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Friday
Oct122012

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Waffles

Waffles and pancakes have the power to heal. There is something about the thick batter and maple syrup that breathes life into bent shoulders and cures the woes of the soul. This past week has not been the best of weeks for me. There have been books, a career-defining exam, and a homemade stack of flashcards ever growing in height. There has been a car accident, a sore neck, and bent metal (but thankfully no real injuries). There have been insurance companies, a battered ego, and frustration trying to find new forms of transportation.

When the world hands me trouble and strife, I make waffles.

Pumpkin Waffles Pumpkin Waffles

I wish I could say I always handle myself with grace under pressure and kindness under stress, but it isn't always the case. I often become selfish and inconsiderate during these moments, putting my own problems and worried emotions above others. In a way, it's a form of self-preservation; a coping mechanism to hold myself together enough to make it through a taxing afternoon. Even so, it doesn't excuse my behavior.

I want to apologize to my boyfriend for yelling at him when he was only trying to help me study for my exam (I was just frustrated with myself, not you). I'm sorry I haven't been very pleasant this past week.

Pumpkin Waffles

Last Sunday I set aside time to make waffles—a brunch for two was on the menu. I needed a little comfort food to cure the aches of my week, fall spices to bring warmth back into my disposition, and pumpkin to remind me of the changing leaves outside my window. Even though waffles will never truly solve our problems, they can help us find a new perspective with which to approach them.

Waffles and pancakes have the power to heal. They just need to be given the chance.

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Waffles have a bright flavor and a seasonal draw. The waffle batter is thick, with plenty of cinnamon and spice to keep the flavors warm. When the waffles cook up, the inside sets almost like a pumpkin pie, while the outside stays crisp. The waffles may need to cook a little longer to achieve this texture, but a few extra minutes on the clock are worth the final product. These waffles are a lovely addition to an autumn brunch.

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Sunday
Oct072012

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Every so often, I crave a warm cookie fresh from the oven. Crisp edges and a soft center can take me away to a special place I like to call cookie heaven. I love the simplicity of a cookie; it may not be as beautiful as a tiered cake or as fancy as a crème brûlée, but it doesn't have to be to leave an impression. Cookies are the everyday dessert—for afternoon snacks and evening treats.

It's hard to beat the simplicity of a good cookie.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

As I was growing up, my mother had a rule that my sister and I were never allowed more than two cookies in one sitting. The size of the cookie never mattered—two was the limit. Even though the rule was a simple one, with our best interests at heart, it quickly turned into a rule my sister and I heeded with a religious fervor. For the most part, the rule was easy to follow; easy, that is, until a box of Oreos was placed in front of me.

It is very difficult to eat only two Oreos in one sitting.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Yet, the rule was followed faithfully for years. Even when I wasn't in the house, the rule was so ingrained within me I didn't dare break it. It wasn't until my teenage years that I took my first rebellious step against the cookie regulation. After school, with a house to myself, I ate four Oreos for an afternoon snack. Once the last bite was taken, I immediately felt guilty. Though no one had seen the crime, I was certain my mother would somehow find out about it. I drank a glass of milk to wash out the evidence between my teeth. I rearranged the Oreos left in the bag to try to cover up the scandal. So great was my guilt that I didn't eat a single cookie after dinner that evening.

Looking back, the fact that my rebellious stage involved eating too many cookies in one sitting seems fitting. Even if my mother had found out about my minor rule-breaking at the time, I can't imagine she would have done anything but laugh at me. In fact, since I've kept my cookie secret until now, I can only imagine she's doing the same, shaking her head at the lengths I went to hide my cookie shame.

For the record, I now eat three Oreos in one sitting. I make my own rules now.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies are the ideal accompaniment to a glass of cold milk. Both the chocolate and peanut butter are in balanced proportion, with neither flavor trespassing over the other. The cookies bake up crisp on the outside, but soft in the center. I love to eat these warm, when the peanut butter is gooey and the chocolate is runny, but they are equally delicious after resting for a few hours (or days).

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Thursday
Oct042012

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

Chai Spice Rice Pudding

As young children, misconceptions run rampant in our lives, laughable to the adults entrusted with our care. As we grow older, however, the misconceptions become less endearing and more worthy of an eyebrow raise. These misunderstandings are tricky, slipping under the radar, lying low for years until an offhanded comment is made and the truth is suddenly revealed.

I used to believe that when someone "ran for president," they physically had to run a race. I can still picture it in my mind. Dressed up in fancy suits and ties, the candidates would race across the White House lawn towards a finish line strewn with red, white, and blue streamers. The track would be lined with important officials, cheering for the candidate they wanted to win with posters and loud whistles. The rules were simple—the first to cross the line would become the new president.

My poor third grade teacher had to sort that one out.

Chai Spice Rice Pudding Chai Spice Rice Pudding

When I was fourteen years old, I brought up at dinner one evening that I did not understand why the Disney logo was spelled with a backwards capital G instead of a D. My mother stared at me in disbelief, letting her fork full of food hover over her plate. A long discussion followed, but it wasn't until she traced out the D in the logo on the television screen that I understood I was in the wrong. Logically, it made sense that Disney would begin with a D instead of a backwards G, but I had never questioned it until that moment, however disconcerting that fact may be.

(For the record, I still struggle to see that elusive D to this day.)

Chai Spice Rice Pudding

I also used to believe that gray hair grew in all at once. After reaching a certain age, I imagined a person simply woke up one morning and could only grow gray hair. The original hair color would still exist, but new growth would leave hair two-toned—gray on top, color on the bottom. I surmised this is why most older women had short hair; who would want to wait for that gray hair to grow all the way out? It turns out I had just witnessed several women with overdue dye jobs and drew conclusions too quickly.

My mother had the privilege of enlightening me on that one too.

So how does all of this relate to chai spiced pudding? While standing in the spice aisle hunting for a little container labeled chai, it seemed strange to me that I couldn't seem to find it in any of the three stores I had visited throughout the week. I had assumed that chai was a spice all its own, perhaps coming from a tree, like cinnamon. It wasn't until I sat down in front of the computer that the internet softly informed me chai was, in fact, a lovely mixture of several Indian spices.

After twenty-four years of life, I would think that most of these misconceptions would have sorted themselves out by now, but they still pop up when I least expect it.

What are your biggest misconceptions?

Chai Spice Rice Pudding

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding is just as it sounds—creamy rice pudding spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves. A pinch of black pepper is added to give the pudding a little spice, which defines this pudding with a unique signature. I used (and recommend) Arborio rice for this pudding because it retains its texture well. While rice pudding can be served warm or chilled, I find the soft warmth of the pudding and spices fill out a chilly fall evening quite well.

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