Thursday, December 14, 2006

COOKIE SWAP - Rochelle Alers


Christmas Memories . . . Past and Present

As a Baby Boomer I grew up in New York City’s Upper Westside where the signs of Christmas were evident by the number of trees stacked up on a street corner selling for paltry sums ranging from two to ten dollars. Yes, the same trees which sell for two or three hundred dollars – that must be kept hydrated and the lights that must be checked constantly for faulty wiring. Instead of the homes in my current neighborhood that are festooned with so many lights that they can guide planes in for a landing at nearby JFK Airport, we hung a lone wreath on the front window in our tenement apartment.

Christmas cards were simple Currier&Ives creations with scenes of red-cheeked carolers or ice skaters on a frozen pond in the country. To a city girl if I wanted to ice skate then I had to go to Central Park, which happened to be only half a block away, then ride the bus downtown about thirty blocks to the Wollman Rink to spend more time sitting on my behind or holding onto the railing than gliding over the frozen water. I’m ashamed to admit I never learned to ice skate, much to the chagrin of my Long Island-reared daughter who spent most Saturdays at the local recreation center’s indoor rink. I still love the C&I cards, but would like to see them updated to include images the people of color. Even Norman Rockwell finally included children of color in his sketches.

Christmas of long ago was about a new sled, pair of skates, a pale-face, blond doll with eyes that opened and closed and new clothes: socks, hair ribbons and a wool hat with matching gloves. Today it is X-Boxes, Ipods, cell phones, designer bags, three hundred dollars sneakers and don’t forget the “bling-blang.”

We have to ask ourselves if we are sending the wrong message. Do we feel guilty because, unlike our mothers or grandmothers who were stay-at-home moms, we must work and are spending so much time away from our children that we seek to reward them with material things. I still hold dear the reason for the season and all it represents – the birth of the savior of the world. It is also a season of reflection and for families and friends to reconnect – even if it’s only through Christmas cards. Whenever I get a card from someone who I haven’t seen in more than a decade it lets me know that the bond is still there.

This cookie recipe, known as the “Sweetest Revenge,” has made the rounds on the Internet. The rumor is Neiman Marcus charged a customer $250.00 for the recipe instead of “two fifty” or $2.50. The rest is history. I’ve made these cookies twice, and as a wordsmith I’m at a loss to describe their delectability.

Bake the cookies for Christmas, then the day after go to the bookstore, pick up the PLEASURE SEEKERS and curl up in bed and enjoy the lives and loves of three young women who become professional escorts for some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful me.

Pleasure Seekers

Ilene is a captivatingly beautiful supermodel, Faye is an award-winning advertising executive and Alana is a brilliant editor for today's hottest fashion magazine. Now all three women are caught in the whirlwind of the super rich and famous. They find themselves the objects of the desires of every man--from movie stars, politicians, CEOs and rock stars to European royalty--men for whom there are no limits, nothing is too expensive, nothing is forbidden.

From Manhattan to Paris to Southampton, their new worlds are a torrent of sensual delights and unlimited luxuries. But ultimately they realize that there's only one thing more satisfying than money and power…love.

Neiman Marcus Cookies

Makes about 4 ½ Dozen

16 tbsp. (2 sticks) butter
1 cup of sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 ½ cups oatmeal, processed in blender to a fine powder
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups (about 12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups walnuts, chopped
4 oz. Hershey’s chocolate bar grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars together in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and eggs and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.

Add oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.

Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts and grated chocolate

Roll dough into 1½” balls and place 2” apart on large baking sheets. Bake until light golden but still soft in the middle, 10-12 minutes.

Transfer cookies to a rack and let cool.

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