Holiday Cookies & The Saltiness of Salt

Since we’re already a few days post-Christmas, I’d venture a guess that the frenzy of holiday baking in most households across America has died down. Leftover pies and only the ugliest holiday cookies remain on the kitchen countertop all hoping that Uncle Chuck’s stomach or Brother Billy’s sweet tooth will give them a grand exit like the rest of their dessert brethren before them.

Baking Christmas cookies used to be a regular event when my sister Kelly and I were little. As we’ve grown, it’s become less and less of a priority on my mom’s Christmas TO DO list (she’s a list lady). When I talk on the phone to her about our upcoming holiday plans, I’ll say, “Let’s make cookies!” and she replies with, “Ohh. You really want to make cookies?”

Well sheesh, it’s not like I want to mine our own coal and give it to each other for Christmas. Nevertheless, the cookie initiative now rested on Kelly and my shoulders.

Thus we needed to decide what kind of cookies to make. Cutouts are always the most fun. You can decorate them in a zillion different ways with sprinkles, frosting, food coloring and whatever else you can find in the back of the cupboard. Despite the enticing possibilities for creative cutout-try, my mind was set on a recipe of cookie sophistication I found on smittenkitchen.com.

These iced oatmeal cookies may not scream “WE ARE CHRISTMAS COOKIES!” like sugar snowman cutouts do, but their elegantly draped icing and cinnamon & nutmeg-flavored interior have convinced me they are quite fitting of the season.

Baking Tip: Do you know the difference between Kosher salt and table salt? I didn’t, so I asked my dad.

me: what’s kosher salt?
dad: i don’t know, it’s never seen a pig or something.

Naturally that was wonderfully helpful, so I asked my mom. She told me the granules of Kosher salt are much larger than the granules of table salt. As a result, one teaspoon of table salt is much “more salt” than one teaspoon of Kosher salt. If you plan to swap table salt for Kosher like I did in this recipe, make sure you use much less table salt. Try half. No one likes a salty cookie. ☼

(Learn more about Kosher salt here.)

“He did WHAT?!”

“He did WHAT?!”

So said both my mom and my sister, both shell-shocked by the scandalous news. “Yep,” I said. “He kissed another girl.”

‘He’ being my boyfriend, Kirk. We’ve been together over 5 years now. After all this time, he’s gone and done something like this. Kissing some other girl. This girl to be exact:

Her name is Shannon Lucio. She’s an actress who has appeared on The O.C. and Grey’s Anatomy. And now she’s kissed my boyfriend.

And? Is it an unforgivable transgression? Kirk and I must be over, done, finito? Well, not so fast. It would be so FOX News of me to tell you just one side of the story. Here’s the whole thing:

This summer both Kirk and I signed up with a talent agency called Real Style. Since then I’ve been called to work as an extra on a Lifetime movie called Smooch, and also the TV series Detroit 1-8-7 (which hasn’t aired yet.) This Tuesday, Kirk was called to work on the movie Right Angle, which recently changed its name to Cripple. He was to play the boyfriend of the lead actress.

It wasn’t until he showed up on set that he found out exactly what he was required to do. The director asked him to walk his ‘girlfriend’ (Shannon Lucio) down some stairs and then give her a kiss goodbye. And do it like 30 times.

When Kirk told me who his ‘girlfriend’ was, I had to look her up.

You might remember her from season two of The O.C. She played Lindsay, a love interest of Ryan‘s.

She’s also appeared on Grey’s Anatomy as Amanda, the girl who George pushed out of the way of an oncoming bus.

George saved her life, but ended up losing his.

I think back to my freshman year of college when, in our tiny dorm room, my roommate Ericka and I sat on the edge of our desk chairs, a bowl of kettlecorn in between us, eagerly awaiting the start of a new episode of The O.C. I never could have imagined then that the guy who I would fall in love with the following year, would – a half decade later – end up kissing the girl that I was then watching on prime time TV.

A little weird, right? Here’s the evidence for any non-believers (a photo taken by my friend Ideene, who has spent the last month as a PA on Right Angle/Cripple):

Alright, technically this could be any chick with strawberry blonde hair, but really, it’s Lucio. And in the suit, playing her ‘hot-shot business exec’ boyfriend, is Kirk.

Standing at the top of this stairwell cuing Kirk for each take was Ideene. Ever a multi-tasker, she was also texting me the play-by-play of what was happening.

Ideene: He kissed her….. ahhhhh
Me: He kissed her?! Really?!
Ideene: Does it bother u?
Me: No I don’t mind. It’s legit. He’s getting paid for it. I suppose you could say that about a stripper too, but this is different.
Ideene: Yah figured. And I’m not into red heads.

It’s acting. How would you imagine Ryan Reynolds felt when Scarlett Johansson got all steamy with Bradley Cooper in He’s Just Not That Into You? I’m guessing probably a little awkward, but that’s the biz.

Now, if Kirk was supposed to do a sex scene, I might feel a little differently. There’s no way in hell I’d approve of only $8 an hour for that. ☼

Stitch, Stitch… Spruced!

Baby, it’s cold outside. So I’ve been staying in.

Last post I talked about dusting off the inside hobbies. In addition to baking, sewing is another of my domestic diversions. You won’t, however, see me at JoAnn Fabrics buying skirt patterns, yards of argyle print or spools of lace. I’m an alterations kind of girl. I don’t make, I fix.

My bag had seen better days. The shoulder strap had almost completely disintegrated and holes were developing where I had stowed my cellphone on the inside pocket. But this was no ordinary bag. It had faithfully carried my belongings everywhere I went for the better part of high school and all through college. I couldn’t just throw it away. This bag had serious sentimental value.

I decided to overhaul it with the sewing machine. I cut out the worn parts and reassembled it into a small tote bag:

After removing the bottom panel, I cut off the bottom half of the bag, stitched up the liner on the inside and then reattached the bottom panel.

You can see where I shortened up the height of the interior pockets from the old stitch holes seen just below the pockets.

Like new, once again. ☼

Considering Cookbooks

The calendar has officially flipped to December, so it’s no surprise that it’s flipping freezing outside. (And I’m nowhere near Southern California – yet.) It is time to bust out those dusty inside hobbies: knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking – heaven forbid. My personal confined-to-the-house amusement? Baking. Just your standard oatmeal raisin cookies, some chocolate chip, maybe a pie here or there, nothing fancy. Be it as it may, baking isn’t practical. No one needs two dozen snickerdoodle cookies. Cooking, on the other hand, now that’s a useful hobby.

A few nights ago, Kirk and I were rolling the cart up and down the grocery store aisles. Sighing, mid-reach for a jar of Classico alfredo sauce, he said what was on both of our minds: “We need to learn how to cook new food.” That jar of alfredo sauce would be used to make our umpteenth dish of chicken alfredo pasta, no doubt. Our staples, including said pasta with pre-made sauce, ground turkey tacos and chicken sandwiches really need a break from our culinary repertoire. I resolved to buy a new cookbook.

At home, I made a mental list of what I’d like in a cookbook. Because I really like being able to see a photo of the finished recipes, the more photos, the better. Books with an emphasis on ‘quick and easy’ received extra brownie points. With these prerequisites in mind, I began scouring Amazon for the highest-rated books geared toward the cooking novice.

The following three books are top on my list of consideration:

[AMAZONPRODUCT=1401323596]

While traveling abroad – where you expect no luxury whatsoever – I was oddly spoiled rotten with an unbelievably souped-up cable television package at my flat in Sydney. With more American shows that I had even seen in America, I was able to watch Jamie Oliver on the Food Network. Immediately I was attracted to his unpretentious manner and straightforward style. I also liked how he took us along on his journey to gather ingredients from local shops. The book has the same “from the ground up” approach.

[AMAZONPRODUCT=0881507237]

This book attracted me for a handful of reasons:

  • it has a stellar average 5 star rating on amazon.com
  • it boasts quick “in a hurry” recipes
  • it “serves two” (Lauren + Kirk = 2)

[AMAZONPRODUCT=0446572098]

I am intrigued by the 5 ingredient simplicity. Such a small amount of required ingredients should make for an equally small amount of required cooking skills, no? Probably terrible logic, but I’m sticking with it until I try the book.

These three books seem like they could do the job. But, I’d also like to hear about some tried and true favorites. Who has a cookbook they love? Please do share! ☼