Friday, December 09, 2005

They are watching me....

Last night nature decided to play a cruel joke on me and dumped 5 inches of snow on us thus causing the schools to call a snow day. I was counting on school to give me a brief break from one of my intense kids on the last full day of what has felt like a marathon of solo-parenting while my better half is off on a 9 day work trip. (I know, there are single parents out there who do this all the time and I think they are saints and can not figure out how they stay sane.)

Despite having three different types of chocolates open and available (still a few dark chocolate covered glaceed apricots left after yesterday's knitting fiasco, some truffles, and chocolate covered English toffee) and two open boxes of cookies (all butter shortbread and some of those little chocolate slabbed LU Petit Ecolier biscuits) I felt the need to make cookies it complete parental burn-out or just a sugar desire that is making up for (ahem) "something else" lacking in my life the past 9 days.

After a small amount of kid involvement (resulting in an inordinate number of poppy seeds hitting the floor) we produced these:
Poppy seed thumbprint cookies

They are pretty tasty cookies, despite the fact that they came from Eating Well magazine which usually has baked goods recipes that taste like cardboard. They aren't that healthy since they still contain a full stick of butter and a cup of powdered sugar, which is probably why they taste pretty good. There's some whole wheat flour in them which gives them a nutty taste (without nuts) and I used some homemade cherry jam in the dents which combined nicely with the lemon zest in the not-too-sweet cookie base. My major gripe about most of the holiday cookies made this time of year is that they are too sweet and make my teeth itch and my blood sugar spike alarmingly (sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles??? AAAGGGG!) These little cookies leave me itchless and (relatively) stable.

But there is something a little creepy about them--take a look at the photo below:
I can't shake the feeling that they are all eyeballs (rabid and bloodshot, at that) and that, like Mona Lisa's gaze, they follow me around the room.

The sharp sighted among you might have noticed the beverage accompaniment lurking in the background of the above photo and maybe, just maybe, I should have been drinking tea instead of wine at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and which presumably wouldn't have resulted in being freaked out by my own cookies. (Maybe the opiates in the poppy seeds combined with the tannins in the wine to create the hallucination--Yeah! It was the poppy seeds fault!)
But it was such a nice wine...and it went pretty well with the cookies!

So if you too feel the need to bake some eyeballs, er, cookies, here is the recipe:

Sorta Healthy Poppy Seed Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from
Eating Well magazine

1 2/3 C whole wheat flour

1 C all purpose flour

2 T poppy seeds

1/2 t salt

1/2 C unsalted butter (1 stick), softened

1/2 t vanilla
1/2 C canola oil
1 C powdered sugar

1 egg

fresh grated zest from 1 lemon

about 1/3-1/2 C jam, preferably sour cherry

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together first 4 dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, use an electric mixer and beat butter, oil and sugar until creamy (mine was still a little runny). Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla and beat a little longer.
  4. Stir in dry ingredients until combined into a sturdy dough.
  5. Make small balls with the dough (about 1 T) and put them on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Press your thumb (or the thumb of any available kid who has washed their hands since they like this part) into the center to make the dent and put about 1/2 t of jam in the dent.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until firm and lightly brown. Cool on a rack.
  8. Pour yourself a large glass of red wine, eat a couple of cookies and then let me know if the rest of the cookies are watching you as you stumble around the room consuming their brethren. Maybe yours will be more polite and avert their gaze.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


You'd think this would be a day where I'd be giddy with happiness, skipping down the street, singing ditties and indulging in other nauseating displays of joy since I finally finished this:
Instead I'm feeling incredibly pissy since the damn thing doesn't fit. Somehow when planning to make this sweater for myself I forgot that I have really broad shoulders. I picked my size based on my (modest) bust measurement, added a few inches on the sleeves since I have long arms but entirely forgot that my shoulders would need more room than, say, a normally proportioned woman. (Too bad the pattern didn't have a subset of how to alter it for your own freakity freak figure flaws. Say that four times fast.)

So now I present to you:
My sister's Christmas Present!

My sister has a much finer bone structure than I do and she's thinner too so I'm guessing this will fit perfectly. And it'll go great with all the size 8 pre-pregnancy pants I finally admitted will never fit me again and gave her. Of course, they all fit her flawlessly.

However to truly suit my sister, I think I should make this sweater a little more feminine. (This is the sweater I made her last year for Christmas. Note the purpley- pink crochet edging and mother of pearl flower-shaped buttons.) I'm a little on the utilitarian/scruffy side when it comes to clothing, but my sister can pull off stuff that is a bit more decorative. As I haven't yet put in the zipper I bought for it, I'm wondering if anyone has ideas on a different, more feminine fastening. I'm thinking maybe some tiny hooks and eyes running all the way up it might look nice, unless they proved to be a pain in the ass. Or I could cover the seed stitch plackets with some sort of ribbon and attach snaps up the front.

Ideas, anyone?

And meanwhile, to comfort myself on this cold grey day (a perfect day for wearing above cardigan I might note) I'm opening up thebox of dark chocolate covered glaceed apricots that I found at Trader Joe's the other day. (If I eat the whole box, then my sister will most likely get my current size 10 pants too and I'll just wander around pants-less, sweater-less and crazy as a loon.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Free to a good home

I did some cleaning out of the limited book shelf space in the house and am offering the following books, free to a good home:
The pile on the left is fiction and contains:
The Far Euphrates by Aryeh Lev Stollman
by Carol Shields
The Virgin Blue
by Tracy Chevalier
Around Again by Suzanne Strempek Shea
The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kid
Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier
Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey

The pile on the right is non-fiction and contains:
The Mother's Almanac
Your Baby and Child

What to Expect the Toddler Years

and one book that didn't make it into the picture:
Food For Little Fingers by Victoria Jenest

Of the above, the only two I can really recommend are Unless and Eva Moves the Furniture (though I did read the latter when highly hormonal, and thus possibly more whacked out than usual, after Fiona's birth). I didn't read The Far Euphrates or Around Again though, so they may be perfectly decent books that I just didn't warm up to in the first few pages. Food for Little Fingers might be ok for people with toddlers though the recipes didn't work with my kids. Right now I'm fed up with parenting books though I'd say Your Baby and Child could be fine for a new parent who wants a basic reference.

If you are a writer, I think that reading the two Chevalier books and The Secret Life of Bees can be an interesting exercise. I think all three are seriously flawed novels which made it into print, and Bees has been incredibly popular with book groups (for all the wrong reasons, in my humble opinion). As a writer who someday would like to publish some of my fiction work, I learned a lot about what I don't want a book of mine to do by reading these three books.

If you are local and want any of these I can leave them on your doorstep or you can pick them up from mine. If you are far away and want to pay the postage, I'll be heading to the post office to mail x-mas gifts in the next week or so and could shlep it off to you.