with a splendid spotted exterior. Luckily I found one that was lightweight and somewhat flexible. The downside: it was black and ribbed. I bought it anyway, took it home, and cut a hole for the trap door in its “belly.” To cover it, I wrapped it in a taut layer of plaster (the type used to make casts for broken bones — this can actually be found in craft supply stores). This step got rid of the ribs, giving me a splendidly smooth snake body, and covered the black exterior. For the head, I used this same plaster over a balloon (almost too close to the aforementioned bad experience for comfort) and for the tail, I wrapped the plaster over a freehand newspaper cone. Then I waited patiently for these parts to dry and attached it all with yellow duct tape.
Instead of painting it, I decided to give the snake texture by wrapping it in yellow crepe paper. I sprayed the snake with adhesive and then wrapped the snake in strips of the crepe paper.
Lest you think it was ALL about the piñata...there were lots of activities to keep kids entertained!
So now I had a yellow snake with a big hole in its belly! I crafted the spots and face out of felt, and glued them all on with tacky glue. To keep with the theme, I then filled the snake with: gummy worms (like little snakes), gold and red Mardi Gras-type necklaces, and confetti (aka flying spots).
Spots, spots, and more spots! Kids decorated their own spotted snake art.
SPOTTED at the event: Authors Betty Ann Schwartz and Alexander Wilensky!
To seal the great beast’s belly, I sewed one ribbon onto a big sheet of felt, and taped 15 or so ribbons to that same sheet. These were the trick ribbons! Only the magic ribbon would unleash gummy worm joy onto the children. So once the snake’s cavity was stuffed, I fitted the felt into the hole and my snake was complete!
After about 7 hours of crafting, a few haunting childhood memories, and a major glue meltdown, I was done! I drove my masterpiece into the magical land of New York City, and led it into the magical offices of Workman Publishing, where my efforts were recognized with the esteemed title of “Intern Extraordinaire”!
The Splendid Spotted Snake piñata made its grand appearance at an event at McNally Jackson in NYC on Saturday, November 5, 2011 where it was a big “hit”–or pull, as the case may be. Thanks again to everyone involved in the success of this event!
In the summer of 2011, several cartoonists from The New Yorker magazine were invited to participate in a group therapy session. Let’s just say it did not go well….
A little bit dark, a little bit twisted, a little bit weird, a little bit dumb, and little bit naughty (who wants to give all the nice presents around the holidays anyway?) — from cartoonist Matthew Diffee, it’s the absolutely brilliant Best of the Rejection Collection, the funniest cartoons you’ll never see in The New Yorker.
And, it can all be yours! We’re giving away one copy of the book, signed by author Matt Diffee and several of his colleagues and co-stars from the trailer above. Just leave a comment below or at the Workman Facebook page telling us about a holiday gift that you rejected (aka returned for something way cooler). Each person is allowed two entries (one in each comment section!). The giveaway will be closed and a winner will be chosen at random at noon EST on Wednesday December 14, 2011.
Loved: Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and The Magician King. The series gets tagged as “Harry Potter for Grownups,” because it’s about a kid who goes to school to learn magic. But he’s a teenager, with all the self-involvement, pettiness, shortsightedness and drama that goes along with that. So the enemy isn’t a Voldemort-type figure as much as it’s the hero’s tendency to sabotage all of the relationships in his life. It’s hard to create a hero who’s basically unlikeable for most of the story and make you want to keep reading, but Grossman pulls it off in the first book, and then improves on that in every way in the second.
Learned from: Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw. Gladwell can write on something as simple as why there are lots of brands of mustard and only one major brand of ketchup, and make it something profound and engrossing.
Books of Wonder on 18th St. in Manhattan. My kids are 3 and 6, so a bookstore devoted solely to children’s books is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon. I’m also fascinated by pop-up books, and they have the biggest selection I’ve ever seen. And they have a cupcake bakery in the store. Books and cupcakes? That’s pretty much all I need out of life.
I am the best fantasy sports commissioner in America. I have a football league that’s been going since 1988, and I have a league that combines football, baseball, basketball and hockey into one wondrous, all-consuming monstrosity. In both cases, I don’t use Yahoo or some other fantasy sports web site – I input the stats by hand, because my scoring system is better than theirs.
Bookmark, dog-ear, or virtuality?
I tend to use the receipt from the book as a bookmark, which has the unintended side effect of reminding me, weeks or months later, of where I was and what I was doing when I bought the book, which is kind of nice. But I tend to move back and forth between dead trees and the Kindle. I love browsing in bookstores, but I also loved being in rural Ireland, probably an hour’s drive from the nearest bookstore, sitting outside in the middle of a field, and buying another book in 30 seconds because I had just finished one. I don’t think one’s going to replace the other; I think we now have different options that each have their own advantages.
Book you are most ashamed never to have read
I know I should be most ashamed at never having read Hemingway, or Faulkner, or the many classics I managed to get an English Lit degree without reading. But at the moment it’s No Country For Old Men. I love McCarthy, I desperately want to see the Coen Brothers’ film, but I want to wait until I’ve read the book, and I keep putting it off for no good reason.
Most frequent form of writerly procrastination
Mostly reading. Let’s just say that being able to access the entirety of human knowledge on the internet is both a blessing and a curse.
Favorite childhood book
Every day after lunch, my 4th grade teacher read us The Book of Three, the first book of Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain. When we got to the end, I decided I was going to read the rest of the series myself, and that’s really what got me reading in a serious way. I had always been a big reader, but that was the start of having favorite authors and tearing through everything they had written, which I still do.
Alternate ambition (i.e. If you weren’t an author/Workman studio guru, you’d be…)
I ran my college radio station, and then an internet radio station for about 7 years, and long dreamed of being able to do that for a living. And my unrealistic career choice after college was music critic. I quickly learned that neither of those are real jobs for more than maybe 5 people in America each. So now my unrealistic goal is to be the person who picks the songs for movies, which is also only a real job for about 5 people.
Your perfect meal
I’ve been to the South maybe three times in my life, but I’m hooked on the food. Fried catfish, garlic mashed potatoes, greens, cornbread, fried apples, crawfish pie (which is impossible to get, post-Katrina and BP) and some sweet tea. Lucky for me, there are plenty of Southern transplants who have opened restaurants in New York.
My wife’s from Ireland, so I’d love to have a house here and one there. Or if I’m dreaming big, the top floor of the Chrysler Building here, and an 800-year-old castle there.
Super power of choice
Being able to fly. Apart from anything else, it would make getting home from work so much easier.
If you could miniaturize any other game or sporting event (with a limitless production budget), what would it be?
The big problem I encountered when trying to develop a sequel for The Miniature Book of Miniature Golf is that most sports are played in the same place. Every football game is played on an identical regulation field, so what do you put on page two? Golf lends itself to a book well, because every course has 18 different chapters to it, in a sense, and no two courses are the same. So I developed an idea for a Miniature Book of Real Golf, with different heights of “grass” for the rough, the fairway, and the green. The tallest grass was tall enough that you could tee off from it, you could hit the ball into the air, and it would take about 4 shots to get across the course, just like it would for one of the pros. But for that to work, the book was 10″ x 12″ (opening up to twice that size) and nearly twice as thick as Mini Golf with die-cuts and fake grass on every page. So, basically, I had invented the most expensive book in the world. But I still think it would be a lot of fun to play, if money were no object.
What Workman book would you like to receive as compensation for your involvement?
I already have so many! I’ll go with Joshua Jay’s The Complete Magician. My 6-year-old recently saw a magician at a birthday party, and now he wants to learn how it’s done. I just realized that every book I’ve mentioned in this thing has “magician” in the title. I swear that’s unintentional.
Mike Vago spent middle school study-hall periods mapping out elaborate miniature golf courses, which not only directly led to authoring The Miniature Book of Miniature Golf and then The Pocket Book of Pocket Billiards, but also to his career as a graphic designer. He has written for New York Press, The Stranger, and Artvoice. He lives with his family in Jersey City, New Jersey. His books, mini and pocket-sized as they respectively are, make excellent stocking stuffers.
Starring an honor roll of A-listers, including Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Matthew Morrison, Chace Crawford, Chris Rock, and a host of others, the film will be a Love Actually-esque compilation of intersecting stories about moms- and dads-to-be. With an all-star cast and perpetually compelling subject matter, we know this film will really…deliver. Look for it in theaters Mother’s Day 2012!
The brand new edition of 1000 Places to See Before You Diemakes great reading any time of year, but during the holiday season, there’s the added magic of imagining all the places around the world where you could be celebrating Christmas. Here are five destinations from the book where you might be especially excited to find yourself on December 25th:
You could journey to Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland the gateway to Finnish Lapland and the closest a kid can get to the North Pole he or she’s always pictured. Marvel at the elves’ toy factory and the 700,000 or so letters from children that wind up here each year.
All over Germany and Austria, Christkindlmarkts host carolers, baked goods, and old-fashioned (as in, Medieval) Christmas spirit. Nuremberg and Dresden’s markets are the oldest in Germany, while Munich’s is one of the largest.
For the diehards, don’t rule out a pilgrimage to Bethlehem in the Palestinian territories, where a 15-point star in the Grotto of the Nativity marks what is thought to be the site of Jesus’s birth.
Stateside, Christmas in New York City wouldn’t be complete without the gigantic tree in Rockefeller Center, twinkling beside (and towering above) a small ice rink where you can rent skates.
Like the Rockefellers with Rockefeller Center, we have the Vanderbilt family’s largesse to thank for The Biltmore, an Asheville, North Carolina estate (built in 1895 and still the largest private residence ever built in the country!) that now houses an inn as well as extensive holiday festivities, including visiting choirs, candlelight tours, and crackling fireplaces.
Read about all these destinations, along with hundreds more for the other 364 days of the year, in Patricia Schultz’s book, now in a full-color second edition.