Monday, December 12, 2011

Poppy Seed Cookies

This recipe is from an old Penzy's catalog.  I've made it as part of our annual Christmas cookie tradition now for a couple of years.  It is essentially a butter cookie, but with the additition of ground almonds and poppy seeds to add a distinctive flavor and crunch, and rolled in colored sugar to make them festive looking. 

(Don't they look nice?  Ace took this picture!)

Poppy Seed Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
Colored sugar

Cream the butter.  Add the sugar, egg and vanilla and mix well.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, almonds, poppy seeds and salt.  Gradually add to the butter mixture and mix well.  Divide the dough into half and roll into logs.  Roll the logs in colored sugar.  Wrap the logs in waxed paper and chill for a couple of hours.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Slice the logs 1/4 inch thick and bake at 325 degrees for about 12 minutes or until delicately browned. 

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

A note on poppy seeds:  These can be awfully expensive in a regular grocery store.  I've found them much less expensive at my local ethnic food store.  Penzy's carries them, but for a little more than the ethnic grocery.

Pecan cookies

This cookie was clipped from an old newspaper.  The clipping is quite yellow and brittle.  The headline of the article is "Pecans Used In Cookies."  The article goes on to describe the "pleasingly cruncy texture and good flavor of these cookies."  I think that my husband can vouch for that.  I've had to make two batches since the first was chomped up already. 

Pecan Cookies
[Four Dozen]

3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon rum flavoring
2 1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pecan halves

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add egg and rum; beat thoroughly.  Add sifted dry ingredients and mix until blended.  Chill for an hour or longer.  Shape into small balls about an inch in diameter.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets and flatten slightly with fingertips.  Press a pecan half into the center of each cookie.  Bake at 375 degrees about 10 minutes or until delicately browned.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas cookies 2011

I love vintage recipes.  Several years ago I purchased a file box of handwritten and clipped reipes from an estate sale.  This year for Christmas, my kids and I are making some of the cookies that the former owner of the recipe collection thought worthy of saving in her recipe files.  This is the first of these recipes.

Chocolate Date Cookies

1 cup chopped dates

Water (small amount)

½ cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

½ cup milk

2 cups flour

2 Tbsp. Cocoa

1 tsp. Baking soda

pinch salt

Chopped nuts (optional)

Cover the dates with water; cover and let stand. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and milk. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the sugar mixture. Add the dates, and the nuts if desired.
Drop by teaspoonfuls on a cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 10 minutes or until done.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen.

Made for Christmas 2011.

Now for the taste test: These are really yummy.  They are tender and sweet with a light cocoa taste that does not overwhelm the flavor of the dates.  Although we made them without nuts - we are making a bunch of other nut cookies - they would be excellent with the addition of chopped walnuts. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sticking some stuff here

Okay - it's not baby pictures, and its not lunch plans. Nope - its Minoan and Mycenaean links. I'm sticking these here because it seems like a good way to bookmark these for the kids, easy to find, easy to return to, and so on.

Minoan Resources:

Before the Greeks – article for kids about the Minoans

Cycladic Art

Minoan Art

Theseus and the Minotaur

Virtual Tour of Palace at Knossos


Knossos (picture links at bottom of page)

Minoan Religion

Mycenaean Resources:

Article for kids on

Treasure from a sunken Mycenaean ship

Mycenaean art

Mycenaean Artifacts

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Break 2011

The kids here at our homeschool are on Spring Break this week. I decided that this year's Spring Break would best coincide with the baby's arrival. Smart, eh? So far we haven't had many "I'm bored" moments, but there have been a few. What has been really nice is seeing all the kids doing what they enjoy doing without any direction from me.

During unstructured time, here is what they do:
Ace: has been doing math from her textbook. She's been reading for her literature group. This week the book is "To Kill A Mockingbird" which she's actually re-reading, having read it last year for literature as well. She's been playing piano a lot, getting ready for her Guild performance, and also has been very active, writing for her book blog.

Deuce: Has been hiding out, reading in her bed, a gigantic stack of books from the library. She's invented several concoctions for hair and skin from kitchen ingredients, and has been playing with her siblings really nicely. She's also been working on organizing the stuff in her bedroom. Practicing the violin for her recital, and picking out Disney songs on the piano has also been a hit.

Three: has been playing the piano ALOT! She's been working on memorizing her songs for Guild and just playing for fun. She's been helping with the baby a great deal, and even offers to change diapers. She's also been playing the SIMS 2 on the computer, designing houses that don't make a lot of sense, but she likes them anyway (even if her Sims are always in the red.)

Jack O'Hearts has been playing with cars, legos, playmobil, and sometimes all at the same time. He's spent lots of time outside just running around, picking dandelions, and generally being "boy." He also has been a big help, holding the baby while I make dinner, or when I just need two hands for something.

Little Four has been playing outside with her dogs. She absolutely LOVES Fritz the German Shepherd, and the two pal around the backyard for hours at a time.

So happy Spring Break from all the Hearts!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May Day = Hearts!!

This year May Day is a very special day. This year we celebrate the arrival of the newest, littlest, and sweetest heart. Our own little Darling Heart. I don't know yet how to relate him to this pack of cards, after all, we've already got a Jack O'Hearts, and he's certainly not a Joker, I guess for now I'll just call him SweetHeart. For he is all that, and more.

Our little sweetie came into the world in the pearly, early hours of the morning, before the sun was even up. (And I can tell you that it was a LONG night!) After a lot of work, and such, we had a baby!

So... ta-da!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ideas for feeding a largish family - Improvisational Pancakes!

Whenever my parents come to visit, they are always surprised how well we can feed our largish family. I really can't say "large" family, because our family currently only has 7 members, and I know lots of families that have 10 or more. Not that I'm judging, just comparing my largish to their large. I digress, back to food.

I have several techniques to keep the food budget manageable, and still provide a decent variety of meals. First is meal planning. There are several schools of thought on this. One is to plan out meals, by day, as I've seen loads of bloggers do for "Menu Plan Monday." Another is to have a decently stocked pantry, and fly by the seat of one's pants, deciding on what to make as the spirit moves you. Yet another is to make the same or sorta the same foods every week. I sorta do all of them.

Breakfast at our house follows a very (almost painfully) predictable pattern.
Sunday - bacon or sausage, eggs, and toast. Yes, EVERY Sunday. It is the only day of the week that we have meat for breakfast, and the eggs provide enough protein that the kids can make it through church without STARVING before lunch.
Monday - Oatmeal. Nearly always oatmeal for Monday. Occasionally, I'll make Cream of Wheat or Quick-cooking steel cut oats, but that's how far I vary from that.
Tuesday - Pancakes. Here I like to have a little fun. I consider pancakes as my way of using up leftovers. Got leftover squash? Throw it in the pancakes. Leftover rice? Throw it in the pancakes. Overripe bananas? Banana pancakes. One apple rolling around the fruit drawer? Apple pancakes! My pancake recipe to follow this post. It is endlessly variable.
Wednesday - Cold cereal, and/or toast and/or yogurt and/or get it yourselves, because this is the one day I don't feel like cooking.
Thursday - Scrambled eggs and toast.
Friday - Usually pancakes again.
Saturday - Whatever I'm feeling like making. This is the one day we might even make waffles, if I'm feeling really motivated. Also, if I've purchased bagels, we'll do them on Saturday.

My Improvisational Pancake Recipe
Makes enough for a hungry family of 7

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour, or combination of flour and wheat germ, leftover rice, etc.)
1 cup rolled oats (regular or old-fashioned, not instant. If you are mixing in leftover cooked oatmeal, you can use a little more.)
2 teaspoons baking soda (or 1 tablespoon baking powder but don't sour the milk later on.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk, soured with vinegar. (unless you're using baking powder, in which case, don't sour)
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter, margarine, I've even used shortening when I've been low on everything!)

Directions: Mix up the dry ingredients. Mix up the wet ingredients (and any moist stuff, like squash, bananas, leftover rice or oatmeal, etc.) and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir together. Look at the batter. Does it seem over-thick? Add a little milk. Does it seem runny? Mix in a little more flour. You can decide, because it will vary depending on the ingredients and humidity of the room.

While mixing the stuff together, start getting your skillet hot. You want it pretty hot before you start putting batter on it. Once its hot, and your ingredients are mixed, spray with oil, or just dribble a little bit on and spread it around with your turner, and make your pancakes. I use 1/4 cup (a little on the shy side), but you can make them big or tiny, or in the shapes of little people, or turtles, or whatever.

Serve with butter, syrup, applesauce, or whatever you like.

Some other things you might mix in: blueberries, other berries, cornmeal, chocolate chips, pretty much any non-citrus fruit, dried fruit (make sure to soak it first to soften it if necessary), spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, anise, cardamom, etc., mashed potatoes, yogurt (can sub for some of the milk), cottage cheese, just use your imagination, and the contents of your cupboard and fridge for inspiration.

Next time: What about lunch??

Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting to the nut of the issue

My 13 year old daughter, Ace, asked me today while we were in the car: "Mom, what is the point of cheating? I mean, lets say you pass something by cheating, you will just have to do the next course, which will be harder. If you don't know the material, how will you manage, other than to cheat more?"

I think this gets to the nut of the homeschooling issue for us. My kids are taking subjects to master the knowledge. G-school students (and most private school students) are taking the subjects to mark time, and gain grades. Testing is paramount importance to schools. Schools are judged by how well students do on tests; teachers are judged by how well students perform on tests; students are judged on how well they perform on tests. Without good grades on tests, students can't join the sports teams, be in band or other extra-curriculars. Many kids get monetary rewards from parents, relatives, and even from the schools themselves for getting A's or B's on the report card.

With all this pressure to perform, and the relative ease of cheating, is it any wonder that it is so rampant in the institutional school system?

I thought Ace's question was very relevant. If a person cheats their way through elementary, junior and high school, and then into college, how is this really benefiting them in the long run? They haven't gained ownership or mastery of the course material. So what's the point, then?

In our homeschool, we don't use "grades" as such to mark progress. Either the kid knows it, and can move on, or doesn't, in which case, we go back, review the trouble spots, and learn the material. When well-intentioned people ask me how I can be sure my kids are really learning without grades, I really want to know, how can you be sure that their kids are really learning if all you have to go by is a letter on a piece of paper.

Spam issues

I take a little break, and trolls get in and spam my comments.

Maybe I would get more traffic if I kept the nudie comments, but I think it is in much better taste to simply remove the garbage.

I'll get around to a real post soon. There's much to blog, but little creative motivation here.