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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Contemplating 2012

I awoke at 5:30 on the last day of 2011, to the sound of the Cooking Channel on TV. I was watching old movies last night, and I fell asleep. I will have to catch the end of Little Women another evening. Anyway, all the chefs are making amazing breakfasts, so I am inspired to get up & whip up some yeast donuts (first time I use the dough hooks on the mixer) and some great scrambled eggs like my dad made us on Saturday mornings when I was a kid, with a little but of everything: potatoes, bologna, jalapeƱos, onions, cheese, and crumbled bacon. Then, I heat flour tortillas & make 2 burritos. Really good. The Neelys are drinking peach nectar with champagne, so I have some as well. My Paula Deen donuts taste more like bagels, so I only eat the donut holes. By the time my cooking spree is done, the kitchen is a mess--those TV chefs never have to clean up! It is after 1 when the kitchen is finally clean. I have to write my Resolutions, so I tune to a couple of past episodes of Joel Osteen for inspiration. I get dressed and walk my Beagle. Now it's 4:30 and time for him to eat & I have some Sesame noodles that I also whipped up this morning. I finish knitting a scarf I started weeks ago while listening to Tess of the D'Urbervilles on my iPhone. Now it is almost 10, but now I have my Resolutions down:
1. Exercise daily & lose 25 lbs. & continue daily walks with my Beagle;
2. Limit cooking & baking to 3 days a week & then stay out of kitchen!
3. Be creative in other areas at least 3 days a week, & rest Sunday;
4. Stay away from Fast Food--no more than once a week;
5. Continue to pray daily, but read my Bible and go to church more often;
6. Bond with people who appreciate me;
8. Use time wisely by planning & organizing;
9. Write more and read more; and
10. Sleep more!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Whatever Happened to Cake Mascara?

Whatever happened to cake mascara? My tube of mascara has gone dry & it has been only about 6 weeks since I purchased it! I made a note to get some more, but went "drab" for several days before I happened to pass by Walgreens & remembered I need mascara. The Great Lash in the Pink tube, my fave, is almost $7 a tube! Frustrated, I searched for the cake version, which I discovered, does not exist at Walgreens! The sweet young clerk has no idea that mascara used to come in a cake. (I told her to ask her grandma about the good old days!) I grew up on the sixties, and i remember shopping at Woolworth's in downtown El Paso, where my sisters and I first bought cake mascara in a little red box and tubes of lipstick in Candy Pink for less than $1 Sigh. I know: that's 50 years ago! Does Woolworth's still exist in El Paso? Even if it does, a drive downtown entails parking fees, traffic congestion, headache. No one goes downtown except to serve Jury Duty! To the clerk, I commented that my mascara tube had gone dry in only 6 weeks & she said it should last about a month. I thought, "Yeah, if you put on 4 coats maybe!" I buy cosmetics twice a year, max, so I expect mascara to last longer than a month. I came home with that $7 tube of mascara, quite chagrined. I love the way mascara makes my lashes look when the tube is new: I don't even need to curl my very sparse and straight lashes for them to look great. Is $7 for a tube of mascara too much? I believe in minimalist makeup; however, I love my smokey eyes and you cannot have smokey eyes without mascara! People always tell me, "you have pretty eyes," so I have to agree with them! If I had only one item in my makeup bag, it would be mascara, not clumpy mascara, but 2 coats of the stuff to make my lashes look dark & shiny. I have researched Sephora, my online source for everything Mineral when it comes to makeup & eyeshadow, but they don't carry cake mascara. (I refuse to buy makeup at a store counter anymore where you are badgered into buying more than you want!) I got into the Mineral makeup kick several years ago, and I was so impressed with it that I treated my daughter and sister to makeovers & Starter Kits at the San Francisco Bare Escentuals studio here in El Paso! My daughter, Elisabeth Marie, who has oily skin, looks especially radiant in Mineral makeup. Once I used up my own Starter Kit, I found that it is cheaper & more convenient to order what I need online, & Sephora carries everything I need. But mascara: only the stuff in the pink tube will do--until I find the cake mascara, anyway.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bizcochitos

For me, the Holidays start when I bake a batch of Bizcochitos, the traditional Mexican anise-flavored sugar cookie I grew up making as a child in New Mexico, where I watched my great-aunt make them. There ae many versions of these cookies, and this is my favorite. These cookies  are not to be confused with sugar cookies, as they must be made with lard, not shortening or butter or you will not achieve the same light, delicate texture, and the anise is very important! I use tiny cookie cutters in star shapes for the Holidays and heart shapes for Valentine's Day.
Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder

1/8 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1 cup lard
1/3 cup red wine
2/3 cup sugar, preferably Baker's sugar
2 t anise, crushed
1/2 cup sugar and 2 t cinnamon for dusting
Procedure:
Sift together flour,baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.
In your mixer, cream lard with  cup sugar until very, very fluffy.  Add the egg yolks  one at a time, and the anise. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with red wine. Mixture should form a soft ball.  Divide the dough into 2 discs; wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a floured board, roll each disc to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into small shapes.  If you have enough baking sheets, cut out all your cookies and put them on baking sheets and refrigerate until yu are ready to bake all the cookies.    Then bake cookies in a hot oven (375)  for about 9 minutes.  Bake a sample batch with a few cookies to test your oven. Cookies should be golden brown around the edges.
While cookies are still warm, dredge in Superfine sugar and cinnamon mixture and allow to cool.  Bizcochitos must be refrigerated because they contain lard.  They freeze actually freeze and actually improve in taste.
Variations:
Add Chipotle powder; use orange zest and orange liqeuer instead of wine; use lemon zest and raspberry lemonade concentrate instead of the wine and cut cinnamon to 1/2 T.
Note:
The commercial versions of these cookies never come up to what you can produce in your own kitchen, so if you like Bizcochitos, try making them and they will become your favorite, too.