Love for the Humble Shortbread Cookie

We have two Girl Scouts in our house, which means that for the last five weeks, we’ve been consumed with cookies. (Five days left! Woo-hoo!)

So, let’s talk cookies.

shortbreadbox_webSpecifically, I’d like to give some love to the often-overlooked shortbread cookie.

Some of y’all are seeing them as “Trefoils.”

(Not tree-foil. Trefoil. Y’all aren’t climbing anything.)

The thing is, there are two different bakers. ABC and Little Brownie. As I understand it, Girl Scouts owns the recipes, but the bakers own the names (except Thin Mints – Scouts wisely held on to that one). Now, y’all are going to argue that the cookies are a little different, and to that, I answer that my brother and I use the same chocolate pie recipe that Mom does, but if you put all three pies together, they’d all be a little different. Any one who has ever tried to copy a recipe has experienced this phenomenon. So that clears THAT up.

Anyway, shortbreads.

We are celebrating 100 years of cookie sales this year! The cookie sale was started by the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1917. And their cookies were handmade, but the recipe was for a shortbread cookie. Yay!

trefoilThe old Grande Dame of cookies doesn’t get much love these days, but she’s still around.

People say she’s “boring.”

But she’s not “boring” – she’s a wonderful building block.

A box of shortbreads and a jar of Nutella? Oh, my.

But there’s also my favorite way to love this cookie. Here you go:


The very best way to prepare a Shortbread (or trefoil) cookie dessert!

Crunch up a sleeve of cookies – whether you’re in a “Kill the Wabbit” mood…or just feel like banging on them!


Now you need a couple of young helpers. Part of what cookie sales are all about is helping our young Scouts with life skills and being independent. I’m extending that by making  asking them to help with making their own desserts.

Get one pair of little hands to mix up instant banana pudding, and another to put some crunched cookie goodness into that unused glassware that’s collecting dust in the cabinet. Mom has been known to use champagne glasses. I’ve seen sundae glasses. Espresso cups make nice little “mini desserts.” Top the crushed cookies with pudding.


Now, be the meanest mommy in the world, and wait until after dinner.


Chill until after dinnertime.

Make them nice and pretty, eat them all up, and then get the approval of the kiddos!

And, because I’m not only a parent, but also a troop leader and a cookie mom, I must now tell you to run out and get some Shortbreads or Trefoils right now! I’ll bet you can find a local Girl Scout to help you out.

But until February 26, you can also get them (and the other cookies!) here:

or here (two Scouts, remember?):




Temporary Inconveniences for Long-Term Benefits

Raising kids is a long series of TILTBs.

disney cookbook

Click for the Amazon link.

The kids have the Disney Royal Recipe Collection cookbook, and their favorite recipe in it is for Sandy Scoops (brought to you by Ariel and her Under the Sea Snacks). Invariably, this results in cinnamon and sugar on the table and the floor, and dirty measuring spoons, cutting boards, and cookie sheets on the counter. (We are working on making dishwasher-loading part of the kids’ kitchen expertise, but that’s a whole other issue.) But it also results in the kids using measuring tools in two different sizes, cutting tortillas by themselves to the size they want it to be (they favor pizza cutters for this, so they are also learning to differentiate between what tools are best and easiest for them to use), and safely removing a hot pan from the toaster oven (if I have been slow on dishwasher training, I feel like I’ve made up for it on ensuring that they remember to turn the toaster oven off).

But it’s more than making a tasty snack all by themselves. Sure, there’s the mathematics-education value of how 1/4 vs. whole-sized measuring spoons compare to one another. There is some science value in observing which pot holders insulate your hand against heat better, or even our discussions about how reflexes keep our extremities safe. And all of that is wonderful, but what it really comes down to, is that my kids can feed themselves. And they know it. They are becoming increasingly comfortable in the kitchen (and we aren’t neglecting the grocery store, either), and I know that whatever else is going on in their lives – they can eat.

There are lots of things that are important life skills, and I have forgotten that there is so much to learn. I don’t think I realized at the time that I was learning life skills, but now I am acutely aware that the kids need to learn these things to be the confident, capable, and successful people it is our privilege to help them become.

Sugar on the floor, crumbs in the butter, tomato sauce splattered on the stovetop, strange ingredients in the fridge, and a pile of dirty dishes are inconvenient. But the benefits are so worth it.

Feeding Kids – I’m Failing This One

Before Oldest Progeny was born, I had quite a bit of trepidation on how to feed her.  We had determined that breastfeeding was worth trying, and were going to make a go of it, but I was nervous.   And though there were tears and difficulty, we ultimately did alright.  I wish I’d known how comparatively easy feeding an infant is.  Fast forward to now, seven years later, and I have no idea how to feed that child.  Well, I know exactly what she wants me to feed her, but that ain’t happening.  It is well past time for things to be changed.  The MRB is about to get a workout.

I have created a monster.  I own that.  This is my fault.  I would like very much to spread the blame out, to say that I don’t raise her in a vacuum and that it’s as much everyone else’s fault, too – but I can’t really do that.  I have no doubt that the babysitters ALWAYS stopping to pick up her favorite pizza – even going out of their way to do so – was a contributing factor; that her daddy truly not understanding that it is NOT okay to stop whatever he was doing to make her a jam sandwich was fuel to the fire – but I have been responsible for most of her meals since she was born.  This is my monster. Whether or not the other things hurt or helped, this is my fault.

I started badly.  And I have guilt over that every day, at every meal.  DH (Dear Husband, for those who don’t troll the mommy message boards) and I tend to like food a bit on the spicy side, so I got into the habit of serving non-spicy meals to our beginning eater.  It was fun, at first.  We would go to the deli, and sample whatever they were handing out.  Sometimes she didn’t like it, but if she did, it was added to the rotation – I would have it sliced thick, and we would cube it to serve with grapes and crackers.  There was a time when our fridge was full of plastic storage boxes containing cubes of salami, ham, pepperoni, turkey, roast beef, muenster, cheddar, or swiss.  We would try things that looked interesting from the produce section, too – apples of different types, grapes in different colors, peaches, pears, watermelon, kiwi, star fruit, ugli fruit, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers.  Whatever colors and textures caught our attention, we tried.  I thought that was doing okay, but I feel like it led us down the wrong path.  I should have relegated that to lunch, but I got into the habit of doing it for dinner, also.  And I can’t help but think of that as being where I went wrong.  It became an expectation, that she would get a unique dinner of her choice.

And then.  A sudden refusal to eat roast beef cubes.  Then turkey.  Then ham.  Then chicken nuggets.  And my biggest error was that I went with it!  We are down to shredded mozzarella (not cubed, not sliced, just shredded).  Grilled cheese sandwiches.  Jam sandwiches.  Red grapes. Pretzels. Goldfish crackers.  Plain cheese pizza.  I can count the foods she eats with consistency on less than two hands.

I will admit, part of my problem with this is that it’s embarrassing.  When we had to leave a birthday party, because my then-four-year-old threw a screaming fit that the hostess served cheese pizza without a side of cheese sticks.  And now? she comes and sings happy birthday, and then goes to play by herself.  She would rather be alone than socialize with kids eating something she doesn’t like.  Thank goodness, at least some of her friends understand that she isn’t intentionally being rude, she’s just picky.  It’s odd to hear that kind of insight from a seven year old, but I am grateful for it.

And the defiance!  She has admitted to me that part of this is a power trip.  There are foods that she won’t eat at home, that she will eat at her grandmother’s house.  I have bought the same brands.  I have had her grandmother purchase them and bring them here.  I have brought home the leftovers.  Nope.  I have tried to give her choices for a lot of things, but at home, this is where she’s decided to make her stand (I suspect she has chosen a different platform with Grandmom and Pop).  Unfortunately, I can’t let it go on anymore.  I suspect it’s going to get uglier than it already has, but I’m done.  The irony has not escaped me, that we were very conscientious – even strict, at times – about creating good tooth brushing and bedtime habits – but messed up royally here.

No small part of my frustration is that I am flat exhausted.  I used to like to cook.  I like trying new things.  But I simply don’t have the energy to make four meals every night – who does?  One for me, with the veggies I like.  One for DH – same main course, but no veggies.  One for the Eldest – since the only protein she will now accept is cheese, I feel like we’ll be one of those families who has to hospitalize a malnourished child if I don’t give it to her (if there is a bottom to be hit in the picky eating battles – that’s it – and one I intend to avoid).  One for youngest – as slight a variation on the main meal as possible (I am so afraid of screwing up with this one, too) – who points out that it’s not fair for eldest to get something special but not her.  Given all that, guess whose food preferences are often put by the wayside, to make accommodating every one else easier?  There are a lot of dishes that I really miss cooking and eating, but you know what?  It’s a lot easier to ignore my preferences than it is to listen to everyone else’s complaints sometimes.  It’s not fair, but Hey! I’m only preparing three meals instead of four!  Bonus points if no variations are needed for either of the kids!

But my biggest problem with this, where I really feel like I am failing her, is that a great deal of social life circles around food.  Even the simple act of preparing a meal together as a family is a miserable proposition, since she not only refuses to taste many foods – she doesn’t want to smell or touch them, either.  She will never enjoy dinner parties.  That first Girl Scout campout, when the kids have the pride of having made the dinner all by themselves, won’t mean anything to her.  What about hitting IHOP after the school dance?  Appetizers with the co-workers after work on Friday?  Impromptu lunch dates with a girlfriend.  Already, I dropped her off late and picked her up early for a sleepover because she would eat neither the dinner nor the breakfast the hostess had planned to serve.  Her capacity to enjoy enjoy any given birthday party is hit-or-miss. I feel like she is and will be missing so much.  How many social occasions can she/we refuse or obviously not enjoy before friendships suffer for it?  And that worry, more than the defiance or exhaustion or embarrassment, just makes me cry.

I’m sorry, baby.  I want – we need – to fix this.  I’ll try – and I’m sorry for that, too, because it’s going to be rough on all of us.