Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Well, well, well. Here are again. Another year is ending. I've been lurking around the internet and scoping out everyone's year end/new years postings and of course I thought about what I would write.

A few nights ago Brandon and I were in bed and he was flipping through channels and I insisted that he stop on the channel playing "The Family Stone". I saw some parallels from the movie, to my life. Most shockingly so  in the scene where Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker ) and Ben Stone (Luke Wilson) are at the local bar. There's this point where Ben tells Meredith something along the lines of,  "You are wound so tight and eventually you are going to blow your top. You have to relax and let your freak flag fly."

Well, there you have it. My resolve is to try and relax and let my freak flag fly. I mean, my freak flag flies, but not in the direction I want it to. I want to go back to being that carefree girl that doesn't sweat the small stuff. (Not the one that must. have. things. done. HER WAY ONLY. When did I become so anal?)

I do need to learn how to relax. I mean, I know how to relax when I am hanging out with my family and friends, perhaps with a beer in hand, but what I am talking about is in those everyday life situations. When I'm driving or at work or during unsolicited conversations. I want to see every encounter with other human beings as a blessing. There are times when you least expect it, that someone will say something that takes your breath away. In a good way. But if I'm not open to that because I am in a hurry or having a bad day, what might I be missing from our interaction? It's a really bad habit to always be running as fast as you can from one thing to the next. I want to quit living my life this way.

So not only do we start a new year, it's also a new decade. I pray very solemnly that this war will be over by the time I am able to celebrate 2020. That is what I most hope for in our new decade. I am very happy with the past decade. Honestly, it wasn't all daisies and rainbows, but damn if I didn't learn a lot and grow in ways I never knew would be necessary. My mom knows exactly where I was 10 years ago. I never thought that I would live through a lot of the experiences I encountered in these past ten years, but I did and as a result I am a much wiser and stronger person.

All I could really hope for, on a personal level for the next ten years are my health, my happiness and love. Maybe I will also gather my courage to really go after my dreams.

I hope that everyone who reads this will have a happy new year and much success and happiness in the next ten years as well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Treats Part II ~ Texas Ranger Cookies

Brandon's most favorite cookies are called Texas Ranger Cookies.  His grandmother, who lives in Alabama, used to make these for him as a child. After about a year of hearing about these cookies I went on a mission to track down the recipe. Boy am I glad I did. After giving some cookies to a man at work, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. (Despite the fact that he is about 30 years my senior and already happily married.) People have tried these and said, "Coconut? I hate coconut, but I love these cookies!" or "The perfect mix of salty and sweet!"

These cookies will never let you down, as long as you put in the effort, prepare for the mess and have the time to invest in making them. I think a better name might be "Breakfast Cookies" based on all the breakfasty ingredients or "Kitchen Sink Cookies" due to the vast array of ingredients.

This time around I broke out of my shell and tried the food proccessor for some of the prep. It rocked my world. I was so used to doing things the hard way. No more! Thankfully Brandon had experience with this type of contraption and was able to break it down for me.

I believe most people really love these cookies, or they are fantastic liars. If you feel tempted to make these there are quite a few recipes on the internet, but I will share the one passed on from Brandon's grandmother.

Texas Ranger Cookies

2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (generous)
2/3 c. unsalted butter (soft) [1 stick & 2/3 tbsp.]
1/2 c. white vegetable shortening
1 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
2 c. crushed corn flakes
1 1/4 c. chopped pecans
1 1/4 shredded or flake sweetened coconut

Set oven to 375

Use cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt then set aside.

With a mixer (And it should be a good one, because I burned up the motor of a cheap one on these cookies.) mix butter and shortening until fluffy. Add brown sugar and white sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixed well. (And fluffy.)

Add flour mixture. ( A deep bowl is best as is adding the flour in increments if you don't want a cloud of flour dust to settle over every surface in your kitchen.) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Let mixture set for 5-10 minutes to firm up. Shape to golf ball size and place on cookie sheet 3" apart. Flatten balls to about 1/3" thick.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until they are a perfect golden brown. Be careful not to overcook. (I prefer them crispy and crunchy but Brandon likes them chewy, so I guess it depends on what you prefer.)

Let cool 3 minutes.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Treats Part I ~ Fantasy Fudge

Every year I make sweet treats for those that are near and dear to me. My go to recipe for years has been Fantasy Fudge. What's really awesome about this recipe? Well, for one, if you forget where you placed your chicken scratched, college rule copy you begged off your mom, you can always find it on Kraft Jet Puffed Marshmallow Creme. (The key ingredient.) My first step is to always measure everything out first, because once the molten sugar/butter/evaporated milk concoction hits that rolling boil, you better bust a move!

I used to think that the candy thermometer was not really necessary, until one year my fudge came out grainy. Nothing could be more mortifying so I splurged about $2.50 on one and ever since that my fudge has come out silky smooth.

Be careful if you make this though, it's sweet enough to hurt the teeth.