Friday, July 29, 2011

Cookies and Kids' Books

By now, you are aware of my love of reading. I want to pass that love of reading down to my kids and so I try to read to them as much as possible. I have to admit, though, that since having the third, I don't have as much energy or time to read to them. Even at night before bed, something I feel tremendously guilty about. So I am trying to do something about that, especially for Lachlan, since he is now able to write his name and loves spelling out words. I have to admit, I am really bored reading picture books. If I have to read "Blueberries for Sal" one more time, I may jump out the window. One of my best friends started reading beginning chapter books to her then-4-year-old daughter and I found the idea appealing. A narrative to follow, a chapter every night - I thought it would be something I would enjoy as well. I am really looking forward to the day when we can read "The Hobbit" and Harry Potter together! So off to the library I went. I could not find one single "How to Train Your Dragon" book - they were all checked out. Lachlan loves the movie so I thought it would be a good place to start. I ended up getting a Magic Tree House book about Vikings, "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by JK Rowling, and "The House at Pooh Corner" by AA Milne. The Magic Tree House series is something I would have loved as a kid. A brother and sister time travel in a tree house solving mysteries about various books. In this particular book, the kids time travel back to pre-medieval Ireland when the monks were illuminating manuscripts - a funny coincidence, since that is the basic topic of my novel. So a few nights ago before bed, I tried to get him all excited about it. "I don't want to read that book, I want to read the "I Spy" book," he says. "But this is about Vikings! Just like 'How to Train Your Dragon'!" He grudgingly agreed, so I embarked on the first chapter, trying to make up for the lack of pictures with a lively storytelling voice. Then, as I got to an exciting part and put emphasis on my voice, Lachlan turned to me with the FAKEST "I'm so excited" face ever. And he continued to do that through the rest of the chapter. That was when I realized that my 4-year-old was placating me. He was not interested in the book but was willing to sit through it and pretend he was because I was clearly excited. I am laughing even as I write this. I'll give it a try a few more times because, like with most things with kids, you have to expose them over and over before they "accept" it. If not, then I'll wait until he is older and suffer through "Blueberries for Sal" if necessary. It's not about me, even though it is worth a try. So many things with parenting are gray. There are certainly black and white areas, like hitting, manners, etc. But a lot of things are personal preference and for lack of a better way to put it, "what you can tolerate." Those are hard waters to wade in. Again, as I have discovered, parenting is more art than science and more finesse than gauntlet.

What's with the cookies, you ask? The cookie baking occurred the same night as the storytelling incident. I was having a real hankerin' for something sweet and these are my favorite cookies because they are a pretty healthy treat. Admittedly, I increase the amount of chocolate chips required in the recipe, but hey, they're still dark chocolate. :-) I got this recipe from Tony Horton's "Bring It" fitness book. For those of you who aren't familiar with Tony, he is the trainer from the P90X workout videos. (Ever seen the infomercial?) I can testify first hand that these workouts are amazing and got me into the best shape of my life. In fact, I am gearing up to do the three month program again because they are coming out with a sequel in the fall and I am eager to do that, but since it looks harder, I need to "pump it up" (ha!) again. Here's a link to the trailer for P90X 2 and tell me that doesn't make you want to get in shape!

Anyway, back to the cookies. When I was dipping my toe in the vegan waters some months ago, I started making these cookies. They are incredibly delicious and I could be wrong, but I think even celiacs can have these? I know some people can tolerate spelt flour more so than wheat. I urge you to give these a try.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups spelt flour or a mixture of oat and spelt flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips (I used regular Ghirardelli because they are also vegan and grain-sweetened chips are pretty expensive)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp cinnamon (I omitted the spices for personal preference)
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
2/3 cup heated coconut oil, avocado, or grapeseed oil
3 tbsp. water or almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, walnuts, chocolate chips, salt, baking soda, and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together the agave nectar or syrup, oil, water or almond milk, and extract. Add the syrup mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Place the cookie dough by tablespoonful on the prepared baking sheet. And lick the bowl! No eggs, no salmonella!! Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.  Makes about 3 dozen

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