Mail and comments have brought some inquires:

How did the panforte turn out?

Looks great. It’s extremely dense, but not brittle-hard, with a deep cocoa/spice/fruit aroma. The recipe calls for coating the entire cake in bittersweet chocolate before serving. We plan on having ours at a party on Sunday. Since I won’t be tempering the chocolate, I didn’t want to coat it too soon. To do so would mean I’d have to find fridge space for it. So I covered it tightly in plastic wrap and let it sit out on the sideboard. (I might pour something spirituous over it between now and Sunday, just for fun.) Sunday it gets coated and served. Reports on Monday for sure.

And the cookies?

I’m still behind on cookie production. So far I’ve done the peanut butter cookies, the chocolate chip cookies, the brownie crinkles (to die for!). plain old sugar cut-outs (mine are flavored with lots of lemon), the rum balls, and the Mexican wedding cakes. Today’s agenda includes Oysters but with walnuts instead of hazelnuts (I ran out of hazelnuts, but have a ton of walnuts left), and a cookie with marzipan filling. I’d originally planned on doing a chocolate cookie with the almond filling, but I’ve already got several chocolate varieties. Perhaps a cinnamon cookie instead… I’ll be figuring this one out on the fly. That leaves two more before we’ve got the requisite 10 kinds in house, not counting the party-destined panforte. One may be orange drop cookies (recipe in hand from a dear friend who lives far away). Not quite sure what I’ll do for the last one yet. Suggestions are welcome.

The monitor?

"It’s dead, Jim."

It’s a classic case of you get what you pay for. I didn’t have much to spare at the time I got it, so I opted for a bargain basement model. There’s a reason it was so inexpensive. If you’re monitor shopping, avoid Samsun SynchMaster 997DFs, even if they’re so cheap they’re almost free.

However I’m happy to report that a solution is on the way. Having had the foresight to register this dog, it’s still under warranty. The horizontal control transistor problem is well known. The official Samsung remedy for blown horizontal transistors still under warranty is to replace the whole thing. So they’re shipping me a new unit. For free. When it arrives, I’m to box up the dead one and mail it back. (They do hold a credit card deposit until the dead one arrives back at the warehouse). So with luck, by the New Year – give or take a couple of days, I should be able to work outside my 3-inch square box. Which is just as well. Squinting at the type in this teeny window is tiring in the extreme.

What am I going to knit when the gift knitting is done?

Back to the Birds Eye shawl and the Crazy Raglan. The latter item just turned up. It sprang out of nothingness as I was hunting for the boxes in which we stowed the holiday cards. (I never found the cards…) Which proves the point. If you’ve lost something and can’t find it, look for something else and your problem child is sure to turn up.

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