Sophisticated Sugar: Shortbread Cookies

ShortbreadCookies

Me: Hey, sweetie, I made Shortbread Cookies!

Husband: Seriously – I love Shortbread Cookies. I ate them all the time in Russia.

Tries one . . . then smiles half-heartedly.

Husband: Thanks, but these are not quite right.

 . . . Several weeks later . . .

Me: Taste this recipe. Are these Shortbread Cookies any better?

Husband: No, not really.

. . . Several more weeks – and many more attempts . . .

Me: Okay. Try this one.

He takes a bite, then a second, and . . .

Husband: These are perfect!

 

And so, I can finally present to you crisp, melt in your mouth – drum roll please – 

Shortbread Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
Zest of one Orange
2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar together until creamy and smooth. Add orange zest and beat. Add flour and beat until just combined. If the mixture is crumbly, do not worry, it will stick together when you shape the dough into balls with your hands.

Using a cookie scoop or spoons, scoop a small amount into the palm of your hand and roll into a ball. Place on a non-greased cookie sheet. Using the flat underside of a cup, press down on the cookies to flatten. If the cup begins to stick, dip in flour after every other cookie.

Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cookies will still be pale. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

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Sophisticated Sugar: All This Week!

Announcing our first ever week long Sophisticated Sugar Party! Check back each day this week for a new, tempting recipe. Better still, follow this blog and find out immediately when the recipes post! Here’s a little preview of delicious things to come . . .

Whole Temptation

 

See you all frequently this week!

 

The Soft Feel of a Child’s Hand

Photo of child's hand holding mother's hand

Image Sourced from CookEd

The soft feel of a small hand inside my own is one of my favorite feelings of all. Those tiny fingers, held by mine, depend on me to guide. Depend on me to protect.

However, that’s not all. That small hand depends on me for love. The gentle way my child holds my hand is proof that my child needs nurturing. My little one needs to see me expressing love for them to understand what love is and how love feels.

In their own small way, my child loves me back. His or her love is not perfect right now. It is often a selfish love, for they love me because of what I do for them. However, it is the beginning of a better, more mature love. So it is a necessary step towards becoming their best self. Moreover, while it is a young, undeveloped love, it is none the less a sincere love.

Thus, I love my child and I become a better person. My child sees my love and tries their best to love me back, and grows into a mature adult. Both our loves, different in degrees and styles, are necessary.

Sophisticated Sugar: Zucchini Bread Muffins

ZucchiniBreadMuffins

At this time of year, when everyone’s garden is full of Zucchini this is a fantastic recipe to use! It’s also a fun way of sneaking vegetables into your kid’s diet. They’ll never know they’re eating zucchini, you can’t taste it at all. This muffin is soft, sweet and addicting . . . so watch out.

Zucchini Bread Muffins

3 Eggs
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup White Sugar
1 cup Oil
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 cups Flour
2 cups peeled, seeded and shredded Zucchini

Beat the eggs and then add sugar and oil. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mix. Starting and ending with flour, alternate between adding zucchini and flour to mixture. Beat on low for the softest muffins.

Grease muffin tins and pour batter in. Cook at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes. (Not at 350 degrees! I’ve made that mistake many times.) Allow to cool before removing from muffin tin. Makes 24 muffins.

You can make Zucchini Bread. Just grease and flour two bread tins and bake for one hour at 325 degrees.

***Note: You can always peel, seed, and shred your Zucchini in advance, place two cups worth into a zip-loc bag and freeze for up to a year. Any time you want muffins, just pull out a  bag, defrost, and bake away. The batter will be more runny when using frozen zucchini, but after baking, the muffins will be just the same as if you used fresh. This is a fantastic use for all that home garden zucchini that doesn’t stop coming!

My Black Hole

Image Sourced from Nasa

What can I say – I deal with depression.

Deal with. Struggle with. Suffer from. Any phrase works. Of course, they all fall short too. I deal with depression like one would deal with a black hole; or like one would struggle with a black hole; or suffer from a black hole.

Most of the science involving black holes is a bit above my head, but there is one aspect I get. Black holes suck up everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. Nothing escapes, not even light. Hence the name – BLACK hole.

But, do you want to know a secret? Scientists were wrong. New findings show that some things do escape a black hole. Apparently some light and particles get flying so fast around the black hole, as they’re being sucked in, that they actually get flung out and away – free of the black hole’s grip. Shocking.

Some light gets out.

Some hope breaks free.

Thank the stars above. Because as I continue to deal with my own black hole those small shards of light are sometimes all that keeps me going. When life gets the darkest, I just focus on the knowledge that it won’t always be like this – the blackness won’t continue on forever. Light gets away. And tomorrow will be a better day.

The light comes back.

The darkness lifts.

 

September 11, 2001

Image Sourced from USA Today

My experience was not so different than yours, I would guess. I can remember my father calling from work, asking if we had turned on the TV today. His voice was steady, but worried. Very worried.

I can remember the words slipping across the bottom of the TV as news anchors talked rapidly. ‘US Under Attack’, it read. Is this for real? Could we actually be under attack? The thought of enemies coming here, onto our land, to kill us was strange and hard for me to wrap my thoughts around.

My father came home from work early that day. When the news reporters started filming people jumping out of the towers to avoid burning to death, my parents turned the TV off. It has too hard to watch, too sad.

Then came the flags. Up and down the streets they stood. Tall, brave and strong. We are America, they said to me, We have been through much, but we are still the United States.

I was sad again when they took the flags down, and I think back to those days often. I think back to fields and front yards burning a brilliant red, white, and blue. We are unique individuals, all of us, and as different as the colors red, white, and blue are themselves. But the beauty is that through our uniqueness we build each other up. We continued the legacy of our flag. We are different, but sewn together in an inspiring display of courage and strength. It is how we remain the United States. After all, the old adage still remains true.

United we Stand.