Posted tagged ‘Cookies’

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”

March 4, 2018

My hopes are high that Coffee will be here tomorrow. If not, remember to go to www.keepthecoffeecoming.blogspot.com as I’ll be waiting there for you.

Today is damp but lighter than it has been. The sun is working to get out of the clouds. I’m its most ardent cheerleader. There is still wind which makes the day feel even colder. I think it rained during the night as the sides of the street were still wet this morning when I got the papers, the dry papers. I can’t fault a day which starts with dry papers.

When I was a kid, Sunday was always boring. It followed the same regimen every week. Eat breakfast, put on church clothes, walk to church, go home and hang around until Sunday dinner, the most lavish meal of the week. It always included a roast of some sort, potatoes and vegetables. The potatoes were mashed and the vegetables, except for the carrots, came from cans. Those fresh vegetables, the carrots and the potatoes, were always boiled. We never had salad, and we never had bread on the table. A roast of beef as my grandmother called it is still my favorite.

My mother grocery shopped on Friday nights. As she had no license, my father drove her. They’d return with a trunk load of filled paper bags. The only foods we, my brother, sisters and I, cared about were the cookies. We knew they’d be Oreos and sometimes chocolate chip cookies or some other kind. We’d want them right away, and my mother would warn us that once they were gone, they’d be no more. We were kids. We were in the moment. We wanted the cookies.

I have grown my palate since I was a kid. Canned vegetables will never grace (sort of grace) my table. I like to cook potatoes all different ways, but I love mashed potatoes covered in gravy the most. I love carrots, and I experiment when I cook them. The last recipe called for ginger. My favorite is honeyed carrots. I use the baby carrots still with their greenery.

I just heard a loud crash which seemed to come from my deck. I ran outside but saw nothing except the man in the house behind mine burning leaves in a barrel. What I saw made me laugh. The wind is taking the burning leaves, and they are falling on the carpet of leaves in the guy’s yard. Small fires start, and he goes around with his rake putting the fires out. Maybe this will teach him why burning leaves is illegal.

“Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart…filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.”

December 24, 2017

Last night it rained, but it’s still cloudy. The clouds, though, are light and give hope for a bit of sun. Yesterday I made my orange cookies and today is lemon squares. That’s it for the day except to shower and get ready for tonight’s festivities.

When I was a kid, this was an endless day. I remember us begging our mother to let us go to bed around 5:30. We figured the night would pass quickly if we were asleep. We never got to test that theory as we never went to bed so early. After dinner my mother always let us open a present on Christmas Eve. We didn’t have a choice as to which one we opened. We moaned and groaned because we always had to open the new pajamas. Under the tree were more presents but they were hands off until the morning.

A Christmas Carol was usually on TV, and we watched it every year. That’s where my love for the movie began. The TV screen was small and the movie was in black and white, but it was still magical as Scrooge was helped by the ghosts to see joy in Christmas and his connections to other people. I remember being older and reading A Christmas Carol and feeling as if it was an old friend I’d read often.

Dinner was no big thing on Christmas Eve. None of us was really all that hungry for regular food. We ate cookies, as many as we could get away with. My mother put hard Christmas candies in a dish on the table. The pieces were sticky and some were stuck together. That was a good excuse to eat a couple at a time. The candy didn’t last long.

Opening the pajamas signaled the start of our Christmas rituals. We’d run upstairs and put the pajamas on right away. Next was the hanging of the stockings on the stair rail. We did it by age with mine at the top, George’s next then Sheila’s then my sister Moe’s at the bottom. Sheila and Moe went to bed first. George and I went later. It took forever to fall asleep. We’d talk across the hall from one bedroom to another. I never remembered finally falling asleep. It just happened.

When I woke up on Christmas morning, it took a moment or two before I remembered it was Christmas. My parents had us wait until the four of us were awake then we raced down the stairs. Nothing is more spectacular than seeing the lit Christmas tree with the presents around it.

It doesn’t seem to matter how old I am. I still love Christmas. Under my tree are wrapped presents. I won’t open them until tomorrow. I might shake a few tonight!

Merry Christmas!

“Christmas cookies can’t help but be retro – they are memory first, sugar-flour-egg-redhot-gumdrop-sparkle reality second.”

December 23, 2017

Late again! I slept in this morning. Gracie had a restless night, and I sleep lightly now so I would hear her, wake up and check to make sure she was okay. She was fine. This week’s acupuncture really helped. She’s moving around better than she has been. I hope it lasts longer each time.

Christmas Eve Eve made waiting for the big day even harder. We’d beg my mother to let us open one of the presents under the tree, but she’d never give in. She’d even get a bit annoyed at our relentless begging. My sister Moe never asked. She already knew what a few of the presents were but so did we without looking. Every year it was the same. We’d each have new pajamas and new slippers, the socks kind which I still like.

Cookies are on the to-do list. I made snickerdoodles yesterday. It was the first time I’d even made them, and my nephew, who had dropped by, said they were delicious. I’ll accept that as a valid review.

Today is dark and rainy. It is in the high 40’s now and will get to the mid 50’s, but by dark it will be much colder, down to the 30’s. I always think rain at Christmas is just wrong.  Not a single Christmas song is about the joys of rain. Everything is snow. I figure the only kids happy with rain on Christmas morning are the ones with new bikes.

What I always really hated was leaving all my new stuff on Christmas Day to go to my grandparent’s house. All my aunts and uncles and cousins were also there. The place was chaos with kids running up and down stairs chasing each other. I have a lot of cousins.

No Christmas movie today. I watched Bright on Netflix. Will Smith is a police officer with an Orc as an partner. There are also fairies and elves. I think I saw a centaur manning or half-manning the entrance into the main police station. A magic wand that can destroy the world is the focus of the plot. I enjoyed it. This movie was a huge leap from all those  Hallmark moments.

It’s time to work on my Christmas cookies. The orange cookies are next.

” It’s Christmas. Nothing bad is going to happen on Christmas!”

December 21, 2017

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter. The days will start getting longer but we’ll hardly notice. It will still be dark early. I guess it’s a psychological thing, the idea that winter is very slowly losing its grip. Today is cold. Gracie and I were out early as she had another acupuncture treatment. She did well. When we got home, we both went to back to sleep. I just woke up. She’s still sleeping.

I’m going to make some cookies today. I did all my Christmas food shopping yesterday. I also made two other stops for dog food and Christmas candy. For Christmas dinner, the menu is set. We’re having bone-in rib roast. I have to pick the meat up on Christmas Eve. The rest of the menu will give our plates some color, in keeping with the season: white, green and orange, better known as potatoes, carrots and green beans.

My whole house feels like Christmas. The aroma of my Christmas tree fills the rooms. It makes me smile, and I tell the air how wonderful it is. I don’t even pretend I’m talking to Gracie.

I’m watching a Christmas movie, and it isn’t very good. The elves are tall and have names like George and Mindy. Their acting is over the top, hammy. The main characters are a family of a mother and two kids. The father passed away. One kid loves Christmas while the other is obnoxious and angry. She needs a slap. The mother is sweet and does her best only to be rebuffed by her daughter. The only parts of this movie I really enjoy are the scenes of the town and the snow. It looks like an old town with lots of brick buildings. Snow is everywhere. I don’t know why I’m still watching. I know how this horrible movie ends. It’s a Christmas movie so the ending will be happy and even the rude, obnoxious daughter will love Christmas again. Maybe I should watch Krampus again though even that has a happy ending.

“The true essentials of a feast are only fun and feed.”

December 18, 2017

Today is cloudy but it’s warm, in the 40’s. Last night was freezing.

In the dark last night Gracie went out and wandered down the hill by the side of my house. I went to check on her in the front yard and found her gone. I got my flashlight and looked but didn’t see her. I called my friends in panic, and despite the time of night and the cold, they came, one walking using his flashlight and the other driving. By then I had found Gracie at the bottom of the hill. She couldn’t get back up. I went down the hill to her and grabbed her, but I couldn’t get us back up the hill either. I kept sliding. Finally I found a route which got me and her to the front yard. We both went inside. She had a treat. I had an asthma attack.

Today I’m planning my cookies and the Christmas Day dinner. I have a method. I write down the name of the recipe, its source and the ingredients by aisle. I’m thinking 3 kinds of cookies. For dinner I’m leaning toward pork of some sort, but that’s just a maybe.

Yesterday’s Patriot’s game still has my heart atwitter. The last minute was amazing. My friends and I cheered, stood up, moaned and screamed. The final play was unbelievable. After a Steelers touchdown was called back as an incomplete pass, the Steelers decided to pass for the touchdown instead of spiking for a chance at a tie and overtime. The pass was batted away, it flew into the air and was caught by a Pat for an interception. End of game!

I saw a Facebook picture taken in the Tongo hills outside of Bolga. The caption mentioned the harmattan, the hot dry season with sand blowing in from the desert which is happening now. During my first harmattan, the back of the soles of my feet cracked from the dryness. I had to tip-toe. I started getting ballerina muscles. Finally the soles heeled (sorry-a written pun looks like a misspelling) into the ugliest thick callouses. I didn’t care. My feet felt fine.

I ate a lot of goat in Ghana. The first time I had no idea what I was eating. It was during Peace Corps training, and I was at my live-in, a three week span where we lived with a Ghanaian family. I was alone at dinner and was served soup with bony meat in one dish and in another dish, a glob of I had idea what. No fork or spoon mean I had to use my fingers. I grabbed some glob and ran it through the soup then ate it. The reddish soup was spicy hot, but I managed. I had to pick up the meat, also with my fingers, to chew around the bone. When next I saw my hostess, I asked why I was eating alone and what did I eat. She said she thought I’d prefer to be by myself. I didn’t. She said I ate t-zed with red soup and goat meat. Tuon-zafe, t-zed, is best described as a porridge of boiled corn meal, a glob. The goat meat was okay which is a good thing as I ate it often. I even found it once here in a Caribbean restaurant and ordered it as a bit of food nostalgia.

I don’t know how I got on to goat. I guess it was mentioning Christmas dinner as that’s what I had my first Christmas in Ghana. It was a feast.

“At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the [goose] breast; but when she did, and when the long- expected gush of stuffing issued forth….”

December 14, 2017

Yesterday and last night were quite cold. During the day the wind was a blast of frigid air making it feel even colder. When I took Gracie out early, I was hoping she’d be quick. She was. The only good part was my chimes bounced around in the wind and sounded  lovely.

I finished decorating my tree yesterday. I had put the lights on the day before so I added the finishing touches: garlands and ornaments. I took my time and sat down periodically.  What tired me out was hauling bins up from the cellar and then hauling them back down. I still need to check some bins today as I am missing a few traditional decorations. I’m a bit afraid to look as I figure I’ll see more decorations for the house, and I’ll be back to hauling again. I also haven’t found the lights on, lights off floor button, and I don’t want to be crawling under the tree. I was a sweaty mess when I finished, but it was worth it. The tree and the house look lovely and are filled with Christmas. After my exertions, I had an egg nog, a well-deserved egg nog, and sat in the living room admiring the tree.

I still have cards to send, and I need to choose my cookies and make a shopping list. Looking through recipes is enjoyable for me. When making a dinner for guests, I image how the dish will look, how it will taste and what might go with it. Cookies are easier.

One Christmas season I invited my friends to dinner a couple of weeks before Christmas. That was the year of the goose. A Christmas Carol and goose for dinner at the Cratchit’s house piqued my interest. I looked up recipes to use and presented my friends with an English feast. The goose was delicious with its crisp crust and moist meat and a bread stuffing with sage and onions. We dined on mashed potatoes and gravy, apple sauce just as the Cratchits had, and I added a combination of roasted root vegetables: parsnips, turnips and carrots. The dessert was the crowning glory. I made Christmas pudding, poured brandy on it and brought it to the table aflame. There was applause. I bowed though I figured the applause was more for the pudding. That dinner was remarkable.

Okay, I brought some bins down the cellar while my coffee was brewing, and I couldn’t help myself so I went hunting in a few bins I hadn’t checked. Eureka!! I found what I wanted: my small aluminum tree, my on and off light button and a few ornaments I wanted to add. That ends the hunt.

Today I have a few errands and I’ll write out the rest of the cards. I will do nothing  strenuous. All those bins took their toll.

“Yes, I deserve a spring–I owe nobody nothing.”

April 30, 2017

The sun decided to make an appearance yesterday, and it was warm enough for appetizers on the deck. Today is a bright sunny day with a beautiful light blue sky, but the weatherman warned us about being deceived as clouds are just waiting in the wings and today will be in the mid-50’s. Tonight will be sweatshirt weather in the 40’s. My sister in Colorado got a foot of snow the other day. She sent pictures of the trees by her deck so laden with wet snow they had bent over and were touching the deck. It had been in the 30’s. I’ve decided I won’t complain about the weather here.

Peapod came this morning. My larder overflows. I remember when I was a kid, my mother and father went grocery shopping on Friday nights. My mother couldn’t drive so she was stuck with my father who went up and down the aisles with her and drove her crazy about the cost of what she was buying. He wanted cheaper. She ignored him.

We used to attack the kid food as if we were locusts so my mother would stow away the desserts she was saving for our lunches, and we were threatened with bodily harm if we dared eat them. The cookies were the first to go. There were always Oreos. Sometimes there were the original Fig Newtons which I really liked. You could dunk Oreos in milk but Fig Newtons were just to eat, no dunking. Saltines were always around. They were for soup and for peanut butter or just butter. I remember putting so many Saltines in my soup bowl no liquid was left. If I needed a snack, I’d have Saltines with peanut butter and marshmallow. At kids’ parties, one game was to fill your mouth with Saltines then try to whistle. Saltines were an all-purpose cracker.

I haven’t eaten beets in years because when I tasted them a long time back, I didn’t care for their taste, but I’m thinking of giving beets another try. Maybe I’ll start with baby beets. Somehow that seems right.

I need Skip, my factotum, to open the deck for summer. I know it can still get chilly, but the sun warms the deck in the afternoon, and I want to take full advantage. Life is sweet and is the sweetest in summer.

“Love is a sweet aroma, it fills the room with a wonderful atmosphere. Happy Valentines Day.”

February 14, 2017

Valentine’s Day was a special day when I was a kid. The preparations started early. In school, during art, we transformed shoe boxes into decorated valentine’s boxes. They stayed in school until the big day. My mother and I would walk uptown to Woolworth’s where I’d take my time choosing the right valentine. Back then the valentines had a picture on the front with a funny saying, sometimes even a pun, and a blank back for signing. When I was really young, I used the whole back to sign my name so it snaked all the way around.

On the night before Valentine’s Day, my mother made the cookies for the class party. I signed my valentines, slid them into envelopes, wrote my classmates names on the front and put them in my school bag.

My friends and I chatted the whole walk to school about who would give us valentines and even who wouldn’t. We had hopes.

At school, the cookies and all the other goodies were covered and put away until the afternoon. Our decorated boxes stayed on the floor beside our desks. The valentines were safe in my school bag. I was supposed to pay attention to geography or English, or even worse, arithmetic, but I was too excited and so were many of my classmates, mostly the girls.

Finally, the time came and we put our boxes on our desks. When the nuns called us, we’d walk from row to row putting valentines in boxes. In those days the nicety of giving everyone a valentine had yet to come into play.

After all the valentines had been given out, the party started. We took turns going to the front to pick sweets. Mostly there were cookies, sugar cookies in the shape of a heart. We’d eat and we’d open all the valentines.

I carried my box on the way home as if it were gold. Once home and out of my school clothes, I’d look over my valentines again and show a few to my mother. She’d laugh at the puns, but I think she was just being nice. They were awful.

“Everyone knows that if you eat a cookie, and the cookie next to it is broken, you’re required to eat that broken cookie as well to keep the package looking clean.”

September 10, 2016

The air conditioner is off for the meanwhile. The sun disappeared a bit earlier and was replaced by clouds then it reappeared. I suspect that will happen all day. The air is damp. The weatherman said there is a possibility of rain. I’m not complaining as we need rain, but it would dampen movie night.

I used to wonder why pistachio nuts were red. I remember my stained fingers and torn fingernails after opening them, but I thought those were a small price to pay. Now there are no red pistachios, only ones with natural shells. I know most of our pistachios used to come from Iran until the embargo. Come to find out, they were dyed red to disguise any shell imperfections from the harvesting. Now they come from California and have no imperfections, no blemishes on the shells. I find them a bit boring, still tasty and still tearing my fingernails but boring. I know I can buy them already shelled but that seems like cheating.

I was too impatient adding Nestle’s Quick to my milk. I stirred but never enough. On the bottom of my glass was always a layer of chocolate sludge. I used to eat that with a spoon. Once my mother bought Strawberry Quick. I liked the pink color, but I wasn’t a big fan of the strawberry. I don’t think she ever bought it again.

I don’t drink milk anymore except for the leftover milk from my cereal which tastes like the cereal. I think it was in Ghana where I lost my taste for milk as I never had any. Ghanaians don’t drink milk even though they have cows. It never occurred to me to have a villager sell me the milk.

I always liked Fig Newtons. Now I find them a bit dry. I buy fresh figs instead. Oreos are the only off the shelf cookies I buy. Mostly I get cookies from the bakery. Anise cookies are my favorite, but the bakery doesn’t always have them so I have to be content with chocolate chip.

My trip stuff list is getting bigger. I added Oreos this morning. When my parents and I traveled together, my mother always brought snacks. Some were the packages of crackers and cheese. My favorite was the peanut butter crackers, not the orange ones, the brown ones. My mother never had to bring any snacks home.

This is the quietest day. I think the thick air diffuses sound so it disappears. Gracie isn’t even snoring. I wonder if all the kids are wearing gags.

 

“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”

October 19, 2015

Today is cold, in the mid 40’s. The sun is back to playing peek-a-boo. Outside isn’t all that inviting so I guess I’ll hunker down for another day or two. I’m not completely rid of the plague as I still have a voice better suited for an obscene phone call than a regular conversation. My cough didn’t wake me up last night, but it is still hanging in there. My friend is bringing me bread, cookies and a lemon donut from Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m a happy woman, albeit sick but still happy.

When I was a kid, I don’t remember missing much school. I don’t think I was really sick enough all that often. A cold was nothing. It meant bundling a bit better with a new layer or two. We walked to school on even the coldest days. I remember my cheeks turned red and raw from the wind. We’d walk backwards away from the wind when it was the strongest and the coldest. School was a refuge where we could defrost and de-layer. I don’t think we really ever complained much. That was just the way it was. We all walked to school back then despite the weather.

I used to like soup on a cold day. My mother would fill the thermos from my lunch box, add some saltines, and maybe a half of a sandwich and some dessert. Usually it was tomato soup because I could drink it instead of needing a spoon. Bologna was the most popular meat for sandwiches. We always had tuna fish on Fridays when we couldn’t eat meat. My mother added mayonnaise, chopped celery and lettuce so the tuna fish wasn’t half bad. It was always on white bread. We never had any other kind of bread. I think I was a teenager before I found out bread came in many colors and flavors.

Back when we were kids our dinners were meat, potatoes, usually mashed, and a vegetable. We had bland palates. We were seldom introduced to any foreign foods though we did count spaghetti as Italian. My friends and I now eat all sorts of foods from a variety of countries. I know it was Ghana which first introduced me to really foreign foods like African, Indian and Middle Eastern. They opened the flood gates. Now I’m willing to try almost anything though I balk at insects, household pets and rodents.