Thursday, December 19, 2013

Freedom is a rather messy thing

All Americans have the constitutional guarantee to freedom of speech.  This allows the KKK to march on public streets.  It allows that dreadful woman from Alaska to publish her inane ramblings in books.  It guarantees my right to any bumper sticker I want on my car and to say anything I please on my own blog or facebook page.  It allows that kook pastor in Florida to burn any Koran he owns.  And yes it allows creepy stars on reality TV to express their views.

BUT . . . . .

That reality show is a privately owned company.  And capitalism working the way it does, that company has every right to tell said star that they won't tolerate such words on their channel.    No one said he can't state his views, no one is accusing him of a crime.  Nobody says he can't write a book, or a blog, or letters to the editor.  But the folks that own A&E feel his words will hurt their bottom line, so out he goes, and THAT my friends is free speech and capitalism, all rolled up in one.  And sometimes that sandwich ain't tasty.

If I'm a waiter and I tell some customers they're fat and lazy for eating out, and really shouldn't be ordering the french fries, I'd probably be fired, agreed?  I exercised my right to free speech, meaning I did not commit a crime, but I will most definitely lose my job.  The firing is NOT an infringement of my free speech.

Remember how the right wing media and conservative voters were ready to tar and feather the Dixie Chicks for speaking THEIR views at their very own concert???  And how some country radio stations refused to play their music??  Where was their outrage over the Dixie Chicks' rights to free speech?  The Dixie Chicks suffered public backlash and a loss of commercial revenue because of their words.  And that is the very same capitalism/free speech shit sandwich.

Have your views, state them loud, but be a grown up and face the commercial consequences.  Freedom isn't always neat and pretty.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

No Calorie Christmas Cookies

Did you seriously believe I'd make cookies without calories??  

It's just not the Holiday Season for me if I don't make an obscene pile of cookies.  Or as my daughter's call a large amount - a SHIT TON of cookies.  Last year I told you about Mocha Chewies - those I'm making later this week.

Today I made Chocolate Crinkles, those lovely dark chocolate sweets you roll in powdered sugar before the oven.  I may make spicy gingersnaps later.  But first was my absolute new favorite; Peppermint Sugar Kisses!  Make these - your cookie plate will be the hit of the year.

1.5 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups butter, at room temp
1 tsp peppermint extract - this is TOTALLY optional.  I don't add it and I think it would kill the cookie.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely chopped Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
Regular sugar
About 30-40 unwrapped Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses

Preheat the oven to 350.  Make flat space in your frig or freezer for ALL the cookies to cool.  The freezer really is best, or if you live in a very cold climate and have a table in your screened porch, even better.  I had to use the frig - the kisses melt a bit but they are still yummy.

In a large mixer bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, extract(s) and egg.  Beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until creamy.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add that to the wet mixture and beat, scraping sides as needed.  Dough will be a bit crumbly.  Stir in the chopped kisses.

Shape dough into 1" balls, roll in regular sugar, and place 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper*.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set - in my oven that takes 15 minutes.  As soon as they com out of the oven, press a Kiss in the center of each cookie.  Put them in the freezer/frig/porch immediately so the Kiss will set.

*If you do not use parchment paper, just start.  Seriously.  It's a must for cookies, but also for tuna melts, frozen pizza, etc.  Makes clean up so much easier.  And you don't need to buy the fancy-schmacy stuff at gourmet stores.  Get plain old Reynolds brand or store brand at the grocery store.  You'll thank me.

Monday, December 9, 2013

An Agnostic Holiday Season

Many of you know I have a very conflicted spirituality.

Now I love the whole holiday season, well except New Year's Eve which I've covered here.  I love the lights, the presents, the food, the music (OH! the MUSIC!), the sweaters, church services, the baking, the festivals, just all of it.  Except Rudolph, I hate Rudolph.

What I'm not fond of the constant screeching from the Christian Right about this so-called "War on Christmas".   There is absolutely no war on Christmas - it's a pathetic excuse to get their panties in a twist.  If they would review basic history, Christ-Mass was invented by the church as a means to displace pagan solstice celebrations.  All biblical scholars agree that the story of Jesus's birth was set in the Middle Eastern spring, not mid-winter.  So you people, get over it already.  If anyone should be claiming a repression of their religion, it's the Druids.

At our house we celebrate a rather secular Christmas, with a heavy emphasis on my Methodist upbringing.  Thrown in is a good portion of Johnny C's Italian Catholic heritage.  Mixed within is my new-agey-neo-pagan spirituality.  But I can't go full-on heathen.  I just can't start collecting that horrible art full of sexy female elvish creatures.  Plus I like sports and hot wings too much.  But I COULD huddle 'round a campfire on December the 21st with some hot grog and take turns leaping the fire to celebrate the return of the light.  If it's over 20 degrees that is.  Now, who wants cookies???