We went to a minor league baseball game the other night and it was apparently “Christmas in July” night. The ushers were dressed as elves, Santa was there, and they had the big, inflatable snow globes running. My kids were a bit confused when I told them that Christmas in July is just something that people … do. I have no idea why. I remember being a kid on a camping trip and everyone had their campsites decorated for Christmas. 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. But who the hell ever prepares to answer why we celebrate Christmas in July? Well kids, maybe it’s because we are past the halfway point of the year — meaning that Christmas shopping needs to start? Or maybe because we are so hot and are thinking about Christmas to cool off? Or maybe because the stupid little Christmas shops in beach towns need a cash infusion? 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). Why did I do it? Was I subconsciously celebrating Christmas in July? Maybe this stupid tradition is hardwired into people as they get older. 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. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add sugar and dates and cook for 4-6 minutes until bubbly and mixture is darkening and become caramelized. Remove from heat.
2. 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). Whisk egg mixture back into date mixture and and stir well to combine. Put back on the heat and cook 1 or 2 minutes more until bubbly.
3. Stir in vanilla extract and rice cereal with a wooden spoon. Make sure cereal is completely incorporated into date mixture (sort of like rice krispy treats at this point). Let cool a few minutes.
4. Take a spoonful of the mixture and drop it into powdered sugar (this will help it to cool quickly and not be too sticky). Using your hands, roll into a ball and cover in additional powdered sugar, if desired. Repeat with remaining mixture. (You can also spread these into a baking dish and cut into bars to make it easier.) Store in the refrigerator.