Since we had lots of grounded oatmeal left over from our oatcakes experiment, we made one of our cookie staples in this house: the $250 Neiman Marcus cookie. Yes, back when the Interwebs was a relatively new thing, and forwarding chain (e-)mail suddenly was quick and simple, everyone was chowing down on this urban legend.
I made the recipe below healthier by reducing the sugar to 3 cups (yes, it seems like a lot, but it makes 180 bite-size cookies!). I also secretly added 1/4 cup of my blend of ground-up chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp hearts. Omit the nuts, to make this school-safe.
For half of this batter, I added white chocolate chips and macadamia instead of regular chocolates, for our version of the popular Subway cookie. The copycat recipe is available, if you want it more authentic. (There was a time when I loved these cookies so much, that a student would buy one for me every day, just out of the goodness of his heart. I had to tell him to stop it after a couple of days, because I felt it was too generous. And a restaurant cookie a day probably isn’t the best thing.)
“$250 Neiman Marcus” Cookies (yield: approximately 180 x 1″ cookies) Pre-heat oven to 375° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon sheets.
2 c. butter
1) Cream together.
2 c. brown sugar
2 c. white sugar
2) Add to butter mixture and mix.
2 t. vanilla extract
5 c. oatmeal, ground
3) Sift, then add to butter mixture.
4 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
24 oz. (680 g.) chocolate chips
4) Add to batter.
(8 oz.) chocolate, grated
2 c. nuts, chopped (optional)
5) Scoop 1” balls and place 1” apart on cookie sheet.
6) Bake for 10 min.
The Girl wanted to sell things at a neighbourhood sale last week. Her offerings of handmade hairclips, cookie pops, and Lemonade-sicles were part of her fundraising efforts for the local humane society. The only minor problem was, she’s too nice of a salesperson.
Here’s the first sign of someone who’s too nice to be selling:
1) She doesn’t want to be successful for the wrong reasons.
The “wrong reasons” include customers buying her products/service because she’s “cute” or because she’s “just a kid”. As the Girl told us a few days before her sale, “I want people to buy from me because they like what I’m selling; I don’t want people to buy from me just because they know me, or because they think it’s so ‘cute’ what I’m doing. Just like on America’s Got Talent: I wish people would vote for a performer because they’re a great singer or dancer, not just because they’re such a cute kid.”
We tried to explain to her that as she goes through life, people will buy from her for any number of reasons—some of which she may not like. I think she was finally convinced that sometimes it’s okay to be raising money for the little kittens even when people don’t really need another cookie or hairclip.
A salesperson who wants her customers to be sold on her merit and the quality of the goods. Not a success in the traditional sense, but one anyway.
One of the joys of the Internet—besides the availability of photos of mischievous and/or deliciously-cute kittens—is the quick spread of easy recipes. I remember in university when it seemed that everyone had a copy of the urban-legend-status “Neiman Marcus $250 Cookie” (which is a good cookie, but doesn’t quite live up to its hype). All of a sudden, anyone could be a great baker.
Nowadays, it seems that the one doing the rounds is the 5-Minute Cake-in-a-Mug, aka “The Most Dangerous Cake in the World”—dangerous to your hips because now you’re always only five minutes away from having cake.
We got this recipe from a friend a while ago, and we have to keep the recipe hidden from a certain someone in the house who claims that he has no willpower, and would make this all the time. It’s so easy that kids can whip up cake for themselves in five minutes (or less, depending on how powerful your microwave oven is, and how hungry and frantic they are in throwing the ingredients together).
Wanna make the whole experience even faster? Pre-mix the dry ingredients and keep it ready in a container in the pantry, which is what we do for often-used homemade mixes like pancakes, waffles, and favourite cupcakes. Then all you have to do is add the wet ingredients, and voilà, you’re down to four-and-a-half minutes! Just make sure to keep your cookie mix hidden from spouses who have no willpower.
It’s one thing to keep up the façade about Dora the Explorer, but it’s much more meaningful when a child keeps the illusion of Santa alive for a younger sibling. This is a glimpse of the goings-on in our household concerning the jolly old man this past Christmas:
The Boy: Does Santa really exist?
The Girl (hesitating): Do you think he exists?
The Boy: I think so.
The Girl: Then I think he does, too.
Then on Christmas Eve, she reminded him to leave cookies (we didn’t have cookies, so we made do with lemon pound cake) and milk out for Santa, and a carrot for the reindeer, and write a quick note. And when he fretted that Santa wouldn’t be able to come visit us because the friend’s house where we were staying was only equipped with a woodstove and not a chimney, big sis and our friend quickly came to the rescue: “Oh don’t worry: Santa knows to come through the window when there isn’t a chimney.”
The next morning, a letter appeared on the top of the wood stove, written in as neat cursive writing as a nine-year-old can manage:
Thank you for the cake and milk and carrot for my reindeer. You have been a very good boy this year. Hope you have fun skiing today!
And though I teased the Girl that maybe next year, Santa should block print his letter so that a five-year-old can read it more easily than cursive writing, of course, I was immensely touched; she had put in so much effort to keep the dream alive for at least a little while longer.
Sometimes the kids find beauty in the little things indoors, as well. Like in food, for instance.
We have a folder on my computer called “Interesting food pix”, and it’s all about the foods or dishes that the kids find beautiful. A potato shaped like a heart. A jar of Nutella opened with an imprint of a something flower-like on top. Yogourt and cereal stuck together and leaning in such a way that it looks like some sort of post-modern architectural wonder. That type of thing. Any time the kids (usually the Girl) find something “beautiful” or “cool” in their food, they demand that a digital memory be made of it.
One of the funniest things that they find beautiful is their cookie shape. Before kids, I didn’t know this, but like clouds, cookies can reveal beautiful images that seem slightly different to everyone. To the Boy, since he was about two and accidentally discovered it, cookies can be bitten into only two shapes. He has strived to make it so ever since, with every cookie: a bat, or underwear. Just picture it—with a few U-shaped bites, you too can have an underwear- or bat-shaped cookie.
But today, they discovered an entirely new, interesting shape in their gingerbread cookie. The Boy had started with a stegosaurus-shpaed cookie (from a cookie cutter), and was not working toward the usual underwear (his favourite), when he discovered something new, and exclaimed happily, “Look! It’s Papa’s face!” The Girl looked over and exclaimed, “Oh yeah, you’re right!” I was driving but was intrigued, so had to ask the Girl to take a picture of it for me to see later, before it disappeared. The conversation that followed was rather entertaining:
The Girl: I think it needs to be rounded.
The Boy: No! I like it like that!
The Girl: But I could help you. I could round it here. I’ll just nibble a little bit. It’ll look more like him.
The Boy: I think it looks just like him now.
Seeing something intriguing and beautiful in the simple things is an ability that most of us adults lose, but thankfully get to see again through the eyes of creative kids.
So, while our delightful trio was off to the beach this afternoon, I settled into the secondary vehicle to go and run some errands. It was last driven two days ago by the Beloved Husband. And ho there, what is that I see on the dashboard as I start up the engine?
A cookie. A single, delicious, tempting, lovingly-baked-by-myself, white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie. Who the heck puts a cookie on the dashboard?!?
Either it was an unintentionally forgotten there from a few days ago when they had packed a picnic lunch, or a deliberately cruel joke. Very, very cruel. But I didn’t crumble. I didn’t even sniff it. Maybe I am getting stronger, despite my ongoing sense of physical weakness.
Boy, when this experiment is over, I will be placing cookies all over the dashboard, and no one will be able to stop me.