Tag Archives: baking

Winter Week

In winter, I typically take the way of the bear and hibernate. My form of hibernation equals socking in, staying home, working. And on weekends starting in January, doing my annual full-house purge.
Last week wasn’t at all typical for this bear.
Monday I played hooky. Not much can pull me out of hibernation and into the world. Star Wars is an exception. The prospect of hitting a matinee–IMax, 3D–of the new installment of one of my all time favorite franchises? No-brainer. So BW and I headed out into the cold, met up with Jason–Kat, who’d set this all up, had to work (but she’s already seen it twice)–Laura and Laura’s husband, snagged some popcorn and settled down.
No spoilers, so I’ll just say I loved every minute, right from the first note of the iconic opening theme to the roll of credits. I will ask why, does anyone know why, a group of people would choose to sit directly behind another group of people in a HUGE theater that’s nearly empty? And then regularly push or kick the back of my chair? I have no answer for this.  (Laura’s note:  loved, loved, loved the movie.  I was further down from the kicker so the annoyance for me was the eating/crackling of paper in the quiet moments.  Eat during galactic explosions!!! NR and I are a pair.)
In any case, I enjoyed my playing-hooky day tremendously.
Mid-week, I had a routine annual screening–the medical sort–all good there. But another venture into the cold rather than being attached to my keyboard. And that evening yet another trip out to watch my grandson’s first chorus concert. Absolutely adorable.
As it happened, our Logan proved to be quite a trooper, as it turned out he was running hot. So the next day, with a 101 temp, he snuggled into Nana’s bed. I know how to work around a sick boy, got plenty done while keeping him fed and entertained. Plus I had a spanking new DVD of The Martian, which made him very happy. Because it was a short school day, his sister came up mid-afternoon. So a short work day for me. Kayla agreed to help me with dinner–her little brother was coming up later, and we’d send food home to their mom, who had whatever bug Logan had.
I decided rather than letting her help me, I’d play sous chef and instructor. We both really enjoyed me walking her through making scalloped ham and potatoes, with a side of roasted carrots. Both dishes the gang enjoys.
And she did a terrific job of it.
It’s incredibly satisfying to pass recipes down the generations, tutor a grandchild in basic cooking skills. She has good instincts on top of it–more satisfaction. And asked if I’d make her a cookbook with my recipes. That’s a big pleasure, and something I’ll spend some Saturday putting together for her. I have many of my mother’s, and my father’s recipes in my book. Whenever I cook one of their dishes, they’re right there in the kitchen with me. I like to think when Kayla uses mine, the same holds true.
I freely admit, that I ended the day by conking out by ten p.m.
But Saturday, after my workout, the purge began. And began in earnest in my office byclearing out dozens of old research books I’ve held onto for far too long. Many were ridiculously out of date, and while I still have more dozens, I lean heavy on the internet anyway.
Office shelves
My office and my one-more-room are purged and organized. And my embarrassment of a hall closet is an embarrassment no more. I confess, without shame, to being a scarf slut. I still can’t figure out how I still have three tubs full of them on my closet shelf when I filled an entire bag with what I’ll pass on.
A good Saturday start. BW hauled out boxes and bags of donations, and I have more bags for the annual clothes swap. And Laura and Kayla can have a grudge match over the scarves. (Laura’s note:  I can take her!)


Vegetable soup
Rosemary sourdough bread
Sunday, cold with snow flurries, means making soup and baking bread. (Note from Laura:  I know Nora cooks soup the way I do — with what’s on hand and to suit my taste — so there’s not going to be a recipe. ) A hearty vegetable soup in this case, with beans and pasta, and a couple rounds of rosemary sour dough bread. And since I was hooked to the kitchen, it was a good time to purge and organize that area. I can now open doors and drawers in the areas addressed this weekend without shuddering. That’s a good deal.
The better one is knowing I can now begin my hibernation. I have a clear week, intend to fully hunker down. And I’m hoping nothing and no one tries to poke the bear.

‘Twas The Weekend Before Christmas…

And all through the house, kids are on a sugar high. That’s what happens here when we have our annual cookie-baking extravaganza.
It’s a day for fun and for not worrying about the dentist or caloric intake. Besides, I planned to hit the gym afterward, knowing my gang had to leave by three as my oldest grandson had a basketball game.
I mentioned to my granddaughter I’d make the sugar cookie dough early so it would have its time in the fridge before rolling. She immediately objected–but, but, but, we like making that dough, too.
Okay then.
Sugar cookie dough starts the day, with everybody taking turns. You got to put in the butter, I get to put in the sugar! Many years of experience has taught me how to manage all this, down to supervising how a five-year-old cracks an egg. (Messily.)IMG_1242
While that dough’s chilling, we opt for a double batch of the crowd favorite–chocolate chip. It’s an assembly line from the measuring and mixing to the dropping and the baking. And then to the most important element.
The taste testing. We all agree we can’t inflict inferior cookies on the world, so we will throw ourselves on our sword and sample.
They passed the audition. More than once.
It’s onto a new-for-us cookie. Kayla had asked if we could do the Hershey Kiss Blossoms. Sure we can, so BW was tasked with getting the kisses. He initially brought home the mint ones by mistake. So now we’ll make two new kinds. There’s a lot of fun here rolling dough balls in colored sugar, unwrapping kisses, putting them on warm baked cookies.
These, too, passed the test.
Onto the more traditional peanut butter blossoms, and we rolled these in gold sugar or white sugar.
The mess by now is awesome.
We must break for lunch–even an indulgent nana has to get some actual food in these kids. I’m amazed when the five-year-old wants seconds of actual food. Where is he putting all this?
An extended break for another tradition in our house on baking day. The early Christmas gift. I held this off until after actual food, despite many pleas. That single gift–always something relatively small–causes near desperation.
Then it’s time for the crescendo.
Out comes the sugar cookie dough and the cookie cutters, and the little plastic bowls along with the food coloring Kayla has purged and organized. We mix the paint–it’s just that food coloring and evaporated milk.
I roll, they cut, they paint. Much discussion on which they HAVE to eat themselves. I bake. Multiple times. We have color, weird art, festive shapes, and–of course–a taste test.
We’ve done it all, in the five hours allotted, and my gang heads off with a big bag of cookies, early gifts and happy faces for the basketball game. I tin up a variety for our Christmas visit with BW’s family on Sunday.
BW and I clean up the awesome mess. Awesomely happy mess. I, however, wonder what I was thinking when I planned to workout after the marathon.
I have a really big glass of wine instead, and a cookie.
That’s a happy holiday tradition!
I hope you all enjoy your own.