We have made it past the standardized tests and are closing in on less than a month of school left. I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve got my times tables down cold, I know my open number line strategies and I can recite many interesting facts about Abigail Adams. I think it’s been a good year. I think Cecilia would agree. Of course, one wing of the school could burn down and she would get off the bus, shrug and say her day was fine.
I do admire the way she is rather unflappable in the big moments. That wasn’t me. I did not and do not like the spotlight. Let me ghost through the room and slip out the side door any day. Not Cecilia. She may be quiet, but don’t let that fool you. She is watching and listening.
Big things just don’t shake her. She loves being on stage, whether it’s for dance or as an altar girl at church or taking a big test. The small things, however, like a bee or her bangs growing uneven, or misplaying her scales will throw her off the rails and into a ditch.
Since she is so forthcoming about her day at school, we’ve been spending this week walking home from the bus stop talking about expectations and not letting the frustration and annoyance affect your experiences.
I realize it could take a lifetime to master that little life lesson, but you might as well start on it when you’re young. Could save you a lot of heartache later.
Let’s be honest, making cookies from scratch really isn’t that hard, but sometimes the lure of convenience or just the jam-packed schedule of life gets in the way. But you still want (or need!) those cookies. You reach for a box mix. It happens. I’ve done it. There’s no shame.
Okay, a little shame, but box mixes have come a long way since the additive and preservative fueled eighties. You can make a passable batch of cookies to quiet the monster from a box mix. You can also use a few tips and tricks to doctor the mix and bend the box to your will.
Such a no-brainer idea. Why make a bunch of small, insignificant individual chocolate chip cookies when you can make one giant, warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie pie? Warning: it’s probably best to make this with other people around. I am not liable if you eat the whole pie yourself.
If you want to make it even more decadent, you could add some frosting.
Easier than a cake. Easier than a pie. It’s a cookie. In a pie dish.
I was in a hurry and knew it was risky but did it anyway. What happened? Grainy ganache. The cardinal sin of frosting!
Would the brownies taste good without the frosting? Sure. Would they be decadent and delicious? Perhaps. But they certainly wouldn’t be quite as luxuriously self-indulgent.
Could I throw out an entire batch of ganache? Hell no.
Could it be saved? Maybe.
Would you think less of me if I told we ate the entire first loaf in less than six hours? In our defense, we were mostly stuck inside with all the snow, but that first loaf of warm soda bread and salty butter in early March always tastes so good, it’s hard to stop with just one (or two, ok, three) pieces. I’d say it tastes almost like spring but given the two feet of snow outside that would be a big fat lie. But it still tastes really good like a leprechaun’s smile.
I made our favorite classic recipe with the girls, but I also tried a new recipe this year for whiskey soda bread. Despite, ample trials and evidence, every few years I start to wonder, “Maybe this isn’t the best recipe? Maybe I should try something else.” Nope. It is. And I shouldn’t. But can you blame me for wanting to try a recipe with the title Irish Whiskey Soda Bread? C’mon?!
Two parenting milestones this week. First, I spent a solid 90 minutes waiting in two separate lines in a leaky gym to register Ally for kindergarten. Since her fifth birthday she appears to have hit that growth spurt where kid’s grow faster than Japanese knotweed and I definitely won’t miss the day care bills, but hard to believe that she is almost old enough for school.
Second, and obviously just as big, we took stock of our multicolored, plastic 36-piece IKEA kid’s dinnerware set clogging one kitchen cabinet and began to consider that maybe it was time to start at least considering replacing those with something age appropriate.
Picked up on a whim almost nine years ago, they might be our best IKEA purchase ever. Quick and easy to clean and virtually indestructible, they are perfect for meals or as art project accessories. I have eaten more meals than I care to admit off the purple plate.
I will be a little sad to see them go, but all good things must come to an end. And all little girls must eventually go to school.
They say you can judge a really good restaurant by how well it does a really simple dish. A simple dish gives the cook no room to hide. If the restaurant can do a really good roast chicken or pizza margherita than you know you are probably in good hands. Maybe we can say the same thing about cookbooks? If they can teach an amateur to make something simple or make it look simple than you have found yourself a good cookbook.
I feel that way about Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast. This is the cookbook I find myself reaching for most when I want a foolproof loaf ready for tonight’s or the next night’s (when I have my act together) dinner. These are not fancy or high concept breads, just simple, tasty, every day basics. If you can understand the concepts and follow the instructions for these loaves, you will not only make great bread but also have no problem with those fancy breads in other cookbooks.