Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's a GIRL!!!

I guess I can't proclaim myself an expert on raising girls since I only have the one, but I was one myself, so I think I can take a little from that experience and the fact that I came out alive on this end of 18 and say that I'm at least semi-pro. My first-born and only female child has been on the other side of the country (might have just as well been the universe) for almost 13 years, so when she and my 10 year old grandson moved back to Oregon in September, I was tickled pink. And they are living IN OUR HOUSE....I think that's fitting, at least for now since she has deprived me of her company and my grandson for this long. I will never tire of being a grammaand wish that I had more than one to spoil, side with against his mom, and teach him bad words (it was an ACCIDENT).

We have similarities, she and I; I don't think either one of us leaps into friendship easily, probably in part because of a couple hard hits in childhood, but when someone does crack our hard candy shell, you can pretty much be sure that they'll be front and center at our funeral, crying and laughing harder than anyone else in the room. We have the same snarky sense of humor, and we are both extremely common-sensical - we both like things the way we like them, and God help anyone who gets in the way of that.

On the other hand, my lovely daughter has FAR more patience that I ever did or will have with her child, she is FAR more independent and fearless than me (Holy hand-grenades, Batman - she joined the ARMY), and I think she has a much more creative soul than I do. Sure I like to cook, but because of a LOT of food experience/exposure, I think I know what will work and what won't, but it's really stolen from others. I can pull a rabbit out of my hat, with a sweet cherry andSyrah reduction, roasted garlic, fried sage and Asiago mashed Yukon Golds and butter browned julienned Brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts, but most of the time someone else put it in there. I don't think either one of us knows what we want to be when we grow up, but have vague thoughts that it should involve writing, and/or comedy...and for me cooking for sure. I think it's about time the Food Network acquired a stand-up chef with excellent spelling skills.

She has been gone a looooong time - an average once a year visit from one end or the other and 13 years flew by. She was already so grown up (from 6th grade on), but she matured in that time, found love, a new home, new interests, and even became a mother, all without us there. And never seemed to be scared or worried about anything - she is either the greatest actress of all time, or she really IS that independent....and having a partner who leaves for year at a shot over and over pretty much cements that notion. But family is family, and I think she realized just like I did when she left that she was missing out - you can email, call, even visit from time to time all you want, but it ain't the same as BEING THERE. And in my opinion life is too short to throw that away unless you have a REALLY good reason. And what that would be I have NO idea.

It's different having a kid in the house, adding two more bodies to a one-bathroom home, and doubling the female hormone level...tread lightly, you who leave the seat up, your comeuppance has just doubled. I know that we can't always agree, that there will be bickering and petty annoyances for us all from time to time, but it matters not. On the walls of every cubicle I have had in the last 12 years, I have two midnight blue post it notes I laminated and neatly trimmed with Velcro on the back so they'll stick to fabric walls. Written with a metallic pen and covered with stars and hearts, one says "Queen of the Universe", and the other "I *heart* you Mom, Becky". I see them 5 days a week, all day, every day, I remember exactly where I was and what she looked like when she made them, and they are constant reminders of just how much I missed her.

(Author's note: I started this blog before she arrived, and it was here I had to go find Kleenex) When she was in boot camp, she sent home letters detailing her experiences, and I put them in a binder and read them once in while. She was really homesick at first - I didn't expect that, so it was really hard to read about it. One night she was on a bus with a bunch of other prospective girl soldiers, waiting to go off to the next destination, and she wrote that she started to cry when the girl next to her (who she was sure thought she was crazy) started biting her fingernails and spitting them on the seat in front of her just like I do. It was the closest I came to getting on a plane and flying to that base and telling them it was all a mistake, she wasn't supposed to be there and had to come home with me NOW. I still can't read that without having an allergy attack.

I was told early on I could NOT send goodies from home during basic, and to please not send her anything but letters because you had to do push ups even for those, and they were really mean if someone got a package. I think she moved on to her language training before I was allowed to send anything, and the first was a big box of cookies....her favorite included. I think I cut the recipe out of the paper, but never tried them because they seemed kind of "meh", but she did on a whim and they were wonderful - light, slightly crispy, and so delicately flavored with coconut and vanilla. Some things are happy accidents (well, unless they involve Angry Birds and a potty-mouth gramma...) - maybe you can put these in your Christmas cookie rotation this year, just call em snowflakes and dream of your world being covered in them when you wake up tomorrow....

Becky's Coconut Crisps

1 C. butter, softened (2 cubes)
1 C. sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
2 C. flour
1/2 baking soda
1/2 salt
2 C. flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl, beat butter a little, then add 1 C. sugar and beat until fluffy; add egg and extracts and beat until well combined. Add baking soda and salt and mix, then add flour and beat until combined, add coconut and mix well.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, drop by heaping tablespoon onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet. I always scoffed at recipes that used parchment paper as "foofy", but after using it found that it really does make a difference, and you don't have aluminum flecks on the bottoms from scraping them off the pan if they tend to stick. Just sayin. Sprinkle tops with sugar (you can use big or regular sugar....I kind of like regular for more of a "sandy" result), then use a flat-bottom glass dipped in sugar to slightly flatten each one. Bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes, not allowing them to brown. Remove to rack to cool, makes about 40 cookies.

And just for the record, I don't think these shipped terribly well....I recently read that you should ship cookies in a tin with bubble wrap between each layer and it made me laugh....those cookies were enjoyed just as much in powder form as they would have been intact, which would be true of anyone who missed a taste of home! I think they would also be delicious if you melted some dark chocolate in a Ziploc, then cut off the tip and drizzled the tops, but then I think that about EVERYTHING - except liver.

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