The Greatest Cookies, (In Case You Missed This Last Year)

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     Last year my daughter Jody entered the Los Angeles Times Holiday Cookie Contest and was was of the ten winners. This year the Times is putting out a book with the top 50 cookies from the past ten years.
      Jody sent me this article, which popped up on her iPad the other day. (Much to her delight)
     I have been making these cookies for over forty years and I do it slightly differently. First of all I make a ‘double batch’. It is hard to process that much in the Cuisinart at once. I can recall Nana Ida mashing this dough all together with a fork.
     I seriously doubt that there were food processors in Russia one hundred years ago. Imagine having to do all this fancy baking without our modern conveniences such as blenders, food processors, electric mixers, and oh,yes, ovens with temperature controls and thermostats.
     Even when I was a young mother with three children under four years old, there were no microwave ovens, food processors, Teflon pans or disposable diapers.
     I can remember my father buying me my first non stick frying pan and we made fried eggs and watched them miraculously slide out of the pan. Wonder of wonders.
OK. So I ate a couple. They had to fit on the plate.
     Even though I make a double batch, I still come out with about two dozen cookies. Maybe I make them a little
thicker. Thin is probably better.
     The other thing I do is I bake these at 375 in the middle rack. I like them a little more baked.
     But Jody’s method won the prize. By the way, I ordered the cookie book from Amazon at only $4.99. It is now on my Kindle.

 

Holiday cookies:

Nana’s Russian

tea cookies

December 16, 2011 |  8:00 am
19
1

Russian
Jody Truitt of Los Angeles

was one of the

winners of last year’s

Los Angeles Times

Holiday Cookie Bake-Off

with this recipe for Nana’s

Russian tea cookies.

Cookiecover

“My Nana Ida was born in Russia

in 1899 and immigrated

to the U.S. in 1904,” she wrote.

“When I was a child growing up in Honolulu,

Hawaii, my nana would come

to visit us by ship. She taught

us to make these flaky, jam-filled delights

rolled in powdered sugar,

and we have been baking them for the

holidays for over 40 years.”

They’re among the 50 favorite holiday

cookie recipes we’ve collected

in our “Holiday Cookies” e-book,

which is on sale now.

All of them have been vetted by

The Times’ Test Kitchen,

so you know they work.

Download it on the Amazon Kindle,

the Nook or via

the iBookstore.

Or go straight to the source.

Photo: Glenn Koenig /

Los Angeles Times

Nana’s Russian tea cookies

Total time: 1 hour, plus overnight

chilling time

for the dough

Servings: About 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter,

softened

1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese,

softened

1 cup flour, plus more for rolling

Sifted powdered sugar,

for coating the

finished cookies

Blend butter, cream cheese and flour

in the food processor until it forms a ball.

Separate into two flattened balls,

wrap in plastic wrap

and chill overnight.

Roll out on heavily floured board

to 1/8 inch thickness.

Cut in three inch circles with

a glass dipped in flour.

Put a small spoon of seedless

jam in center,

fold over to be a moon shape.

Seal edges with fork. Bake at 350

for about ten minutes.

Use parchment paper,

as the jam sometimes

leaks out the edges.

Do not brown.

Roll in sifted powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

p.s. these freeze well,

if you have any left

after day one.

p.s. I am partial to strawberry jam

and also pineapple/apricot.

ppss. If you can’t wait to chill

overnight, I have made these

and only chilled the dough

for a couple of hours,

Or even an hour is OK. (Sandy)

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Dutch Baby

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I haven’t done a cooking blog in quite a while, so thought I would tell you about my latest find in the food department.

It is called a Dutch Baby and is sort of a cross between a German pancake and French toast.

First preheat the oven to 425. Take a cast iron skillet or if you don’t have one, an 8 x 8 pyrex dish and melt half a stick of butter in it. Or less, if that seems like a lot of butter.

Now beat four eggs with one cup of milk and one cup of flour. You can do this with a fork or a whip. Let rest a few minutes and whip again.

Or you could make this batter in the blender. Now pour this mixture into the pan with the butter. Bake for twenty minutes.

You will have a beautiful browned and puffy ‘pancake’. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with a wedge of lemon and maple syrup. The proper way to eat this is to serve a slice (a big slice), squeeze some lemon juice on top, then maple syrup.

Peter didn’t like the lemon part, so he skipped that and went straight to the maple syrup.

If you want to make a Dutch Baby for supper, here is a variation. Take a scissors and cut thin strips from a leek. Rinse the chopped leek in ice water and squeeze out liquid till dry. Saute the leeks in the butter till they are soft. Dice three ounces of ham and add the ham with a little tarragon and salt. Pour in the egg/milk/flour mixture and proceed as above.

Bake for 15-17 minutes and without taking pan from oven, sprinkle one cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese on top and turn oven to broil. Watch carefully.

I haven’t tried it, but if you don’t have any ham, or don’t like it, I guess you could use chopped up cooked chicken or turkey. Even olives/peppers etc, if you want it to be vegetarian.

I think this would make a good dish for New Years Day breakfast or supper. Enjoy!

New Year’s Resolutions

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Gee, New Years is in three days, and I haven’t even thought of any resolutions. There are several things I should do, but they are the same several things that everyone says they will do with the New Year and after a week, I give up.

One is to exercise more, or at all. The other is to eat more fruits and vegetables. And the third is to drink at least six glasses of water every day. Right now, I don’t do any of these things. Maybe I’ll start with the water.

One thing I do that is very good for a person, is I meditate every single morning when I wake up. I started doing this in 1975 when I actually took a class in how to do transcendental meditation. I got all three of my children to meditate also. And my husband (number two).

I don’t do it exactly right, but I do it every day for twenty minutes. You are supposed to sit in a chair with your back straight and your head not supported. I prop up lots of pillows in bed and sort of slump back.

But I do light a candle and lately I have been burning some very good incense. The incense is the real deal. From Tibet. It is what the monks use and they meditate all day long. I find that twenty minutes is right for me.

If I should ever miss a day, and in 35 years, I have only missed a couple, I get very tired around three in the afternoon. Supposedly twenty minutes of meditation is as restful to your brain as six hours of sleep.

I have tried to extoll the benefits of doing this to many friends, but the reply is usually, “I don’t have the time”. I have a friend who faithfully meditates for an hour a day, and would never miss doing this. Plus he sits on pillows on the floor in the lotus position.

I have a mantra, which I was given at my meditation class. I was told never to reveal it to anyone, and I haven’t. (Probably everyone has the same one).

Well, I already meditate, think positive thoughts, and try to find humor in everything. I think that is all part of living a long rich life. But I should think of something to improve in 2012.

So for a resolution, I will have to think of something to organize my life. Maybe I will organize my drawers. I have about thirty drawers all jumbled up. I will start the New Year off right and organize three drawers a day. That way, in ten days, I will be done. Then all I have to do is keep it that way for the next 356 days. (That’s right, it is leap year).

Wish me luck.

I am doing an experiment…

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I noticed that when I was on vacation the week before Christmas, I had more readers per day, than when I was actually posting a blog each day.

This is going to be a very short blog. My daughter turned me on to a website that is really clever. It is called Jib/Jab and it is a site that makes videos using your own photos for the faces. You upload your face and those of your family, and then choose a subject. Click and drag your image to the head area and Voila. The characters sing and dance and your mouth moves to the words.

The step by step instructions are very clear and simple. It is a very well put together site. When you are done you can email your completed video to up to fifty people, post it on Facebook or download it to your phone. You can even make a CD out of your completed ‘film’.

You can try it for FREE. I did and I was ‘hooked’. I wanted to actually make videos using the ones for ‘members only’. There are Chippendale dancers, Irish step dancers, tap and ballet.

There is even an ‘x’ rated pole dance where you can superimpose your own face. This one has a warning before the video begins. It states that this is sexually explicit and be sure you won’t be offended if you watch it. Then it states this again, just to be sure. I thought it was very funny.

There are ecards for Birthday/Get Well/ etc. You can put the recipients face right on the ‘card’. To become a member takes one second and it costs $1 a month, which seems fair enough.

As I am very tired today, after Christmas and the day after, I have decided to take a day off. I will check tomorrow to see if I had a lot of readers try to access my blog.

So for now, Adios.

December 26, Whew

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OK. Christmas is over. One of my favorite shopping days of the  year has always been December 26. Today was no exception. Macy’s opened at seven a.m. and I decided to go early so I could get a good parking place.

Imagine my surprise when at seven thirty there were still very few cars in the lot and I got a parking spot two steps from the door. Then the store wasn’t even crowded.

I had a bunch of returns. One of the nice things about Macy’s is that you can return everything anywhere in the store. So find the least busy department and do it there.

I found that men’s socks was the least busy at seven thirty in the morning. I had a nice easy x change card and decided to go to housewares and buy a new rice cooker. Peter got one for Christmas and absolutely loves it. He highly recommends this brand. Zojirushi.

This is the quick start guide

This product is a digital rice cooker made in Japan (where else?). The instruction manual is a little complicated but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty simple.

The manual has four pages in English and ten in Japanese. There is a menu to set whether you are making white rice, brown rice, mixed, sushi or porridge.

When you press cook, it plays twinkle twinkle little star. Then when it is done it lets you know and counts down how many minutes it is keeping your rice warm.

The only thing weird is the clock which is only in military time. I am not real good at a 24 hour time clock, but it does have a timer so if you want your rice to be done at a certain time, you can set it for that and it will cook while you are out or doing something else.

It is just hard for me to remember that six pm is 1800. But I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

I got the three cup size which is plenty. It is a small appliance and looks very nice in the kitchen. It has a snap on holder on the side for the spatula and a nifty handle to use if you want to move it. Or carry it somewhere.

Best of all the rice comes out nice and fluffy. One of my favorite ‘dinners’ is simply rice with butter and shoyu sauce. Of course you have to eat this with chopsticks to make it taste right.

Again, when shopping at Macy’s you do not have to pay for your purchase in the department you are in. Housewares was very busy with a long line at checkout, so I went to the plus size department where there was nobody shopping.

There were heavy markdowns all throughout the store. By the time I left Macy’s the parking lot was filling up and I headed to Neiman Marcus. Again, I got a parking place immediately.

There was a 70% discount till noon all over the store and it was very crowded for Neiman’s. People were snapping up the $500 cashmere sweaters now that they were only $150.

I saw a few things that were nice, but my closet is bursting at the seams, and so I restrained myself. I had gotten a couple of ‘bargains’ at Macy’s earlier in the day and so I was satisfied with my shopping day.

After four hours, I was ready for a trip to See’s candy and then home for a nap.

Salon Effects-New Product Alert

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I have found a new fun product. I have seen ads for the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips and I sort of ignored them.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects

Last week while on my staycation at the Marriott, my fingernails looked like they could use a touch up. I went to the nearby Target with the intention of getting manicure stuff and saw the box of these.

At $9.99 for a box, that seemed a little high, but as I had the time, I figured “What the heck?”. The box comes with sixteen various size nail patches, an orange stick to push back your cuticles and a triple emery board to smooth your nail and file the edges of the nail patch.

I followed the instructions to a tee. First I removed my old polish, then smoothed nail, then cleaned the surface well with nail polish remover.

I laid out all the nail patches and started matching up the various sizes to my actual finger nails. It came out perfect and I had four left over that were ideal for doing my two big toes. Two strips for each sideways.

Once you figure out how to open each strip, you just stretch as you go and apply to each nail. Then smooth the edge with the little buffer and Voila.

They didn’t take me that long to do. Maybe a minute or so per nail plus prep time. I have gotten so many compliments on my nails everywhere I go. The girl at the market, the doctor’s receptionist and of course the maid at the hotel.

Voila!

These come in many different patterns and colors. This one is number 350 Misbehaved. I like it so much, I went back, got two more to have on hand, and now I am all set for a couple of months. I was tempted to try some of the other designs and maybe I will during the summer. Hot pink and hot orange or wild flowers would be fun.

For now, this pattern is very classy and goes with everything. Plus there is no drying time and each nail is perfect.

They are supposed to last ten days, but I see no sign of wear at all and it has been nearly a week. Plus every now and then CVS/Longs has a 30% discount on Sally Hansen nail products. Good time to ‘stock up’.

Staycation Part Two

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On the third day of our vacation Peter and I decided to check out the Disney Hotel, The Aulani. The shuttle took us there and I must say it is amazing.

It is so enormous and overwhelming, it takes your breath away.

As you decend into the gardens and pools in the middle, you feel somewhat like you are in Disneyworld. There are waterfalls and fountains, bridges and mountains. There are caves for the children to explore.

And frollicking down the path were two Disney characters. Hill and Dale, the chipmunks. They must have been roasting in their costumes as it was around 80 degrees.

One of the greatest attractions is Rainbow Reef. This is a full on reef stocked with about one million colorful Hawaiian fish. The children can rent snorkling gear and snorkle in the guarded reef/pool and it is really a marvelous experience.

There are glass windows with seats at below the water’s surface, so you can actually watch your child interacting with the fish.

There is a river going all around and guests are floating around and down the river in huge inner tubes. The current and wind carry them around the circle.

The children seemed to be having a marvelous time. The adults didn’t look too unhappy either. There was even a wedding happening in the garden.

If you are interested in staying at the Aulani, you can look it up online under Disney Aulani and the Disney Vacation Club. The Club is Disney’s answer to Timeshare. The hotel rooms start at $474 per nite for their standard room with a standard view, which means no ocean or garden view. The largest most deluxe hotel suite is $2895 per nite. That is plus tax.

The Disney Vacation Club rooms also start at $474 and go up to $2590 a nite for the three bedroom penthouse during the holidays. Of course you could buy a timeshare there for $150K and stay in the top suite for a week every year. Your annual maintenance fee for that would be $7000 a year.

We spent about two hours wandering around. Peter took lots of photos, I went to the Disney store and had a shaved ice. When we got ‘home’ to the Marriott it seemed very tranquil and relaxing. The gardens and pools are beautiful, but there were no furry Disney characters dancing around.

The lobby at the Marriott was decked out for Christmas and all the palm trees had lights twisting around their trunks. Very beautiful.

All the ornaments are authentic Hawaiian items. Lauhala baskets and gourds. Note the full size ukelele..

As we strolled back to our room Peter caught this Christmas photo of me. Don’t I look relaxed?

Merry Christmas

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