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January 17, 2011

So over the holidays I decided to branch out into an area I feel more comfortable with - making cookies. 
Growing up, cookie making was a major part of the winter celebrations.  We'd go all out, turning the kitchen and dining room into a production site, playing Christmas carols, or watching related movies as we worked.  Mom had given me several recipes that I wanted to try and/or perfect. 
I was fortunate in that I had discovered that Bloom carried two vital products that would enable Brian to eat my cookies without getting sick.  The first was Enjoy Life's soy/peanut free chocolate chips.  The second was Earth Balance's soy free margarine.  While the debate is still out there regarding butter vs margarine in both health and proper cookie science, I felt a bit better knowing I was using margarine, particularly in regards to cholesterol count.  Along with Trader Joe's sunflower seed butter, I felt set.

First up, of course, was Mom's egg free chocolate chip cookies, from the cookbook Bakin' without Eggs.  These are the favorites of  most of the family.  Brian had requested that I make them smaller so he could pop them in his mouth all in one go. (having to bite into a cookie results in crumbs, and we can't risk losing out on eating any part of the cookie!)  Fortunately Enjoy Life's chips were mini, so they baked up nicely.

Secondly, I made Nestle Crunch Snowball cookies.  As I couldn't use actual Nestle crunch bars (Thanks a lot for your peanut compromised factories, Nestle!) I attempted to make my own.  I used chocolate chips and crisped rice (found some designed for candy making) and poured it into the bottom of a gladware container.  Unfortunately I got it too thick, and it was too difficult to break up into chunks, so I just started randomly dumping the various types of chocolate chips I had around the house into the mix.  They turned out rather well.  The second time I made them I discovered that Enjoy Life made their own crunch bar and used those.  Again, they were a bit too thick to easily break up, and the food processor managed to make a mix of big chunks and fine dust.  I'm going to invest in a chocolate bar shaped candy mold and see if I can't get this right one day. 
There is a LOT of butter/margarine in these cookies, and the dough comes out looking and feeling like stiff cake batter.  I have to stir by hand because it chokes the mixer!

Thirdly, I made the colonial sugar cookies, using the Christmas cutouts my grandmother had given me the year before.  I never got around to attempting icing, so they weren't all that wonderful, but looked festive!

A few days later I attempted to make Rice Krispie treats.  I remember only doing them once before and it being really difficult to stir, but I had no problems this time around.  I pressed in the chocolate chips on top and they came out great. 

Fourthly, I was determined to make Peanut Butter Blossoms.  I love them - I'd even eat them without the kiss on top!  I used the 'easy' eggless recipe from Betty Crocker and the sunflower seed butter.  They turned out great!  I'm so pleased that the sunflower butter works and acts the same way as peanut butter.  Brian was able to eat one, but didn't like it.  I got the rest! 

Finally, last night I tried Muddy Buddies, again with the sunflower seed butter.  I made a mistake and didn't buy enough Chex, so had to cut down the rest of the recipe.  I'm pretty certain I miscalculated, as the finished project had more of a peanut butter than a chocolate taste.  I guess I'll have to try again!

I am so very grateful to Earth Balance and Enjoy Life for caring enough to make these allergen friendly products.  It really made my holidays and gave me a little confidence boost in my kitchen attempts.
January 8, 2011

What are the first words you learn when you study a new language?  Yes, no, thank you, hello, sir, ma'am, numbers and colors, right?  And you're EXCITED to be able to use them.  I know how to say something without having to think hard! 

So here's my rant.  In movies and on TV, whenever you encounter a 'foreigner,'  he speaks perfect English, except for those basic words!  "Si, Senor, the ruffians absconded with the assets.  Will you pursue them?  Gracias!"  Characters pretending to be foreigners can get away with this, too. 

 I'm certainly not going to get into the old Native American movie jargon, where they appear to be unable to produce proper English grammar, in spite of hearing it regularly.

 I realize it's just a simple, quick method of establishing a national identity, but . . . but . . . it shouldn't work!