Tuesday, November 28, 2006

experiments in kids and cookies

Yesterday on the drive back from work to school, Brian and I had a constructive, useful discussion about Duckie’s behavior and what we could do about it. We put some corrective and preventive actions into place last night and this morning. They seem to have helped. We both agreed that we had been pretty lax about the routine, especially in terms of the tooth-brushing. Neither of us wanted to deal with Duckie’s recalcitrance and there’s no question but that she understood that and used it effectively.

But as B said during our conversation yesterday, Duckie’s not doing it to be mean or manipulative in the sense that an adult would. She’s trying to figure out the rules – what she can get away with, what works and what doesn’t. So as parents it’s critical for us to be consistent – consistent with each other’s behavior and with our own.

It seems like harder work now to re-establish a strict routine. Last night I thought, Hey, we can do this whole thing in like 45 minutes. Then we can shave it down from there.

I stumbled out of her bedroom an hour and a half later. I think we did time-out five times. But now, time-out isn’t just being sent to her room – now it’s chilling out on her knees by the side of her bed, forehead on her hands. Which seems really submissive (and it is) but it’s also really soothing and boring. Like a kneeling child’s pose, is what I thought last night. (We tried it together a couple of times.)

Eventually she started to get the picture. It was exhausting. And worth every second.


When I was in college I shared an apartment with one of my good friends E, who has a blog but hasn’t updated in a while due to a challenging new job that hogs all her time. (It happens that Kiki, a frequent commenter, lived across the street at this time, so she might remember some of this.)

We smoked a lot of pot. We got the munchies. We became perforce bakers extraordinaire. It was during this time that we experimented with chocolate cake and raspberries, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-orange crepes, you name it, we made it. In exchange, the two guys next door (who can’t be officially married in this benighted country) fed us slightly healthier fare, like, you know, dinner and stuff. It was a good barter system.

E had an old copy of Joy of Cooking. It was from ’75 or thereabouts, and bound like a notebook with a plastic spine. I’m amazed it lasted as long as it did. By the time it finally merged with the One (which means I can’t find it anymore), it was splattered with jam and chocolate, sticky with brown sugar, spotted with butter, and stamped with the black circles of a hot stove burner on the back cover.

That version of JOC had a recipe called “Rich Roll Cookies.” This is not the same recipe that is under the same name in my version (1997.)* It was disappointing to realize that the writers and editors could freely reinterpret old trusted recipes, call them by the same names, and not give a modicum of warning in recipe’s introduction. You know, something like Hey, we’re really sorry we’ve discarded your favorite recipe in the book, but here’s another one by the same name. If you expect it to act the same as the other ones, you’re shit outta luck. Have fun. They did the same thing with the chocolate chip cookie recipe.

For weeks, I’ve been trying to find the old journal where I wrote down the original recipe, to no avail.

Last night I threw caution to the wind and tried to reinvent the old one, based on the new one, and adding a few enhancements just to play around. (This was appropriate only because Brian was working crosswords at the time and was perfectly happy for me to putter about in the kitchen for an hour or so.)

And you know what? It worked like a charm. Good thing, too, because the double recipe used a pound of butter, and I would have hated to waste it. I baked two cookies, just to see what they would do in the oven, and was immeasurably pleased with the results. B will be, too – they were a favorite of hers in college and I haven’t baked them in a long while.

It sounds silly, I know, but it was a big triumph for me. I’ve been disappointed with the old recipe for the last three years, and it’s only been this year that I’ve felt confident enough to experiment. Having this cookie back is like meeting an old friend you thought you’d never see again. It’s reaching into my own memories of those days, bringing the best of them to the here and now. Plus I get to feed them to my daughter, and a lot of the people I’ve met since then.

Another experiment tonight, pertaining to pumpkins. Duckie will be assisting. I’m not sure whether I should get her an apron or a lab coat for Christmas – either one would be pretty cute.

I’ll report tomorrow.

*I haven't looked at the new JOC. Just not terribly interested. The internet - specifically, allrecipes, has such a wealth of information that it hardly seems worth buying another cookbook that hasn't gotten great reviews anyway.

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