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Cookies And Kindness

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Paris wins September.

Hello out there! Are we really half-way through September? That’s just crazy talk. It’s still in the high 90’s here in Austin, despite the fact that I have banished all my white and light-colored cottons in celebration of fall. Good news is that the forecast teases that a week from tomorrow we may plunge into the mid 80’s, so we will plough through one more week, gnashing our teeth each time we are confronted with a pumpkin-spiced anything or instagrams of people wearing sweaters.

You know what else is crazy talk? Soooo  many of the words being spewed at us from the television during this nutso presidential race. Much of it makes my heart hurt and my stomach clench. Don’t worry- not going to use this as a platform for my political views, but I will say that I was pretty sad to see Michelle Obama’s optimistic convention proclamation that “we will take the high road” take a steep dive to the low road in a deplorable basket. Let’s all try to get through the next two and a half months without name-calling, shall we?

I did read about a campaign that made me very happy this week. Dorie Greenspan is a force of nature in the baking world, having published twelve fabulous cookbooks. Her newest, Dorie’s Cookies, is due out next month. I had the pleasure of meeting Dorie in New York City several years ago, and she is just as precious in person as she is in print (and she seems to be in print everywhere I look). Somehow Dorie manages to maintain an active on-line presence, and that is where I came across her campaign for Cookies and Kindness. In a nutshell, Dorie is sharing  cookie recipes from her new book in hopes of encouraging us to bake and then share on-line and in the real world. This month’s recipe was for Two Bite One Chip cookies. They are tiny balls of cookie hiding a chip of your choice. I couldn’t pick just one, and tucked chocolate, peanut butter, and butterscotch chips inside my cookies (but only one in each- they are tiny!).

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How many cookies can you fit in a margarita glass?

I plan to pop these babies in the mail tomorrow and send them to a family that could use a sweet surprise. There is my own bit of optimism for you- it will be an exercise in restraint to avoid eating all of these up before I make it to the post office.

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Go forth into the week with kindness, cookies, and optimism, mes amis. We could all use a good dose of each, I think.

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Its Beginning to Smell A Lot Like Christmas

I am happy to report that Paris does not seem quite so hell-bent on doing a full -on Christmas press as early as we do at home.  However, I have noticed guys preparing the trees on the Champs-Elysees for their regalia of lights, as if to compensate them for their dwindling foliage.

My friends in London sent me this gorgeous picture of Harrod’s, which was lit this Saturday night.

Chez Mai is completely devoid of any sign of Christmas, as is appropriate for November 5.  However, Martha and I did get a hankerin’ for one of our favorite cookies, which make the house smell like Christmas no matter when we make them.  I’m talking about gingersnaps, friends.  Yes, the very ones that many of you have been the lucky recipients of in Christmases past.  I don’t anticipate doing any holiday baking for delivery this year, arriving as I do on the 17th of December, so  I give you the gift of the family recipe.  Easy, delicious, and very freezeable, they are good any time of year and are always a welcome gift.  At least, that’s what you guys told me when I brought them each year.

Gingersnaps

3/4 c. shortening (don’t start with me, people)

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. molasses

1 egg

2 c. flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Chill dough.  Try not to eat more than a third of the dough whilst chilling.  Roll into balls and roll into sugar.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.  Share with lucky friends or eat them all yourself, as the spirit moves you.

A footnote- there is no Crisco in France.  Martha and I were sore afraid we were not going to have snaps this year, until I spied some Crisco (a pack of three sticks) at a tiny store hawking American goods.  I also saw a fridge pack of Diet Dr. Pepper, which is Mark’s only  biggest vice.  He has been unable to find it in this city, and I knew I would wrangle with my guilt for weeks if I didn’t buy it for him.  So I tossed both items up on the counter and handed the woman my card.  As I waited for the bus to go home, I casually examined my receipt.  Care to guess?  Anyone?  31 euros.  Equals around $40.  Whoa.  And it gets worse.  Martha popped open a can of DDP tonight, and it tastes totally watered down.  Neither of us could even drink it.  I guess there is the possibility that the other cans won’t be more of the same, but if not, Mark is going to be drinking 11 cans of ickiness and thanking me for each one.

I could have bought six bottles of decent wine for the cost of these two items. I wish I had.

Now go make some cookies.  You’ll be glad you did.

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