Saturday, August 23, 2008

Shorts with Words on the Butt

I went to Maggie Moo's today for ice cream after working for 5 hours straight - a record for me! - on the proposal. As I stood there in line debating on what ice cream flavor/mix in combination would be worth the calories, I realized what I hate about those shorts with words plastered straight across the ass.

Right ahead of me in line was a little girl, probably about 5 years old, and her mom (grandmom? not sure). I couldn't help but notice she had on a pair of bright pink, knit shorts that said "surfer girl!" with pretty flowers around it, on the butt. On the shorts of a 5 YEAR OLD. The problem is complicated with wearing any sort of words on one's rear end. On the one hand, you have this little girl, who just wants to fit in, thinks flowers are pretty, and likes the color pink, and wanted to wear shorts because it's insanely hot today. But on the other hand, it would not be cool for a little 5 year old boy to wear shorts that say "surfer boy!" with sharks or other stereotypically-gendered graphics on his butt. That we, as a culture, have accepted the word-butt-shorts for women, is a shame, especially because they make it seem ok for everyone - girls and guys - to stare at a woman's ass. There's a word on there - she must want me to look at it! Puh-lease. I think that if it was ok for men to go around with words on their asses, too, it might make the situation a little better, but would go no further in solving the problem. That there are now little girls out there who are clueless about this kind of stuff, and have parents buying the shorts for them, is even worse.

Seriously. No need for words on the ass, ever, regardless of sex or gender. Especially not in really young girls. The double standard is my big problem with the butt-word-short.

I walked out of there with a vanilla and chocolate chip cookie dough waffle cone shaking my head.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Drop Cookies

Of all the happy food feelings I have from my childhood, nothing makes me more nostalgic than the drop cookie. It was the very first recipe I ever memorized, and the first recipe that firmly established my place in the kitchen among the women of my family.

My mom's friend/cousin Lisa hand wrote the recipe for these drop cookies on a piece of notebook paper, and gave it to her probably when she first married. The cookies were so prized in our house, that the recipe lived in the very first slot of my mom's recipe binder, which was in actuality an old, clingy, photo album that resided in the drawer to the right of the stove in our kitchen. It was the recipe drawer, where all cut-outs, a binder, a "Calling All Cooks," and a few random twist ties lived. I remember these details because I looked at that recipe every time I opened the recipe book, which was a lot, and I cooked these a lot growing up.

My mom says that I have been baking since I could pull up the stool in the kitchen and stand up to stir things. Luckily, she let me help in the kitchen quite a bit, and encouraged my food habit. She made these cookies all the time, as they use ingredients we always, always had on hand. Before I took over the primary responsibility for making them in our house, I would stand in the kitchen and watch her make them, taking a spoon and scooping up the warm, gooey, unhardened cookies and devour at least 4 of them. They were best washed down with a Sun-Drop. (My today self says, "how unhealthy, and no wonder I had self esteem issues, I was probably a bit large for my bone structure.") They can cure any bad mood, and make any day better.

I first made them for my high school scholars' bowl team around 9th grade after we'd won a big competition. They were devoured in seconds, expected of me from then on out, and became my signature recipe in high school. My aunts used to have difficulty making them, because they never hardened up properly for them. And when my grandmother would make them, they tasted funny. Mom's version was the best, and I think my technique is foolproof. Mine taste just like hers did, so you won't be disappointed in the taste.

Drop Cookies
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 Tablespoons coco powder
2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, I usually leave them out)

First, lay out a sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Then, measure out your 2 1/2 cups of oats and 1/2 cup of peanut butter. You will be glad you took the time to do these steps later, as the cookies move fast toward the end. In a large, heavy, nonstick stock pot, add butter, sugar, milk, and coco. Then, turn on the heat to medium-high. Constantly stirring, bring the mix to a boil. As soon as it comes to a full, rolling boil, continue to stir vigorously, and count to 90. Then, turn off the heat, quickly add in the oats and peanut butter (and pecans if you are adding them), stir to combine, and drop by spoonful on the wax paper. Eat warm with a spoon (or with your fingers, not that I'm speaking from experience) or allow to harden and enjoy.

These cookies remind me of my mom, more than anything else. Happy home memories, from me to you!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Anne's Smoothie

I know that Veganne already has her own smoothie recipe. But, when I made this today, I thought of her, for two reasons: 1. soy milk and 2. cinnamon.

I have been loving the 8th Continent Light Vanilla Soy Milk that I purchased in honor of her visit back during the Charleston weekend. You might even say that I crave it occasionally. It has magical powers - I transformed plain ol' wheat Chex to something that tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, using soy milk and a good sprinkle of cinnamon on top (seriously, it was amazing, and much healthier than the real kid's cereal). Anne's a big proponent of cinnamon, too, as apparently it as a ton of health benefits, all of which she can tell you about but I can't remember off the top of my head. Suffice it to say that we need to be adding cinnamon to everything possible. I even have an idea for a cinnamon campaign slogan: "Cinnamon: When Broccoli Just Won't Do."

I have a whole bunch of leftover fruit from our Rock Band party on Saturday. I intend to transform the apples into some sort of caramel apple tart, have been tossing grapes in my yogurt, smearing Nutella on my bananas, and have been nibbling on the fresh pineapple, but I worry it's going to spoil before I can eat it all. Dave actually goes to work every day (novel thought) and isn't here to help me snack on it, so it's all up to me. In an effort to use up some of it, I created a smoothie, and I think Anne would approve of this recipe.

Anne's Smoothie
1 small container Yoplait light strawberry yogurt
about 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (see above for brand)
1 banana
handful of pineapple chunks
cinnamon and honey, for garnish

Combine yogurt, milk, banana, and pineapple in a blender until well incorporated. Pour into a glass, top with cinnamon and honey. Enjoy!

This will give me energy to finish a section of my proposal as well as go to the gym later this afternoon. It is a tasty summer treat, and would probably benefit from the addition of a few ice cubs to make it even colder and refreshing. It's not an overly sweet smoothie; I'd venture to call it a savory smoothie, so if you like a whole lot of sweetness, maybe add in some honey before you blend it all together. There's a good deal of fiber in the drink, and it makes a large portion, so it's very filling and satisfying.