Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mighty Fine

I believe that I have discovered the most versatile word in the English language. Now, this not just some sudden burst, I have been thinking about this for years. In my spare time, of course. Are you ready?


Not, “Fine, here we go”, but indeed the word “fine”. See this simple word can be used in a surprisingly diverse manner of ways, because it’s use is more often based on the tone of voice of the user. In fact, I believe that no one really thinks about the dictionary definition of this word any more, unless you are into fine dining or paying of fines or Fine, a French Brandy, it is simply a communication vehicle for the attitude of the moment.

Let me give you some examples…

When asked, “How are you feeling today?”

“Fine, How are you?” This use is very basic and said as if one is checking off something on a TO DO List.

Or, when asked, “How are you feeling today?” and the word is conveyed with a hint of suffering, “Oh, fine, I suppose.” That one is loaded; only ask for further information if you are saintly, otherwise, run.

Or the “fine” you use when your kids ask you if they can do something like borrow the car, and you say, slowly, “Fine”, usually beginning on a low note, sliding your voice up several notes and following with a slightly louder, “ BUT…” which means that there is about to follow a list of things that will make the request possible once completed.

Now I believe that teenagers have a way of making this word into a compliment, like “Girl, you are looking mighty fine today.” Alas, in my old age, that just makes me wince. Teenagers can also use this poor unsuspecting word so as to propel it straight to the list of Forbidden Four Letter Words in a single bound. This usually happens at the conclusion of an argument, once sentencing has been pronounced, and the offender is leaving, using this poor unsuspecting word along with a combination of stomping and slamming.

My own personal favorite is the fine said as the last word. Like when you are having an argument with your spouse and you realize there is just no winning and you concede with “fine”. That one means “I’m done talking but you better hide all the sharp objects and stay out of my line of vision for at least the next 6 hours.”

This list is not as thorough as the 19 links provided on Wikipedia, where it is actually discussed with some intelligence. This will do just fine for now.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Crybaby Cookies

Several weeks ago I had a request from one of the 3 people who check in on my blog for the cookies that “make people cry like a baby they are so good.”

See, the deal is, it is as much the process as the ingredients. Some of the process I can include here, but a bit is just my own personal magic. I will try my best.

On Wednesday evening, after you have cleaned up the dinner mess, pull out your mixer. It is a good idea to listen to James Taylor in the back ground, but Anita Baker is a good second choice. Here are the ingredients:

Crybaby Cookies

2 c butter
2 c peanut butter, smooth or chunky
2 c sugar
2 c brown sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp vanilla
2 c oatmeal
4 c flour
1 2lb bag Guittard Real Milk Chocolate Chips

Place butter and peanut butter in mixer and turn mixer on to lowest setting. Add ingredients to mixer in the order listed, allowing the mixer to continue on low. Once the chips are just blended in, turn off mixer and place walnut size scoops on a heavy, light colored, ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until they just start to turn brown. Do not over cook.

It is important that this be done in time to watch “The Middle”, so check TVGuide to see when it is on, or, do what I do and make sure you have a series recording. Once one dozen cookies have been baked, take a towel, the mixer bowl, small spoon and a cookie sheet and go sit on the couch in front of the tv. You have made a double batch, so this next step this will probably take the full time it takes you to watch one episode. Place the towel over your lap, place the bowl on the towel with the cookie sheet next to you. Using the spoon or your best guess, take chunks of dough the size of a walnut or a bit bigger, and roll the dough into balls and place them close together on the cookie sheet next to you. If the show is pre-recorded, it is a good idea to get an assistant to help fast forward through the commercials, so you don’t get cookie dough down in between the buttons on the remote. I haven't had much luck getting a new remote for free once they discover all the cookie dough.

Now, this is the important part, don’t get too caught up on Frankie’s mothering skills or the expression on Axel’s face. You need to closely inspect the quality of the milk chocolate chips. If there are any poorly formed chips, then you need to eat them, right then and there, with any dough attached of course. Quality control, people, quality control. Once you are done, immediately place the cookie sheet with the carefully formed and inspected cookie dough balls in the freezer overnight. The next day separate the frozen dough balls into two separate large baggies and leave in the freezer.

I usually only bake cookies one dozen at a time, as I tend to eat as many as I bake, and most of the real magic in the cookies is in having the chocolate chips all warm and melty. They bake up just fine without being thawed, so I just pop a dozen frozen dough balls on a pan and stick it in the oven the second it is hot enough, usually for the same 12 minutes as above. So far in-house testing has shown the dough is good for up to two weeks. It probably would be fine longer than that, it’s just that we usually eat them, baked or as is frozen, by the end of two weeks.

Oh, and always buy two bags of Guittard Real Milk Chocolate Chips, one per batch of cookies, one for eating straight out of the bag.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stuff I Do Get

Two weeks ago, in my blog dated April 26, I mentioned that there were some things I didn’t get. One of them was golf on TV. Really? Golf on TV? Shoot me now. Weeding is more interesting.

So I came home several days later to an empty house and found the TV had been left on. It was on the golf channel! I immediately figured it was one of my teenagers seeking revenge for not getting them an Art History Major Barbie for their 7th birthday.

Then today my daughter, “Keeper of Traditions” (see blog March 27) came into the family room where I was sewing, crawled into the Love Sack and turned the TV onto the golf channel.

“AH-ha! So it was you that left the golf channel on the other day. Very funny”
“So joke’s over, lets watch something that doesn’t drop our IQ”
“But it’s the PGA tournament”
Blink, blink. Does she even know what that stands for?
“OK, really, what’s really going on here?” I ask.
“I just like it. Everything is outdoors and green, the guys all really wear cool clothes.”
Really cool clothes? I am waiting for the hidden camera attached to a really irritating person to jump out from behind the couch.
“That’s it, you have a crush on someone on the school golf team, huh?”
“Mom, whatever. I really like to watch golf. I like watching to see if they get the ball in. It’s all outside, I can hear the bird’s chirp, everyone is calm, and I really like the way the men all talk in quiet voices.”
It’s peaceful, like a small town. I finally get it. So we compromise and she puts in the DVD “the Greatest Game Ever Played”. I am still not convinced that it is the “greatest game ever played”, but if we call the movie “How Cute is Shia LaBeouf?”, I’ll cooperate.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Should Be Committed

I sat at my daughter’s track meet yesterday and watched the kids in the region giving their all to win their events. There was fall out everywhere, kids limping, ice-packs on pulled muscles, arms over shoulders as cramps were being walked off. I was sitting next to the dad of one of my daughter’s friends and we couldn’t help but wonder at them. He asked me, “Which is more important, talent, hard work or commitment”. I queried, “Without commitment, there wouldn’t be any hard work”, to which he agreed, but we were stumped when it got down to deciding between the other two.

I have actually been stewing on the question a bit anyway. I was with a group of couples several weeks ago, and over dinner we discussed what we would study if we could go back to school. I sat quietly and listened as I had nothing to offer. I left college after my freshman year, choosing to work before and after getting married in that next year. But honestly, if I had told my husband I wanted to complete my education, I would have gotten full support, it’s just that I was relieved to get out. ADD was not understood in those days, I just thought I was dumb. It troubles me both that I have no degree and do desire to get one. Or at least at this point I have not yet thought of a talent of interest I want to work that hard at to get a degree in.

If I am going to get down and ugly with myself, I have to be honest and admit that most of my life I have just wanted to be comfortable. Yep, without ever having really put it quite like that before, that seems to sum up my life. Why go camping? I have a perfectly comfortable bed and who wants to smell like campfire and bug spray? Why would I jog two miles when I can walk the same two and make my doctor and my knees perfectly happy with me? Ever see anyone who was jogging and smiling at the same time? Why in heaven’s name would I buy cheese in a block and go home and shred it when I could buy it already shredded?

I was beginning to look back on my life and think maybe I hadn’t accomplished anything at all, but no, I have given my all to comfort. Hey, and though I may be patting myself on the back, I have worked hard at it! I have scrubbed, polished, shined, organized and decorated 15 homes in the last 30 years, filling them with dusted tables and homemade cookies and amazing people. I may have some talent, at the risk of bragging, I have created a Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that makes people cry like a baby when they eat one. I learned to quilt, so now, over a hundred quilts later, somewhere or another there are warm comfy people wrapped in talent AND hard work.

I am committed, I have a modicum of talent and I am willing to work hard at it. Anyone know a University with a degree in Living the Comfortable Life?