Grandma Sylvia’s Salt Butter Cookies

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Salt butter cookies are buttery, half cookie balls sandwiched together with a chocolate, or in this case, Nutella filling. They are the kind of cookie you’ll find yourself eating in your mom’s laundry room after stumbling upon a hidden batch all the while the family Christmas party is carrying on upstairs. Then your sister will barge in looking for that holiday tablecloth your mom asked her to find, and see that you’re eating most of the extra salt butter cookies. She promptly closes the door, and happily joins in on this impromptu eating fest. You hardly speak to each other, maybe giggle a little when you hear a guest upstairs ask “where did Liz and Amanda go?”. Finally, you’ll see that the plate is clean, so you find a good hiding place for it, grab the tablecloth before your sister does, and head back upstairs. You don’t eat much dinner that night because you’re  “staying on your Weight Watchers points”. “Dieting is not allowed during the holidays, Liz!” I know, I know. But then dessert rolls around and hey! your mom takes out the other plate of salt butter cookies. “Diet starts tomorrow!” you exclaim as you grab a handful. 

True story. Continue reading →

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

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We put up our Christmas tree. It’s a fake tree, and not terribly tall, but wonderful all the same. It’s also blocking our backdoor, which is a fire hazard. What I love most about our tree are the ornaments. Most of them represent both big and small moments of our lives. There are a few odd ones, however, that have no legitament reason for being up there. Take this one, for instance.

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My mom gave me this dapper, little egg man one Christmas because she thought I’d love it, and she was right. Every Christmas season he always sits front and center in a crossed-leg position without a care in the world.

Another oddity is this clown face I made out of construction paper, and cotton balls.

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In my defense, we were spending the 2004 Christmas week in a log house up in the Adirondack mountains and I think cabin fever was starting to set in. Poor thing is missing an eye.

Finally, the last weird ornament to grace our tree is this one.

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Yes, it looks like an ordinary photo ornament, but I don’t know who those people are. I bought it with the intention of putting in a photo of my own family, and never got around to it. For the past 3 years these lovely faces have been proudly displayed every holiday season. I’ve become quite fond of them actually. Hey, let’s make three ingredient peanut butter cookies! Continue reading →

How To Bake A Loaf Of Bread

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My love of baking all began with a simple loaf of bread. Here’s the backstory in a nutshell. I had always wanted to live in New York City, and I finally got my chance and moved in on September 10, 2001. Of course, 24 hours later, like all New Yorkers and the rest of the country, I was in shock, and then deep mourning. It truly was a scary time.  I needed comfort and I found it in the kitchen.  I bought Nick Malgieri’s book How To Bake on the title alone, and set out to bake a loaf of bread. I remember being scared that the dough would rise so much during baking it would burst out of the oven as I’d seen in an Archie comic once. It didn’t. In fact, the dough was so nice to me as if it knew what was going on in the world.  It did everything I told it to do, and more. I loved the way it transformed from sticky to smooth right under my fingertips. When I tucked it in under a cloth to rise it ballooned up and smiled. While it baked in the oven my kitchen was filled with the most wonderful scent made of sweetness, yeast, and comfort. When I finally sat down and ate a slice (spread with salted butter and raspberry jam) I felt completely taken care. This recipe is the one I used on that December day in 2001, and with it I’d love to teach you how to bake a loaf of bread.
Continue reading →

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

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I’m going to share a memory with you. When I was a kid, and we’d be in the car for a family drive I remember my mom would, without warning, reach her hand into the backseat and briefly hold my foot, give it a little squeeze, and then move on to my siblings’ feet. I don’t think I’ve ever told her this, but I loved when she did that. It was nothing, and it was everything. I do it now to my own kids, and it usually goes along with me asking, “Where’s my Cammie? Where’s my Wessie?” Sometimes Cameron doesn’t want me to hold his foot because he’s  fiery and a redhead. Wesley will always because he’s 3. He has even started requesting it, and if I’m driving on the highway I usually say no and then have to listen to his screams until I’m able to reach back and make it right. I know they probably see this as nothing, just a simple squeeze that might make them smile or giggle, but in time I hope that one day they’ll see it for what it really is–everything. Here, I made you some pumpkin whoopie pies. Continue reading →