Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cooking - What My Christmas Cookies Say About Me (And You)

Chrismakkuh time in the Ferchaw house is all about the TLC -- tamales, latkes and cookies. 

And love. 

And the baby Jesus. Of course.

And through the holy trinity of holiday foods, I often learn a great deal about myself. Come, poor shepherd. Let me guide through the miracle of fat and carbohydrates. 


I have heard them called Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes. The recipe I use from Allrecipes calls them Snowballs. I call them the work of the devil. 

Bitches be good.

I'm not a huge sweets person as you know. So two little balls are perfect for me. I would even be happy with one little ball. I'm not a greedy lady, you know. 

These are the perfect compact bit of buttery, nutty, sugary goodness. And, even better, my husband made them this year. 

That's right. Larry baked. I don't think that makes me any less of a woman or him any less of a man. Really it just makes me lazy and him impatient for the damn cookies. And he executed them beautifully.

Unfortunately, because of all the rolling into cute little balls, they take a little bit of time to prepare and you should consider yourself very lucky if we give you any of them. They are the cookie equivalent of gold in our house. Or even the cookie equivalent of french fries, which I share under almost no circumstances. 

Note: If you try the above recipe, I usually don't roll them in peppermint. Just good, old powdered sugar.


 I think these are the perfect cookie exchange cookies. They are quick and easy to make and everyone loves chocolate mint, right? If you don't, you are a communist. That's right. I said it. 

So yeah, Commie, bake these up for those cookie exchange parties. You know, the ones that sound good in theory until you realize that you are a major germaphobe and start panicking at the thought of cookies with dog hair in them which would be fine if it were your own dog's hair but who wants to eat a stranger's dog's hair? Not me! Especially since I don't have a dog.

So now I'm writing and feeling all bad because I was actually invited to a cookie exchange party but backed out at the last minute because everyone in our house was sick. But those guests probably didn't want to catch a cold from our infectious cookies. What would be better? Dog hair or the cold virus? Tough call.

Oh and I also didn't go because most of the people were making peanut butter cookies. And I hate peanut butter. But that wasn't the main reason. It was like 60% cold virus, 20% germaphobe and 20% peanut butter aversion.


When I think of Ina Garten, I think "pretentious food Nazi." And yet I'm drawn to her. I feel insecure and unsure whenever she tells me to use good olive oil or good mayo. How do I know if my Best Foods is good enough? I often wonder if I myself am good enough to making her recipes. 

But I make them. And when they come out beautifully I feel high and mighty. These puppies are also like gold so, if you get some, you too are good enough. 


I end this list with cookies I've never made before but look amazing. I'm a big fan of flat, chewy cookies. And I've yet to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe for me. I guess this recipe doesn't say much about either of us except that I am always on the hunt for something bigger and better. And you have patiently enjoyed the ride. :-)

So I'm hoping to try these bad boys this weekend if I can find the time between cooking for Chanukah, Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Maybe I can enlist my dear husband again...

I would like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday weekend! I appreciate each and every one of you. You make every day just plain good. 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Culture - How to Successfully Raise Interfaith Children (With Little to No Effort.)

Lawrence is Jewish.

I am a Catholic. 

Our children are...both?

Hmm....Let's start a tally. Though, for the record, this is not a competition. (cough, cough)

Maya and Lincoln were both baptized Catholic. (One point for Jesus.)

Lincoln was circumcised. (One point for Abraham.)

Maya loves matzoh ball soup but hates spicy foods. (One point for Judiasm.)

Lincoln loves Santa Claus and all Santa-related paraphernalia, music and propaganda. (One tangential point for Catholicism.)

Maya went to Lutheran preschool. (Point for Jesus lovers.)

Their great-grandmother escaped from the Holocaust. (Point for the Chosen People.)

Maya took a Menorah to share with her class for "M" Week. (Point for the mischpaca.)

She had no idea what holiday it was associated with. (Minus one for the michpaca.)

Maya went to Catholic mass two weeks ago. (Point for the Pope.)

She asked never to be taken there again because it was hours long. (Sorry, dude.)

Maya went to temple last weekend. (Point for the Rabbi!)

She piously made the sign of the cross and prayed during the temple service. (The Rabbi gets bupkes.)

We celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah. (Pat on the back for the parents.)

We plan on exposing them to both cultures and educating them to the best of our abilities so that, one day, they can make their own choices. Though sometimes confusing, both cultures offer so much in terms of tradition and strong morals that we know we are doing our best for our little mutts. (Point for everyone!)

So, though Maya doesn't know what the helper candle is on the menorah and she thinks God is Jesus' son, she does know that she is doubly rewarded come the holidays. 

And for that, we all say AMEN. 

(Do the Jews say Amen? Oh Lord...)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Culture - Twitter (A New Course in Linguistic Anthropology)

I hate 2011. 

Just sayin'.

There has been a lot of bad, heavy shit that's gone on in my life this year and I am ready for it to be O to the VER. 

Just sayin'.

So I've spent the past couple weeks daydreaming about 2012. In 2012 I'm going to be skinnier, happier and more productive -- all in that order. 

So naturally, I'm eating more than ever now as I bid farewell to each of my favorites food. Because, in 2012, they will no longer be my companions. 

But then I wonder, if I am not eating, what the hell will I do with my time?

I've decided to try this thing called Twitter. Oh, you've heard of it? Oh, it's been around forever? Sheesh. I thought its primary purpose was for me to track down food trucks.

But I see that people use it for all sorts of interesting things. I just can't make out what they are....

I think I am going to need a crash course in Twatty speak. Hold on. I'll be right back. Googling....googling....

Ok, I found this....

 And already I feel overwhelmed and confused and a little bit peckish.

Googling, googling....

This is more like it.

Oh my word. In reading the "What Not To Do" section, I see I have already committed a Twitter faux pas...

"When you first sign up and before you start regularly tweeting, don’t follow hundreds of people. If you follow someone, he checks out your profile to see whether he might want to follow you back; if he sees that you’ve tweeted once or twice and you’re following hundreds of people, he may think you’re just a spam account."

Well, I do follow a ton of people and I've tweeted exactly twice. One time, it was to win some sort of giveawayAnd the second time was in hopes of getting the attention of a certain NPH. 

(If you don't know that stands for Neil Patrick Harris, then I'm not sure we can be actual friends anymore, let alone Twitter friends.)

Oh, but I do have two followers. One is a food truck. They must know that I'm some sort of roving gourmet expert. 

I'm fairly certain that my second follower is a porn star. She actually just started following me today. We haven't really communicated but I think she gets me. Her name is Lillian and her tweets are very inspirational. She says things such as, "There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child." It's too deep for my comprehension but maybe, if I visit, I will reach a higher truth. 

I have a lot to learn before I get started. I do not understand all the shorthand quite yet. I'm a big believer in "Why don't you try using fewer words?" But I think I'm missing the point, or the challenge, of the Twitter universe.

My new Twitter handle is @smallfriesblog and I'm too inept to even figure out how to link that shit right now. I'll get back to you on that. But follow me and I'll follow you and we'll tweet that shit right in 2012. 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Obsession - Christmas Shopping

Here's a post about another tradition I've started just so one day my kids can call me a "traditional" mom. They will have the best of both worlds. In one story they can talk all about me baking cookies in a beautiful red apron. Then, in the next anecdote, they can speak of my wild child days of blue streaked hair and tongue piercings.

I'm cool. AND domestic. Mostly cool, though. 

So I obsess a lot about finding balance in my children's lives. I want them to have every amazing experience possible and enjoy life to the fullest, but I also don't want to just hand them everything and make them spoiled. 

So, at Christmas, it is always an inner struggle to not buy them all the toys that I think they would love. I know they don't need a lot to be happy but I just Basically.

So I've created a system of gift-giving in our household that I wanted to share. I'd love to know your thoughts, ideas and wisdom on the subject. This is only the second year I'm putting the system to work.

Here it is. 

Each year, Santa brings the kids exactly three gifts each in addition to their stocking stuffers.

He brings one gift to read, one gift to wear and one gift to play with.

For instance, last year  I we Santa got Maya a book of children's poetry, a personalized bathrobe and a six pack of Disney fairies.

This year, Santa will most likely bring a princess dress, the pop-up Wizard of OZ book and maybe the Barbie dream townhouse. That is, if Pablo doesn't rat them out. That sneaky bastard.

Then, the kids will receive a present from each member of the family. 

My present to Maya will always be in the form of a ticket to a performance. We both love musicals and shows, so I think this is a great way for us to have some girl time over her winter break. Last year, we went to Disney on Ice. This year, it's Wicked! (Hmmm....which one is better? Such a hard choice. One has an ice-skating troll doll. The other a singing green witch. Thinking...thinking...thinking...Oh yes. The one where they do not charge you $15 for some watered down lemonade.)

Larry's present to Maya is always a little piece of jewerly (like a charm for her charm bracelet) that he puts inside a special "present box" ornament on the tree. 

And Linc will "get" her a toy. He's not very imaginative in the gift-giving department. Just like any other male.

And that's pretty much it. We don't have any rules for Lincoln's presents yet because we are still getting to know him and his personality. Right now, all he cares about is the holy trinity -- Thomas, Chuggington and Cars. We gotta get some more culture into that child. Crank up the songs from Annie!!!

So that's the Ferchaw deal minus Chanukah. Yes, we celebrate Chanukah. No, we do not give them a present on each of the eight nights. I'm not sure what we do. I think it involves me telling Larry that he's in charge and he runs to the Disney store on his way home from work. Yes! That's our Chanukah tradition!

And I mentioned the latkes right? Latkes are pretty much the extent of my Chanukah expertise. As well they should be. They are fried potatoes. God bless 'em. 

I'd love to hear your holiday traditions. There are always room for more over here! 

(More traditions, that is. Not people. Maya's Barbie Dream Townhouse is going to be bigger than our not-so-much-a-dream townhouse. Maybe I should ask Santa for a new one.)