In her spare time (what spare time?), Jennifer likes to hike, play guitar, read, and spend time with her husband and insane cats. More about Jennifer's books can be found on her websites: http://www.jennifersromances.com/ and http://www.allysonjames.com/.
Her next release, PRIDE MATES, will be in stores February 2010.
JA: Sure, TJ. All I want for Christmas is: The warm, colorful traditions that make up a Southwest desert Christmas.
For most people, Christmas means snow and ice, evergreens, fires on the hearth, and a cozy Christmas dinner in the warm dining room, while the world grows white outside.
What I have is cactus, palm trees, cook-outs, and snow once a decade, if that (and then it doesn’t stick).
And I love it. Christmas to me means luminarias (paper sacks with lit candles inside), tamales on Christmas Eve, stringing lights on the cactus and palm trees, going hiking on Christmas Day, Christmas dinner on the patio. Because the weather is usually clear and calm, it’s perfect for lighting displays, and people around here really go for it.
Some of the best traditions of a Southwest Christmas involve, of course, food! I sometimes make tamales myself (savory ones with meat and chiles), though Mexican eateries provide yummy ones to order.
Another favorite of mine are anise-flavored cookies from New Mexico called biscochitos. I include the recipe below. (Warning: They are addicting!)
2 cups flourSo while we do decorate Christmas trees and sing “Let it Snow” (why, I don’t know—it ain’t gonna snow), we also toss back our eggnog by the pool and enjoy red and green tortilla chips in toasty hot salsa.
1/4 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons anise seeds (less anise is more—you can overdo it)
1/4 cup brandy (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Beat sugar and shortening together until light and fluffy. Add anise and beat in eggs. Add brandy (optional) and beat. In a separate bowl, combine or sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add flour mixture and combine until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl.
Chill dough for one hour. Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
Let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roll dough to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before baking OR roll hot baked cookies in the bowl of cinnamon sugar.
Bake cookies at 350 degrees 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned.
And me personally? Well, I’m mostly writing books! I squeeze in Christmas cheer between chapters!
IMHO: Yummy post, Jennifer. Now I'm hungry. Think I'll go try out that cookie recipe! In the meantime, IMHO readers, why don't you share with Jennifer the answer to this question:
What unusual Christmas traditions do you and yours celebrate?
Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win this month's Christmas-themed tote containing signed books by Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley, Christie Craig, Carrie Lofty, TJ Bennett, and a $20 gift certificate from Amazon.com. Remember, the more authors' posts you comment on this month, the better your chances of winning. See my contest rules here.