Sunday, December 23, 2012

In the Face of Joy

Why does the world only open its eyes when a tragedy occurs? Why does it take so much heartache, pain, anger, disappointment, and loss for something to change? I've been thinking a lot about the fact that all too often change occurs in the face of tragedy. When will change occur in the face of joy? I see my students walking in the halls, phased by very little other than the latest twitter or facebook post. They don't necessarily see that the world is right outside the school walls and what that means. People are always in need of kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness. We teach students to donate during the holidays, send condolences in times of loss or grief, to cheer before a big game, to compete for who can raise the most money for charity. Those are all well and good, but when do we teach them that kindness should be an everyday thing? Is it not our responsibility? Then who, parents? Yes, I suppose parents should teach this, although there are still some adults who do not practice this. I'm not saying that you need to give away money or gifts, or even donate time. I'm simply saying that if you see something that can be changed do it before you are forced by the face of tragedy.

It is difficult to not think about the little children and teachers/school professionals from Newtown who will not be celebrating Christmas with their loved ones. I can't help but hope that all the angels get their wings this Christmas.
The cookie today was made as part of a cookie exchange party with my family. We had many different types of cookies (see at right). These cookies are in the second row from bottom, enter.
Pistachio Cranberry Orange Icebox Cookies
adapted from Gourmet December 2006
Makes about 3 dozen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
 finely grated fresh orange zest from a whole orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice 
1/2 cup shelled  and chopped pistachios (not dyed red)
1/3 cup dried and chopped cranberries  
1/4 cup turbinado sugar 

Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter, granulated sugar, zest, and orange juice in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries. Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces.

Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Slice and bake cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sprinkle turbinado sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well.
(*Shout out to my hand model Audrey*)

Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze bars briefly until firm.) Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total. Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.

Merry Christmas! PS: My father-in-law is home!

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