21 January 2011

Greek Honey Cookies

Athena from A Field of Dreams  asked me to post her virtual shower gift to Justine on my blog.   I hope you'll be inspired by these cookies to go check out her blog and see what other treasures she has to share. 

Athena  says:
In Greek-Australian tradition when a child is born, practically all the friends and relatives turn up to the hospital or home. With them they usually have a plate of Greek biscuits. As there are so many people who visit; biscuits, coffee and tea are given to the visitors as a small gesture of thanks. So as a virtual visit to Justine's Shower I give her these for her family, friends and visitors.

Melomacarona (Greek Honey Cookies) Mελομακάρονα
2 c. olive oil
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. brandy
7 1/2 to 8 c. sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Soda

2 c. honey
2 c. sugar
2 c. Water

Beat together first four ingredients. Sift flour, baking powder and soda three times. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the oil mixture 1 cup at a time and knead gently. Pinch off small portions of dough the size of an egg and form into little patties. Roll them to make oblong rolls. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake in 180 degree oven for 30 minutes. Boil honey, sugar and water for five minutes. Pour syrup over cookies in a deep pan. Allow to soak for 15 minutes. Take them out of the syrup and place on a large platter. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Makes 40.

A Half-Baked Shower

A virtual shower gift for the Bean, who is far more than half-baked.

First, some background:

Justine wasn't my friend, originally. She more properly belongs to my husband, who has been friends with her since college. Both she and my husband know how to sing and play an instrument. (I know how to play the radio.) They kept in touch after college and started reading each other's blogs back in the dark ages of blogs when people believed the internet might be private. This was on a different blog platform under a different name. I was there, too, and eventually I added Justine to my list of friends on said blog platform. I was snooping, is what I was doing, and I was too lazy to keep checking back to see if she'd updated, so I wanted her there on my friends page (this was before FB, can you imagine?).

Of course the blog platform in question informed Justine that I had added her so I had to send her an email letting her know that she didn't have to be my friend back. It was all very 6th grade-love-affair. Except I didn't scribble her name in a heart on my trapper-keeper. Anyway, Justine did become my friend back and somewhere in there we had kids at almost the same time. All the while it was clearly understood that Justine was really my husband's friend and that he would get to keep her in the (exceptionally unlikely) event of a divorce.

Five years later I have decided that she is MY friend and should Husband ever be so silly as to leave me he has to give up custody of Justine. It's his own fault for not blogging more (says she who hasn't blogged anything noteworthy for weeks.)

What does any of this have to do with Justine's nearly-baked Bean? Nothing, it's just an illustration of how blogging has opened up a new and wonderful way of creating and sustaining friendships. Without blogs Husband and Justine would probably have drifted into the land of Christmas-cards-only, and I would have continued to see Justine as someone smarter, prettier and better than I (all true, but not a reason not to be her friend.) Instead she's my friend and confidant and cheerleader and I am grateful to her for her many gifts to me. I know she has cheered and consoled many of you as well, which is why a virtual shower of good wishes from real friends who happen to be separated by mere geography is so appropriate.

Justine, there is no doubt in my mind that your bean is entering the world already blessed because she has you and S for parents, because she has I for a big brother, because she will be encouraged to wonder, to explore, and to follow her heart in service to others. She will be a blessing to the rest of us. And while I will do what is in my power to be there to welcome her personally, even if I end up being far away, I promise to breathe with you and rejoice with you in the hours surrounding her birth. You'll be amazing, and so will she.

03 January 2011

Music Monday: When You Go

Is Music Monday a thing? Google tells me it's a twitter thing, but it doesn't appear to be a blog thing. But I'm making it a blog thing, or my blog thing, or my blog thing today.

I don't remember exactly how I discovered singer/ songwriter/ geek lord Jonathan Coulton. But I've been a fan of his for several years now. He's a internet rock star, the first internet rock star in fact, and perhaps the most successful. In addition to selling his songs on his blog and performing in venues around the country he releases all of his music under a Creative Commons license, which means that so long as you're not trying to make a profit you're welcome to cover his music, make videos of his music, or record his live shows. It's a part of what makes him awesome, and it means that you can spend a lot of time on YouTube going from song to song getting a feel for his music. He writes a lot of silly geeky songs and a lot of songs that resonate with the silly geek I was, and am.

“When You Go” is a song about loss, and on his blog JoCo says not necessarily romantic. I knew that already because I hear all kinds of loss in the lyrics, and romantic loss is the least meaningful of them.
While my life in flux everything gets stirred up, including some losses of my own, so this song, which always gets me, is especially poignant for me right now.

(And no, none of my current life changes involve romantic loss. )

Unresolved #1: Waffles

New Year's
Resolution #1

There are a lot of changes coming for me, and while I'm not making New Year's resolutions per se, it seems appropriate that these changes come at a traditional time of starting over. And while some of these changes revolve around my health, I'm not going to go too crazy. You'll find no promises to give up carbs or fat or whatever it is all the cool people are giving up these days.

I will be trying to be more aware of what I'm eating, and not eating things which aren't good. What's that you say? “Of course you shouldn't eat things that aren't good. Who does that?” Me. I do that. I eat things when I'm not really hungry and I sometimes eat things that aren't really tasty even though there's no reason. If I'm going to stuff myself full of something, I want it to be something lovely, eaten in a way that acknowledges that food is not just fuel.

So unresolution number one is to make more waffles. These are good waffles. They are brown and crisp outside and light and fluffy inside. And because my waffle iron only makes four at a time, I cannot eat too fast. Everybody gets a waffle and then we have to wait for the next batch to be done before we can have another waffle. In the meantime my family is sitting together. 

A word about waffle irons: First, it works best if you give them plenty of time to heat up.  I plug mine in before I start mixing the waffles.  Second,  cook them until they're done, regardless of what your iron's indicator says.  My waffle iron has a light that is supposed to tell you when the waffles are done. But it's wrong. So I follow two guidelines: steam and smell.  I watch the steam. The steam is produced as the inside of the waffle is cooked and the liquid boils away. The waffle is not done until the the amount of steam lessens. I smell the waffles.   Almost as soon as the waffles start cooking they smell good, but there is a change, right around the time the steam decreases that it starts to smell done. That's when I open the iron.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles

9 ½ ounces white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons sugar (yes, you could skip it, but it really helps the browning and the flavor.)
3 whole eggs
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
non-stick spray for the waffle iron

Plug in your waffle iron.

Melt butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then add buttermilk, sugar and melted butter. Stir to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Allow to rest for at least five minutes.

Spray the waffle iron lightly with non-stick spray and cook waffles until golden brown and delicious. 

We serve with maple syrup, but these lovely things will take whatever you throw at them.


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