Make music merry

A fan’s gift guide

It’s the holiday season and once again time to make a music fan’s eyes and ears light up like a Christmas tree. From modest to mammoth, and across a range of ways to access their passion, here are suggestions for your special someone.

If your giftee’s passion extends to creating music, check out Teenage Engineering, a Swedish company that makes the Pocket Operator, a line of mini synthesizers that resemble a calculator and sell for under a hundred bucks. If you’re feeling extravagant, the company has introduced the EP-133 KO II, a larger device with exponentially more groove and sequencing power; it’s $299 at

For the audiophile on your list, there’s the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt, a device that bypasses the crummy audio delivered on cell phones and laptop computers to truly leverage the enhanced sound offered by streaming services like Qobuz and Tidal, $199 at, and for phones it’s a good idea to include an adapter in the gift box.

Or you can keep it simple while still turning it up to 11 with the Marshall Kilburn II Bluetooth Portable Speaker. Befitting its brand, the “stout-hearted hero” weighs in at five and half pounds and boasts the loudest output of anything in its class, while providing more than 20 hours of portable power with a single charge, $199.99 at

Maybe your music maven is a purist with a throwback bent who loves only vinyl. Help them keep their prized albums clean with a Boundless Audio Record Cleaner Brush, perfect as a stocking stuffer at $15. But don’t give the leash without a puppy — there are many music box sets on offer this year.

Jason Isbell marked a decade since his breakthrough solo release Southeastern with a quadruple-vinyl, triple-CD edition that has the remastered studio LP along with a live version and demos of every song, with special packaging, $79.99 at The seemingly endless flow of Beatles music and the final drop of so-called new songs from the Fab Four continues with a repackaging of their Red 1962-1966 and Blue 1967-1970 albums, with a total of 21 previously unreleased tracks, $69.99 at

Wanna feel old? Green Day’s Dookie is turning 30 and the Berkeley punk stalwarts’ first big release has the deluxe treatment, with a six-LP (brown vinyl, natch) box set that includes a bevy of tchotchkes to go with outtakes, demos and live takes, including four songs from their notoriously mud-splattered Woodstock ’94 set, $121.32 at

Dolly Parton answered her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by inviting a big chunk of its membership (and Kid Rock) to work on Rockstar, her first rock ’n’ roll record. She even reunited the remaining living Beatles, along with Peter Frampton and Mick Fleetwood, for a version of “Let It Be.” It’s available as a four-vinyl album box set for $59.98 at

There is no shortage of books for the music fan. For superfans of the aforementioned Ms. Parton, give Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones, a fashion-focused autobiography that peeks into the singer’s closet and is packed with more than 450 color photos, $25 at

To (extravagantly) mark the 60th anniversary of Beatlemania for your favorite fan, give 1964: Eyes of the Storm, a collection of photos taken by Paul McCartney with his 35mm camera from the end of 1963 through early 1964, the years when The Beatles blew up into an international phenomenon and altered the course of music history. It’s $77.79 at

For those growing misty-eyed for the early days of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and other flannel-shirted rockers, Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner’s Mud Ride: A Messy Trip Through the Grunge Explosion covers the evolution and growth of Seattle’s music scene, from DIY club shows to its Big Bang, which removed most hair metal bands from the earth. $28.79 at

One of the latest classic rock memoirs is My Effin’ Life, from Rush bassist, keyboard player and singer Geddy Lee. It’s filled with anecdotes of his time with the prog rock power trio, along with personal stories of growing during World War II, with a grandfather who was murdered during the Holocaust. Novelist Michael Chabon praised the “warmth, care, artfulness, hard-earned wisdom and … gently skewed humor” in his book. $24.99 at

It’s always a good idea to keep things local. Here’s a thought: The next time you attend a show at The Shaskeen, Penuche’s, the Press Room or Strange Brew, pick up a CD and pay it forward by giving it to a loved one who’s unfamiliar with the performer’s music. That’s the most effective way to put cash in an artist’s pocket.

Of course, there’s always merch. Roots of Creation, one of the busiest bands around, offers a huge selection of T-shirts, caps, pins and posters at their website. Sepsiss, the female-fronted heavy metal band that just won another NEMA, has a line of T-shirts calling attention to the insidious practice of pay to play, where clubs force acts to buy tickets to their own shows and re-sell them for payment, along with other forms of financial exploitation. Available at

A few musicians have side hustles as artists making very cool stuff. Singer-songwriter Dan Blakeslee, who played his first main stage set at the Newport Folk Festival this year, sells line drawings (also available as T-shirts) at Nick Lavallee, front man for Manchester power pop band Donaher, runs Wicked Joyful, making bespoke action figures and apparel like the Devil Church Explorer Club hoodie or a Taco Tour at Tender Town T-shirt, at

Featured photo: Behind the Seams: My Life in Rinestones by Dolly Parton

’Tis the season

Holiday pops in Nashua, Concord

This year, Symphony NH will perform its Holiday Pops concert twice, at its home venue, Keefe Center for the Arts in Nashua, and at Concord City Auditorium. The evenings will include festive selections like “You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch,” Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s “Christmas Overture,” music from “The Nutcracker,” a Hanukkah song and a sing-along to close things out.

It’s the sort of program pops orchestras have done for years, but in a recent interview, conductor Roger Kalia, now in his fifth year, spoke of his vision for widening Symphony NH’s reach. This includes taking it to places like Bollywood, inside a game console, and to a galaxy far, far away.

“Keeping things fresh and bringing a fresh view to this art form,” he said, indicating that his eyes are set firmly on shifting the demographic. “Some young people … may call [it] a little stuffy, but there’s really so much great music out there.”

Along with Symphony NH, Kalia conducts the Evansville Philharmonic, near his home in Bloomington, Indiana, and Orchestra Santa Monica in Southern California. He co-founded the Lake George Music Festival and is its Music Director. An existence filled with frequent flier miles “comes with the territory,” he said. “You kind of sign up for it when you’re a conductor.”

Coming to the Granite State was challenging beyond that. “I got the job at a difficult time, right when Covid started; my first season, three concerts in, we had to shut down everything,” he said, adding admiration for Symphony NH’s resilience during the pandemic. “We were one of the few orchestras in the country to actually give concerts, and we did a virtual livestream concert format for the majority of the 2020-21 season.”

2023 marked the 100th anniversary of Symphony NH and offered a landmark season. The Indian American Kalia was especially pleased with Symphony Masala last October. The Bollywood-themed show was “the first collaboration of its kind in history, as far as I know,” he said, noting similar efforts were done with Indian instruments. “This was purely 100 percent Western instruments, with a singer … we made history.”

Another innovative concert offered this season was Wynton Marsalis’s A Fiddler’s Tale at the Rex, which combined jazz and symphonic elements. Upcoming in 2024 is Penelope, a song cycle from Sarah Kirkland Snider inspired by The Odyssey first presented as a livestream during the pandemic. “It involves a lot of pop music influences,” Kalia said. “Think Radiohead meets Bjork meets classical. … That’s what you’re going to get with Penelope.”

Brass to the Max will be the first show of the new year and will feature the Nashua-based Spartans Drum Corps in an all-brass percussion music concert. Kalia considers the answer to the question “What is pops?” to be “music for films,” which makes the final concert of the season in June a natural — The Music of John Williams, with selections from Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park on tap.

Kalia is especially looking forward to another first-of-its-kind effort called Game Over(ture), set for March 23 at the Capitol Center’s Chubb Theatre in Concord. Led by guest conductor Austin Wintory, the first video game composer to be nominated for a Grammy, the program will feature music from Wintory’s Journey, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy, Prince of Persia, Halo and others.

“It’s a great opportunity to bring in new audiences,” enthused Kalia.

While in Los Angeles, Kalia worked with famous performers, including Jack Black and Randy Newman, and organized From Classical to Rock, with Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls and Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson. He hopes to do something similar in New Hampshire, like a Beatles evening that happened here before he arrived.

“We’ve been looking at the possibility of either bringing [that] show back for a future season, or even doing concerts with blues artists,” he said. “There’s a great singer I know who specializes in the blues and New Orleans Dixieland jazz, that sort of thing.”

Kalia feels like he’s hitting his target.

“The past couple of seasons, I’ve been introducing newer work to our audiences, and they’ve really latched on to them; they expect it, I think,” he said. “The programming we’re doing … is truly innovative and unique compared to a lot of other cities in this country that have small regional orchestras, and I’m proud of that.”

Symphony NH Holiday Pops
When: Saturday, Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Keefe Center for the Arts, 117 Elm St., Nashua
Tickets: $10 to $63 at
Also Sunday, Dec. 10, 3 p.m., Concord City Auditorium, 2 Prince St., Concord

Featured photo: Holiday Pops. Photo by David Weiss.

The Music Roundup 23/12/07

Local music news & events

Old souls: A throwback blend of old-school jazz and contemporary hits, Postmodern Jukebox returns for a New England run that’s already sold out two of three venues, but good seats remain in the Lakes Region. Putting a new twist on the expression “everything old is new again,” the group recasts Radiohead’s “Creep” as a Dinah Washington turn and transforms the Spice Girls “Wannabe” into something else. Thursday, Dec. 7, 9 p.m., Colonial Theatre, 609 Main St., Laconia, $59 and up at

Channeler: The world will never replace Robin Williams, but Roger Kabler brings him to life in an anything but ordinary show. Kabler’s 2022 film Being Robin describes the chain of events that led him to create the tribute, starting with believing that he was possessed by the comic’s spirit. Friday, Dec. 8, 8 p.m., Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, $25 at

In state: It’s opening night in Rochester, as Joshua Guptel’s movie The Battle for Granite Records premieres. Filmed entirely in New Hampshire, it’s the story of a father and daughter trying to save a business and of the uphill battle faced by hip-hop artists in its early days. Guptel, also known as standup comic Jay Grove, launched Olive Tree Films a few years ago. Saturday, Dec. 9, 7 pm., Rochester Performance & Arts Center, 32 N. Main St., Rochester, $10 and up at

Holiday rock: Born from a Trans-Siberian Orchestra covers show intended as a one-off, Wizards of Winter evolved into the first indie band in a genre that blends Christmas music and grandeur. Fifteen years later they’re a top concert draw. Sunday, Dec. 10, 3 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, $40 and up at

Helping out: A weekly blues jam expands to benefit longtime New England performer Arthur James and his wife during a time of health and financial struggle. Hosted by Craig Thomas and Bluestopia, the event brings together the regional blues community and includes a raffle of a John Mayer-designed PRS Silver Sky guitar, donated by John Mann’s Guitar Vault, along with a 50/50 raffle. Sunday, Dec. 10, 6 p.m., Riley’s Place, 29 Mont Vernon St., Milford, $10; see

The Little Liar, by Mitch Albom

The Little Liar, by Mitch Albom (Harper, 333 pages)

There’s a downside to being the author of a runaway bestseller like Tuesdays With Morrie. It’s that every book you write from that point on will be compared to the most successful one.

In Mitch Albom’s case, the success of his 1997 memoir about conversations he had with his former professor, who was dying of ALS, made him turn to fiction. While his subsequent books haven’t enjoyed the popularity of Tuesdays, which is among the best-selling memoirs of all time, Albom has a loyal following and continues to write columns and books. His latest, The Little Liar, is an imaginative and often troubling story that is part historical fiction and part morality play.

The titular character is an 11-year-old boy named Nico who, at the start of the novel, lives with his family in 1943 in Salonika, a city that at the time had the largest Jewish population in Greece. The Nazis have invaded and are driving Jewish families from their homes and into ghettos with the intent of sending them to concentration camps.

A Nazi officer recruits Nico to assure the families that they are merely being “resettled” and will have jobs and new homes in Poland. Nico is the ideal child for this job, as he is “a boy to be believed,” having no experience with lying; he is so honest naturally that he doesn’t fib even a little bit when asked, for example, if he has done the required reading in school, or if he was tagged in a game of chase. Nico’s believability is enhanced by his good looks: He is an extraordinarily beautiful child, so much so that strangers on the street stop to comment on his appearance.

And because he is so honest, Nico does not doubt the lies fed to him by a young Nazi officer named Udo, who promises Nico that his own family will be safe. Because he does not lie, he can’t envision that others do. So he willingly goes up and down the train platforms telling the anxious waiting families that he has heard that all will be well.

Things fall apart when Nico sees his own family loaded onto a train, and he finds out they are going not to new homes but to Auschwitz. Among them is Nico’s oldest brother, Sebastian, and a family friend, the same age as Nico, named Fannie.

The rest of the novel follows each of those characters — Nico, Sebastian, Fannie and Udo — throughout their lives, showing how Nico’s unintentional deceit affected all of them, even as adults.

These characters were invented by Albom, who said he got the idea for the novel after visiting a museum and learning that Jews were used to convince others to board the trains bound for death camps. “That perversion of truth, with life and death on the line, stayed with me for months and even years later,” Albom wrote in an author’s note.

Some of the characters in The Little Liar, however, were real people, including Katalin Karady, a Hungarian actress who used her fame and money to rescue 20 Jewish children who were about to be murdered by the Nazis.

The main conceit of the novel is that the story is told in first person by a mythological being: the Angel of Truth. This character comes from an ancient parable about how, when God was creating the Earth, he consulted angels with names like Mercy, Righteousness and Truth, and Truth was the only one who advised God not to create humans, because, as Truth said, they would tell lies.

“So what did the Lord do? He considered all that was said. Then He cast Truth out of heaven and threw him to the depths of the earth,” Albom writes.

This parable is not Albom’s creation but part of the Jewish tradition. But Albom makes Truth the storyteller, which allows for occasional soliloquies into the nature of truth and lies, e.g., “Truth is universal. You often hear that expression. Nonsense. Were I truly universal, there would be no disagreement over right and wrong, who deserves what, or what happiness means.” And, “Of all the lies you tell yourself, perhaps the most common is that, if you only do this or that, you will be accepted.”

As the novel went on, this narration started to feel a little contrived, but it all comes together with a clever ending that is surprising and satisfying. This is no small feat, given the dark subject matter that comprises most of the book, during the events of World War II and in the anger, bitterness and resentment that festers in later years.

As the characters travel different paths — Nico turning into another person altogether in an attempt to atone for his past — Albom explores moral questions such as whether there are sins that can’t be forgiven no matter what we do later in life, and whether any amount of atonement can release us from the torment of our own conscience. These are complex questions for the simple language used in this book, but Albom, like his teacher before him, has proven himself to be an exemplary storyteller. B+

Album Reviews 23/12/07

KO Mini, Chef’s Kiss (self-released)

We’re seriously just about at the point where there’s almost no need to list a music release’s record label when writing about its merits or lack thereof, given that so many artists are completely independent (if the vampires at Ticketmaster and such could be prevented from buying up concert tickets and scalping them we’d be even better off). Anyway, what drew me to this little X-rated bubblegum EP was its tease that the single, “stoptryingtohavesexwithme,” “pushes the boundary of how much blunt humor and simultaneous sex appeal you should put into a song.” In a word, I was anticipating something funny, which it isn’t; it’s more about cruel rejection, not that most leering, overstepping incels don’t deserve anything better, but the beat is cool enough, a lot of earthquakey Ed Banger booms going on underneath. It’s a club-banging, Lolita-voiced break from the usual trap oatmeal, which, I’m sure you know by now, I absolutely cannot stand. The playful, fluttering/soaring “Sorry In Advance” is definitely worth checking into if you have some spare Spotify space. A

Escuela Grind, DDEEAATHHMMEETTAALL (MNRK Heavy Records)

I didn’t mean to riff on yet another metal release this quarter, but seriously, folks, this time of year I get sent like 50 of them every five minutes, and as well in my defense, at least this one’s from a New England-based band, well, half of it’s from Pittsfield, Mass., anyhow, go Patriots, amirite fam? The roster is three boys and two girls, one of the latter being singer Katerina Economou, who sounds like the dude from Cannibal Corpse, sort of, but more like Quorthon, like one of those raspy mini-sized cave-monster guys from the Hobbit movie, and the music is, as promised, very grindcore, like the sort of music you picture your pet tarantula humming to itself while it walks across the table to surprise your mom. It’s pretty epic for what it is, I suppose, not that I’d ever want these people to get mad at me, and thus I may be lying. A


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Hello, everyone, how was your late/second Thanksgiving, mine was fine except for when I completely ruined the turkey gravy by following a recipe I found online, at the Betty Crocker website, believe it or not, and it basically said I should combine equal parts flour and butter/turkey/whatever slime, but I took the recipe seriously and basically ended up with a cake that tasted like turkey; I’ve decided to cut this horrible disaster into a bunch of small compact cakes and sell them as “Gobbler Twinkies,” watch this space for my initial public stock offering and get a prime seat on the victory train! In the meantime, Friday, Dec. 8, is the next date for new CD releases, and look at that, there are actual albums listed on my private, secret web page, a source that only professional music journalists like me are allowed to access unless you have a web browser! I’ll stick to tradition and get the album I don’t really want to even talk about out of the way first, that being Before And After, the ninety-bazillionth album from horrible-voiced Woodstock charlatan Neil Young! No, I’m kidding, you guys, his song “Ohio” was OK, I thought, and it’s still OK even though it came out before SnapChat or the macarena or even electricity for that matter, and “Rockin’ In The Free World” is pretty epic, despite the fact that his guitar solo, as always, sounded like a duck trying to imitate the Storage Wars auctioneer dude (hey, let me have a little fun while I still can, I’ll be spending the next two or three columns complaining about the fact that there are no new albums coming out aside from box sets and hamster-wheel-metal albums from Finland)! OK, let’s see if my stomach can even deal with this new album, which is composed of acoustic versions of his old songs, like “Burned” from when he was in Buffalo Springfield during the days of the Thomas Jefferson administration, and “Mother Earth” from his 1990 album, Ragged Glory. Here, let me check out his re-rub of his famous song “Birds” and give you my expert analysis: Ah, I’ve got it, it’s an acoustic version of it and is absolutely no better than the original. Aaand moving on.

• Oh, great, time again for me to pretend I know anything about modern bubble-pop or divas or gigantic twerking butts or whatever the 11-year-olds listen to when they troll each other on SnapChat, because look folks, Nicki Minaj is back with a new album, called Pink Friday 2! There’s an advance single here, called “For All The Barbz,” and it features Drake and Chief Keef! The rhymes Nicki contributes are mindlessly pornographic, which adds to the je ne sais quoi, you feel me, and one of the dudes is using Auto-Tune, because it’s still 2002, right? So glad I’m living in a timeline that favors quality over redundant quantity, I have to say.

• Just a second now, this might be OK, the new LP from Alison Goldfrapp, The Love Reinvention! You might know that she got her start by being featured on the 1994 Orbital album Snivilisation, meaning she was one of the first electronic guest-princesses; I have to hand it to her. The new single, “Every Little Drop,” is understated warehouse-rave fodder, which I’m always glad to hear, just prettiness and sexytime romping, but there are no gigantic twerking butts and porn lyrics, what’s a critic supposed to do with this.

• And finally it’s California metalcore band Atreyu, with their new full-length, The Beautiful Dark Of Life! Wow, I have no idea what they’re even doing on the new tune, “[i],” it’s like some sort of Echosmith chillwave thing, I don’t mind it.


Gingerbread is strange.

Not the actual gingerbread itself but what people do with it. I can’t think of any baked good that people insist on making other things out of. We don’t make little eclair men with mischievous smiles, or build chocolate chip houses or hang brownies on trees as ornaments.

A number of people claim that they don’t like gingerbread when they’ve mostly had it as a flavor of tea, or an ingredient in ice cream, or baked hard and served as a cookie. I won’t say that everybody loves warm, moist gingerbread fresh from the oven, because we all know that there are people in the world with questionable taste, but I do question whether people who don’t like proper gingerbread are entirely trustworthy.

Here is a recipe adapted from King Arthur (


Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups (240 grams) whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda – this will react with the acidic molasses and buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg – it’s much better if you grind your own
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon black or cayenne pepper – Penzeys makes a blend called Black & Red that I like
  • ¾ cup (138 g) diced crystalized ginger

Wet ingredients:

  • 8 Tablespoons (one stick) butter, melted
  • ¾ cup (113 g) molasses
  • ¼ ginger beer – many recipes will call for cold, black coffee, but the extra kick of ginger brings more zing to the party
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (227) buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 350º. Line either a 9×9” or a 9×13” baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.

Mix the contents of the two bowls together.

Pour into the prepped baking pan, then bake. If you are using a square baking pan, it will probably take 50 minutes or so to bake to the point where a toothpick comes out clean. The larger pan will probably take 30 to 35 minutes.

Let the gingerbread cool for half an hour before cutting and serving. It is excellent with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or butter. If you are adventurous, try it smashed up in a bowl, topped with eggnog; you won’t be sorry.

Gingerbread is a cake that you don’t want to be too sweet. This version gets a little sweetness from the sugar, the crystalized ginger and the ginger beer, but mostly from the molasses. That adds a dark muskiness and a slightly bitter quality that complements the spices. This isn’t a celebration cake. It is a comfort cake to eat late in the afternoon, in the gathering dark, as the snow starts to fall. Eating it will bring a cat to sit in your lap, even if you don’t own a cat.

Featured photo: Gingerbread. Photo by John Fladd.

In the kitchen with Katie Pope

While Boscawen resident Katie Pope has always liked to bake and experiment in the kitchen, she didn’t originally plan on starting her own bakery. The idea was planted in her mind after she made a unicorn cake for her daughter’s birthday party and one of the moms asked her how much she charged. The idea was put into practice about five years later with the creation of Confections by Kate during the pandemic, after she experienced burnout in the health care field, as a way to support her family. She also makes cupcakes, macarons, cake pops, truffles and cookies and holds cookie decorating classes. Her goal is to open her own brick and mortar location in Boscawen with live music, local art and plants.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A dishwasher! I spent way too many years being the dishwasher [and] I don’t think I could live without it now.

What would you have for your last meal?

Hands down the macaroni and cheese from Arms by Abbey in Worcester, Massachusetts. If you know, you know.

What is your favorite local eatery?

SourJoes. Their pizza is amazing! I’m really loving the vodka pizza.

Name a celebrity you would like to see eating in your restaurant?

Matt Rife or Payton Pritchard.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

Sugar cookies. There are endless ways to decorate them, but I really like decorating the ones that challenge my creative abilities. You can turn a sugar cookie into just about anything, and I’m always up for a good challenge.

What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now?

Definitely the food truck. My goal is to have my own within the next two years. I mean, who doesn’t like mobile sweets?

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

My favorite thing to cook at home is pineapple beef teriyaki boats. [They] consist of pineapple halves [with] the insides scraped out. The pineapple gets filled with the beef and homemade teriyaki sauce and topped with pineapple scrapings.

Brown Sugar Maple Cookies
From the kitchen of Katie Pope

2⅓ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup salted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
⅓ cup pure New Hampshire maple syrup (we use Ice Mountain Maple’s syrup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Maple icing:
1 Tablespoon salted butter
⅓ cup pure New Hampshire maple syrup
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
pinch of salt, to taste

Over medium heat, brown butter in a small saucepan until there is a nutty aroma.
Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature.
Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg and beat on high until well-combined, about 30 seconds.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl; add maple syrup and vanilla extract. Beat on high until well-combined.
Mix dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; mix on low until combined.
Cover dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a cookie scoop, scoop out and roll cookies. Place on baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes until lightly browned on the sides.
Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Make the icing: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and maple syrup
together, whisking occasionally. Once butter is melted and well-combined, remove from heat and whisk in sifted powdered sugar. Add a pinch of salt and whisk well. Drizzle icing over cooled cookies. Icing sets in about an hour.
Note: Browned butter gives a nutty taste greatly enhancing the maple flavor. Cookies can be made without browning the butter, but I promise they aren’t nearly as delicious.

Featured photo: Katie Pope of Confections by Kate. Courtesy photo.

Whoopie pies & ham

Where to get all the holiday must-haves

Why make the pie when you can order it? Here are some of the restaurants, bakeries and other places making eats for your holiday celebrations. Know of a pie purveyor not mentioned here? Let us know at for inclusion in an upcoming Weekly Dish.

• Let All Real Meal (87 Elm St., Manchester, 782-3014, cater this Christmas with appetizers like Buffalo chicken dip ($25) and BBQ bourbon meatballs ($38), full moon empanadas, enchiladas, quiches, salads, lasagna, gluten-free ravioli, chicken Parmesan and maple apple pork loin, and desserts such as lemon bars, cheesecake and blueberry coffee cake.

• In addition to gift baskets and daily specials, Angela’s Pasta & Cheese Shop ( 815 Chestnut St. in Manchester;, 625-9544) offers items for order including antipasto and cheese platters, salads, heat and serve dinners and desserts. Call to order and check with the website for holiday updates.

The Bakeshop on Kelley Street (171 Kelley St.) has cupcakes, pies — apple, lemon meringue, pumpkin pecan crumble and more — pastry trays with mini eclairs, cream puffs, cannolis and chocolate-covered strawberries and specialty desserts available for carry out and curbside pickup. Visit their website,, or call 624-3500.

Bearded Baking Co’s (819 Union St., Manchester, 647-7150; 580 Lafayette Road, Hampton, 601-6878, December cupcakes are chocolate peppermint bark, Christmas tree snack cake, gingerbread man, eggnog, rumchata cinnamon toast crunch, and milk and cookies. Visit their website to place your order.

Bread & Chocolate (29 S. Main St., Concord, 228-3330) has a variety of offerings such as honey poppyseed bread, chocolate caramel bars, molasses cookies and more. Visit their Facebook page @Bread&Chocolate.

Brookdale Fruit Farm (41 Broad St., Hollis,, 465-2240) has plenty of pies for dessert, usually offering apple, pecan, pumpkin and more.

Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe (436 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack,, 262-5929) is taking orders through Monday, Dec. 18, for cakes, like vanilla eggnog cake for $46 and chocolate peppermint cheesecake for $36; Yule logs, hot cocoa for $45 and gluten-free raspberry white chocolate for $48; pies, like apple for $22 and chocolate peanut butter for $32; pastries and more, like cinnamon pull-apart bread and breakfast pastry tray.

Buckley’s Market & Cafe (9 Market Place, Hollis, 465-5522, buckleysbakerycafe) has appetizers such as raspberry baked brie ($20) and New England lobster dip ($30), main meals such as boneless prime rib ($29 per pound) and beef tenderloin roast ($36 per pound). Orders must be placed by Sunday, Dec. 17.

• Items on The Cake Fairy’s (114 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, December menu — cookie trays, pies, cheesecake, whoopie pie towers and more — will be available for preorder and walk-ins throughout December. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 23, special first come, first served items will be available including DIY cookie decorating kits.

Chez Vachon’s(136 Kelley St., Manchester,, 625-9660) holiday menu includes fruit and cream pies — pumpkin mousse, Key lime, apple, lemon chiffon and others — meat pies, and cakes like pistachio, apple spice and cookies and cream.

• On the menu at The Common Man (Lago, 1 Route 25, Meredith, 279-2253; Camp, 298 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-3003; Lakehouse, 281 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith, 279-5221; 60 Main St., Ashland, 968-7030; 10 Pollard Road, Lincoln, 745-3463; 88 Range Road, Windham, 898-0088; 1 Gulf St., Concord, 228-3463; 304 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 429-3463; 21 Water St., Claremont, 542-6171; 231 Main St., Plymouth, 536-2764; 752 Route 104, New Hampton, 744-0120; 61 Laconia Road, Tilton, 286-2204; 2280 Brown Ave., Manchester, 623-5040; is a glazed ham dinner with mashed potatoes, pesto green beans, Parmesan-crusted dinner rolls and cheesecake with mixed berry compote; herb-roasted prime rib dinner with sweet potato casserole, sweet bread and more with cheesecake with mixed berry compote also for dessert. Enhancements include pecan pie for $19.95, peel-and-eat shrimp cocktail for $28.95 and more. Orders must be placed by Tuesday, Dec. 19, and can be picked up on Saturday, Dec. 23, or Sunday, Dec. 24, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Caroline’s Fine Foods (132 Bedford Center Road, Bedford,, 637-1615) is taking orders until 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15. Appetizers include pizzetti with port-poached figs, Gorgonzola and balsamic glaze ($30) and brie en croute with raspberry and thyme ($55). Entrees (each serve eight to 10 people) are pork ballotine stuffed with sausage herb and apple stuffing ($155), roasted beef tenderloin with horseradish cream sauce ($215). Sides are roasted butternut squash ($65), carrot confit ($70) and more. Orders can be picked up on Saturday, Dec. 23, between noon and 3 p.m.

• Call Concord Food Co-op (24 South Main St., Concord,, 225-6840) to place your catering order. The catering menu includes hors d’oeuvres like stuffed mushrooms and edamame dumplings, salads like pasta salad, strawberry spinach and Caesar, luncheon platters, breakfast platters and dessert platters and entrees such as baked salmon, tofu stir-fry and homemade lasagna.

Copper Kettle To Go (39 Main St., Wilton, is taking orders until Sunday, Dec. 17, for breakfast and dinner and dessert options such as cinnamon rolls, French toast casserole, ham dinner, short ribs, cannolis and Yule logs. Orders must be picked up on Sunday, Dec. 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Crosby Bakery (51 E. Pearl St., Nashua,, 882-1851) is offering rolls and breads, pies from apple to blueberry to pecan and pumpkin, meat pies, sandwich, salad roll and breakfast, pastry and cookie platters, Yule logs and cakes.

The Crust and Crumb Baking Co. (126 N. Main St., Concord, breads and breakfast items, such as cinnamon buns, dark gingerbread tea cake and old-fashioned sour cream coffee cake; pies, like Key lime, pumpkin and maple bourbon pecan; quiches, such as bacon cheddar and spinach, tomato and feta; and cakes such as cheesecake, citrus spice mousse cake, chocolate raspberry layer cake and more available for order through Friday, Dec. 15. Orders can be picked up at various times on Friday, Dec. 22, through Sunday, Dec. 24.

The Fresh Chef Press’s (775 Canal St., Manchester, holiday catering menu consists of honey baked ham, mac and cheese, sides such as prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, red bliss mashed potatoes with onion, garlic and parsley, dips like spinach artichoke dip, salsa and guacamole, and a charcuterie board, cookie platter and mini flans.

Fabrizia Lemon Baking Co. (2 Industrial Way, Salem,, 458-1745) has a variety of limoncello desserts such as cookies, whoopie pies, truffles, cake jars and more.

Giorgio’s Ristorante & Bar (707 Milford Road, Merrimack, 883-7333; 524 Nashua St., Milford, 673-3939; 270 Granite St., Manchester, 232-3323, has a catering menu that includes Caesar, strawberry goat cheese and other salads, appetizers like hummus, mussels and crispy cheese ravioli, subs and tacos and entrees like lasagna, mushroom ravioli carbonara, baked haddock, butcher shop classics such as grilled salmon, grilled shrimp, steak and chicken and mini desserts like cannolis and tiramisu. Place your order for the Milford or Manchester locations online. To order from the Merrimack location, call the restaurant.

Granite State Candy Shoppe (13 Warren Road, Concord, has a variety of Christmas candy and chocolate including white peppermint bark, chocolate snowmen and Santas, candy canes, spice drops, ribbon candy, gum drops, malt balls and more.

Greenleaf in Milford ( is taking pre-orders for Christmas with meals such as peppercorn- and rosemary-glazed ham, chicken breasts with chimichurri, and beef tenderloin, and desserts like apple galette with salted caramel, holiday Yule cake and cranberry swirl cheesecake slices. Orders must be placed by Wednesday, Dec. 20, and picked up on Saturday, Dec. 23, between 4 and 8 p.m. at their prep kitchen in Milford (75 Mount Vernon St.)

Gusto Italiano Market (254 Wallace Road, Bedford,, 488-1055) has olive oils, homemade gelato and pasta from the south of Italy, panettone, torrone, Italian cold cuts and more to add to your Christmas feast.

• Contact LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst; 14 Route111, Derry; 672-9898 ) online to cater your Christmas meal.

Mr. Mac’s Macaroni & Cheese (497 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 606-1760, is offering 10 percent off all party trays — with flavors like Philly cheese steak, taco, shrimp scampi and broccoli alfredo mac — throughout December.

New England’s Tap House Grille (1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett,, 782-5137) has French-Canadian meat pie, almond joy cheesecake, cookie and brownie tray, carrot cake and rolls by the dozen available for order by Friday, Dec. 15, and pickup on Saturday, Dec. 23, and Sunday, Dec. 24, by 5 p.m.

Queen City Cupcakes (816 Elm St., Manchester,, 624-4999) has a variety of holiday cupcake flavors including peppermint hot cocoa, red velvet, sugar cookie, eggnog, gingerbread whoopie, cranberry lemon and more available for pickup on Saturday, Dec. 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call ahead to reserve yours.

• On the menu at Red Arrow Diner (112 Loudon Road, Concord, 415-0444; 137 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 552-3091; 61 Lowell St., Manchester, 626-1118; 149 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 204-5088, are cakes and pies, like almond raspberry cake and apple, pumpkin and banana cream pie, and a turkey dinner Christmas special with stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots and squash. Call or go online to order.

The Red Blazer’s(72 Manchester St., Concord, 224-4101, Christmas catering menu consists of beef tips, spaghetti, sweet Italian sausage with marinara, broiled haddock and more. Dessert options include a Yule log, pumpkin cheesecake and hot chocolate cake. There is a three-day lead time for all orders. Orders can be picked up on Sunday, Dec. 24.

Smoke Shack Cafe (226 Rockingham Road, Londonderry,, 404-2178) has holiday season offerings that can be incorporated into existing packages or you can create a custom package. Smoked ham, smoked prime rib and bacon-wrapped turkey breast are available a la carte, and sides include butternut squash, brown sugar glazed carrots, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and more. Two meal packages are offered. Package 1 feeds six to eight people and includes smoked ham, two large sides, six pieces of cornbread and a half tray of salad for $157.99. Package 2 feeds eight to 12 and comes with smoked ham, six large sides, 12 pieces of cornbread and a full salad try. Nine-inch apple, cranberry, pumpkin and chocolate cream pies are also available. Orders must be placed by Wednesday, Dec. 20, and can be picked up on Saturday, Dec. 23, between 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 24, between 9 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Sweet Caroline (28 Homestead Place, Alton, is taking orders through Sunday, Dec. 10, for items on their holiday dessert menu like a Yule log that serves about 12 people for $41.95, an 8-inch or 10-inch red velvet cake, carrot cake, raspberry mocha cake and others. Pastry trays and cookie platters are also available as well as pies such as apple blueberry, ricotta, lemon meringue and more.

Van Otis Chocolates (, 341 Elm St., Manchester, 627-1611; 15 S. Main St., Wolfeboro, 515-1045) has countless treats for your holiday feast, like white chocolate kettle corn, cherry cordials, cream wafers, peppermint bark, caramel hot chocolate and more.

Gift ideas

• Send 10 portions of meals from All Real Meal (, 782-3014) packaged in their “You Are Loved” cooler bag to family and friends this holiday season. Meals include grass-fed beef, wild-caught seafood, their bestselling desserts, high-protein sides and a snack including organic popcorn, chocolates and/or protein bites. You can include a personalized message to be sent with your order.

• Cucina Aurora Kitchen Witchery (9 Delaware Drive, Suite 1, in Salem, 458-6159) has limited-edition seasonal offerings available, like an infused olive oil gift set consisting of two 12-ounce bottles of their bestselling infused olive oils, roasted garlic and rosemary oregano. Each box comes with a booklet of holiday recipes; a 12-ounce glass bottle of savory sage infused olive oil; and a 12-ounce resealable packed of Witch’s Brew Coffee Holiday Brew, dark roast coffee grounds with peppermint leaves, cocoa nibs and pink peppercorn.

• Emilee Viaud of Sweet Treats by Emilee will be attending the Milford Farmers Market (300 Elm St., Milford) on Saturdays, Dec. 2 and Dec. 16, selling popular items such as chocolate gingerbread smash houses, snowmen hot cocoa bombs, new hot cocoa cups and tea bombs. “Tea bombs are a sugar shell filled with flavored tea bags and edible glitter,” Viaud said. “You pour hot water over the bomb and the sugar melts to create a cup of sweet glittery tea. Popular flavors are passion tea, orange, chai and green tea.” Her products can also be found at the Manchester Craft Market in the Mall of New Hampshire (1500 S. Willow St., Manchester) and at Junction 71 in Pennichuck Shopping Square in Merrimack (707 Milford Road). You can find her on Facebook @SweetTreatsbyEmilee.

• Fabrizia Lemon Baking Co. (2 Industrial Way, Salem,, 458-1745) is offering five Christmas gift boxes this holiday season: The Kris Kringle Box, the Holiday Cheer Box, Cookie Sharing Box, Holiday Grande Cheer Box and the Holiday Deluxe box, each filled with an assortment of with limoncello treats such as cookies, biscotti, candy, truffles limoncello cranberry pistachio bark, 16-ounce loaves and more, ranging from $49.99 to $99.99. Each box has the option of coming with a personalized holiday themed note. Orders are available for pickup or delivery.

• Granite State Candy Shoppe (13 Warren Road, Concord,, also has gift boxes available with milk and dark chocolate, truffles, peanut butter cups, dark peppermint patties and more.

Gusto Italiano Market (254 Wallace Road, Bedford,, 488-1055) has olive oils, homemade gelato and pasta from the south of Italy and more gifts for the holiday season that can be bought at their location in Bedford.

• Lindsey Bangs of I Whisked It ( will be offering hot chocolate bombs, homemade marshmallows, brownie mix gift sets, chocolate-covered pretzels, and German stollen for online ordering. Cakes and cupcakes will also be available for pickup at the Laurel Hill Jams and Jellies and Loon Chocolate showroom in Manchester (195 McGregor St., Suite 121) on Saturday, Dec. 23. Pre-orders will close on Monday, Dec. 11, or when sold out. She will also be selling her products at the Very Merry Holiday Gift Festival at the DoubleTree by Hilton (700 Elm St., Manchester) on Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10.

• Joppa Hill Educational Farm (174 Joppa Hill Road, Bedford,, 472-4724) has holiday gift boxes for $50 and $100 with an assortment of local and artisan products, like apple cider doughnut mix, maple almonds, maple syrup and infused olive oil. You can fill your own box or pick one of the prefilled options. Each box has a prep time of five days and orders can be picked up at the store.

• The Manchester Craft Market in the Mall of New Hampshire (1500 S Willow St., Manchester) has an array of food-related gifts, such sauces and dips, coffee, tea, freeze-dried candy, maple candy, maple syrup, olive oils, james, jellies, granola, risottos, fudge, peanut brittle, and accessories like chef knives, charcuterie boards, travel mugs, oven mitts, cookbooks and more.

• More sweets are available from Twelve 31 Events ( for delivery or pickup at their Concord location (100 N. Main St., Suite 101, Concord) or their Tilton location (261 Main St., Tilton). Each box of a dozen Italian Christmas cookies is filled with an assortment of kinds, including anisette, ginger, snowballs, pistachio macaroons, honey walnut and chocolate espresso.They will be available for pickup or delivery until Sunday, Dec. 24.

• Van Otis Chocolates ( has a variety of gift baskets to choose from, including the Christmas Gift Basket Box that consists of assorted chocolates, salted cashews, Swiss fuge, caramels and a five-pack of chocolate-covered pretzel rods, and the Holiday Tiered Tower. Call to place your order (341 Elm St., Manchester, 627-1611; 15 S Main St., Wolfeboro, 515-1045).

Cookie road trip

Eat your way through the Currier and Ives Cookie Tour

By Betty Gagne

The 18th Annual Currier and Ives Cookie Tour is taking place on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Monadnock region.

This self-guided tour encompasses a number of local businesses and offers visitors and shoppers a unique holiday experience by serving homemade baked cookies at each stop. Participants include restaurants, farms, gift shops, a winery, a brewery, a historical society, a library and more, all within a 3-mile radius. Businesses participating in the tour are in Jaffrey, Rindge, Marlborough, Troy, Fitzwilliam, New Ipswich and Swanzey.

Tickets for the tour are $20 and can be purchased at the Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, the Park Theatre in Jaffrey, and Frogg Brewing in Swanzey.

Each facility is festively decorated and will offer baked goods. An admission ticket includes a map of all the stops on the tour, and those who visit at least 10 participating businesses will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift certificate that can be redeemed at any stop on the tour.

According to Holly LeClair, Marketing Director at the Inn at East Hill Farm, the cookie tour came together 18 years ago when the owner of the inn attended a similar type of event in the White Mountains and got the idea to start one in the Monadnock region.

“It’s a fun day for people to do something enjoyable with family for the holidays,” she said. “Over 300 tickets were sold last year.”

Each stop on the tour will provide their cookie recipes for collecting. This year Frogg Brewing will hold an outdoor German Christmas Market on the day of the cookie tour featuring more than 30 area small businesses, as well as food, beer and a three-piece German band.

A portion of the proceeds for the tour goes to Feeding Tiny Tummies, a resource center in Keene that distributes more than 10,000 meals per week. See

Currier and Ives Cookie Tour
When: Saturday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Locations in Jaffrey, Rindge, Marlborough, Troy, Fitzwilliam, New Ipswich and SwanzeyJaffrey, Rindge, Marlborough, Troy, Fitzwilliam, New Ipswich and Swanzey
Cost: $20; tickets can be purchased at Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, Park Theatre in Jaffrey, and Frogg Brewing in Swanzey
More information: A list of participating businesses, a map of all the stops, cookie recipes from past years and a compilation of frequently asked questions about the 2023 Currier and Ives Cookie Tour are at

The useful gift

Kitchen presents you can buy

One or two labor-intensive sincere gifts are doable in a holiday season, but if you’re trying to come up with something nice for each night of Hanukkah, or good stocking stuffers for an entire family — who has time to knit all that? Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to get good stuff.

The following are some gifts you might consider for the serious cooks or drink-makers in your life. Most of them are reasonably priced stocking stuffers. At least one is a blowout extravagant gift. All of them are genuinely, how-did-I-ever-get-by-without-this, useful in the kitchen. Prices are approximate..

Microplane grater, about $1

If you’ve ever wondered how TV chefs manage to zest an orange without making their kitchen look like a war zone, or put fancy chocolate shavings on a cake, this is ho. This is a wood rasp that has been adapted for kitchen use. It is ideal for grating fresh nutmeg.

Silicone baking sheet, $10 to $15/pair

How would you like to never grease a baking sheet again? Silicone baking mats used to be imported from France and were mostly for Very Fancy People. Now they are really inexpensive and — dare I say it? — life-changing. Nothing sticks to these bad boys — not cookie dough or granola or even homemade peanut brittle. They last for years and are tough enough to stand up to any heat an oven can put out, though sadly not a charcoal grill, which I found out the hard way.

Oxo Steel Angled Measuring Jigger, $10

I own about a dozen jiggers for measuring ingredients for cocktails. It was only over time that I realized consciously that I have one that I keep coming back to, over and over. I’ll find myself interrupting a dishwasher cycle to fish it out, rather than use a different, perfectly fine jigger in the cabinet in front of me. This Oxo jigger is angled to allow you to see exactly how much you are measuring to within a fraction of a fluid ounce, without having to crouch down to eye level. And it has a spout. It adds a little element of precision and elegance to your drink making.

Reconditioned blender — Vitamix, BlendTec, etc., around $300

By far, the most useful kitchen tool I use on a weekly or often daily basis is a good blender. It makes smoothies and shakes of course, but also hummus, whipped cream, pie fillings and even ice cream. A top-of-the-line blender can set you back $700 to $800, but the high-end manufacturers often sell reconditioned used models. Mine is a reconditioned red Vitamix named Steve, who is pretty frustrated at how seldom I use his very highest setting, which I suspect could turn a chair leg into bark mulch.

2 in 1 stainless steel whisk egg beater & instant thermometer, $15 to $20

I don’t know if you’ve ever been stirring something on the stove, waiting for it to hit a very particular temperature. For several years I found myself thinking that someone should invent a whisk with an integrated thermometer, before I actually thought to check online to see if anyone had. They had.

Digital kitchen scale, $25 to $30

Every time I save a recipe I convert the amounts from cups to grams. It makes my baking more accurate, and I can add ingredients directly to the pan or bowl and tare (zero) out how much weight I already have in it. An inexpensive digital scale will measure in several different units — grams, ounces, etc. — and is accurate to a tenth of a gram. It will last for years of robust cooking and make you look like a badass in the kitchen.

Featured photo: Silicone baking sheets

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