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This weekend was all about baking. Saturday I slept in aggressively, and then I mixed all of the cookie doughs that I could and stashed them in the fridge for baking in the evenings this week. I couldn’t mix the spritz, because I didn’t have any oleo and I didn’t want to send Bob for that. Mom and I have each had cookie failures the past few years because of the push to make everything “healthier” – there are now types of margarine, and some of them you cannot bake with. Beware of anything labeled “vegetable spread” – it is NOT margarine.

I called mom to try to remember what we figured out a few years ago about the great margarine issue, and she started reminiscing about when my brothers were little. Margarine came in a tub, was white, and it came with a tube of yellow dye that you mixed in yourself. Grandma Anderson (I’m actually not sure who that is – I believe she was a relative of my brothers’. I should ask mom, because a lot of my recipes have her name on them) used to go to Iowa to buy it, and bring back huge amounts for everyone. Apparently margarine was illegal to sell in Minnesota! Minnesota and Wisconsin, being huge dairy states, wanted people to use butter so they outlawed the sale of margarine. I have visions of midnight margarine runs over the state line…

Luckily, Charlotte took a HUGE nap in the middle of the day. Lately she’s decided that she hates machine white noise – hairdryers, vacuum cleaners, electric mixers, etc. – send her into hysterical crying. I’m not sure what that’s about, but since I was using the stand mixer I was just as glad that she was napping for most of it. After she woke up and had dinner we headed over to the mall so that I could make some returns. That went very smoothly, considering the season. We did a little window shopping, and then had dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s. It was wonderful – someone brought us food, and then did the cleaning up afterwards. Charlotte did well – she ate most of a mozzarella stick and a significant number of the peas out of my dinner. She also spent a lot of time flirting with the wait staff. I want to keep doing that with her occasionally so that she can learn how to act in a restaurant. I figure that if we stick to “family style” while she’s non-English enabled, her commentary will blend into the background noise. When she can understand being shushed, we can take a step up the dining ladder. We decided that trying to stay for dessert would be pushing our luck, so we gave it a pass. Probably prudent.

After dinner I was a fairly irresponsible parent and hit the grocery store on the way home. I justified the lateness with the enormous naps she had taken that day. Margarine and other things were procured, we headed home, and Charlotte and I went to bed.

Sunday was all about the shortbread. It was a little more challenging because Bob was out of the house for most of the day and minding a toddler doesn’t mesh well with my rather aggressive technique for moving cookies through the oven. Also, the stand mixer was going to be going for most of that time. But she went down for another huge nap – five hours worth. I got a LOT done in five hours. She woke up and had “lunch” at about 3:00, which interrupted my rhythm, but not irredeemably. We then had about an hour of hysterics about the mixer, but by the time I finished up I was running the mixer and she was playing in the living room. Maybe that’s the trick – just ignore it and eventually she will too? I finally stopped because I ran out of flour. I’d only gone through fifteen pounds… Bob called as he was leaving to come home, so I sent him to the grocery store for ten more pounds of flour and another roll of waxed paper. When he came home with that I was able to get going again – until I ran out of butter. That was sixteen pounds.

I went through sixteen pounds of butter, and probably close to twenty pounds of flour this weekend. Not bad. My co-workers should be pleased.

So shortbread was packed up for the department. Tonight I’ll tin up the stuff that needs to be sent via interoffice mail, and perhaps I’ll bake a pan or four of one of the other variations. I’m thinking the icebox will be the easiest to churn out – and they’re really yummy.

This week is going to be all about the cookies.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 14th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
One trick that I found worked with Zeph was to have a toy or book with me at all times. I used to have a stash of things he liked but only got to play with while we were out. That way the toy du jour was always interesting. When he got older, he got to choose which book to bring. That way if the grownups were being boring, he could amuse himself.

IIRC, he was about 2 1/2 when he first ordered in a restaurant. The waitress asked the adults what they'd like to drink and he piped up "orange juice please!" The waitress was most amused and he got his OJ.

By the time he was about 8 or so he was taking the appropriate parent out for lunch on Mothers or Fathers Day and paying for it. He needed help working out the tip at first, but soon got the hang of it. Of course, I always fronted him the money, but the object of it was to get him used to being the host.

Start them young and it's fairly easy to teach them public manners.
Dec. 14th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I managed to leave the house toyless. That was my error, and no fault of hers. On the other hand, the straw from my soda kept her happy occupied for all of dinner. That, and a steady stream of people to watch.

I figure that if we don't take her out occasionally, there's NO chance she'll learn to behave in polite company. We just need to not exceed her limitations at any given time. So far, bribery with foods that she doesn't encounter at home is generally sufficient.
Dec. 14th, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC)
Keep a couple of small things stuffed in the diaper bag. :D

It's definitely one of those areas that you can approach at your leisure. As long as she's in the mood for fun food and a change of scenery, she'll probably do fine. She's such a happy good-natured kid though that socialising her shouldn't be too bad.
Dec. 15th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, my boss commented last week "Isn't it a shame that she's such an anti-social, introverted child." :-) This was after she categorically insisted on being passed off to every person visible so that she could make their acquaintance.
Dec. 15th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)

Zeph was the same way -- an absolutely charming baby, toddler, pre-schooler. Then he got smacked by first the divorce, then puberty and it all went to hell. Somehow I managed not to kill him and he's now turning into quite a civilised and capable young man.

Though there are times, like 2:00am this morning, when I could still quite cheerfully kill him.
Dec. 14th, 2009 08:38 pm (UTC)
MY GOD WOMAN !!!! Do you deliver? hee hee
I wish I had the energy to make the cookies you're making. I only have a few that I would like to do and haven't even gotten those done. You're my hero.
Dec. 14th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
This is my once a year cookie orgy. Let me tell you, by the end of yesterday my feet were killing me.

I'm looking forward to Charlotte "helping" me in a few years.
Dec. 16th, 2009 11:41 am (UTC)
Both our girls love to help making cookies. I have one question though. You gave a huge lead up on margarine, but then said, "...until I ran out of butter. That was sixteen pounds." Is it that you use margarine for the spritz and butter for the shortbread?

We get great results using butter for the spritz, though I will admit that the new cookie gun from Pampered Chef, that resembles nothing so well as a caulking gun, gets much more reliable portioning of dough for the little green yummy trees.
Dec. 16th, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC)
My family's recipe for spritz calls for one cup shortening and one cup oleo. The shortbread takes a stick of butter for each pan. At that point in the evening I was just *done.* I didn't feel like breaking out another dough.

I've got a new cookie gun from Williams Sonoma that I haven't tried yet. It has a metal ratchet rather than plastic, so hopefully it will work better than my old one.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )