shortbread

scattered

Traditions are important. When we participate in traditional practices, in traditional rites and rituals, we are participating in processes that sometimes have been around for hundreds and thousands of years.

line 'em up

Now it’s true that not all traditions stem from positive beginnings. Sometimes traditions make us lose sight of what is truly important, for instance, the tradition of Black Friday perpetuates the materialism and capitalism that lies at the heart of not only American culture but the culture of the rich West, of which we are a part.  Continue reading

gallons of tea and chocolate butter biscuits

I am surrounded by boxes.

I have to go over an obstacle course to get to my door.

I’m typing this on my bed because my desk is covered with stuff.

But five months after everything went pear-shaped, I finally have  a place to call home.

Home’s  a funny thing. Home is, famously, where the heart is, but it’s also where the people welcome you, where you can hang your hat up, where you can put your feet on the furniture and your alcohol on the windowsill. Home is where you keep your crap, literal and figurative in more than one sense.  Home is where no questions are asked and also where all the deep questions are asked. Home is when you can say that you’re stuffed and ready for bed and you can just go there. Home is re-discovering old clothes and old books. Home is baking at ten o’clock at night and rearranging the furniture to suit yourself.

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tiny sandwich cookies

I had a day off today! It went something like this:

Wake up. Realise that I don’t have to get up because it’s my day off. Turn off alarm and go back to sleep.

Wake up again. Snuggle deliciously in bed. Read a little bit (T.C. Boyle, Wild Child. Get on it). Snuggle a little bit. Check the social media.

Get out of bed, put comfortable hoodie and moccasins on. Pad to the kitchen and toast myself a bagel. Make tea.

Bring tea, bagel and banana back to bed to eat.

Realise I have to wash my sheets at some point. Get dressed and organise washing. This included clothes, sheets, dishes, kitchen…. I went on a bit of a bender. Then I made cupcakes. I like to have a clean slate when I’m cooking.

And no, this post does not include cupcakes. They’re not ready for public viewing yet. (They’re still naked!)

House inspection time! I’m looking for a place to live in. It’s hard.

Library. For the free internet. And here we are still.

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kerstkrantjes (christmas shortbreads)

Hey! So today on YouTube is the Project for Awesome. The Project for Awesome began in 2007 when the vlogbrothers decided to take over YouTube so that for one day, instead of it being about cats and memes and random music videos and people making fools of themselves in front of their cameras alone in their bedrooms, it was all about charity.

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spicy hermit cookies

This is called procrastination, people. When you have at least one and a half thousand words to go until you hit the target for the day (25,005 words on the 15th – it’s hump day and it hurts) but you’ve hit writer’s block (hard. ouch) you write about… well… spicy hermit cookies.

It’s National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day. Don’t ask me where, I was just procrastinating, I mean getting lost in the beauty of, I mean, reading Sweetapolita’s blog when she linked me to this site where they have a directory listing of National Dessert Days. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s predominantly US based but they do have National Peach Melba Day (January 13) so there’s hope for us Aussies.

So what, exactly, is a spicy hermit cookie? Well, I searched the interwebs, the fountain of all knowledge, and found this particular recipe on the Joy of Baking. Apparently, they’re called hermit cookies because they keep well, so they’re good to squirrel away, like a hermit, for later.

And they’re spicy.

I didn’t have all the proper ingredients, so I improvised. But they are just as good as real ones, I promise. (She says, having never tried an actual spicy hermit cookie.) Improvisation is encouraged in baking.

Try them! They’re good, I promise. And they’re good for procrastination, too. They are really easy to make and it’s fairly simple to swap some of the ingredients around if you don’t have them on hand.

Spicy Hermit Cookies

Adapted from the Joy of Baking (not to be confused with Joy the Baker.)

Ok, so I didn’t have allspice, so I swapped in ginger and nutmeg. I didn’t have raisins, so I swapped in sultanas. I skipped the dates and used slivered almonds instead of pecans. They’re still good. And a perfect cookie jar cookie.

115g butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tsp bi carb soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup raisins

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, bi carb soda, salt and spices. Fold into butter mixture in two batches. Fold in fruit and nuts.

Drop tablespoons of mixture onto the baking trays and bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let completely cool, then eat with cold milk or store in amazing cookie jar for future munchies.

rosewater lemon cookies

NERDFIGHTERS!

I was one of those people in school who didn’t have many friends. For some of the years I was at school the most prominent memory I have is reading in the library (or some other enclosed space if the library was closed) during lunchtimes.

Big time nerd, guys. But that’s ok. I survived school (barely) and am now fairly confident in my nerd-dom. Recently I discovered the Brotherhood 2.0 project (follow here) and started watching. Basically, John Green (author of Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns and co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and his brother Hank Green (creator of EcoGeek) decided to embark on 365 days of textless communication, and vlogged back  and forth every weekday for a year. Through that project they coined the term “Nerdfighter” and got me hooked. If I’d discovered this project in its duration, the year of 2007 (when I was in year 10) I feel like my entire school experience would have been different.

Now I feel like it’s partially my responsibility to spread awesome wherever I go, because, hey, I’m a nerdfighter. Definition here (among other info):

So, when I finished studying the other night, I rewarded myself with making these cookies. They don’t look like they’re meant to because I have a smaller tip than was suggested, but that’s ok because you can make words out of them! Like this:

And this:

It’s pretty cool. That there at the bottom is a blob of cookies that stuck together that my housemate decided looked like a person. Seeing as it was a certain person’s birthday, it worked.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

Rosewater, Lemon and Polenta Alphabet Cookies

So originally these were Orange Polenta Crescents, because instead of rosewater you use orange flower water and instead of lemon zest you use orange zest. And you pipe them into crescents using a 3/4″ star tip. I didn’t have orange flower water, oranges or a 3/4″ star tip, so I improvised. They’re still really good. They’re pretty addictive, actually.

 

125g (1/2 cup) butter

80g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

1 teaspoon rosewater (or orange flower water)

finely grated zest from one lemon (or orange – probably could have used more)

2 eggs

165g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour

80g (1/2 cup) polenta

 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Place butter, sugar, rosewater and zest into a food processor and process light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time while processing. Add flour and polenta and pulse until a smooth dough forms. This might not quite happen at first – stick with it.

Put the mix in a piping bag with a 2cm (3/4”) star tip and pipe 7cm crescents onto the trays. Alternatively, use a smaller tip (this will really work your wrists) and pipe alphabet letters or lines and curvy bits so you can form them later.

Bake about 15 minutes, until pale brown around the edges. Cool on trays and then on a wire rack. They’ll keep for about three days in an airtight container.