edited by NORA ROSENGARTEN
To close off our holiday issue, here is a delectable menu of goodies, catered for all palates and sensibilities. Let’s be honest, a single helping is never enough at the holidays: here are seconds from several writers and editors!
Attending a holiday soirée? Emma Clark knows the protocol for hosts and guests (indulge responsibly)! Curious who made “The Naughtier List”? T. Chase Meacham knows. Did Michael Donnay’s reference to Seussical buns catch your eye? We’ve got the recipe. Looking for a cutie to smooch at midnight on New Year’s Eve? Check out Joe Madsen’s list of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes from cinema’s classics. Last but not least: make sure you don’t miss editor Kelley Kidd’s meditation on the behind-the-scenes ritual of SixByEight Press!
From all of us at SixByEight Press: happy holidays to you and yours, and a happy New Year. We’ll catch you in 2018!
- Apéritif: Holiday Banqueting 101 by Emma Clark
- Hors d’oeuvres: The Naughtier List by T. Chase Meacham
- Eggnog (spiked): Top 5 Most Eligible Bachelor(ette)s of the Christmas Classics by Joe Madsen
- Entrée: Celebrating SixByEight Press by Kelley Kidd
- Dessert (yes, it was worth the wait!): Seussical Buns Recipe by Michael Donnay
Holiday Banqueting 101
by Emma Clark
1. Welcome guests with a flute of champagne, perched precariously on a tray that is more attractive than practical. Guests should then have their choice of a delicately balanced gin-based cocktail full of fruity aromas and peppered with words like elderflower. This should be accompanied by an equally delicate non-alcoholic fizzy drink that sits somewhere between flower and fruit and avoids guests needing to use the words “Shirley Temple” or “mocktail.”
2. Canapés should be easily consumed in one bite, because being mid-bite while mid-conversation is embarrassing, and who has time for napkins?
3. Starters should be light and delightful — a cheese or grain or colorful medley that makes people forget they are eating their vegetables.
4. Mains consist of a meat (or vegetarian option) prepared with a technique that you likely will not remember the name of, cooked in a fancy-sounding sauce that probably has something to do with alcohol and dressed with several bits that are beside the point.
5. The right dessert convinces people that they are indulging and not indulging at the exact same time, rich but not too rich, but let’s be honest: you can’t please everybody on this one.
The Naughtier List
by T. Chase Meacham
P.S. Dear Santa, actually, I want more stuff. Here’s the rest of my list. See what you can do, and I’ll see about those tariffs.
A new Monroe Doctrine.
I’m thinking something for me to use to exert supremacy, without being too supremacist.
A robust but congenial press.
Something with less fake news, but less news that comes across unflattering.
An independent California.
Fuck those guys, I broke up with them first.
Just kidding. Bridges become her.
One like Portugal has.
An independent Canada.
What a horrible mistake.
A denuclearized Mars.
The moon is fine, that’s ours. But Mars is for scientists and Australians.
A more dependent Europe.
Fuck those guys, too.
An independent America.
Need I say more?
Top 5 Most Eligible Bachelor(ettes) of the Christmas Classics
by Joe Madsen
5) Sinbad in Jingle All the Way (1996)
Like his co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger, this down-and-out dad does whatever it takes to get the hottest toy of the season for his son, including donning a tacky super-villain costume and stealing from a child. He’s an emotional mess but a real fixer upper, so snag him quick before the 1990’s end and his career hits the toilet.
4) Snoopy in A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Though known to plant unwanted kisses on unsuspecting peers, the dog is highly emotionally developed for his breed, and his active imagination could make for some interesting role play. Plus, unlike his deadbeat friends, he’s got his own bachelor pad! What a catch!
3) Michael Keaton in Jack Frost (1998)
If you crave a cold and emotionally distant father figure, look no further than the titular character in this touching classic about a dead man turned snowman. Though he might not have a beach bod, this snow dude is built solid for winter, and rumor has it that his bank account runs deep… with snow. Step in line if you like a guy who frostbites.
2) Mother Nature in The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
This seasoned dame has spent far too many years minding the squabbles of her tempestuous sons, Heat and Snow Miser. Calm but stormy, warm but frosty, she’s a tempestuous temptress, an emotional roller coaster, the perfect cure to boredom elsewhere in your life. Just don’t mention global warming ’til date 3.
1) Martha May Whovier in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Though I suppose she’s destined for the Grinch someday, Whoville’s sexiest socialite has time for some fun before settling down. Beautiful, elegant, mysterious, and fabulously wealthy, it’s completely unclear how she makes a living, but it’s frankly none of your business and uncouth to ask. Consider yourself lucky if she remembers your name at the next soirée. #WhovillesHottest
Celebrating SixByEight Press
by Kelley Kidd
At this time of year as the solstice, people around the world are appropriating the rituals of Saturnalia. We all develop ways to light up, both literally and spiritually, the darkest days of the year. In this issue, we explored the myriad ways that ritual appears in our lives as we celebrate and work to reconnect to the things that are important to us. One of the things I’ve found the sweetest in life is identifying, even making sacred, the small rituals that emerge in the day to day.
As I reflect on this idea while surrounded by glimmering snowflake shaped lights in my 60-degree city, I find myself considering the rituals of SixByEight. While this probably sounds silly, writing and editing for SixByEight Press is something that occupies a good deal of time in my life, and its rhythms impact the rhythm of my life. And, as with many rituals, I have a community of people who share in that experience with me. I thought, as we share about the traditions in our lives at this time of year, to offer the readers of SixByEight a glimpse of what our rituals look like.
Each issue begins with a call among the four of us — founders Natalie and Swedian, and editors myself and Nora. In these calls, nothing short of magic happens. Inevitably, we spend some time troubleshooting technological issues, but we power through and remain, collectively, unfazed. Then, from a tiny seedling of any idea, the four of us bounce ideas around. From the space in between each individual’s ideas grows a fully formed concept, with ideas and action items. It never ceases to be astonishing to witness and partake in.
One of the premises of rituals is that if you follow the proper steps in the proper order, the gods you intend to appeal to will be pleased and offer you what you’ve asked for. Following this call, there is no better way to explain what happens than this sort of miracle. With our crew of writers, we set out to create something without knowing how it will look when it’s done.
Inevitably, there are snafus. People drop out, things run late, editors travel. Every month, there is the distinct possibility of losing all control and everything falling apart. The week prior to publication is characterized, for me, by ritualistic checking of email and Whatsapp in a scramble to pull together the final bits and pieces (or sometimes, writing them). Yet, by the final Friday of the month, whatever gods allow for theatre magic seem also to smile on us. The pieces are polished, Swedian has tracked down images and bios, the perfect GIF has been selected, and we are live.
And then comes the most magical part of all — you read it. You are what brings us back each month to the phone calls and the franticness. We could not do this without you, and we appreciate that our ritual brings us closer to you each time we go around.
Seussical Cinnamon Buns
by Michael Donnay
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 scant tsp salt
- 4 tbsp soft butter
- 2 eggs + 1 yolk
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 4+ cups white flour
- Cinnamon and sugar mixture
- 2 tbsp flour
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp softened cream cheese
- 2 tbsp meringue powder
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp grated orange zest
- 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm milk to which you’ve added 1 tbsp of sugar. Mix the remaining 3/4 cup milk, remaining sugar, salt, butter, eggs, and egg yolk in a large mixing bowl. When the yeast has proofed, add it to the bowl along with 1 1/2 cups of the flour, and beat well to make a sponge. Cover the bowl and let the sponge rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour. Add the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a buttered bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a floured board. DO NOT KNEAD. Roll the dough into an 18″ x 18″ square.
Photo courtesy of the author’s mother
Mix the 2 tbsp flour into the 4 tbsp of softened butter. Spread this over the 18″ square of dough, and sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon sugar. Roll the square up. Using a sharp knife, cut the log in half, then in half again. Cut each of these logs into 8 pieces. Place the rolls into a 13″ x 9″ baking pan in 6 rows of 5, tucking the remaining two in where there are gaps. The goal is to pack them in so that when they rise, they’ll make the Seussical spirals appear. Let rise again in a warm space for about an hour or until doubled. Back at 400 Fo for 20 minutes. Be sure they are cooked through. Cool in the pan.
To make the frosting, mix the first 5 ingredients, and beat until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until well mixed. Frost the buns while still warm if you are going to eat them immediately.
NOTES (from the author’s mother):
- To make the filling, I mix sugar and cinnamon to taste.
- To make a still richer dough, use cream instead of milk.
- I use SAF Gold Yeast from King Arthur (better formulated for sweet doughs).
- To prepare ahead, I bake the buns and let them cool while I prepare the frosting. To serve, warm the buns for 5 minutes, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, in a 400 Fo oven. Frost and enjoy!
- Traditionally enjoyed in our household for Christmas and Easter breakfast.