Scotch Short Bread + Easy Table Top Tree

There have been too many sick days in our household as of late.  This past weekend after plenty of naps, a trip to the science center, the last of the Christmas shopping, and some craft time, I found time to bake.  This recipe is in my top 5 favorites for Christmas.  It is an easy to make and easy to please recipe with only 4 ingredients.  
This one comes from the Joy of Cooking.  I love the format of this cookbook – so easy to use!  I did a little digging on Scottish Shortbread and discovered that this treat is centuries old, but has evolved over the years from an oatmeal and yeast creation to the flour and butter treat it is today.  It was originally quite expensive and eaten at Christmas, weddings, Hogmanay (New Year’s) and other such holidays. 
Sift together 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  
When I do use salt, I love the Kosher salt. 
Sifting is essential to this recipe – it gives these bars a creamy texture. See before and after?  
Next, cream 1 cup butter.  
Blend the dry ingredients into the butter.  Pat the stiff dough into a 9 x 9 inch ungreased pan.  
Press the edges down.  Pierce with a fork through the dough every 1/2 inch.  If the dough is too sticky, refrigerated until chilled and stiff again.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  Edges should be slightly browned.  I did not have a 9 x 9 pan, so I just stopped the dough short of the edge of this pan.  
Cut into squares while it is still warm.  
In other news, the band saw Eric bought in a yard sale earlier this fall has turned out to be quite useful.  He created a tabletop Christmas tree for me.  
He used a large dowel rod for the center.  He then cut smaller dowel rods at various lengths for branches – shorter for the top of the tree and longer for the bottom of the tree.  He drilled holes with a corresponding drill bit for the dowel rods.  He then simply tapped the dowel rod branches into place with a hammer. 
He used a square of wood and drilled the large dowel rod trunk into place.  
I decorated it and it was ready to go.  Now if I can only keep cats away from it…

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