Breakfast in Bed – Oatmeal Lace Cookies

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Post by Alison Hein.

Many (many) years ago, I entered a Girl Scout cookie contest and won! The winner was a sugary, crisped-edge, frilly concoction called a lace cookie. A wispy memory of brown sugar and beaten egg whites returned to my mind recently, and I decided to hunt for the recipe and recreate the magic.

The faded cookbooks of my youth have titles like Cookie Cookbook and The Cookie Book, and I know exactly where to find them. I flipped confidently through the first one, and there it was – Lace Cookies.

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The recipe was different from my memory (where was the brown sugar? Where were the egg whites?), but that didn’t trouble me overmuch. I was puzzled when I was instructed to have on hand 2 cups oatmeal – surely that meant to cook the oats first? This didn’t seem right at all – should I make oatmeal? Use rolled oats? So I checked in with my sister, Janet. She agreed, the oats should be cooked. She also agreed that she did not remember oats in the original lace cookie recipe.

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Still, I forged ahead valiantly. Everything was coming together nicely, until the cookies came out of the oven.

They looked all right, but would not be removed from the pan without balling into a squidgly mess. They even tasted okay, but required eating with a spoon.

They were a real mess and I had to toss them. But by this time, I liked the idea of adding oats, even though they were lacking from my original memory. I changed the recipe up a bit more, using brown sugar instead of only white, adding vanilla extract and an extra egg. This time, they slid sweetly from the pan, and were adorned with a tiny crisp of lacy edge (aided by melted butter and no flour in the batter). The rolled oats turned to autumn gold – sweet breakfast in bed bites.

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P.S. If you have a great recipe for Lace Cookies, please send it to me.

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats
1 stick (½ cup) butter, melted
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place rolled oats into large bowl. Melt butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium low heat. When melted, stir into rolled oats until evenly mixed. Stir in brown sugar and white sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto lightly greased cookie sheet, leaving about 1½ inches between cookies to allow for spreading. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown and crisped on the bottom. Let cool on cookie sheet for one to two minutes before removing to cool fully on a wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Bedtime Stories: The House in the Night

house-in-nightThe House in the Night  by Susan Marie Swanson. Illustrated by Beth Krommes.

Carrying on with the themes of darkness and night we explored last week, today I bring you The House in the Night whose etched-looking black, white, and yellow illustrations won Beth Krommes a Caldecott Medal. This is possibly the hardest review I’ve ever written. I cannot begin to try and explain what this book is about. It begins with the “in the dark is a house, in the house is a light, in the light is a room, etc.” From there it kind of goes into this nonsensical trance and I’m not terribly clear what is going on anymore. The child picks up the book and then she’s flying through the darkness on a bird’s back. Maybe this is her imagination as she reads. Maybe it’s dream imagery. “On the moon’s face shines the sun/Sun in the moon/Moon in the dark”

That said, I do really like the illustrations. They remind me of those art projects where you cover a page with India ink and scratch away an image. It’s particularly impressive that Beth Krommes was able to make meaningful imagery from the fairly meaningless, or at least vague, text. A good story to read to a little kid, maybe two to four years old. They will appreciate the cadence of the words and appreciate the striking images.

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Movies in Bed: Song of the Sea

Song_of_the_Sea_(2014_film)_posterPost by Mark T. Locker.

Another gorgeous and beautifully animated movie for the whole family comes to us courtesy of Tomm Moore. If you don’t know the name, he is behind the movie The Secret of Kells, a visually arresting animated movie about a young boy living long ago in the Monastery of Kells in a scary, beautiful, magical world. I could watch it over and over just for the beauty of the animation.

His newest movie, Song of the Sea, was nominated for best animated picture last year, for what it’s worth. Taking on Irish legend, the movie tells the story of a boy named Ben and his little sister Saoirse, who is mute. They live alone at a remote lighthouse with their father. One day Saoirse finds her mother’s sealskin cloak in a trunk and puts it on, then runs out to the sea. She dives in and is immediately transformed into a seal. She is a Selkie, one of they mythical creatures who can shed their seal skin and become human for brief periods of time. When her father finds her cold and shivering on the shore the next day, he locks up the cloak and sends the children to their grandmother.

But Saoirse has a shell flute from her mother and its song alerts faeries, both good and bad, to her presence. Soon it becomes clear that Saoirse is unwell and must don the sealskin cloak to survive. Good big brother Bed stops at nothing to keep her sister safe and save the faerie folk from the wicked Macha and her owls who turn them to stone.

This movie is full of so much and yet it never gets muddled or confusing. Half tale of lore, half tale of love of a boy for his sister, Song of the Sea is a lovely and beautiful movie to watch as a family. Watch it in bed and you’ll have the loveliest dreams.

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Breakfast in Bed – Stuffed Italian Frying Peppers

Italian Frying Peppers 10

Post by Alison Hein.

I’m always on the lookout for a good, new restaurant, and happily, my husband, Kevin, is always on board. So when a homey new BYOB Italian storefront recently popped up,  we promptly made a reservation after learning that the chef makes only fresh pasta, uses handed-down recipes from the old country, and is a CIA alum.

The interior was clean and welcoming, the wait staff cordial and professional. A daily specials menu featured an exciting appetizer of stuffed Italian frying peppers. When a trio of cubanelles was brought to our table, lightly charred and neatly lined up, I began to salivate. Then, Kevin and I each took our first bite, and our expectations were dashed. They were burning hot on the outside, yet cold in the center (heated in the microwave???). The stuffing was bland and over-bready.

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“These could be so much better,” I said.

So I went home and began to experiment, using a stuffing of sautéed Italian sweet and spicy sausages, just a touch of breadcrumbs and parmesan, and a heavy hand with the seasoning. Cooking the stuffed peppers in a lidded foil pan on the grill seemed the logical next step. The results were delicious – an instant success of an appetizer.

A few modifications – pancetta instead of Italian sausage, no breading at all, and a couple of scrambled eggs – turns these lovely peppers into an instant success of a breakfast in bed that will keep your expectations intact.

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Ingredients

1 Italian frying pepper (Cubanelle)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons diced pancetta
1 small red onion or shallot (2 to 3 tablespoons), chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375º. Clean and core Italian frying pepper by cutting a circle around the stem and removing inner seeds. Remove as much of the ribs as possible with your fingers, and give the pepper a good shake to free any remaining seeds. Set pepper aside.

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Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in small pan over medium heat. Add pancetta, and cook for a minute or two, until it begins to render. Stir in onion (or shallot) and garlic. Sautee for another minute until softened. Reduce heat to low and add beaten eggs. Stir and lift, cooking until eggs are fully cooked, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Fill the pepper with the scrambled egg / pancetta mixture, tapping down a little on the work surface to fill completely. Rub the outer skin of the pepper with the remaining olive oil and bake for around 40 minutes, until pepper is cooked and lightly browned in spots. Serve hot.

Makes 1 serving.

NOTE: Peppers can be stuffed one day in advance, then baked when ready.

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Bedroom Design: Unique Cottage Bedrooms

Traditional Landscape by San Jose Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Elemental Design Group

Cottages can be rustic or posh, charming or roomy. They can be decorated in crisp, colorful chintz or draped in sumptuous white linen. Most have hardwood floors, and some come with board and batten walls. Cottages can overlook a sandy coastline or be nestled deep in the woods.

I’ve stayed in several beach cottages over the years, some practically primitive in design and amenities, and others offered every imaginable modern convenience. I adore them all.

Although I live in a small city apartment, if I’m dreaming of a home in my future, it’s a cottage. When I did a search for unique cottage bedrooms, I found too many to count, but these are a handful of the most interesting rooms I’ve found.

This all-white 1940s bayside cottage in Tampa once donned brown carpeting and pink walls. Thank goodness for paint! The bold chandelier makes a design statement.

Shabby Chic Bedroom by Tampa Photographers Mina Brinkey

Cleverly designed, this simple bedroom introduces four colors through the bedding. Clearly, this room is for sleeping only.

Farmhouse Bedroom by Sonoma Architects & Building Designers Marcus & Willers Architects

What’s not to love in this modern Philadelphia cottage? From the color combination to the use of pattern and beautiful, natural light, this room wins all around.

Shabby Chic Bedroom by Philadelphia Architects & Building Designers Moger Mehrhof Architects

Maine might be considered the quintessential cottage state. This quaint Portland bedroom is rustic in every sense, and the open storage alcove adds to the room’s charm.

Rustic Bedroom

Renovated to look and feel old, this cozy cottage uses black throughout –– often an unlikely color choice in smaller spaces, but it works nicely in this home.

Farmhouse Bedroom by South West Interior Designers & Decorators Inspired Design Ltd

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