Waiting Is Not Easy

Mo Willems has the perfect title for my life right now.

waitingI feel a lot like Gerald. In this book, as he continually exclaims waiting is too hard. I feel the same way, waiting for a baby to make her appearance.

Every day I wake up and think, maybe this is the day Clara will be born. Then as I go to bed at night, I sigh and think, maybe tomorrow will be the day.

Waiting is hard, especially when you are 1,500 miles away. I know that each day brings us one day closer to this birthday. I move through the motions of daily life in anticipation of a sudden departure. My refrigerator is not stocked. Food preparation is whatever we have on hand or in the pantry. My bag is packed, the gifts are collected and ready to be loaded in the car. All I need is a phone call.

I’m a bit worried that the weather will prevent us from leaving to meet this granddaughter. My husband has been watching the route we take, it doesn’t look like pleasant weather in a few days. So we wait, and wait, and wait a bit longer.

I agree with Gerald, waiting is HARD!

Not Just Another Christmas Cookie

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This comment (from my cousin) was in response to my post about my traditional Norwegian Christmas cookie post. I took this as a challenge, so I texted him asking for the recipe. A few days later, it arrived in the mail with an additional page of hints and clarifications to the recipe. As I read over the notes and recipe, I tried to visualize each step, it seemed complicated. I put it aside for a few weeks, planning to return to the challenge once I was finished working in schools.

Ingredients were gathered, I reread the recipe, made a quick call to my cousin to clarify a point, then I began. First I stirred up the almond paste filling. It seemed easy enough, I divided it into fourths, then rolled it into a log, wrapped it in Saran wrap to be refrigerated.

Almond aroma fills the air as I stir the filling.

Almond aroma fills the air as I stir the filling.

Pleased with how the filling went, I tackled the pastry portion. This seemed a bit trickier, there were only three ingredients: flour, butter, and ice water. How in the world were these three ingredients going to turn into a flaky pastry? I carefully cut the butter into the flour with the pastry cutter. Slowly I added the ice water, stirring until it became a dough ball. I divided the ball into two portions, wrapped them up, and refrigerated them for several hours.

Once the dough was thoroughly chilled, I rolled it out on my counter (I sprinkled a little cornstarch to prevent sticking). The dough was split down the middle and a tube of filling was placed inside. Working quickly I sealed the dough around the filling with a bit of water.

Rolled dough and almond filling

Rolled dough and almond filling

Soon all dough was rolled out, sealed as tight as possible to prevent the filling from leaking out. I pricked the top to vent the pastry, brushed on egg white, and sprinkled with sugar.

Before baking, wondering if it is sealed.

Before baking, wondering if it is sealed.

After removing the tray from the oven, I took a picture and sent it to my cousin, “Do these look right?” I inquired. “Great for a first try!” was the response I got. But we would not know if this was a successful endeavor until we took that first bite.

After baking, no filling leaked out. The brown bits are from the egg white brushed on them.

After baking, no filling leaked out. The brown bits are from the egg white brushed on them.

I sliced a piece off the log roll, the outside was crispy and flaky. The inside was delicious almond goodness. I think I have a new holiday tradition to bake every year, my Dutch heritage will insist that Banket (bahn-KET) be a part of our holidays.

Banket is hard to resist.

Banket is hard to resist.

 

A Tale of Two Boxes

Treats packaged, presents wrapped, boxes filled with the tastes of Christmas and gifts for under the tree. One box was reused from an Amazon order, the other was a paper box from my office. Covered in paper, tape at every seam, addressed and ready to go. Both boxes delivered to the grocery store that has a postal service counter. The young man behind the counter tells me it will be about a week before my boxes arrive on the west coast. There’s plenty of time, I think. Little did I know where my boxes would go, but I would follow their path with my tracking numbers.

Thursday, I wondered where the boxes were. I used my handy tracking numbers to check on their progress. Box 1 was already in California. I was shocked! It left Springfield, MO and didn’t stop until it got to Bell Gardens, CA. Then it went to Santa Ana, CA for a quick stop before getting to Irvine, CA. I needed to let my daughter-in-law to be on the lookout Friday for this box. Of course, I did not know if it was the big box or the small box.

That was surprisingly fast, but then I checked my second number and I couldn’t quite believe what the tracking number told me. This box went to Des Moines, IA. What? Why did two boxes with the same destination take two completely different routes? This box hung around Des Moines twenty-four hours before moving on down the road. Finally, it arrived in Bell Gardens. Good, I thought, it’s back on track. That track did not last long. The next check revealed it was in Richmond, CA, which is up by San Francisco. What? Now I started to wonder if the clerk gave me the right tracking number. Something is terribly wrong here! I’m starting to panic, but what can I do?

One week after beginning the journey, the box has been returned to Bell Gardens. This morning the tracker reported it checked in at Santa Ana and is on the way to its next stop. Hopefully, that will be Irvine and soon my family in California will be munching on some Christmas treats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found

As I get out of my car, my hand instinctively brushes my pocket to assure me my phone is there. This time, the pocket is flat, there is no bump of a phone. My hands begin to explore other possibilities, my fleece jacket, my purse. Each search comes up empty. Panic begins to set in. Where could it be?

Could it be at Hobby Lobby? I had just used my phone to show the cashier a coupon. Did I set it down on the counter as I paid for my purchase? With my heart pounding, I raced back to Hobby Lobby. Before running inside, I looked under my seat and on the floor. All I found was an umbrella.

“Did I leave my phone on the counter?” I asked the cashier. Willing her to say, “Why yes, here it is.” But she didn’t. Where could it be?

A manager came by and offered to call my number from his phone. We listened, no ringing was heard. “Go back to your car and I’ll keep calling.” I rushed back to my car, but first I checked the parking lot where I’d parked earlier.

I opened the door and looked down. This time when I looked, relief flooded through my veins. It was wedged between the door post and the driver’s seat. It must have slipped out of the pocket of my jacket. I snatched it up and headed back into the store when it rang. It was the manager still trying to help me locate the phone. I answered and thanked him for helping.

My heart rate returned to normal, I was finally able to get back to my shopping. This time, when my hand brushed the pocket, I was reassured. My phone was where it should be.

Christmas Cookie

Yesterday was the perfect day to begin my holiday baking. The temperatures were frigid. The streets were glazed with ice.  There was no good reason to be out and about. The scent of cookies baking would be perfect.

Every year, I take five simple ingredients, sugar, flour, butter, eggs, and vanilla, and blend them together. The result is a Sandbakkel, a Norwegian sugar cookie. This cookie is part of my heritage. All generations of my family have made this cookie.  It is time consuming, but it is not Christmas until they are made.

Once the ingredients are measured and stirred together, you have to chill the dough to make it easier to press into the fluted tins.

These tins are waiting for the dough to be pressed in.

These tins are waiting for the dough to be pressed in.

Scoop out dough, use your thumbs to press it into the tin. You must be careful to press it evenly and not too thick.

The dough is pressed into the tins, ready to bake.

The dough is pressed into the tins, ready to bake.

Bake for fifteen minutes, then let them cool.

Golden cookies are cooling on the counter.

Golden cookies are cooling on the counter.

Once they are cooled you can lightly squeeze the tin and they should pop out. Sometimes the dough was too thin and the cookie shatters as if falls out.

Oh no! It broke, guess I'd better eat the evidence.

Oh no! It broke, guess I’d better eat the evidence.

Now the Christmas season can begin, the Sandbakkels are made.

Perfectly golden, buttery, and crisp, now all I need is a cup of coffee.

Perfectly golden, buttery, and crisp, now all I need is a cup of coffee.