Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To No Thing

I am stingy in forever
but I apologize well, sincerely
with nothing to show but slippered-feet and clean sheets
If I knew that this is all there ever was
What comfort!
A lesson cannot be talked
We can say to a child the oven is hot
we only know when we get burned

I will say it is raining when actually it sprinkles
I will say it is false when it truly is true
I will say the ornaments are a waste when, really, they are a joy
I will say I am blinded when I have seen
This all depends on my side of the road
When I visit the other, then maybe I will know
the gravel from the dirt
the smog from the clouds
appreciate a sunset for all it’s literary filth
and know that I can never, ever have seen
then I can open my mouth to the rain, my hands to your palm, my eyes to no thing

by Cristina Paul

Monday, December 15, 2008

Coffee Mint Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen cookies


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons shortening
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon coffee liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon mint extract (peppermint is the preferred)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


3 tablespoons softened butter
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
pinch of salt
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of whipping cream

1. For the cookies: Adjust oven racks to upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, instant espresso, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup sugar, and beat on medium low speed for one minute. On medium low speed, beat in egg, coffee liqueur, vanilla, and peppermint extract until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally.
3. Beat in the flour mixture, scraping sides of bowl to insure all of the flour is incorporated into the dough.
4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets with parchment paper.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookies are puffy. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.
6. Dot each cookie with Coffee Mint Frosting.
7. For the frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, coffee liqueur, peppermint extract, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until combined. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in whipping cream to make a frosting of spreading consistency. You may wish to use a pastry bag with a decorative tip to pipe the frosting onto the cookies.
To Store: Layer unfrosted cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Refrigerate frosting and frost before serving. The frosting will quickly soften up to spread easily if you use a pastry bag.

** Coffee farming used to be done under the shade of trees, which provided a habitat for animals and insects. This method is called the traditional shaded method. Many farmers have modernized their production methods and switched to a sun cultivation method in which coffee is grown in rows under full sun with little or no forest canopy. This causes coffee berries to ripen more quickly and bushes to produce higher yields. However, trees must be cleared and fertilizer as well as pesticides are increased when using this method. Alternatively, traditional coffee production caused berries to ripen more slowly and produced lower yields of higher quality coffee.
* Coffee production also uses tons of water - over 100 liters to grow the coffee beans needed to produce one cup of coffee. Moreover, the coffee is often grown in countries with extreme water shortages, like Ethiopia. So I guess the moral of this story is: drink these coffee cookies with a cup of tea.

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

I do love the word loo. And while in the loo, sometimes I contemplate all the other words and idiomatic phrases I fancy. Today, I began a short list:

*put the kabosh on (coming from the Gaelic phrase cie báis meaning “cap of death”. The word báis is apparently pronounced “bawsh” and cie is presumably pronounced with a hard initial consonant, rather like “kai”. Alternately, Webster’s Dictionary attributes its existence to Middle High German kiebe, meaning “carrion”. Others argue it comes from the Yiddish word Kabas or Kabbasten, “to suppress”)

*videlicet (pointless AND weird word)

*won't cut mustard (alludes to the difficulty of cutting mustard in its various forms; for example: mustard seed, the plant, and, of course, French's)

*jerkwater (we the existence of this word to the invention of the steam engine — However, the boilers of early locomotives needed to be refilled with water ALL the damned time, and water tanks were few and far between. Thus, small trains that ran on rural lines often had to stop to take on water from local supplies. These trains were commonly called “jerkwaters” from the jerking of water up into buckets from the supply to the engine. The derogatory use of “jerkwater” for all things trivial reflects the fact that these jerkwater trains ran on lines connecting podunk towns (BTW podunk is of Algonquin origin)

*bellyaching (it's just a good and underused word. Plus, bellyaching can be very cathartic around the holidays while eating mass quantities of heartburn-inducing foods with the people you love most - even if they are mouth-breathers, close-talkers, or far too chipper sweater/pancho-wearing fools)

That's as far as I got with my etymological dorkdom... To be continued