A new basement office, a trip to Ikea, and a tart

I dismantled a bed today. Its pieces are now in the van to be driven, along with the girl and her several suitcases, to my parents’ place after hockey on Saturday. She gets to sleep over and I get to redo a little room downstairs that used to function as a guest room. The bed’s going into my parents’ crawl space because I have no space for it here, and then I get to decorate the room. Continue reading

Bad mood

Like some other people, I don’t bake much. (Andrea @missfish comes to mind, I think Sharon @SharonDV too said something to that effect at some point)…it has to do with measuring and exact amounts. Not me, at least not in the kitchen.

But I am in a blah, horrible, depressed, icky mood so I baked cookies. Then I ate one, and it wasn’t baked long enough (even though I followed the instructions exactly).

So then I ate another one. And stuck the rest of them back in the oven. Continue reading

Christmas owl cookies

I’ve come clean about my testy relationship with yeast before. Although over time, and trying the same recipe repeatedly, I manage to win the battle with the yeast these days. My rolls do turn out pretty good.

The trick is not to bake regularly. He.

So now we’re into the Christmas season and as every child knows, Christmas isn’t Christmas without Christmas cookies.

My mom makes the same Swiss cookies every year. And I love them all…but sometimes I want something different.

I have this Swiss recipe book with different cookies I long to taste, which means I must bake them first. Like lemon-almond half-moons and espresso-chocolate rounds. I thought they would be a nice addition to a host gift when we visit family and friends.

I embarked with the best intentions, calculated and converted the German recipe to English, and baked the cookies as per the recipe’s instructions.

Some turned out…mediocre.

So I reach for a Canadian Living cookbook and pick out the peanut butter cookie recipe to make with the kids, and my dough turns out….crumbly. Dry. I improvise and mix and add and subtract ingredients and still…I don’t know. The dough doesn’t look right.

The 3 year old wants to make owl cookies with her new cookie cutter. Fine. I let her use the now not so crumbly peanut butter and chocolate mixture.

Not sure what they taste like though – I’m afraid to try them. But they do look very cute!

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll try again. If I feel like it.

What really happens when children…

…bake Christmas cookies.

For example.

My 3 year old chatterbox loves to cook. She makes oatmeal, scrambled eggs and stirs stuff. My 5 year old likes cooking too, if something more pressing isn’t on his horizon (think hockey, soccer, neighbourhood kids, Lego…).

Which brings us to the Christmas baking.

Yes I realize it’s November. I am not one to start the Christmas craziness till after about the first week of December. But I realized something this year. Both my kids are not babies and toddlers anymore, and they want to help.

Their helping, with some planning and organizing on my part, actually turns some of the kitchen-related activities into a nice way to connect as a family, not to mention give ample opportunities to teach little lessons (measuring items, danger due to heat sources).

But it also takes more time. Much more time, to accomplish even a simple task in the kitchen when those two are with me.

Nevertheless, baking Christmas cookies seems to be the right kind of activity to include small children in ways that is very different from when they were toddlers who wanted to help.

But here is where it gets interesting.

You may find yourself having images in your head that remind of magazine covers. Or advertisement, on TV, in print, on billboards. You see the smiles, the togetherness, the perfectly formed and decorated cookies and you think

Hey I can do that with my family!

Well, sort of.

The magazines, and Christmas books, neglect to tell the real story. The story that involves incessant talking:

Mommy can I help?
Yes you can help.
Mommy can I help you?
Yes Sonja I said yes you can help. You can stir this with the spoon.
Mommy, can I help you NOW?
Yes Sonja I already said you can help now…

There’s the story with the inevitable mess due to boys who cannot stand still for a moment:

Benjamin, why did you whack that little bowl with the sprinkles in it? Look what happened. They all rolled under the dishwasher.
Waaaaaaaa!
Benjamin, crying isn’t going to solve this problem. Get down on the floor and pick up the ones you can reach.
I waaaant mooore spriiiinkles!
Benjamin, we will make cookies again another time. If you prefer to play hockey by all means, go ahead. But do not bring that hockey stick into the kitchen again!

There’s the story of how the cookies are supposed to look:

And then there’s the most delicious, crooked, decorated, lopsided Christmas cookies we have ever had!

Cupcake failure

It was a sad day for cupcakes. Poor Benjamin was so excited. This will be the first year that his birthday falls on a school day instead of March Break, and he will be the one they sing to at snack time. So I promised him we would make cupcakes for the occasion.
He helped. Of course. He did all kinds of stirring and licking…
And then he pulled up a chair and watched them bake. With an armload of his favorite Bellos.
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But they didn’t turn out. They were a complete disaster.

They stuck to everything. Not sure why or what happened, but we were kind of disappointed. Could it be because I used butter instead of vegetable oil in the recipe?

We have another box of this stuff. And I bought a canister of vegetable oil. We will try again…
The next question however is, what do we do with all the broken cupcakes?  All 36 of them?
We could place them all in a dish like this and drizzle them with cut-up strawberries and cream….
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Or we could let the child play with the crumbs…like this…and make a big mess…and then make him vacuum it all up before the baby gets up and eats the crumbs…
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Thankfully the disaster happened on Monday. His birthday isn’t till Friday.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bake some more cupcakes.