Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mallow Nirvana

Some of the greatest merits of making homemade cookies are as follows: eating the cookie dough out of the bowl, the smell & anticipation while the cookies are baking, and that first bite of an [almost too hot to handle] mushy, gooey cookie straight out of the oven. Plus, everything just tastes better when you've made it yourself.

Now, I have to say that I'm pretty passionate about my chocolate chip cookies-- they're tough to beat. That's not to say that I'm not willing to branch out and take some risks in the cookie making department (I know, I live life on the edge). However, sometimes I surprise even myself.

My new favorite-- you might even call it a bit of an obsession, as I have made them twice in the last few days, and am contemplating making them again-- is a cookie that: 1) You can't eat the dough, 2) You can't smell baking in the oven, 3) You can't eat hot, and 4) Doesn't even involve butter. I know, you're less than intrigued, aren't you??

These mysterious new gems that have found a soft spot in my heart are meringues called Nighty
Night Cookies-- something that my mom used to make, and for some strange reason, I used to turn my nose up at.

You preheat the oven, whip up the batter just before bed, throw them in & turn off the heat. When you wake up in the morning, it's tough not to eat a dozen cookies for breakfast. They are like marshmallows that have died & gone to heaven-- glorified & perfected little soft, crumbly vanilla pillows, flecked with chocolate & nuts (if you want-- and trust me, you do). They are light, amazingly delicious, simple and addictive. In fact, I think I'm going to stop writing about them, and go eat one-- there's only 4 left, and I don't want to give Chris the satisfaction.

Oh, and here's the recipe:
-2 egg whites
-a pinch of salt or cream or tartar
-2/3 cup sugar (I like to use just a little less)
-1tsp vanilla
-2/3 cup chocolate chips
-2/3 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans)

Preheat oven to 400. Spray/grease a baking sheet (2 if you want to double the recipe-- which you do). Beat egg whites on low in a clean mixing bowl until foamy. Add a pinch of salt/cream of tartar. Beat on medium until soft peaks form. Keep beating, adding sugar, one Tbs at a time (about 20 seconds in between each addition), until stiff & glossy. Add vanilla & beat about 20 more seconds. Gently fold in chocolate chips & nuts. Drop batter in Tbs sized mounds on baking sheets (with about 1 inch in between). Throw them in the oven & turn off the heat, leaving the cookies overnight, or for at least 6hrs. Don't peak or open that oven door!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I admit that I wandered into pregnancy rather blind. While it's true that I have had plenty of friends & loved ones close by who have experienced this maternal bliss themselves, I supposed I simply wasn't paying attention to what they really went through. Either that, or there are certain unspoken aspects to pregnancy that people just don't talk about.

I'm actually going with Door #2 on this one.

Maybe I didn't ask, but at the same time, no one told me about some of the crazy idiosyncrasies of being pregnant.

And so, I am here to bring them to light. I'm not really sure why. Does anyone really want to know all the ridiculous things they will experience when they are pregnant? Doubtful. But there are definitely some things that would have been helpful to know ahead of time, without reading the entire fear-inducing "What to Expect When You're Expecting" from cover to cover.

So, rather than what TO expect, I thought I would share just a bit about what I didn't expect in little installments throughout the summer.

Here's the first-- enjoy...

Unexpecting: Feathers

Although each of these symptoms were somewhat familiar with me beforehand, it's the combination that has got me wondering.

First of all, I have started waddling. Now, I have seen enough pregnant women to know that The W
addle was inevitable. Earlier in my pregnancy, I realized that The Waddle came partly from the inability to keep a pair of pants around my waist (the reason being that I no longer have a waist). I discovered that if I walked with a bit of a swagger, my pants wouldn't slide off quite as easily. Now, it's the stiffness in my back & thighs that has me looking like John Wayne, fresh off the saddle.

Second, I have duck feet. It was about a month ago that I went with my mom for a pedicure, and noticed that my outstretched extremities would be classified more as cankles than ankles, and that my feet were much, much puffier than normal. The problem has gotten worse since then, and recently, it seems that no matter what I do, I look like Fred Flinstone. When you put together the fat feet and the waddle, that's when things start to get interesting.

Third, I am nesting. I've heard this term before, and assumed it meant that women just get a little more homey-- organizing & decorating, and the like. But it's more than that. In the last few days, I've baked pies, made cookies (twice... each), tackled homemade ice cream, organized a closet, made dinner for two other families (who recently had babies), and have tried countless new recipes. Messes are starting to make me crazy. I want to preen-- um, I mean clean-- everything. Nesting...

Fourth, ever since our trip down to Southern California, where we stayed at the in-laws, I have been dreaming about floating in their pool. It was glorious. I felt weightless. I could lay on my stomach. I could swim around and actually exercise without the nagging reminder that I am twenty pounds heavier than normal. Now, when I lay awake at night, I fantasize about floating. I close my eyes, feel the sun on my back, and remember that weightlessness.

Now, put all of those observations together: waddling, paddle feet, nesting, and floating-- and I'm starting to wonder. Come to think of it, I would love to migrate somewhere a little warmer, as well. I suppose if I start sprouting feathers, I should call my doctor.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Windmills and Giants

Fight or Flight. There is a philosophy that an animal, when faced with a potentially dangerous situation, will either turn and fight, or turn and run. I actually tend to fall under a third category that some might call the "Deer in Headlights" syndrome... or possibly the "Pull the covers over my head" response.

There hav
e literally been times when I have been woken up in the middle of the night by gunshots or fights, and have laid paralyzed in bed, not willing to move, believing that if I just stay right there under the covers, everything will be okay. It doesn't work in horror movies, so I don't know why I would try it out in real life, but it seems that that is my natural response.

While gunshots in the middle of the night are startling and scary, I have to admit that there are
few things in the world that scare me more than Failure. I suppose we could spend some time psycho-analyzing me, sticking on labels like post-it notes saying "Fear of Abandonment" and other official sounding terms, but we can save that for another night.

When faced with a Fear-- especially a potential failure, or when a past failure has been exposed to harsh sunlight-- I tend to freeze up. I want to crawl in bed, pull the covers over my head, and pretend it doesn't exist. I notice that tendency especially when it comes to finances, and as I mentioned in my last post (about a hundred years ago-- my apologies) avoidance always seems like the best policy... which is exactly how I ended up in the mess I'm in.

As I mentioned before, the issue of my credit score came up in buying a house. Now, a Fighter would attack that credit score with everything he had, and change his situation. A... Flighter(?) would run away from the whole situation and claim that he didn't want the house in the first place. But me, I just stare at that number, and it feels like a failure the size of a house is staring back at me. I squirm under the discomfort of that gaze, but am stuck with my feet cemented to the ground.

An image came to mind as I looked at that credit score, with eyes the size of saucers. I thought of Don Quixote charging full-force into a
windmill, believing all the while that it was a giant. And I wondered if maybe, just maybe, all the mountains of failure that I had always been afraid to face might actually turn out to be mole hills. I thought of other times that I had the courage-- or confidence, or rashness-- to take a swing at those giants, and how usually they really were nothing but windmills.

In this particular story, I sat down with the lender, talked through each
of the failures, written out in black & white, and found a way to contest them. The final score is still yet to be seen, but there was something so very satisfying in taking a swing at that giant, only to find that it didn't fight back. In fact, the whole process was a lot easier than I thought it would be-- it was just that initial step, and bringing my fears & failures into the light that was the scariest.

It feels good. And in the end, whether my fears were founded or not, Don Quixote makes a much better story than some little girl hiding under the covers.