Prairie Living

Santa Baby, Come and Trim My Christmas Tree!

“Santa Baby, come and trim my Christmas tree
Something about the holidays that makes me want to be naughty. Okay, naughty is my default mode–nothing jets my juices like doing the exact thing I know I shouldn’t. “Oh, Kar-en”, especially uttered from the mouth of Greg or my mother, is music that makes me grin ear to ear.  And this year, since I’ve been living in the land of Christmas kitsch with the most handsome and earnest believer in the season, fatted on a steady diet of Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life and classic oldies Christmas songs brought to us by KOSI FM radio, I find myself craving an afternoon of bourbon and Bad Santa.

It is for this reason that I am declaring Christmas 2014 the Year of the Ball.  Let us celebrate everything round and hanging, globular and jangling! 

Culinarily speaking, there’s meat balls and matzo balls, cheese balls and fish balls (gefilte). There’s even those annoying cake balls jollily popping up in every Starbuck’s across the nation, along with the more unusual, slightly low-brow, calf balls.  I once enjoyed a Christmas Eve with a group of Nebraskans and Wisconsinites on the banks of a glittering, ice-filled Platte River, where “long necks and balls” was the menu du nuit.  We sat by the fire in the grey Midwestern twilight, drinking  longneck Budweisers and eating whole fried Rocky Mountain Oyster, telling increasingly more risqué stories about Christmases past.  Blame it on the food, our inspiration. 

This time of year, there is the all too ubiquitous rum and bourbon ball trotted out by your Midwestern Aunt Whosie, her specialty–though, it must be said, too much tipping of the bottle in the making of these balls can make them an instant addictive pleasure.  So too the more festive truffle ball.  I never say no to deep chocolate.

But I’m not talking about any of these balls.  They are all balls of another time, another era.

This year, in our new home on the prairie, the artist-lover and I have been eating balls by the batches, and while perhaps they’re no less mundane than any of the traditional ones I’ve poo-pooed, they  are one of the most satisfying things I’ve had in my mouth for the holidays. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I give you the peanut butter ball. 
Balls in bed

Best made with very good, very expensive natural peanut butter, the balls are simple and as satisfying to make as they are to eat.  Plus, they fit the current high protein, high fat diet profile.

Simply mix four tablespoons of butter with a cup and a half of yummy rich tasting Earth Balance creamy peanut butter in a sauce pan until it melts to a caramel-like consistency.  That alone gets my clock ticking.  For the record, melted peanut butter is just about as sexy as melted chocolate on the finger and lips.  Toss this lovely mixture with about two and a half cups of sifted powder sugar and two cups of  some sort of sugar free rice crispies (I use brown rice) and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Here, you’ll need to leave the wooden spoon and plunge in with your hands, a step that ranks high on my cooking pleasure scale.  Then, roll the all that goodness into inch-sized balls, chill, and roll in melted chocolate.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and chill again. 

Santa baby, these balls, with their creamy salty center and lush chocolate exterior, inspire just a combination of indulgence, sass and sexiness.  In my wickedness, I have eaten them for breakfast, and late one night when I fell asleep to yet another must-see holiday movie, I woke requesting balls and a little Pellegrino—just the thing to trim my tree.

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