We went to a minor league baseball game the other night and it was apparently “Christmas in July” night. Â The ushers were dressed as elves, Santa was there, and they had the big, inflatable snow globes running. Â My kids were a bit confused when I told them that Christmas in July is just something that people … do. Â I have no idea why. Â I remember being a kid on a camping trip and everyone had their campsites decorated for Christmas. Â I was probably just as confused as my kids were.
When you become a parent you know that, eventually, you are going to have to explain sex and death and astronomy. Â But who the hell ever prepares to answer why we celebrate Christmas in July? Â Well kids, maybe it’s because we are past the halfway point of the year — meaning that Christmas shopping needs to start? Â Or maybe because we are so hot and are thinking about Christmas to cool off? Â Or maybe because the stupid little Christmas shops in beach towns need a cash infusion? Â The possibilities are endless and I really don’t want to spend any more intellectual bandwidth thinking about it.
But then I realized I made a Christmas cookie recipe the other day (*before* the game). Â Why did I do it? Â Was I subconsciously celebrating Christmas in July? Â Maybe this stupid tradition is hardwired into people as they get older. Â Maybe we realize that once you get to the 4th of July that it might as well be Christmas … Maybe Christmas in July is a deep, existential expression of the speed of *life* and our own mortality?
Or maybe I was just really hungry for these cookies.
Crispy Brown Rice Skillet Cookies
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar (you can use up to 1 cup, but I find that to be way too sweet)
1 cup chopped dates
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups crisp brown rice cereal (or regular Rice Krispies)
1. Â In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Â Add sugar and dates and cook for 4-6 minutes until bubbly and mixture is darkening and become caramelized. Â Remove from heat.
2. Â Take a few tablespoons of the butter/sugar/date mixture and stir into beaten egg in order to temper it (so it won’t scramble when you add it in). Â Whisk egg mixture back into date mixture and and stir well to combine. Â Put back on the heat and cook 1 or 2 minutes more until bubbly.
3. Â Stir in vanilla extract and rice cereal with a wooden spoon. Â Make sure cereal is completely incorporated into date mixture (sort of like rice krispy treats at this point). Â Let cool a few minutes.
4. Â Take a spoonful of the mixture and drop it into powdered sugar (this will help it to cool quickly and not be too sticky). Â Using your hands, roll into a ball and cover in additional powdered sugar, if desired. Â Repeat with remaining mixture. (You can also spread these into a baking dish and cut into bars to make it easier.) Â Store in the refrigerator.