Lavender Lemon Cookies and a Literacy Narrative

“Narrative provides a way to speak things otherwise unspeakable, to give voice to that which would otherwise go unheard” –Lynn Briggs and Meg Woolbright

Lavender Lemon Cookies

Writing for Identity

A literacy narrative I wrote for class and felt was significant enough to share.

Lavender Lemon Cookies

I’m six and a quarter years old. My favorite color is purple and I want to be mommy and daddy’s perfect little girl. I cry when I don’t draw the picture exactly how I want it to be. I rip it up and throw it. But it’s okay, because I can go swing in my backyard – Up, down, up down; kicking in, out, in out; soaring through the air, closing my eyes. I am anything I want to be. It’s quiet, I’m alone, and everything is perfect.

Dude, I’m nine. I want to be a sport star, but I’m terrible at hand-eye coordination, and I think I’m disappointing the soccer coach who happens to be my dad. But, I can get good grades – that comes easy to me. Quietly listening in class, I wish to be the bubbly girl next to me who the other students flock to, the girl who always has something to say.

I am the same age as my sister; well, at least for this month until she turns thirteen. I want to be her. She’s only eleven months older than me, so why does she get to be so much cooler? It’s stupid and not fair.  She can play soccer, sing in musicals, and make so many friends. My teacher’s tell me I’m smart, but I just want to be accepted by the twenty-seven people my age that I know.

I’m like fifteen. I want to be pretty. My best friend knows how to fix her blonde hair and make up her face. She has a boyfriend. I want to make people laugh the way she does. I wish I could just quit being so damn shy, why don’t I know what to say?

I’m finally eighteen. I want to be an artist. I want to be the stereotypical art student – the one who does the unexpected, dresses in awesome but unintentional style with beanies and wisps of hair every which way (yet, still looking put together), makes crazy unexpected artworks, and goes to art galleries to chat about avant-garde art with other artists. I change my style accordingly.

Now, my age doesn’t really matter. I don’t want. I am. I don’t need to have some alter ego to compete with the real me. I have an identity. The reality of my entire life has been, and is, the shy girl. I participate in conversation most often by sitting back and listening, contributing through nods, slight smiles, and soft chuckles. I’m conservative and modest; traditional.

Lavender Lemon Cookies

I didn’t realize this until I created a blog. In a class I was taking, Creative Strategies, one of the major projects of the semester was to create a new self – an alter ego, or our “better half”. The assignment was rather vague and obscure with no right or wrong answer. It wasn’t necessarily supposed to be an alter ego, but someone we would be, without any limitations, if we could. Our future self, perhaps. Most of the project was up to us, if we wanted a new name, a new direction, anything. However, we did have to create a profile on a social network to display our new self and provide an artist’s statement, so I chose to create a blog for my character.

Creating this person was hard for me, even though my entire life I had been creating ideal personalities for myself in my imagination. I wanted her to be perfect, to be the artist I desired to be but wasn’t. I began to create a character that portrayed the “artist” I had been trying to emanate.  The more I worked through all the parts of the assignment though; I began to realize the only person I truly wanted to be was myself. That meant combining the conservative and shy “me” that I had tried to hide with the conflicting artist “me.” I worked through the rest of the project, and finally when the presentation came, I used words on the blog to explain that “I did not know the answer” to the assignment. This was extreme for me, because I had always been the student who gave my teachers what they wanted, because I was supposed to, and this answer to my professor’s assignment was definitely not what she wanted. But through my voice on the blog, I could explain, simply put, that I didn’t quite know how to define the real me yet, that there was a battle between my identities going on in need of compromise, and whoever she turned into was who I wanted to be. I fulfilled all the requirements of the assignment, albeit unconventionally, and I still made it my own.

Lavender Lemon Cookies

This blog helped me define an identity for myself that intertwined each aspect of my character; I realized I didn’t need to choose just one thing to identify myself. I felt free to explore my identity. At the same time, I found that through written word I could define myself, explain myself, and have the voice I had so desperately been searching for in order to conquer my shy “self.” My shy speaking voice had somehow become bold – even loud – in written form, on my blog with an audience.

The concept of audience became very important to me. Throughout my development from child to adult, I was desperately seeking to be someone else because I thought I needed an audience. I wanted to be noticed and heard, and the only way I knew how to do that was to somehow get over my shyness so I wished to be someone else, someone less shy. With a blog though, the world was my audience. Anyone who typed in a few search terms could come across my blog and read the words I voiced. I suddenly had a place to put words that I couldn’t find a way to utter aloud, but could write. And these words were being read! This was exhilarating; I felt terrified but so excited at the same time. Here, I found that when my shyness creeps up and takes away the words I want to speak, I could voice them through writing. Blogging was the perfect way to develop this voice because I could write it, formulate my words, be confident, and know that I had an audience.

Lavender Lemon Cookies

This blog was a new step in defining myself, and led to my current blog here, Arts and Tarts, which has become a place where I can and will continue to tell stories, share my baking experiences and recipes, and explore my photography. It’s a place where I can be the different aspects of my identity all at once, where I can mesh the shy with the unconventional, where my conflicting “selfs” can coincide. Because of this, it’s a place where I can completely be and voice myself.

Blogging has given me a voice. It’s an outlet to explore my identity, and continue the journey of defining who I am. Each blog post I write adds a new ingredient or instruction to the recipe that makes me, me.

And here is the newest ingredient,

Lavender Lemon Cookies

Lavender Lemon Cookies

Lavender Sugar Cookie:

1 cup sugar

4 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

½ cup sour cream

½ cup oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ – 1 Tablespoon dried lavender buds*

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Cream butter and sugars together, add eggs and beat. Add sour cream, oil, and vanilla until combined. Slowly mix in flour, until all combined. Add in lavender buds. Chill dough at least an hour, then use a rolling pin to roll dough out to ¼ inch thick. Cut with cookies cutters. (I cut small 2 inch diameter circles, resulting in a billion tiny cookies). Bake at 350 degrees F for 6-9 minutes, or until just barely browned on edges and top is not longer shiny.  Cool on wire racks.

*Amount of buds depends on preferred taste. Be cautious though, as too much may taste soapy

Lemon Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 Tablespoons water

Zest of lemon

Whisk all together. For stronger lemon flavor, replace water with more lemon juice. When cookies have cooled, drizzle or pour over tops and let set out for glaze to dry. Store in airtight container.

 

Always with love,

B

Peanut Butter (Chocolate Chip) Cookies (Gluten Free!)

The simplest cookies ever.

Peanut Butter Cookie from Arts and Tarts

Because sometimes life gets very hectic.

Peanut Butter Cookie from Arts and Tarts

And baking is a good de-stresser.

Peanut Butter Cookie from Arts and Tarts

Oh, and the result – You get to eat the delicious cookies. That helps with the stressful days of life too.

Peanut Butter Cookie from Arts and Tarts

And again, we’ll pretend these are healthy. Because you’re going to eat them all very fast (which is also why I recommend you make a double batch, you know, so you can share).

Peanut Butter Cookie from Arts and Tarts

Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free)

1 cup peanut butter

¾ cup brown sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients. Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart. Fork ‘em in a crisscross fashion for aesthetics. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Variation – add a ton of mini chocolate chips. Skip the forking; the chips are pleasing enough.

Also, you may as well double the recipe, you’re going to need a few extra.

 

A short and sweet recipe for any day of the week:)

Love, B

Snickerdoodle and Peach Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

Summer is coming to an end, classes have started, and lots of peaches are ripening in our back yard. I wanted to take advantage of all the delicious peaches on hand, and at the same time use this weekend to fit in another super summery treat before the autumn weather kicks in, so I decided these ice cream sandwiches would fit the bill perfectly.

Sometimes I think pictures say much more than words, so I’m going to leave the storytelling for another time and simply share some photography. Enjoy!

And just one more . . .

Make these soon, share ’em with loved ones, and have a lovely summer’s end:)

Snickerdoodle and Fresh Peach Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

Note: This recipe makes enough for 9 sandwiches with frozen yogurt as thick as mine. You’ll have left over cookies. If you want more sandwiches and less leftover cookies, either double the frozen yogurt recipe or spread it thinner than 1 inch thick.

Peach Frozen Yogurt

1 ½ cups peaches, peeled and sliced

2/3 to 1 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want it

2 ½ cups Greek yogurt (I used unsweetened and unflavored)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Peel the peaches. You can simply use a knife to peel them, or you can blanch the peaches and the peels should come off easier. To do this, place the peaches in boiling water for 45 seconds, remove with a  slotted spoon, then immediately put them under ice cold water.

Using a fork or potato masher smash the peeled peaches with the sugar, leaving some peach chunks in the mixture. Add yogurt, lemon juice, and vanilla and stir until combined. Chill the mixture until very cold, then pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Note: Once it was soft serve consistency, I mixed in three crumbled cookies to add some fun texture and flavor!

When the frozen yogurt is the consistency of soft serve, spread it into a 1 inch thick layer in a pan lined with parchment paper. Freeze until hardened. This will allow you to cut it with a biscuit/cookie cutter to make round ice cream disks for between the cookies.

 Snickerdoodle Cookies

 

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

2 ¾ cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

 

For the Cinnamon Sugar:

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

 

With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar on high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Turn mixer to medium/low and mix in the eggs.

In a separate small bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together. Slowly add this mixture into the butter mixture and mix until combined.

Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. When dough is chilled, roll into one inch balls. Roll the cookie balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Chill again for about 15 minutes. (This step is very important so you don’t end up with a bunch of very flattened cookies). Bake at 300 degrees F for 12-14 minutes. Cool on rack.

Assembly: When the cookies are cooled and the ice cream is firm, use a round biscuit/cookie cutter to cut out disks of ice cream the size of the cookies. Sandwich the ice cream between two cookies. Let these sit out to get just slightly melty so the cookies and ice cream will stick together. Return to freezer to refreeze.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Love, B

Beginnings – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies

Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed being in the kitchen. My mom is the one who got me started, always letting me help in the kitchen when she was cooking. I would carefully stir, cautiously pour in ingredients that were magically pre-measured, taste test everything, and grin from ear to ear when someone said he liked the food, because I had stirred, poured, tested.

Recently, I came across my first ever cookbook. It was filled with recipes that any child could master on her own – as simple as “Perfect S’mores” and as quirky as “Squirrel Sandwiches.” I remember flipping through those pages often, finding my favorite recipes, coloring the black and white pictures, and using the provided stickers to “rate each recipe.”

As I flipped through the pages, I came across a section in the book with blank recipe cards – and the first recipe I have ever written. I called my creation “Treat Pizza” and even though it was nothing more than bread with a few sweet toppings, I pretended it was the best tasting thing ever. I’m sure my parents pretended so too.

Eventually I began to use more complicated recipes to bake cookies, brownies, and sweets of those sorts, but I always seemed to stick to the recipes. I wasn’t as imaginative as the girl I was a few years back, and I just wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. And that meant following every ingredient and every step exactly as the recipe called.

It wasn’t until these cookies that I began to experiment a bit. I wanted to make oatmeal cookies, but at the time I despised the little shriveled up raisins most oatmeal cookies have tucked inside. I thought they looked and tasted like poo. However, there was no way I was making plain oatmeal cookies, as that was just not perfect either. So instead, I did what I had to do, I added chocolate. And then I couldn’t stop, I had to add extra spices too, then make them bigger than the wimpy teaspoon size the recipe called for.

These cookies were a turning point for me and my approach to food. It was no longer all about exactness, but about putting my own flair into what I make. It’s about being myself in the kitchen, not mimicking Betty Crocker. It’s about trial and error, with lots of love and sharing in between.

I like to call this recipe Dad Cookies, because my dad is always the one to remind me to make these every once in awhile. They make the whole house smell inviting while they’re baking and come out with a perfectly imperfect look to them, just like cookies should. These oatmeal cookies are soft and chewy but crisp on the edges, with melty chocolate and a kick of cinnamon and nutmeg. They will call out your name, and then there’s no turning back.

Dad Cookies (Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies)

 

¾ cup butter

1 cup brown sugar, packed

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1 ¾ cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

1 t ground coffee

½ tsp salt

2 cups oats

1 cup chocolate chips

 

Optional Topping –

1 tsp sugar

2 Tbsn brown sugar

2 tsp butter

½ tsp cinnamon

 

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars on high until light and fluffy. Mix in egg. In another small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, coffee grounds, and salt. Gradually add this to the butter mixture, beating until thoroughly combined. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.

To make topping, combine sugars, butter, and cinnamon, working until all is incorporated.

Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Add a bit of the sugar topping to the tops and optionally the bottoms as well. Gently flatten the cookies a bit, then bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.