Monthly Archives: January 2016

Snow Patrol


We got snowed in and I couldn’t be happier.

I love snow; always have. I grew up next door to a small park that is probably a whole lot bigger in my memory than it actually is, but memories do that as we get older, don’t they?

It was big enough to have a basketball court, a small playground, a Little League-sized baseball field tucked into one of the corners and a large hill that was just perfect for sledding down. It was pretty steep and if you got enough momentum going, it was entirely possible to end up down in the middle of the park, between the basketball court and the slide.

And it was right next door to the house. True, I probably would have preferred living next door to the local library, but since I had a tendency to be on the, ahem, chunky side as a kid, I was probably better off living next door to Woodland Park.

It was always great fun to have school cancelled, drag the sled out of the garage and take it next door for a couple of hours. And it was always more fun to come back home, get out of the wet stuff and into dry clothes. With some hot chocolate and cookies, natch.

Here in Philly, we ended up with around two feet of snow. Of course, now when it snows I have to make sure we have enough cat food and people food and baking supplies and tea. I remember when wine and cigarettes were on that list, but no more.

But the makings for lasagna and apricot linzer torte bars were. And cookies are always good, blizzard or no blizzard.

I found this recipe on the Betty Crocker website when I was craving thumbprint cookies. You know those; you usually see recipes for them around the holidays. They’re a butter cookie that’s dipped in beaten egg white and then rolled around in finely chopped nuts. Then you take your thumb, make an indentation and fill it with jam before you bake them. They’re beautiful to look at and absolutely delicious, but a bit of a “do” to make. I’ve made them for the holidays and I’ll be honest; the older I get, the less fuss I want to deal with, cookies included.


Tea, anyone?

I make mine just a bit differently from the recipe though (of course I do). For some reason, there’s no salt in the cookie base part of the recipe and you need salt to bring out the subtle flavors of the butter and ground nuts. And I like less “base” and more topping too, so mine’s more like a filled cookie bar.

The only other suggestion I’d make is to use a really good jam or fruit spread for the filling, and warm it up a bit before you spread it on the base. Sprinkle a bit of confectioner’s sugar on top if you’d like, and you’re ready for tea.

Apricot Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup of unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup of fruit jam, preserves, conserves or spread (please promise me you won’t use grape)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix everything but the jam together until it looks like coarse crumbs. You can use a fork, two knives or a pastry cutter, but your fingers work best for this. Besides, it’s fun!
  3. Put half of the mixture into a 9”x9” pan. Press it evenly  into the bottom of the pan and then press down into the corners to make sure it’s nice and firm.
  4. Warm up the jam a bit in the microwave. Spread it over the base evenly and out to the corners. Sprinkle the rest of the cookie mixture evenly and lightly press into the fruit filling.
  5. Let it bake for about 25 minutes or until it’s nice and golden. Let it cool completely before you cut into these; the filling is crazy hot.
  6. Enjoy!

“Going 100 MPH Now”


I woke up last Sunday morning feeling great. road-runner

Seriously.  When I got out of bed, I had a spring in my step and a song in my heart.  I did my exercises   and stretches and showered and made a huge pot of marinara sauce. I put some semolina bread dough together to rise and cast on for a new afghan. I started feeling a little weary around the middle of the afternoon, but no matter. Dinner was going to be a big pan of baked penne and it was going to be good.

I felt a bit more tired right before I took the casserole out of the oven, but that’s okay. We were going to have a really nice dinner and then I was going to get some writing done. And maybe, just maybe, I was going to stay up really late. Like, 10 o’clock or something crazy.

I ended up falling asleep on the couch at 7 and I was in bed by 9. Pfft.

What happened? What always happens, of course. I did the exact same thing last year when I was recovering from my cancer treatments. I rest up for a bit and then I feel better. Then I do a whole bunch of stuff and wonder why I’m all wiped out for the next couple of days. You know, one step forward, three steps sideways. Or something like that.

This isn’t a great time to be on the DL. I have Things To Do. The spring term starts next week. I have to update my resume so it’s ready to go at the end of the month. I need to figure out what projects I’ll be teaching in my spring crochet classes. It’s not the best time in the world to need a nap.

Then I smack myself upside the head a couple of times to bring myself back to reality. I have the most wonderful guy in the world taking care of me. I’m lucky and fortunate enough to have family and friends who love me and are getting me through all this crap.  My health insurance rocks.  And despite all of my challenges over the past year, I had a great contract position where I worked with terrific people and took on all kinds of new responsibilities. I went back to school.  I have nothing, and I mean nothing, to complain about.

All I have to do is remember is that I have to rest in order to heal well, even though I don’t like doing that very much at all. And to stop bitching so much about it.

My late stepfather loved chocolate pudding, so I made (and ate) a lot of it as a little kid. It was usually My-T-Fine or Royal or some other brand that came in a little box. It was easy to make and it went down a treat. It was even better with a squirt of Reddi Whip on top.

When I moved out on my own I stopped making and eating it for some reason. And it wasn’t until a few years back that I started making it again. At first I tried Ina Garten’s recipe for it and oh, it’s wonderful. I love Ina to bits, but let’s be honest; her recipe is a real PITA. And it’s really rich and fatty. I know, it’s chocolate pudding and what’s the point if it’s not? It’s delicious.

This recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites is fabulous. I’ve made it the way I’ve written it below many, many times. It’s nice and creamy and chocolatey. What’s really great about it is that you can use regular milk or even use a combo of milk and half and half if you want it really silky. I often throw a small handful of chocolate chips at the end just to make it that much better. Ina also suggests putting in a tiny pinch of salt (yes, you read that right) into the pudding to point up the chocolate flavor. And she’s right.

Don’t forget the Reddi Whip.

Chocolate Pudding

  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp.  unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk the powders together well and make sure it’s lump free.
  2. Add the milk and whisk together to combine well.
  3. Over a low heat and stirring constantly, bring the pudding mixture up to a low boil. Still stirring, let it bubble away for about 2 minutes or so.
  4. Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour into a serving bowl or individual dishes. Serve warm or chill. Don’t forget to eat the pudding that doesn’t make it into the serving bowl.
  5. Enjoy!