Friday, January 30, 2015

Intentional living

I ask that you suspend disbelief on my blog’s title, look, and feel matching my current life. Jeremy and I have long ago turned in our city folk cards. These days, it’s white picket fences, soccer games on Saturday mornings, and block parties. And I love it.

Rather than suburban, I’d like to call us small-town.  Like I wave hello to Vicky and Larry through their bakery’s window as I make my way to the train station in the morning kind-of-lifestyle.

So for now, I’m using the space to cook, muse, write, and repeat. Talking with a graphic designer, figuring out how to get a new URL, migrating my recipes, and all of that business will come with time. And with that introduction, here we go.

Thinking big thoughts for 2015. I’m trying to make more conscious decisions about my time.  I might do Activity A or Activity B, but I’m not going to make myself completely nuts by doing all of the above.

Two good books are giving me some keys to helping me live more intentionally, valuing my time and sanity. Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time is about the time pressures of modern living – work, home, and play, and how working parents might find some balance in their lives and – gasp – even some leisure time.  I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life is my bedtime read – a faith-based book on giving and the inward and outward benefits of living a generous life. I like and would recommend both.

I've made incremental changes to reflect this resolution in the new year. I've said “not now” to considering a big volunteer role at Jack’s school; I tried to choose something for myself – like heading to the gym – rather than feeling the need to put our Christmas decorations away in the perfect order on a Saturday afternoon.

No one’s perfect and I’m the first in line. Last night was a circus. I choose to make a dinner that required my attention longer than a weeknight dinner should. Jeremy choose to work from home but had to fervently pitch a story to a major media outlet and was on the phone and checking email simultaneously. At the same time, Jossie was rightfully underfoot, and I had one eye on the clock so we weren't late to pick up Jack from soccer. A little too much; we all survived.

And so now here I’m finally landing on the real point of this post: Cookies.

I chose baking cookies over a fair number of other tasks last week, and I also gave myself a break on trying to get everything else done on my to-do list. Two batches, even. And when one little classmate oogled Jack’s mint-chocolate cookies at lunch time the other day, he asked Jack if his mom had a website for recipes. And yes, little unnamed school boy, Mrs. M sure does.

Andes mint cookies
Adapted from a friend of a friend; these are the best kinds of recipes!

¾ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 eggs
2 ½ cups flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoons salt
1 lb Andes mint wafers

Cook butter, sugar, and water until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Add chocolate until partially melted.  Remove from heat and stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Pour into bowl and let stand 10 min to cool slightly.

With mixer, beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add dry ingredients, mix until blended.  Chill dough 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 deg.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll teaspoons of dough into balls.  Place 2” apart on sheets.  Bake 12-13 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately place Andes mint on each cookie.  Allow to soften and then swirl mint over cookies.  Remove from cookie sheets and cool completely.

Big soft ginger cookies
From A Taste of Home

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Additional sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.2. Roll into 1-1/2-in. balls, then roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

Happy weekend, friends!