We have an early Thanksgiving for 2012.
It's just one more reason why so many people seem to be getting into "the holiday spirit" extra early this year.
Saturday is the 5th Annual Holiday Kick-Off Celebration: A Tribute to "A Christmas Story" in Hammond.
And on Saturday, once again, I'll be judging the annual Holiday Baking Contest. During the first two years, this competition was limited to only fudge recipes as a nod to the favorite funny scene in the 1983 movie "A Christmas Story" by Hammond's own-claim-to-fame Jean Shepherd. But in recent years, the organizers decided to switch and make it a holiday cookie contest.
Saturday's festival, which includes a number of events and activities, is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The Holiday Cookie Contest is at First Midwest Bank, 5231 Hohman Ave. at the corner of Fayette, with registration and cookie drop-off from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The judging is from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. with the winners announced at 3:45 p.m. on the Main Stage located in Harris Bank. Remember to bring a copy of your recipe when you bring your cookie submission. Here are this year's categories:
• Best Old Fashioned/Traditional (such as the standards like chocolate chip, gingerbread, sugar, peanut butter...)
• Best No Bake/Texture (such as chewy, soft, crisp...)
• Creative Use of Ingredients (nuts, raisins, fruit, chocolate chips)
The entry fee is $5 per batch if pre-registered by Friday and $10 per batch if entered the day of contest. Entries can be included in two categories. Sponsored by the Downtown Hammond Council, for questions or to print out a registration form or more details, visit downtownhammond.org or call organizers Karen Maravilla at (219) 512-4298 or Michelle Golden at (219) 937-3737.
To help inspire readers and possible cookie contestants, this week's recipe comes from Morgan Hancock, 18, of Valparaiso and one of my freshman students at Purdue North Central. For her demonstration speech this semester, Morgan showed her classmates a quick and easy kitchen gift that assembles in just a few steps and results in a delicious cookie recipe. By layering all the needed ingredients (except for the dairy add-ins and the vanilla) in an old-fashioned glass canning jar, it's easy to bestow a sweet treat kit for making her "Cowboy Cookies."
And for anyone not interested in the gift presentation aspect, you can still follow Morgan's recipe to just whip-up a batch of her cookies. (If you WOULD like to assemble the kit in a Mason jar as Morgan did, just layer the ingredients, except the three wet ingredients, in the order given and attach this recipe to the jar.)
Morgan's Cowboy Cookies
1 1/3 quick oats
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
DIRECTIONS: Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend combine together. Shape dough into balls the size of a walnut. Place 2-inches apart on a sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to racks to finish cooling. Makes 3 dozen cookies.