Thursday, February 28, 2013

52 cookies :: week 52 :: oat and "shower" cherry cookies with chocolate chips

as soon as the latest 3191Q issue arrived i set on to make the oat and sour cherry cookies delivered by MAV.* the recipe is an adaptation from "Short & Sweet" by Dan Lepard and we took it a little further to make it our own, and using what we had on hand. (lesson learned from this entire experiment: everything is better with chocolate chips.)

the girls eyed the bag of cherries with suspicion (hoping i wasn't returning to raisins) and misheard my naming of them as "shower cherries"... hence...

52 cookies

52 cookies

Oat and "Shower" Cherry Cookies with Chocolate Chips
adapted from 3191Q issue no. 10

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks softened unsalted butter
1/2 c sugar
1 c light brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 c rolled oats
1 c tart dried cherries
1/2 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare cookie trays with silpat. Sift flour, soda, cinnamon and salt together. Beat sugars and butter until extra light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in oats and stir in cherries and chocolate chips. Spoon tbsp dollops of dough onto cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on the sheet before transferring to wire rack. Store in airtight container.

Makes 2 dozen large cookies

* * * * *

K: These cookies are super good. At first I thought they won't be as good. But Mom said "Don't pick at the cookie, just take a big bite!" The cookies taste good when doing big bites!!!!

A huge thank u to TRACY BARTLEY for 52 weeks of cookies

E: Yum... I kinda like the sour cherries and of course I love the chocolate chips!!!! :) :D Also a huge thx to u cuz u stuck to the cookies!

D: This combo of chocolate and cherries is perfect. And the oatmeal cookie is too. Biting into this is like acing your final exam. You could serve this with a little port wine. Mighty fine.

so this is it... whew! i am looking forward to a look back at our year of cookies. stay tuned...

*yes - i am posting this and dating it back after much delay in pulling it together! forgive me ;)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

52 cookies :: week 51 :: salted rye cookies


Salted Rye Cookies
via shari
from epicurious
1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
kosher salt
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 1/2 cups (230 g) whole (dark) rye flour
3 tablespoons coarse sparkling sugar or turbinado sugar

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, a pinch of salt, and the orange zest. Gradually mix in the flour. Divide the dough into two portions and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape into logs about 2 inches in diameter and wrap tightly. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a sheet of waxed paper, combine 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the sparkling sugar. Unwrap the dough logs and roll them in the mixture to coat well. (I rolled one log in the sugar-salt mix, and the second in just sugar. My kids aren't used to too much salt - and I worried they'd be put off.) Place each log on a cutting board and cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds, arranging the rounds 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned at the edges, about 16 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through so the cookies bake evenly. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


* * * * *

K: The cookies I prefer with sugar not salt. The salt is a little too salty for me. When you bit into the salty, all of the edge is salty. But, the sugar is the kind I like best. Not salty on the outside.

E: I like these cookies. The ones with salt, personally, are not my favorite, the one's with sugar are better. They are good to have in my lunch.

D: A salt encrusted rye flour "cookie" was all that was missing from my busy life. Not. While I found nothing wrong with this palette cleanser...digestive... it didnt qualify for my "Life is too more cookies!" mantra. Marie Antoinette would have been safe to offer these biscuits to the masses. I too will find a way.

Monday, February 18, 2013

12 hikes :: february :: upper los virgenes open space preserve

it is a beautiful presidents' day weekend. d had to work today - but the girls and i were off, and so were our neighbors, so we decided we better head out for a hike. we've been so under the weather, i knew the fresh air and sun on our faces would do us a world of good.

located on 3000 acres in the simi hills, this beautiful open space preserve was originally part of the ahmanson ranch. a decade or so ago, after much discussion, it was sold to the santa monica mountains conservancy for its importance as an ecoloogical link and wildlife corridor between the santa monica mountains and those to the north. we are so lucky to have it. it is spectacular. rolling hills studded with valley oaks and sycamore lined canyon bottoms. you really do feel like you are miles and miles away.

12 hikes

12 hikes

12 hikes

Upper Los Virgenes Open Space Preserve (formerly Ahmanson Ranch)
western end of Victory Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 91307
Neighborhood: West Hills / Calabasas

Proximity: 6 miles from our home
Hike length: various trails : we did a perfect 2.3 mile loop
Bonus features: beautiful old oaks close enough to hug and though we didn't find them, there are supposed to be caves to explore (next time). the creek was (surprisingly) dry. vistas that conjured up what settlers must have seen when they arrived in socal. dog friendly (on leash of course).
Tips: we parked on Victory and hiked up to the trailhead so we wouldn't have to pay for parking ($3). it was warmer than i thought (though only around 70 the sun was intense and there isn't much shade at all.) i was glad we wore layers, brought lots of water and a healthy snack. we were there around 1 1/2 hours.

* * * * *

E: 7. It was ok. I like it better when there is a river nearby to explore. It was fun though.

K: 8. I liked that our friends joined us. I liked that we did our own thing. We went our own way down the hill and then met you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


<3 Day

<3 Day

<3 Day

home with a fevered girl. she missed her party, but will be ready when she returns to school. i even broke the "no candy" rule for her... (smartie pants download here.)

d broke the "no candy" rule for me. love you cowboy.

happy valentine's day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

52 cookies :: week 50 :: valentine sugar cookies

i can't help but compare these to our stand-by iced cookie favourite...


Sugar Cookies
via msl

2 c sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Royal Icing

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture gradually, beating until just incorporated. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in top third and lower third. Let 1 disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to just under 1/4-inch thickness, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Cut out cookies with a 2-inch heart cutter, and place them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roll out scraps once, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. Freeze cookies until very firm, about 15 minutes.

Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through and switching from top to bottom, until edges turn golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 1 week.

Prepare royal icing and decorate as you desire :)


* * * * *

K: These cookies are so good. I didn't know that they would be as good as they are with the frosting. I'm upset that we didn't have more.

E: J'adore! I <3 these cookies! The icing is good and the design is so beautiful with the red swirl heart. Too bad 52 cookies is almost over!

D:I just close my eyes again, and hop aboard that dream cookie train... .

These heart shaped super cute frosted valentine cookies are a perfect treat for d'sweet. Pink and swirly white with raw sugar crystals sprinkled on top. Can you imagine! I thought I was dreamin when I bit into this cookie. The frosting has a slightly sweet lemony flavor but not too much at all, just close your eyes and imagine what I'm talkin' about...;-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013



we had planned to hike this weekend - but ended up precinct walking instead. there is so much riding on this election.

i've come down with the cold that i thought i had avoided. i need to slow down - but the calendar insists on otherwise. i am looking forward to march.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

52 cookies :: week 49 :: cookie sticks



Cookie Sticks
via My Baking Addiction

1/2 c canola oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c peanut butter chips
1 c semisweet chocolate chips (I forwent the peanut butter chips and did 1 c chocolate chips total)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, peanut butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and mix until well combined. Fold in the peanut butter chips and divide dough in half.

On the prepared baking sheet, shape each portion into a 15" x 3" rectangle about 3" apart. Sprinkle with chocolate chips; pressing them lightly into the dough.

Bake in preheated oven for 6-7 minutes. (Bake for 8-9 minutes for crispier cookies.) Cool for about 10 minutes. Cut with a serrated knife into 1-in. strips; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

*I rolled them out to more like 15" x 5". didn't sprinkle them with extra chips, and after baking for 7 minutes removed them from the oven - sliced them - then returned them to the oven for another 5 minutes



* * * * *
K: Love the length of these cookies! They are so awesome. The taste of the peanut butter & chocolate makes it awesome. They are amazing. It is probably on my top 10. And they are awesome with milk!!!!!!

E: Peanut butter chocolate chocolate sticks of delight. With a glass of milk they are the perfect snack for after school while working on your homework. They are the power boost you need to do homework. Yummy!

D: this cookie has been a good friend. this morning i took one (three) to work with me. munched them, chewy and comforting with a cup of coffee. everyone else was grumpy, while i was showing off, all crumbly on my face, my beard. I get home today, and my friend "cookie stick" is waiting for me with a bourbon. It balances perfectly across a glass so I can negotiate the hazards of home. ya know that 95% of all accidents happen in the home. Cookie stick doesn't get in the way and is yummy. hits the spot. Tonight, i see my old friend acting like a biscotti, nestled up on a large glass of cabernet. You cannot hide from me! Good-bye cookie stick.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

and so on...



thanks for your insights. these are such hard decisions. i know our struggle with middle school choices last year weighed so heavily on me. in the end, we did not go to our assigned neighborhood school, but instead to a magnet, which as it goes, is actually closer to us and filled with kids we know.

we are also in the process of writing a charter for our elementary school. i am honored to be involved in this process but can't help wondering why we have to go this route? (local control really. and that can be a great thing. alongside the thinking that "everybody's doing it". not sure how i feel about that. but the reality is we are loosing families to schools with "charter" in their name.) we are going for "affiliated" charter (as opposed to "independent") - an option that seems only to have been developed for the unique animal that is our school district. so we will remain with the same staff (who will hold the same contracts) and for the most part the same students (filling our seats with neighborhood students first, and after that - if space remains - by lottery.) we will have a larger income source. and more say in how those dollars are spent. we will also have more responsibility. i think we are ready for it.

so nothing is perfect. we weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. then we second-guess ourselves. but in the end there are no regrets. we are so very lucky to have the choice we have.

Sunday, February 03, 2013




we spent the day at LACMA. and reconnected with a friend i haven't seen to much too long. while i could sit for hours in front of a diebenkorn - i could also sit for hours and watch my kids interact with the large sculpture installations there. bliss.

* * * * *

last night we hosted a gathering in support of the re-election of our school board member. aside from his 20 years of school-site experience, and the lessons learned over the the last (extremely difficult) four years, i admire him most for his ability to navigate a broken system with thoughtfulness. he truly strives to do what is best for ALL kids in our district. and i admire him greatly for it. (if you read this, and live in our district, please consider giving him your vote.)

there is a national crisis in public eduction. the solution being offered by (too) many scares me. it is the privatization of our eduction system, cloaked in the nomenclature of "reform". it feels too often like the end of the neighborhood school.

The Inconvenient Truth of Eduction Reform

The Myth of Charter Schools

How to Walk to School

with the many choices we have as parents - did you choose your neighborhood public school? i am curious to hear about your experience. a friend and I were talking last week about this issue of "choice" that is constantly batted around. and i wonder if it really is what we need. i'd love to hear what you think. (email me if you prefer...)