The crumbliest cookies ever

Oatmeal or tahini cookies are great when you are feeling health-conscious and want to make sure your teatime treat contains plenty of fiber and minerals.

But sometimes you just want a tender, melt in the mouth crumbly cookie for the perfect comfort.

These cookies are just the thing: utilizing plenty of high-quality coconut oil and following the classic shortbread 3-2-1 formula, they’ll surprise you with their luxurious texture.

No eggs or leavening needed – great for this period when most hens go off laying.

Take:

3 cups plain white flour

2 cups cold pressed coconut oil

1 cup sugar – better use confectioner’s sugar for extra silky texture.

Optional: flavor with grated aniseed (as in the picture), lemon or orange peel, or ginger.

Mix all dry ingredients. Melt coconut oil and add to the mixture.

Gently work the dough into a crumbly texture and form round shapes or fingers on a baking tray.

Pop into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges just turn golden. Don’t overbake.

Enjoy with a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.

Our favorite rainy-day pastimes

Today, we spent the whole days indoors to the sounds of pelting rain and hail, only to climb up to the balcony in the afternoon and be rewarded by all this brilliancy – trees and rooftops freshly washed, clouds dispersing, and a glimmer of afternoon sunshine showing through.

I thought I’d share some of our favorite ways to cozy up on a too-cold, too-wet, too-windy, indoors-y day.

  1. Curl up with a book. If you know me even a little, you have probably guessed that would be a top favorite. Whether it’s a new treasure from the library or an old friend from the bookshelf, a book is always a win on a rainy day.
  2. Brew a cup of tea. Cold, rainy weather is perfect for warming teas. My favorite combos are cinnamon-cloves-nutmeg or ginger-lemon-aniseed.
  3. Pull out a board game or puzzle. We used to do that a lot by candlelight in our old home, where electricity during thunderstorms was more a pleasant surprise than something you can count on. Which brings me to…
  4. Light candles. There’s nothing like candles to brighten up a gloomy, dark day.
  5. Watch a movie or a favorite YouTube channel. I’m not a fan of too much screen time, but I do love to make dinner early and then free up an hour or two for a movie and snacks.
  6. Do crafts: my go-to is crochet, but anything goes – drawing or painting, gluing or making playdough, or going all out with modeling clay.
  7. Bake: can you think of a more perfect combo than a tray of cookies or homemade rolls, hot from the oven, and a rainstorm raging outside?
  8. Take a hot shower: now blessed to be living in an area where we can actually turn up the water heater without fearing a power outage, I love to hop into a hot shower, then into a pair of cozy pajamas, and then straight to bed.

I hope you are all enjoying the colder season – unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, of course, in which case you might be shopping for flip-flops and sunscreen while the rest of us huddle under quilts and hunt through the drawer for warm socks.

First rainy day

Rain has been a bit late to come this year, but today it fully made up for its tardiness. It poured and poured, and I was overjoyed we had taken the time to enjoy the lovely cooling weather the day before – because today, there was no poking one’s nose out of doors.

Being shut up at home made everyone get crafty. Shira whipped up this little red back warmer for one of our kittens.

Meanwhile, I improvised these cinnamon twists, sorted clothes, pulled coats, boots and umbrellas out of storage, and got the closet shelves ready for the season.

I know that some of my overseas friends are already shoveling snow, but my kids had been running around barefoot up until yesterday.

At some point, I will probably get tired of muddy boots, damp and the indoors, but for now I’m enjoying the change of seasons.

When little ones are sick: a re-post

I thought it would be nice to re-post this little throwback to four years ago.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

This week we’ve been struggling with a bout of flu that got all of the children in turn. As much as it pains me to see a little one sick, I consider this also an opportunity to slow down – which is especially important if I’m not at my best either – rest, unwind and do some quiet, enjoyable things there often isn’t enough time for:

Reading – listening to an interesting new story, or re-visiting an old friend of a book, is a soothing and relaxing activity that is perfectly suited for a day spent mostly in bed or on the couch. Older children can read quietly to themselves.

Crafts – drawing, stitching, beading and working with play-dough all stimulate the mind and creative senses without requiring too much physical exertion. Dress-up or building forts and hideouts with chairs and blankets are also fun.

Board games – pull out old favorites like Monopoly or Scrabble, or try something new. Forbidden Island is currently all the rage here.

Outdoor time – if the weather is nice, I see no reason to necessarily stay indoors. On the contrary, warm sunshine provides a cheering effect and may even help with nasal congestion. I do discourage sick children from “playing hard” – running, riding bikes, climbing trees, etc.

Outdoors we may also pick herbs to make medicinal tea and talk about their various healing properties, as well as of the importance of staying hydrated in general.

Movies – I like to restrict screen time, and especially so for sick children, because I find that prolonged staring into a screen is fatiguing, but a short cartoon or an educational video can be nice.

On days when the children don’t feel well, I usually dispense with school, but the girls may still choose to do some fun educational activities such as writing in their story notebooks.

The most important thing is to remember that this, too, shall pass. Slow down, allow everybody the time to rest and heal, and try not to mind the mess too much. There is always tomorrow for catching up with housework, gardening and lessons.

The little yarn shop

Photo by Surene Palvie on Pexels.com

It was a tiny store tucked into the crook of a little side street, with no showy banner or attractive display windows. But if you knew where to go, you’d see bins upon bins of discounted yarn overflowing to the sidewalk, and ladies rummaging in them enthusiastically. On the shelves inside, you would find every yarn you could ever want, from affordable acrylic to luxury cashmere blends.

I had not been there since the coronavirus breakout and ensuing restrictions in March, and I’m not even sure the store is still there. It was not an essential business, so it wouldn’t get permission to operate during lockdowns. It was tiny, with barely any room between the display shelves and the counter, so it wouldn’t allow for social distancing. It was not big or modern enough to have financial reserves or switch to online orders.

I’ve completed many crochet projects since the start of the COVID-19 era, with yarn arriving in convenient, hazard-free packages from eBay or Ice Yarns. But I miss the little warm hub where the proprietor would always be ready to chat about anything related to knitting, crochet, and macrame; where other visitors would sometimes chime in with spontaneous opinions about whatever you were buying; where I would see displays of beautiful fiber art from local artisans.

I have most of the things I need within walking distance, and haven’t been to town in months. And I fear that next time I peek into that little side street, I will see the yarn shop locked up or replaced by another business – perhaps a place selling cheap plastic homeware or cell phones or toiletries – something that would get more of a leeway than a yarn shop to remain open.

I realize that the COVID restrictions are necessary to keep the infection levels down, but I feel that social distancing regulations are killing us as a society. They are knocking down the weak and vulnerable, the poor and the lonely. They prioritize large, soulless convenience stores over small businesses run by real people. They isolate us and deprive us of everything that is so essentially human, like hanging out with friends and spontaneous hugs. That’s a tragedy, and I don’t know how to avert it or whether we can ever turn the wheels back.

Salmon fish balls

An easy and delicious alternative to meatballs!

You’ll need:

One nice big salmon filet

1-2 large shredded onions

2-3 minced cloves of garlic

2-3 grated carrots

2 eggs

Some breadcrumbs

Bake the salmon, then mash it up with a fork and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt, pepper, dried parsley, or with your favorite mix.

Form balls and fry on both sides. Be gentle when you turn the balls, or they might fall apart.

In the meantime, prepare the sauce:

1 large onion

1 zucchini

4-5 potatoes

5-6 cloves of garlic

2-3 spoons of tomato paste or canned tomatoes

Chop and sauté the onion, finely slice the potatoes, zucchini and garlic, and throw it all in the pot. Add tomato paste and water until you have the consistency of thick sauce. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and chili sauce (optional)

Cook until potatoes are soft. Then combine with the salmon balls and keep cooking for about 5 minutes longer.

Great over pasta or noodles. Enjoy!

Naughty roosters

Sadly, a couple of days ago we had to re-home one of our two roosters, because the duo was simply making too much noise for our long-suffering neighbors. As hard as it was for us to part with one of our guys, it’s better than having to give up chicken-keeping entirely.

We have an excess of roosters every year, and it’s never possible to keep them all – and always hard to say goodbye.

This coincides with what I wrote recently in my latest Mother Earth News post:

“It’s hard to be totally pragmatic and just weed out as many birds as possible when you have raised them from an egg. Plus, cockerels are fun and often so handsome it’s hard to part with them. It can be tempting to keep a “backup” rooster or two in case something happens to your alpha roo. 

The problem around here – and in many other backyard flocks – is that we always end up with too many roosters. We hatch chicks every year, and around half are male. This year we had about 60% male chicks.”