Thursday, October 20, 2011

Easy Peasy Cookies! (And life lessons from an awkward turtle)

I have a problem. This problem is that I rarely take on "as much" as I can handle. It's almost always more than I can handle. Not sure why. I'm pretty dumb like that. I thrive on the stress - which is, of course, a problem since I have two diagnosed stress-related disorders. So, maybe I should say that I'm bored without stress. Or, rather, maybe I'm just so used to stress that I've never quite learned how to live without a "hum" of stress in the background.

For the past 2 weeks, I've been in the process of moving. But, of course, I can't simply move. I'm working full time. Autumn quarter has started, so I have 6 hours of class and then homework on top of that each week. Oh, and I have to work on my practicum (like a thesis). And... apparently, sleep. I couldn't do all of it - the husband has been doing a lot of moving and unpacking without me. I've used my lunch breaks to do the minimal homework, but I can't concentrate on much else. Oh, and I haven't touched my practicum in almost a month (and that's bad). And I'm stressed because I'm behind, and I can't find half my stuff and oh goodness am I tired. And the hubs is tired because I don't have time to help him. This ish is hard! This weekend, when I was sick and tired of being so tired, I took the weekend off to unpack and move. And while I was unpacking, for some reason, I thought back to middle school. And it is a perfect analogy (and rambly story, if you're into that sort of thing) that is actually helping me get back on track.

When I was in middle school, we had these week-long Immersion programs (instead of gym classes) twice per year. And the teachers would come up some neato activities to entertain students, the students would choose the activity they'd most like to do, and we would take a break from normal classes and "immerse" into these alternative activities. When I was about 12 (or 13) I went backpacking. And I remember this because out of the 10 students that went, 8 were girls and the teachers made each of the girls write a letter to explain exactly why we wanted to crawl around in the woods for a week (they, obviously, expected all boys). So, we met at school to pack up all the food, tents, sleeping bags, etc. into backpacks - for 5 days in the woods. They spread out the supplies evenly (and into loads that girls could carry) and I had a lot more room in my bag and I saw that a lot of other people were packed full. I offered to take more stuff in my bag (because, really, how much does a pack of bagels and a first aid kit weight??). And then we were off and in the woods! 

10 minutes onto the trail, we passed a nice hiker coming down from his week in the woods. And he smiled at the two brave teachers willing to wander off with 10 middle-school kids... but he stopped to tell me that my pack straps needed to be adjusted. The teacher helped me out tightened them up. Great! As soon as the pack was fitting right, it threw off my balance and... I fell straight back. Like some sort of cartoon. Just toppled back. I was standing, then suddenly I was on my back squirming like a turtle. Because the huge backpack was throwing me off balance! Are you laughing? It was pretty comical. Because then I had to roll onto my side and all three adults had to help me up onto my feet. We redistributed the weight, tightened me back up, and we were REALLY off then! The week continued without event (other than the usual awkward preteen drama) and then we went back to class the next week.

Obviously, I've been taking on more than I can handle for... ever. FOREVER. Apparently you don't outgrow dumb. And this is the lesson to myself - just because I have room for something, and just because I'm strong enough to carry the weight, doesn't mean that adding another "thing" won't throw me off balance and suddenly I'll be squirming on the floor, like a turtle, but without a backpack (so... crazier). I need to recognize when my pack is full, but not overburdened. Full, but balanced. Just like eating (and all aspects of life, really). Fill/eat/load until full - not overflowing. Not excessive.

Since apparently I've been doing this forever, do you know how HARD that is to cut back?? This will probably be a life-long challenge and learning process - but if I would genuinely like to learn how. So, if you have tips - please let me know and I will try them out after June next year (when I have graduated and only have work to worry about...).

Speaking of full... here's a recipe for cookies that takes 10 minutes to prep and you can fit it into any busy day! When I was in high school, I worked at a local bakery, and I learned how to make palmiers in any season. I loved whenever they broke because, oh darn, I could eat them. They are light, only slightly sweet, and insanely easy to make.

Mini Palmiers
  • 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
  • ~1 cup sugar (divided)
Sprinkle some sugar onto your counter, then open the puff pastry onto it.

Using a rolling pin, roll until it's about 13" x 13" (there's no need to measure - it was about as wide and long as my rolling pin - but it won't take much).

Staring with one end, fold the edges in (about 1" at a time) towards the middle. If you fold, the cookie will stay more "together" as it bakes. Some recipes call to "roll" instead - you'll still get a cookie, but I like this look of the folds.

Keep going until they meet in the middle (I got 3 folds).

Then fold them onto each-other until you get a puff sammich. Like this:

By this point my dough was really soft and gooey - so I threw it in the fridge while my oven pre-heated to 375 degrees. When the oven is ready, put a piece of parchment paper down on a cookie sheet (this WILL help, because the sugar is messy to clean up). Take a sharp knife and cut the cookie roll into 1" slices.

These will not spread a lot, so you can get them close on the sheet. Cut up the whole roll.

Don't worry if they get messy like that (it will happen as the dough warms). Pop in the oven - check after 8 minutes. I got mine in about 8-10 minutes. Bake until they're golden brown on the edges.

Cool (it won't take long), then consume. I took them off the baking sheet, then ran an errand. The husband found them before I got home and ate nearly all of them. Oh well! They were so easy - I could make more. These are also a good platform for dipping into things (like chocolate), or Crack Dip, or as-is with tea or coffee (instead of biscotti). You can also make them savory by substituting the sugar with butter and a handful of herbs (maybe some parmesan cheese) then fold/roll up just the same. And try to hide them - because they're small and easy to eat a lot of. But since they're small and quick - they won't take up much room in your pack.


  1. i love an easy dessert. these sound good.

  2. You are my favorite awkward Turtle! I've got room in my backpack for some of your shtuff.