The Power of Tea

The Power of Tea

“I know that you prefer coffee, but really, when someone is upset it is only tea that can help.”

-Baking Cakes in Kigali


May you never be too upset for coffee.

But if you are, may you always be blessed with an unending supply of tea.

A Cookie Kind of Year

A Cookie Kind of Year

Sweet years do not make themselves. To start your year off sweet, you’ve got to prepare the sweetness. You can do that by bringing your sugar-sweet perspective to  bear on any dark and stormy situation. Or you can make Rosh Hashana cookies to share with one and all in the new year. Guess which route I took.

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies
(less)1/2 cup unsalted margarine
(less)1 cup brown sugar
(3 tsp) granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
1 3/4 cups flour
8 oz chocolate chipsCream the margarine and sugars to a consistency of wet sand, then beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine all other dry ingredients, then add slowly to the creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes.

For lots of sweetness, expand your options by making Soft Gingersnaps or Pumpkin Cookies. I did, and look forward to rave reviews.
Soft Gingersnaps (based on a true The Orangette recipe)
2 ¼ c flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp ground cloves
sprinkle of salt
(less) 1/2 c  margarine
(less) 1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp peeled and grated ginger
1/3 c molassesCombine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt and shift together.Mix margarine and brown sugar until the consistency of wet sand. Add eggs one at a time, and mix. Add the ginger and molasses, and mix to blend well. Slowly add dry mixture to wet batter.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Optional: Roll batter into balls, toss each of the balls gently in 1/2 cup of sugar and bake as directed above.
Pumpkin Cookies (inspired by Giant Eagle. Their’s are better.)
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
sprinkle of salt
1 1/2 c sugar
(less) 1/2 c margarine
1 cup canned pumpkin. If it was really fall, you could use fresh pumpkin, but at this time of year you don’t want to use any pumpkins that are on the market.
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Cream sugar and margarine until you reach the consistency of wet sand. Mix in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract. Slowly fold in dry ingredients.
Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes.
Optional, but recommended: Glaze cookies.
Floors Don’t Self-Clean

Floors Don’t Self-Clean

Sweep the floor before pulling out the mop.

Mopping without sweeping is exactly like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. You get nicely mopped floor with streaks of dirt. Of course, you could clean that up by getting on your hands and knees and wiping it away with a sponge or rag. But in that case, you could spend all day on your hands and knees, forgoing both broom and mop.

The choice is yours. But only one way works well.

When Life Hands You Chicken, Make Lemon Juice

When Life Hands You Chicken, Make Lemon Juice

Soap will never get the smell of raw chicken off your hands. I’ve tried. You can keep scrubbing – and feel free to use a variety of soaps – but that whiff of chicken will remain stubborn and present. I had resigned myself to that fact until Special Correspondent Yaelle’s mum came to visit.

“Ugh,” said Yaelle, smelling her hands after making a delightful pan of chicken. Or chicken soup. Or something nutritious involving chicken.

“You can get rid of that smell,” said her mum. My ears perked up. Yaelle stared. Her mum continued, “Just pour some lemon juice on your hands.”

Yaelle did so. Suddenly her hands smelled just like lemon pledge. In awe, we stared at her mum.

“Is there a way to get rid of the lemon scent?” wondered Yaelle aloud, sniffing her clean-smelling hands.

“Not that I know of,” answered her mum, continuing on her way, unaware of the light she’d shed on what we’d thought was an intractable problem.

It seems there’s a limit to even a parent’s knowledge. But at least I can ponder that while my hands smell of lemons.

For Posterity

For Posterity

Sometimes, experience is the best teacher. Other times, you need a parent. Moms and dads seems to have a secret source of knowledge – a common well of accumulated wisdom.

For a long time I thought that becoming a parent automatically gave one life skills. While time has debunked that myth for me, most parents I know do seem to have extraordinary insight. They have the sort of insight that makes life a little easier once you know them – things like how to measure the ripeness of fruit, how to get out stains, and when to file your taxes. These are the tidbits without which I couldn’t be a productive member of society.

While parents try to pass on their hard-earned wisdom to their kids, sometimes they fail. It’s sad, but true. However, even when they fail their own offspring, they can help others. Others, like their childrens’ friends. These tidbits on how to cut onions safely, what weather cockroaches like best, and when it’s time to ditch your favorite duds because the homeless wouldn’t wear them.

In gratitude to parents everywhere and in appreciation of their giving nature when it comes to advice, I dedicate this series on life lessons. Let’s call it For Posterity.