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Great Cheap Lemon Dip 1

Posted on March 18, 2011 by crankycheryl

I’ve got this great post about a Vermont local-style mulligatawny that’s all ready to go, but CrankyGreg just made me feel bad.    He tells me I’ve been holding out on you, because I haven’t been telling the whole story of how we eat so well on our tight little budget, and that that’s what makes our food life actually interesting.

Actually he said something more like, “This is great, and this is the kind of thing you should be blogging about, babe.”  I’ll do better at sharing tips and strategies for how we do it.   But he’s anyway right.  Now let me start to make it up to you with this recipe that typifies my low rent-great food approach to shopping and eating.

You know that we’re passionate holders of a CSA membership, and because of that I don’t tend to eat vegetables besides those that we pick up down at the farm … unless they’re in the reduced bin at the co-op.  And if they’re cheap enough they are totally fair game.  There’s a special sort of sanctity that drapes over things once they’ve been remaindered, however inappropriate they might have been before.  Out of season organic asparagus for half-off?  Yes please.

Of course I love to eat locally grown good Vermont food for all the usual reasons.  But I guiltlessly supplement it with more exotic flavors and additions from afar that I tend to pick up cheap at our excellent local outlets.  Which is how I ended up with this very curious and delicious lemon-pumpkin seed-turmeric goo in a pouch for just 50 cents.

Fabulous Lemon Dip with Roasted Asparagus
Serves about 4 people as a light appetizer

1.  Make the asparagus:

Preheat oven to 400.

Snap tough ends off the bottom of:

  • 1 bunch of washed asparagus spears

Toss spears with:

  • 2 T. olive oil

Then place on baking pan, sprinkle with salt, and roast for about 20 minutes – until bright green and just getting tender.  Place aside and let cool to room temperature.

(I also had a couple of carrots around as well as some Jerusalem artichoke I had also gotten out of the cheap bin at our co-op, and I sliced those into dipping-sized pieces and put them aside as well.)

2.  Make the dip by whisking together:

  • 1 c. low fat plain yogurt (hey BTV friends – do you know you can get a quart of plain organic yogurt at Cheese Trader’s for $1.99?)
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 2 T. of this lemon confit sauce, or substitute 1 T. olive oil, 1 T.  lemon juice, 1/2 t. turmeric, 1/4 t. salt

Then we brought it over to our neighbor’s for dinner, where E. &  Z. staged a home invasion and attempted to appropriate all of the available toys, and the moms sat in the kitchen with vegetables to dip and a glass of wine.  I ended up liking this so much that I went back and bought two more packets of the lemon sauce for the freezer.   With spring and summer vegetables and salads right around the corner,  I know I’ll be using them up.

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Blessed Silence Sunday: How 5-year olds Play Backgammon 0

Posted on February 20, 2011 by crankycheryl

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Pink Potato, Chicken & Vegetable Pie 3

Posted on February 15, 2011 by crankycheryl

Dairy free, gluten free, nut free, bovine free, soy free, low salt.  Plus Vermont localvore, and bright pink.   It was a potato-crusted chicken (or chick pea)  and winter vegetable pie for 40 for Burlington CoHousing’s Valentine’s Day dinner.

This recipe definitely exemplifies my “smoke ’em if you got ’em” theory of cooking.  In the cohousing kitchen we nearly always have leftover unused ingredients from previous meals:  my scavenging yielded peas and frozen brussels sprouts for the pie, plus some bonus greens for the slaw we served on the side.  I had wheedled vendors at this weekend’s farmer’s market for their less-than-perfect roots, and combined with what we had around.  The quantities and specific vegetables below are just a guide to get started – use what you’ve got, or can get cheaply.

Advance notes:

  • If you’re doing a meat version, make sure you’ve got the meat itself cooked and ready ahead of time.  Because we were cooking for 40, I used two large chickens; for 8 people about a half chicken should be enough.
  • Will your children eat pink mashed potatoes?   Do tell.   Z. kept both objecting to the food on his plate and eating the food on his plate, spearing Brussels sprouts and squealing “cabbage ball!” while giggling and eating away.

Chicken & Winter Vegetable Pot Pie with Pink Potato Crust
Reprinted from February 2011 Vermont Woman
Serves 8
1.  Starting your engines:
Turn on oven to 400.  Generously oil two rimmed baking sheets and set aside.

Put large pot of salted water on to boil.

Butter the bottom and sides of a nice deep lasagna pan, or other fairly large baking dish.  Set aside.

Cooked vegetables all heaped up in a gorgeous Vermont winter type of pile.

2.  Get those vegetables ready:

Chop into 1” pieces and place in large bowl:

  • ½ butternut squash (peel if you like)
  • 2 peeled beets
  • 3 medium-large peeled parsnips
  • 3 carrots

Clean outer leaves, and cut in half if very large:

  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts

Add sprouts to bowl along with:

  • ½ t. salt
  • few grinds fresh pepper
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. balsamic or apple cider vinegar

Toss well (it’s easiest if you use your hands)  Spread onto prepared baking sheets into single layer, and place in oven.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until sizzling and very tender when poked with a fork.  Leave oven on.

 

They're so beautiful. Let's look at another shot of those veggies.

4. Next stages of construction:   Take 3 or 4 pieces of beet, puree in a blender or with a hand-held immersion blender, and put puree in a medium-large bowl and set aside.  Place other vegetables in your prepared baking dish and toss with:

  • 3 c. cooked chicken (or turkey, or chick peas, or cubed firm tofu – Vermont Soy’s Maple-Ginger is perfect in this)
  • ½ t. ground thyme or 1 t. dried thyme leaves or whatever herb you feel like.
  • 1 T. flour (or rice flour, if you want to keep this gluten free)
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ c. broth or water

4.  And the potatoes:
While pot of water is heating, peel (if you like, or if your potatoes aren’t organic) and quarter:

  • 3 lbs. potatoes

Once water is boiling, add potatoes to water and cook at a gentle boil until tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove potatoes to bowl with beet puree.

5.  The mash:
Add to bowl:

  • ¼ c. butter
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • ½ t. salt (or to taste)
  • beet puree

Then mash or whip until very smooth and creamy.  I like to use a hand-held electric mixer and beat them until they’re smooth and kind of gooey, but you should use whatever method gives you the potatoes that feel right to you.  (Vegan/dairy free version:  1/4 c. olive oil, 2 T. tahini, salt, reserved beet puree, which is what we made and it was deeeeeeeeeee-licious.  Look how adorable those pink potatoes, not to mention the fabulous Ming and Melinda with whom I was cooking!)

 

6.  Putting it all together:  Here’s where you can be fussy or not fussy.  There’s nothing wrong with taking a big spoon and dropping spoonfuls of the potato mix in a rustic fashion over the top of the vegetable and chicken mix.  Or you can use a pastry bag and pipe it on.  They’ll both taste great.

We used chick peas to indicate the vegetarian version.

7.  Cooking it up:  Bake for about 25 minutes at 400, until edges are starting to get golden and the filling is bubbling.  Let cool for a couple of minutes and then serve.

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Vermont Winter Souffle 0

Posted on February 08, 2011 by crankycheryl

One of these days I’m going to rename this blog, “Eat Butternut Squash or Die, Mofo!

And in preparation for that, here’s a truly fabulous, gluten-free, vegetarian use for the ubiquitous winter workhorse itself.  It’s adapted from Barbara Kafka’s absolutely fantastic Vegetable Love, a gem for anyone who eats vegetables, and a must if you’re a CSA member.   I hadn’t set out to make a dinner out of squash, but I came across the book just after roasting one, and it all sort of came together in a beautiful way.

I was interested to read this:

“There has been a rebellion in recent years in France against the rise of flour.  [!]  I don’t agree, but when it comes to vegetable souffles, the taste of the vegetable is often more pronounced without the use of flour.”

A few more pages of flipping landed me on Kafka’s brilliant combination of rhubarb and beets, and since I had those on hand too, that became the side dish.

Very Vermont Squash & Cheddar Souffle

Adapted from Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Puree Souffle
About 4 dinner servings

1.  Preheat oven to 400 with a rack in the center position.

2.  Generously butter a 6- or 8-cup souffle dish (or any 6-8 cup round, straight-sided oven-proof dish).  Lightly coat with:

  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese (I was out and so used potato flakes.  The reason for this ingredient is to give the souffle something to climb as it puffs up, so the coarser texture was a good substitute.)

3.  Separate:

  • 4 eggs

(cheese grater, yes; souffle eater, no)

with whites in medium bowl.  Set aside.

 

4.  Whisk together:

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 1/2 c. butternut (or other) squash puree
  • egg yolks, one at a time
  • 1 c. grated cheddar cheese (I used Cabot’s 50% fat, my standby)
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
  • sprinkle ground ginger
  • sprinkle cayenne

 

5.  Using your handheld blender or stand mixer or whatever you like for such things, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

6.  Using a rubber spatula, take a generous scoop of the whites and fold them into the cheese mixture with gentle, sure strokes until it’s mostly combined.

Fold in the remaining whites until fairly well-combined, remembering to keep a fairly gentle touch and not pushing out the air in the egg whites.

7.  Scrape the mixture into your prepared dish and put on a baking sheet in the oven (if you use an 8-cup dish you can skip the baking sheet as it oughtn’t spill over the sides).  Bake for 25 minutes or until, as Kafka describes, the souffle is, “puffed, golden brown and only slightly wiggly in the center.”

Since souffles are notorious for deflating, I snapped this picture right away, before I jostled it on its way out of the oven.

And then it was still nice and puffy and so I took another picture.

Still puffy!  I was so excited I took another.

STILL PUFFY!  But, okay, enough was enough.  So then I put away the camera, cut into it and ate.  Serve immediately, or at room temperature, or even cold for an easy leftover lunch the next day.

A couple of notes:

  • It had been a while since I’d made a souffle, and was a little sad to discover I had lost my proper souffle dish somewhere along the way.  I used an 8-cup Pyrex round baking dish and it worked just fine.
  • One advance step that I always try to do, and usually forget, is taking out the eggs about half an hour before I intend to start cooking so that they can come to room temperature.  This makes a difference when you’re trying to get the whites beaten until fluffy, but don’t worry too much if you skip it.
  • Though I usually make souffles quite firm, Kafka offers this, “… the French prefer their souffles baveuse, creamy in the middle.  This semi-liquid center serves almost as a sauce.”  I did, and the contrast was nice … if initially a little alarming.

 

Warm Rhubarb & Beet Salad
Adapted from Barbara Kafka’s Vegetable Love
About 4 servings

Combine in a medium saucepan:

  • 5 roasted beets, peeled
  • 2 c. chopped rhubarb stalk (I had it in the freezer: maybe you’ve got some too)
  • 1/2 c. cider
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • (I had this on hand, which I used instead of the cider and balsamic)
  • generous sprinkle kosher salt

Cook over medium-low heat until rhubarb starts to break down and liquids are reduced to syrup.

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Miso Roasted Roots & Friends 1

Posted on February 05, 2011 by crankycheryl

At my last winter CSA share pick-up, I had gotten some of these hairy beauties:

A note suggested that they might be best roasted, and that their main winter-storage claim to fame may be that they aren’t at all sweet.  Since, like every aspiring Vermont winter localvore, I’m craving variety this time of year, in the bag they went, where they joined beets, rutabaga, turnips, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips.  And met up with more of the same at home.

There were a lot of them, and something had to be done.

You may know that I think that roasting is one of the very nicest things you can do to a vegetable.   It intensifies flavor and caramelizes sugars, and can be done to just about everything (not leafy vegetables, generally).   Plus it’s a good straight-forward way for a lazy cook like me to end up with some building blocks and variety for the meals of the coming week.

Facing off with the pile of roots and squashes, I decided to roast beets by themselves, butternut squash by itself, and then do a savory tray (potatoes, salsify, rutabaga) flavored with miso, and a sweet tray (carrots, parsnips, turnips) just plain with olive oil and salt.

My approach is a bit convoluted, but not at all fussy.    The goal is to let everything cook for as long as it needs, while being in the kitchen as little as possible.

Here’s how I did it.  Of course, use what you’ve got and make it how you want it.  Maybe you’re planning Italian food and would do garlic and some oregano instead of miso for a savory variety, or want to throw onions onto either tray, or toss them with some teriyaki sauce.  Go for it.

A Trio of Roast Roots, Plus Squash

1.  Preheat oven to 400.   Oil three rimmed baking sheets, and get out one baking dish with an oven-proof, snug-fitting lid.  Get out two large mixing bowls and set aside.

2.  Beets

  • Wash but don’t peel (isn’t this fabulous?) as many beets as can fit in your lidded baking dish in one layer.  Put on the lid and put them in the oven (it’s okay if it hasn’t preheated all the way).  They will need to cook the longest, one-two hours depending on size.

3.  Savory Miso-Roasted Roots

Prepare the salsify:

  • Put 2 T. lemon juice into a medium bowl and add water nearly to top
  • With the lemon-water right at hand, peel and slice 3-4 salsify roots crosswise into chunks about 1 1/2″ long and put immediately into the water bowl to prevent discoloration.

Put it all together by placing in one of the large mixing bowls:

  • 2-3 large potatoes, scrubbed, peel left on, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • the salsify, drained well
  • 2 T. miso paste
  • 2 T. olive oil

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then spread the whole thing out on one of the baking sheets and set aside.

 

4.  Sweet Mix

 

  • 3-4 carrots, scrubbed, peels left on, cut into 1 1/2″ – 2″ chunks crosswise
  • 3-4 parsnips, scrubbed, peels left on, cut into 1 1/2″ – 2′ chunks crosswise
  • 1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then spread the whole thing out on one of the baking sheets.

Put both baking sheets in the oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice if you think of it.  They’re done when a fork easily pierces a chunk.  The carrots and turnips are the slowest cookers here, so they’re good ones to test.

5.  Butternut Squash

Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and put them in a colander.  Put the squash cut-side-down on the remaining baking sheet.   If your oven is big enough, you can go ahead and put it in now, or else wait until you take out the mixed trays.  This also cooks for about 30 minutes, or until very soft.

6.  Don’t Forget the Beets

When everything on a tray is done, check on the beets by poking the largest one with a fork.   Cook for a while longer if it’s till very firm, and when it is tender, go ahead and turn off the oven.  Leave the beets in there until the oven cools down, then remove and peel them – the peels will slip off in your hands.

If you’re feeling ambitious you can also go ahead and rinse, dry, oil and salt those seeds and put them in the oven once you turn off the heat.  If you do it right when the heat goes off, there’ll be enough warmth to toast them but not enough to burn them.

7.  Using Your Delicious Vegetables

  • Eat them as they are.
  • Puree the butternut squash and turn it into this soup, or you could mix it with some cream and broth and add in some of the other vegetables and some meat or beans for a heartier version.
  • Add pureed butternut squash to baked goods, waffles or the life.
  • Save pureed squash for a fabulous souffle that I’ll be posting this week
  • Slice beets and put them on salads
  • Save beets for the beet-rhubarb recipe I’ll be posting this week
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Vietnamese Stuffed Grape Leaves 2

Posted on January 29, 2011 by crankycheryl

I was invited to a dumpling party, and though I knew there was little chance that I’d remain purely carb-free, I also wanted to bring something to share that matches the way I’m eating.

Vietnamese-style stuffed grape leaves are a bit of flavored ground meat wrapped inside the leaves.  At Five Spice we used to serve these with peanut sauce, though some folks prefer the sweeter-type dips.  (Between you and me: they’re wrong and you should do it my way.)  I had posted about these back in 2009, but love these enough to want to revisit.

Food in the freezer and pantry feels like money in the bank, and this little treat was a lovely way to spend some of it.   I  didn’t have the fresh cilantro leaves I wanted.  A quick visit to the basement yielded a cube of basil-garlic puree, a pound of ground grass-fed beef, and a packet of grape leaves.  Those plus some fish sauce and a handful of fresh spinach leaves turned quickly into the filling, and before I knew it I had them made.

Vietnamese Stuffed Grape Leaves
Makes about 40

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

2.  Place in a food processor:

  • 1 lb. ground grass-fed beef
  • 1-2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 T. chopped fresh basil or cilantro leaves or a combination
  • 1 T. Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 1/2 c. very clean and coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves

Process for about 30 seconds, until very well combined.

3.  Get your grape leaves.  It’s okay to use them from a jar if you weren’t out madly picking and freezing weeds last summer.  If you do use the ones in brine, rinse them a bit, then blot off the water.  To form the wraps:

Place a leaf in front of you, stem-end down, and put a spoonful of filling in the center.

These get formed differently than the Greek ones usually are.  What you want to end up with is a squat little square, rather than a cylinder.  To get this, fold over each of the four sides over the filling and then place it on the baking sheet.

 

Keep at least an inch in between them: you need enough air circulation so that they’ll get a little crispy instead of steaming.

4.  Bake for 20 minutes, until black-green and sizzling a bit,  then serve with peanut sauce, or even just on their own.

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Fabulous Frittata 2

Posted on January 18, 2011 by crankycheryl

In keeping with my 2011 eating plan that focuses solely on protein, fruit and vegetables, I made this for brunch the other day.

I find myself with an anti-carb instinct that causes me to look sort of mistrustfully at potatoes.  But then I reconsidered.  Why not potatoes? I thought.  They’re organic or close to it, and lived their little tuberous lives just a mile from here, down in Burlington’s Intervale. Plus, knowing myself, I realized that if I started putting things on the yes-it’s-a-vegetable-but-I’m-not-allowed-to-have-it list, I’d probably soon follow up with a yes-it’s-junk-food-but-here’s-how-I’ll-justify-it list.

So here this was.  And it was very simple and pretty great.

Fabulous Frittata
Serves 4

1.  Heat in a pan:

  • 2 T. butter and 1 T. high-heat oil (light olive, rice oil, or something else made to take the heat)

2.  Turn the heat to medium and add to the pan:

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 potatoes, scrubbed, peels on, thinly sliced

Cook without turning until golden on bottom side, then flip and spread into an even layer.

3.  Add to pan:

  • About 3 cups well-washed spinach, leaves coarsely chopped if large

Put the lid on the pan and cook for a minute or two to wilt the spinach.  Then sprinkle over the top:

  • 1/4 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil (incidentally, this was the only non-local ingredient)

4.  Pour over the top:

  • 6 large eggs

Cook until bottom starts to set.

5.  Cover the top with:

  • 4 oz. grated cheddar or other cheese.

Put the lid on and cook over medium until thoroughly set and cheese is melted.  Let stand off the heat for a few minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.

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Apricot-Cardamom Meringues 1

Posted on January 08, 2011 by crankycheryl

I’ve once again lost my camera, dangit.  So though I can’t provide any halfway-decent pictures, I still want to share a recipe that’s well-suited to January’s good intentions.

It came about  as a result of frustration with the weight I can’t seem to stop gaining, magnified by a radio piece on obesity in Vermont.  What a terrible realization to confront the fact that I’m on the wrong side of the statistics.  And this has for whatever reason troubled me enough that I’m ready to make real changes.  As of January 1, I’m only eating protein, fruit, and vegetables (i.e., dairy, meat, fish, beans, seeds, nuts, any fruit or vegetable or tuber, but no grains).  It’s an approach that works for me because it’s drastic enough that I have to pay attention, but still very, very simple.  There’s not much wiggle room, and that’s just what I need.

It also means that I’m eating whole foods, very close to their natural state.  I feel good and I’m eating well.  Of course I still want a treat or two, and here’s something I was able to make with what I had around.  I suspect it wouldn’t taste great to folks who are used to processed sugar, but for me after a week of going without, they tasted pretty darn swell.

The next time I make these, I plan to try pureed sweet potato (an idea from my friend Layla), and I also have some designs on unsweetened dried blueberries.  The proverbial possibilities are endless – and are likely to give good results with a couple of tips:

  • There’s very little effort, but the recipe does take a long time in both the soaking and the cooling down so be sure to plan for it.
  • Prepare ahead by soaking dried fruit in warm water overnight, or by roasting and pureeing sweet potatoes or beets or whatever you might be inclined to try.  You want the fruit-type ingredient to be fairly concentrated, and pureed until very smooth.
  • Because of the science of how proteins set and toughen, ones made without any added sugar will be tougher than those that do contain it, so you can make your own choice based on your needs.

And please do let me know how your efforts go if you do go ahead and give them a try.

Apricot-Cardamom Meringues
Makes about 24

  1. Preheat oven to 225.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender with just enough of the soaking liquid to get a good paste:
  • About 1 1/2 c. soaked and tender dried apricots, soaked until soft.
  • 1 pinch cardamom

You should end up with about 1 cup of puree.

3.  Whip until very firm and standing in peaks:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/8 t. cream of tartar

4.  Beat in the fruit puree about 2 T. at a time until thoroughly incorporated.

5.  Drop by heaping tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until firm.  Turn oven off and let cool completely, then remove and enjoy.  They’ll last a good long time if they’re kept in a closed container at room temperature, but shouldn’t be refrigerated or frozen.

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Holiday, Crap 4

Posted on December 30, 2010 by crankycheryl

How was your Christmas-type holiday?  Did it knock you off your ass as it did me?

I was completely sleep-deprived after being up until midnight making the school cupcakes and cutting out cardboard for crafts and school holiday parties.  Then after said parties, after we had fought our way through a couple of stores, I started getting their piles of stuff from school holiday mishegas separated and organized.  There was a small pile of wrapped gifts.  Five of them:  four for their dad, and one for their grandmother.

I’d love to tell you that I beamed at them and patted their little heads.  That I admired their wrapping paper and packed the presents off to their various destinations.

Instead I saw bright red and found strange sounds coming out of my mouth.  My eyebrows shot up until they were nearly in my hairline and I said in one of those pseudo-non-hysterical screeches, “Oh, okay.  None for me.  Heh heh. Heh.  That’s really great.  Great.”   My heart started pounding and a furious closed captioning sort of turned on in my brain, displaying things like, “After waking me up three times a night every night for years?  And whining all day?  And the nightly horror of homework?  And how I stay up nights worrying about you on the nights that you don’t happen to wake me up?  And how I do all this crap for you and have never once actually throttled you or thrown you out a window and Im a short order cook and buy you cases of nitrate free hot dogs and organic macaroni and cheese and I CAN’T EVEN HAVE A PIECE OF CRAP ORNAMENT FROM SCHOOL? REALLY?!”  And then I slumped up the stairs to cry which is where I stayed, asking Greg to handle dinner.  I cried for hours.

Somewhere around then I had to admit that 2010 has been a pretty tough year.  But still, I’m not sure how I ended up crying over this.  I was raised in a wholesome iconoclastic atheist Jewish rabble-rousing home.  I don’t really know where this sort of low-rent Martha Stewart tendency of mine comes from, or why I seem compelled to create some kind of a perfect holiday.    I hate the consumerism.  And I don’t think I really want endless things crowding our small home.

But what I especially don’t want is to be the person who actually cares, who seeks some weird kind of approval from my own children.  I know that I’m the one who’s here for them, not them for me.  I know I’m supposed to be a monolithic entity to them, one who doesn’t make them feel like they have to nurture me.  I know I know I know.

And I’ve recovered, having spent some uncomfortable time reflecting, realizing how my heart just isn’t pure.  How there’s no way I could have had this reaction if I let my real values guide my parenting.   Doesn’t that seem true and right – that when we act with truth and integrity, we’re not looking for the recognition from others, but being guided by our own inner compass.

And looking forward to the clean slate of a new year of life, that’s what I’ll be promising to do in addition to all the usual smaller goals.   Like making good on my promise to slow our lives down, to laugh more, to listen and make time for quiet.   And making space to forgive myself for our imperfect and fractured lives, my disorganization and impatience. And I’ll try to remember to not look for gold stars or glitter-covered, glued-up whatever as a reward.

But maybe you could stop by next December with a nice bottle of red wine and box of tissues, just in case.

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Thank You Cookies 0

Posted on December 17, 2010 by crankycheryl

These are the cookies we make to give our letter carrier, garbagemen, firefighters and our other year-round helpers.   And when Z.’s teacher asked his class to bring in something from a family holiday tradition, these were the first thing that came to mind.

They are chewy and fudgy, somewhere between brownies and cookies, delicious and chocolate-y and very addictive, which is why I only make them once a year.   (Though, full disclosure: 5-year old “Stewie” in Zander’s class didn’t like them because he doesn’t like fruit with his chocolate.)

Whatever, kid.

Herrick Family Thank You Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food Black Forest Cookies

Makes 36

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners and set aside.

2.   In a medium bowl, whisk together:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
3.  Place in a large glass or otherwise heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted and smooth:
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

4.  Remove from heat, then whisk in separately and thoroughly:
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 2 large eggs
Whisk until smooth.
5.   Whisk in flour mixture just until combined. Fold in:
  • 1 package (about 12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries or tart cherries
Cover well and refrigerate until firm, 30 to 45 minutes.
6.   Drop mounds of dough (equal to 2 level tablespoons) about 2 inches apart onto prepared sheets. Bake just until edges are firm, 11 to 13 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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