Tag Archives: cookies

Cookies, Cousins, and Crockery

by Kate

Caught up in the chaos of Christmas, we have entirely abandoned this blog, and our Christmas narrative. I offer my fulsome apologies, and plead illness. Shortly after the untimely demise of Mary’s beloved dog, we were beset with sickness. The baby got croup, the cousins had pink-eye, Mary was knocked out for days with a wicked case of bronchitis, and I was cursed with a ferocious and nasty case of canker sores. Horrid, wretched canker sores. I shake my fists to the heavens and defy them. It has been nothing but broth and mumbling for me for a week. I am just stumbling my way back to some semblance of normality here in the big city. However, let me take you back a week or so to a remote ridgetop in the driftless region of Western Wisconsin, deep in Amish Country…..

where we visited my sister-in-law Aurora, my brother Gabe, and their four children. Olympia was thrilled to spend time with her cousins. I was glad to have the chance to visit with Aurora, and to marvel over the incredible skill she has for decorating her home and creating beauty in her life.

Gabe and Aurora designed the house together, and Gabe built the whole thing- with the help of his brothers. He built the island in the middle of the kitchen as well. Aurora did an incredible job designing and decorating the house. Their home is very remote, and very beautiful. Olympia loved it.

We visited Gabe and Aurora on the night of the Cashton Christmas Pageant. The older cousins were getting ready to perform, and Aurora was making chocolate chip cookies for the reception in the Community Hall.

The cousins were eager to assist.

Perhaps a bit too eager.

In fact, definitely too eager.

You may not be surprised to learn that shortly after this picture was taken, the wooden bench went flying, toddlers and all. Aurora’s vintage crockery baking bowl hurled through the air. The small children landed safely in a startled heap but the bowl shattered, ruining the last portion of the cookie dough.

We wiped up the tears and tossed the dough. Thankfully, there were plenty of chocolate chip cookies ready to take to the Pageant. The cookie making was quite a bit like the whole Christmas for me, in fact. Some shards of glass in the dough, some tears and a broken bowl- but in the long run, a beautiful memory, with lots of chocolate chip cookies for everyone- except me. Stupid canker sores.

The Cookie Tour

by Kate

The cookie is a powerful lure.

These tiny fragments of cookies and slips of recipes are a magic spell for the retailers along Butler Street, which serves as Main Street for the Lawrenceville neighborhood here in Pittsburgh. Every year on the first weekend of December, these shops are decked out to the hilt in holiday finery…

and each stop offers a new platter of complimentary cookies and sheaf of recipes for said cookies.

Of course, each shop is also cannily and cunningly stuffed to the brim with a wide array of possible Christmas gifts.

And friendly salespersons in, ready to assist or inform the hordes of customers in any way.

And of course, there are the crucial coffee shops selling lattes to fuel the touring and accompany the cookies.

For there are many, many cookie seekers on this cookie tour, intent on capturing every crumb.

Lots of hip young families- I love this woman’s red coat.

And happy young couples….

Roving packs of friends out for an urban adventure…

And beautiful boots. Women with great boots seemed very drawn to this tour. Often they came in twos.

The woman below was very elegant, from her velvet beret down to her leather boots.

It was a beautiful day for an urban stroll- crisp and bright and beautiful.

It was a perfect day to shop the streets of the post steel  still bluesy now artsy Lawrenceville neighborhood.

I was accompanied not by my husband, who insists that the only couples who attend these events are still in the courting stage of their relationship and would rather have hot pins stuck into his eyes than meander down Main Street with me, but instead by my one and a half year old daughter, who was very stylish in her own right and had no problem at all meandering.

She was a delightful companion, and often led the way in search of more cookies and conversations.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. I walked away full of cookies, but also the satisfaction of knowing that I had thoroughly accomplished my goal of distributing flyers advertising my new bellydance class at the Pittsburgh Dance Center in every possible shop along the way.

For certainly after that many cookies, some people might be interested in shimmying a bit after the holiday season? Also, a gift certificate for dance classes would make a fantastic holiday gift- don’t you think?

More posts about my urban adventures are here:

Painting Pittsburgh

Caffe Mona

Pittsburgh is my Paris (A Bibliophile’s Dream)

City Morning

The Downtown Department Store

A City Walk

Confessions of a Homeschooled Cook

By: Mary

This past Sunday when making the traditional Sunday noon meal that all family who live here in Wisconsin come over for, I thought about why I like to cook and bake so much, and why it is something that I can do with ease. I realized that what it boils down to is that when growing up I was homeschooled for 10 years. There are two highlighted areas that I came to excel at from this time in my life. I can’t say that I came out of as a science wiz, or that I became an educated Shakespearian pro. As far as the study of math is concerned uh, I will confess to having learned that if I burned my undone math sheets in the wood stove, then well, they would be gone forever!

What I really got good at doing were 2 things: I learned to compose stellar book reports. Doing book reports meant that I could read books. My gosh, I think that I used to crank out like 2- 3 of those reports a week.

The other thing that I got really good at was learning escape from the food that was always staple in the house and make things that I liked instead. We always seemed to have 3 things around besides my Mom’s great homemade bread. One was spaghetti. It’s been years since those homeschool days, but I still cannot tolerate pasta. We also made tons of brownies. (I still do like brownies but have found a recipe of my own.)  And last but not least, chicken. Chicken was a very, very usual staple at the Slattery table. While my Dad was still a full-time journalist, he was also experimenting with farming ventures that involved raising, butchering and selling home-grown meatbirds. Because my Dad is a gregarious marketing kind of person, he decided to go one step further than simply growing, and selling chickens. He ended up collecting recipes from farm wives and old church ladies that he would encounter while out on story assignments. His cookbook  ” Fifty Thrifty Ways To Cook Homegrown Chicken” still makes me laugh every time I see it collecting dust on a shelf. My laughter is caused by the sheer fact that the cover model for the book is a scrawny highschool girl named Kate Slattery!! On the cover, Kate is beaming at the camera while holding a huge roaster pan full of Home Grown Chicken. Needless to say, it is far less flattering to hold roasters of meat in an old apron, than to be a glamorous harpist in full costume….

Anyhow, yes, I do know a thing or two about putting together some good recipes. Thank you homeschool education. In the future I would like to share more of my favorite recipes with you Readers. Be prepared to use lots of vegetables and sugar. I LOVE produce and unfortunately, I also love to bake. Perhaps one day I can have my own recipe book floating around the house like my Dad’s with Kate beaming from the cover and a dish in her hand. Just kidding! Before I close my laptop though, I will include the current favorite cookie that I have been making this fall. It has oats, nuts and apples in it, so just tell yourself that it is healthy and enjoy the goodness of using freshly ripened apples just like the ones in the photo below from one of my favorite trees.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 Cup  Butter, 1 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, 1 Large Egg, 1/4 Cup Milk, 1 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla, 1 Cup Flour, 1 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon, 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg, 3 Cups Oats, 3 Apples or so diced, 3/4 Cup Raisins or Chocolate Chips, 3/4 Cup Walnuts.

Preheat Oven to 375. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, egg, milk,and vanilla. Combine melted butter next. In separate small bowl add dry ingredients together. Alternate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Stir in oats, nuts and chocolate chips or raisins last. Drop rounded Tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet with about 2 inch spacing. Bake 13 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes then move onto a rack. When cookies are cool, put onto plate.

I hope you like this recipe. Also, if you ever want to read a good book report….I am more than willing to share….!

Sincerely, Mare