Monday, April 30, 2012

Signs from the Universe: Avalon 2012

Mystical place of Escape
Vortex of Vacation Vibes

Over a month later and I'm still trying to interpret
what the universe was trying to tell me on that trip.

I was in a bad head space going in, during, and coming out.
Not through anyone else's fault.
Purely my own stuff.

Actually, we all had baggage we were trying to discard on that trip.

If I read the signs right, I'm supposed to:

Be Open;
Ignore all the clutter,
of the flapping, flustering, attention-grabbing mixed/overlapping messages,
from all my various bulletin boards;
Get more information, and remember,
Information is power.
If I don't remember to read the signs,
I might come to harm.
(There's no message here, I just really liked the graphics.)(Or is there?)

And finally:
Man cannot
discover new oceans
unless he has the courage
to lose sight of the shore.
~ Andre Gide

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Recipes from Aunt Flora -- Peggy's Buffalo Chips

Blogger seems to have given me a reprieve on the whole photo/blog post issue. This entry was created in the old interface (thank you very much), which is SO MUCH better for me.

Especially I am writing this up again in the middle of a 8+ hour cooking spree. This time I did have the sense to start in the middle of the afternoon, but it's about 5 hours later and 6 dozen cookies in, and they are still coming out of the oven. (AND STILL COMING ......)

And that's no bull.

And there is the segue to the Recipe of the Week: Peggy's Buffalo Chips (Cookies)

Peggy was one of Aunt Flora's daughter-in-laws and must have had a herd of kids to feed, because it makes a LOT of cookies. Like 9.5 dozen give or take a few.

2 cups melted margarine (I used butter)
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar

4 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups oatmeal AND
2 cups cornflakes OR 4 cups oatmeal

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup coconut, shredded
1 1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts OR
1 package butterscotch chips

Blend margarine and sugars.
Stir in eggs and vanilla.
Mix in oats and corn flakes.
Add in flour, soda and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
Stir in optional items.
Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. (or 15-20 minutes depending on your oven.)

Makes about 9.5 dozen

Making sure you have all the ingredients before you start ensures you don't have to make your second run to 7Eleven of the day. Also make sure you have all the lumps out of your brown sugar before you add your melted butter, and then don't lose your stirring implement into the sugar/butter slurry. Make sure you have a GINORMOUS mixing bowl (thanks Mom!), so everything fits this time and you don't have to transfer halfway through the mixing like last week. Don't over mix the cornflakes and oatmeal with your fork, you don't want to break down the cornflakes. Get a mixing spoon at the end for leverage because that's about 8 cups of flour/flakes/oats and your arms will fall off!

Don't eat the cookies ... or you will have sugar shock and your intended recipients will be sad.

(MMmmm MMMMM *crumbs flying* ME LOVE COOKIE!)

2 points if you know who I was quoting.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Recipe for Reflection

Once upon I had a dream. It was so vivid. It was one of those dreams you wake up from and you can't believe that where you just were wasn’t your “real life.” It involved me being a bonus mom to two blonde little boys. We adored each other.


But then I woke up.

Wondered. Cried a little. And tried to put it behind me.

Life has gone on.

The dream has faded.

It’s now a bittersweet memory – one that is only occasionally revived as the years have gone on by the casual mention by one of the two people I shared it with, or some other trigger or another.

I have a blonde little boy in my life. Two actually. But they are not mine to mother.

But, I had an epiphany this afternoon.

I was in the midst of stirring in the 4 cups of flour in yet another cookie recipe. Muttering in my head. Cursing my compulsion.

Why do I do this? Why do I feel the necessity of constantly making cookies? Why do I bother? Dang (actually another word) my shoulder hurts, I should stop stirring for a moment.

So I did.

And I realized.

I realized who all these cookies end up feeding, besides me.

The I.T. boys
The Security Guard Dudes
The MailRoom Guys

Huh! So, I do have my boys.

Better yet. I don’t have to mother them. I don’t have to pick up after them, deal with their laundry, harass them about their chores, find their lost stuff, shuttle them to practices, deal with their boy stinkiness, clean up after their bathroom issues, or handle all the annoying things. I just have to feed them occasionally.

This is better.

But still.

I can’t help but remember how I felt in the dream.

I might have been a good mother.



Back to stirring

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Dear Readers (mostly Parental Units),

Yes, I'm fine.
I just couldn't get my act together to write a series of real post(s).

So you don't a) call my boss b) call my other bosses c) call the neighbors d) contact my friends or e) call the NYPD (as you have threatened to do before), here are some random entries dating back a ways to prove that I'm fine, my weird observational humor is still intact, and that I am traveling/functioning/documenting on other forums other than this one.

In no particular order,

Drew might appreciate this concert poster. Killer Stegadons playing the trombone? The brass players at the Big J are a bit crazy. I think they blew too hard and ruptured some brain cells. This was just 1 of a series of concert posters for this particular musician.
In a fit of spring cleaning/blog writing procrastination, I've been going through the buckets and buckets of stuff in my Attic. Look who I found! My hand-made, vintage, childhood dollies. *Sniff* Proving once again, even though you thought you didn't need your childhood friends, your mother knew better and saved them for you.
I've been thinking about the CT house lately. (STILL ON THE MARKET, almost 2 years later. *Sigh* Send a prayer up for the market to swing upwards soon.) Some of the gang are cleaning up/out their houses and showing off the "decor" of their kitchens. I think I have the oddness beat -- Nothing tops 1950s vintage plastic turquoise tiles that only come up half the walls, topped by rockin' stripped mustard/orange/puce floral wallpaper. Good times. I enjoyed the latest incarnation, the reno Grumpa assisted with sometime in the last 10 years, but my formative year? Were spent looking at this -- on a much larger scale. [What? YOU don't have a tile and wallpaper sample from your childhood home framed for posterity? What's wrong with YOU!?]
I did manage to go exploring and enjoying time with friends. On Easter Eve, I had a delicious series of appetizers in the Bronx's "little Italy" Arthur Avenue with Christine. We did notice, however, that apparently you can only celebrate one religious holiday at a time on Arthur Avenue.
Christine and I also have spent time stress-eating/venting at other restaurants over the last month or so. In March, after, oh, 20 years or so of being a New Yorker, and over 5-7 of those years, heading in and out of Grand Central twice a day, I finally ate at the Oyster Bar. Here's the thing: The restaurant at the Oyster Bar is super $$$, but I had the best sea bass I've ever had. If I go again? We're eating at the bar/counter, where things are more in my price range. If I divide the cost of dinner by 20 years? Pennies on the dollar, but still.
What else?

Oh yes. My Internet/cable/wifi were down for a whole 30 hours - driving me crazy and forcing me out of the house. Sometimes when your technology doesn't work/keep you locked to a screen, you have go out and smell the flowers/blossoms. So I escaped to the New York Botanical Garden.
I've been working late a lot lately, so sometimes I get a ride home from my pal Cynthia. On our walk to the parking garage/street, we pass a bunch of day care centers that have their own version of social media "walls." Here are some humorous updates. (I want to be a kid again!)
Music AND art classes. AND playground time? Am I too old to enroll in this school? I wonder if there is nap time?
Another option: maybe if there was "juice time," my "self portrait" wouldn't be the title of their Book of the Day.
One particular morning, NOTHING went right with the subway portion of my travels, and I had to hoof it from stops that were nowhere near my normal. I was rushing, but I did happen to catch this shadow out of the corner of my eye. Cast by the eastern sunlight across one of the many new sculptural installations by the artist Woytuk on Broadway, it is supposed to be a normal sized bird perched on some apple -- with the shadow, it looked like a raven to me.

Spotted once upon a commute so ghastly.
Shadows of a sculpture Woytuk-ly.
Quoth the Raven Nevermore and nothing more
Let's see. What else has been happening? The semester is rushing by. Check it out: Apparently, even our work-study student is a little punchy - a wreck, you might say. I came back from some errand or another and discovered thatthe fund-raising ship had sailed. She adorned my computer, and
my desk was adorned with origami. Instead of shredding or filing the papers, she left these for me.
Maybe she was trying to tell me something? I usually am thinking this about MY boss.

Even though the winter wasn't cold, didn't have too snow, and generally wasn't much to complain about, the unrelenting greyness -- grey skies, concrete, asphalt, subway grime, travertine -- started to get to me. One day, though, a burst of color gleamed through the dim of Grand Central. Japan Week celebrations in Vanderbilt Hall brought cherry blossoms, kimono silks, and red lanterns to break up with the winter gloom.
You see all kinds of things on the commute.

You probably can't tell from this grainy, much zoomed, edited, and cropped iTouch photo, but this type of randomness happens a lot on the trains. You get absorbed in your book, 'nook, i-thingy, you look up, glance to yourself and go "huh": That Sudoko player is totally not paying attention to the stressed out bride-to-be next to him who just picked up her bridal bouquet of calla lilies and is clenching them for dear life. Maybe he's afraid to look at her, for fear she'll freak out. That, or this is the worst commute to a funeral EVER. The lilies were pretty, but I like lilies of the valley. Callas just make me miss Katherine Hepburn.
Check this little one out. Traveling to NYC via the train is fascinating at any age, especially if you have your best friend to snuggle.
Just ask my fellow Big J commuter friend Jess. Commuting is hard. Stuffed animals help. Hey. Whatever gets you through the daily grind.

Finally. I'm popping multivitamins, aspirin, and Vitamin D like candy these days -- just to stave off the stress. I'm also popping Vitamin C. I prefer to get my vitamins from actual fruit (stop laughing people). However, I'm not sure I want to take any of these floozies home.
How's that for a random set of updates?

More soon. When I don't have writers block.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Photo of the Day: Tied Up

New York Botanical Garden, Back in the Forest

I'm at the end of my rope. I'm all twisted up.
I've got a bit of the writers-block/too-many-other-things-to-do.
Plus, still exhausted from not enough sleep from cookie baking marathon...

Posts eventually.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Recipes from Aunt Flora -- JTR's Peanut Butter Cookies

I'd first like to go on record that I HATE it when tech platforms change and don't give you enough instructions into what those updates/improvements will mean in practical terms.

I thought I was doing pretty well learning how to play in .html codes in the old version of Blogger so that I could get rid of extraneous spacing, coding, and lay photos in as a nice block.

Unfortunately, while the new version of Blogger will let me import more photos at a time, and determine more sizes, it is severely limiting on where you can place photos. You can only center/left/right justify one photo at a time. Even playing in the .html codes didn't resolve my issues.

Thus, the only way I could get all these photos in one post is to strip them down the side .. for now.

Plus, look at the time stamp [1:08 a.m.]. That's the real time. Instead of posting for upload at 9:00 a.m., I am still awake, baking, and blogging in the wee small hours of the morning.

I started this process HOURS ago--like on a whole different day--both the recipe making, the cooking, and then trying to upload and process this.

I am annoyed.

I am tired.

I should have just not gotten this done on time.

I have sent off a snippy feedback entry.

And now ....

The real portion of this post!

I needed a recipe to satisfy both my guilt for not feeding the IT boys last week and my guilt for subjecting my MailRoom Guy to the unfortunate social issues of my Wonder Intern. MailRoom Guy requested peanut butter cookies, and I owe him a lot. The IT boys like crunchy. The family recipe book had an untested recipe for peanut butter cookies - unlike any other that I had tried previously. Thank goodness for Aunt Flora's family cookbook. Two departments. One recipe.

I made a bunch of missteps with this though. I didn't start making the dough until 7:00 p.m. Then I doubled the batch. As you'll see the photos that just happened to lay in next to this text, I misjudged the volume of dough and the size of the container. (Physics wasn't my strongest subject in high school.) I had to swap out bowls once I figured out I had 5 cups of flour going on. Then I realized how long I would be baking ... 6 cookies per sheet. 12-15 minutes each .... So late. So many cookies. So tired ...

All of this struggle is still not enough to say thank you to the MailRoom Guy. The Wonder Intern was/is ... um ...


He is a wonder, alright.

As my other granny would say.

JTR aka Janean's Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup margarine (I used butter, 2 sticks)
1 cup sugar, white
1 cup sugar, brown
1 egg
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 1/2 cup flour

Blend margarine and sugars.
Beat in egg, water, and peanut butter.
Combine dry ingredients and stir them into margarine mixture.
Roll in balls and roll in sugar.*
Press with fork on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

* Usually peanut butter cookie recipes call for chilling prior to the rolling-phase. This one doesn't.

Since I used SO MUCH BUTTER the dough was warm and I just didn't see the point of getting greasy. I knew I wasn't going to be rolling it in refined sugar either. Instead I used my handy cookie scooper. I plopped the dough down on the parchment paper, pressed them down with the fork tines, and then sprinkled with a combination of demerara sugar and crystallized sugar to up the crunch factor.

I have lost count of how many cookies I've eaten (not really, only 3).

It's over 9 dozen cookies and counting.

I'm sure my neighbors will be happy when the kitchen timer stops going off, I stop tromping across my floor to my bureau/cooling racks, and I finally go to bed.

Me. too.

Wait. There's the ding for the last batch. Glory Hallelujah. Now I have to figure out how to get 9 dozen cookies in containers and to work. .... Later, MUCH LATER, today.

Response to comments: It's not the size of the pan holding me back from making more than 6 cookies at a time. It's the depth and quality of the oven. It's not calibrated right, but after almost 6 years, we've come to a sensory understanding of each other. I can tell by smell and then by a quick look. Also, it's not as deep or wide as a regular house oven. I have exactly one cookie sheet that will fit in there. My other ones won't fit in one way, and the the "normal" way, kicks the door open and then things NEVER finish.


One day we'll do a tour of the kitchenette. It's not even a "kitchen" per se according to you or me, or the housing authority. It's the type of kitchen that makes me mock all the people on House Hunters (the US version). Excuse me: Granite countertops, 2 fridges, a US style fridge, an ice machine, garbage disposal, dish washer, grilling devices, 6 burners? WTH. GET OVER YOURSELVES! Do you have a counter top? Do you have a full fridge? Can you shut your oven door with a normal cookie sheet in it? That, a knife, a pot, a pan, and a cutting board, and a burner ... that's all you really need.

Those European houses where there is a coil, a fridge under the counter, and a hole in the ground? They would LOVE my kitchenette!