Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wordless definitions: persistent

I suppose this definition requires a bit of explanation. If you go into my sewing room, you'll see a bit of a mess: piles of spare fabric, stacks of pants that need altering, boxes with projects inside. The boxes are there to keep project materials together in one place, and to keep cats out. This isn't always the best strategy. You see, cats love piles of fabric to curl up and shed hairs upon; they also love boxes. Sometimes when I bring out one of my boxes to work on a project, I have to forcibly prevent Callie from climbing into it. There are enough spare cat hairs around this place without her directly sitting upon something.

This can be especially problematic when I'm working on something large, like a quilt. Once it can't fit in a box any more, I fold it up and hang it on a rack, or place a book on top to protect it from catnaps. In this instance, I thought by folding the quilt and placing it on the rickety end of my ironing board, I would prevent the cat from using it as a bed. Silly me. Callie is so persistent in sharing her fur that I caught her napping in this very position. Of course when I ran downstairs to fetch my camera, she woke up to see what the fuss was about. Still, you can see she isn't particularly inclined to give up her comfy new bed. And now you see why I always wash a quilt once I've finished it....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cookie of the Month: Lemon Snowflakes

As you may have noticed, I'm slowing down a bit on the blog. Part of it is that I'm spending more time working, and part of it is that I'm running out of quick-and-dirty topics to talk about. I'm not running out of travel photos anytime soon, but my quilt pictures are running low and the latter half of the alphabet hasn't been inspiring me. I've got plenty to review for Janespotting, but it's taking me a while to slog through some of these older classics. So I thought: what is something I love to do that I won't get tired of blogging about? I thought and thought for a while, and then I recalled the immortal words of one of our great philosophers, C. Monster, words by which I strive to live my life:

Work hard. Play fair. EAT COOKIE.

Yes, just for you, my thousands dozens handful of readers, I'm introducing a new feature to The Blathering: Cookie of the Month. Each month I will attempt a new cookie recipe (new to me, at least), and let you all know how it goes. Now, I love to bake and I'm pretty good at cookies, but I tend to rely on the same favorites all the time: snickerdoodles, peanut butter (especially topped with kisses), chocolate chocolate chip—all the usual drop cookies and rolled cookies, but nothing that unusual. For you, though, this will change! And first up is a very interesting treat, the Lemon Snowflake Cookie (LSC).

I was introduced to the LSC this holiday season, when one of my lovely and talented TKD students included a couple on a gift tray of tasty Christmas cookies. I nibbled, I said yum, I asked for the recipe:

1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind
¾ cup margarine
1 cup flour
½ cup confectioners sugar
½ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon lemon extract
colored sprinkles or nonpareils (about one bottle worth)

glaze: ¾ cup confectioners sugar + ¼ cup lemon juice

Cream margarine, sugar, lemon rind, and extract. Add in flour and cornstarch; form and roll dough into a log.

It's easiest to do this atop a sheet of wax paper. As you can see from the picture, the dough has a texture that's very close to pie dough. It didn't want to hang together very easily, but it's very easy to roll fallen blobs onto the log ... at least in comparison to rolling a pie crust.

Roll log in colored sprinkles; wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight. Slice and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Even though my dough had been chillin' for almost a day, it still tended to have little pieces break off as I cut the slices. Luckily, it wasn't difficult to stick the pieces back on (although it marred the nice edges somewhat). You see one drawback of this recipe: it only made one tray of around 40 cookies.

Bake at 350F for 10 minutes. When cool, frost with confectioners sugar and lemon juice glaze.

The recipe I got wasn't clear about proportions for the glaze, so I checked a couple of recipe books and started with ¾ cup sugar to ¼ cup lemon juice. I had a stir a bit to get rid of the sugar lumps, but eventually got a consistency a little thinner than syrup. I used a basting brush to cover one side of all the cookies; I let that dry before flipping all the cookies and brushing the other side. And finally, I ended up with this:

The texture was much like shortbread, but the lemon gave it a bit of a tangy kick. They were very tasty—it was nigh impossible to eat just one—and didn't last long. Therein lies the drawback with this recipe: it was fairly labor intensive (lemon grating, glazing) and if you're the type of person who absolutely must have a cookie as soon as they're out of the oven, this might not work for you. But since the recipe contains no milk or eggs, and you can use margarine instead of butter, it might be good for those who need to avoid dairy products. It may even qualify as a vegan cookie, not that I really worry about such things.

Final judgment: Nom nom nom nom. (Four noms out of five. Fellow Cookie Monster followers should understand.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Photo of the Week--2/22/10

Proof once again that you can build your ramparts, walls, and castles, and you still can't keep out the pigeons. This was a stop during our Greek cruise at Rhodes, home of one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. There was no evidence of the Colossus, though, just these lovely towers of the Palace of the Grand Master in the medieval Old Town. It was a lovely fall day, and pigeons needed to be terrorized, so Boy obliged.