Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sable/Linzer Cookies

Last night at about eight o'clock, Chris and I decided to make cookies. Earlier this week I made cookies with one of my best friends, Olivia, for French class. They were so popular that I thought we should make them again to have around the house for Easter guests.

The ingredients are pretty basic.

For the cookies:

1 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 1/2 cups of flour (plus more for covering your work-surface, rolling pin, clothing, hair, and floor)

For decorating:

Fancy jams
or good ole Smuckers

1. Preheat your oven to about 350 degrees.
2. Cream the butter and sugar.
3. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg. It will look like scrambled eggs at a bad hotel.
4. Fold in the baking powder and flour.
5. Mix together until you finally have something that resembles dough.
6. Roll out the dough until it is about 4 mm thick. I know. I can't eyeball that either. Just roll it out until you think, "This would be nice for a cookie."
7. Cut out the base for the cookie using a small cup or other object with a reasonable diamater.
8. Cut out a top for each base by cutting another base and then removing the middle. You may need to use a toothpick to get the middle out easily. The hole in the middle can be as fancy as you like.
9. Bake the tops and bases in the oven. The recipe I used said eight minutes, but we have a weaker oven so it was more like nine or ten. They should still be white when you take them out of the oven. Let them rest for about a minute after you remove them from the oven.
ALTERNATIVE STEP: Generously dust the tops (not the bases!) with powdered sugar. We lacked the energy for this step.
10. Spread jam on the base. Be as generous or as stingy as you like. Put a top on the base.

Voila! You have beautiful cookies to give to friends, neighbors, and family or to hoard to yourself!

Here are some pictures for our process:

Working on that creaming...

Bad hotel scrambled eggs, right?

Getting ready to roll!

Chris made the dough into a little heart. I thought it was too cute :)

Destroying the heart.

Before going into the oven. Just make sure you have enough tops for your bases!


(original recipe available HERE)

Jennifer Kahn is a chef from Maryland whose repertoire includes such delicacies as Ramen, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with peas, and oven pizza from Costco. Once, she made tandoori chicken for her parents' anniversary, but that was ten years ago. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Living with Mental Illness - A Brother's Perspective

This summer at Pike's Peak.

When I found out about my sister's illness, I was mad at her. I really didn’t even understand how it worked. I didn’t understand that it was a chemical problem, I just thought she was being a wuss. So when my dad told me we’d have to move to the States [from Berlin] I was really pissed. We’d just settled in and now we had to leave. I felt like she was just using it as an excuse to sleep in. It sounds bad but it seemed like she was using it to her advantage as much as possible. 

Fast-forward, we’re in the States and I’m still pissed at her. Whenever you’re dealing with somebody with depression, you have to know that walking away can be the best course of action. Sometimes it’s best just not to argue. I didn’t learn this until recently and I wish I had known it long before now. Sometimes the things that she says, like, “I hate you,” can sting for a second, but then you realize that she doesn’t mean it and she’s not in the right state of mind.

When she’s on medication, it can seem to be worse. Sometimes she’s really sleepy and refuses to get out of bed, sometimes she’s practically bouncing of the walls and won’t stop talking/singing. She might be laughing with me one second and snap and start yelling the next. But I always think to myself just to walk it off, and yelling won’t do you any good. I seem to always end up yelling back. It’s really frustrating, but I earnestly try. It’s always a pain, but it’s worth it.

I’m trying to think of a good memory we share…

Back before she was sick, we used to have a lot of fun playing Playmobil. We used to play for hours with these intricate set ups of castles, villages, cities and it was awesome. Obviously we don’t do that anymore, but we still have fun talking. We do that a lot. I’m glad that considering everything, we’re still friends.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Time for Reflection

It's only after we finally step away from the precipice and our hearts stop racing that we can pause to reflect. It's impossible to have any meaningful introspection when we are in survival mode. Talk of the past and future is pointless; it only aggravates and offends.

Today, I am at a point where reflection is possible. I'm sitting in bed, and I am enjoying the "snow" day while listening to French music and blogging. Just a couple of weeks ago I would not have been able to imagine such serenity.

While it seems we managed to harness the beast of mania with medication, feral depression roamed free and began to attack my routine. I've said it before, but depression is so much more than being sad. It's devastating. It's losing your personality, your spark, and your passion to a bottomless pit within your own body. My greatest frustration with this disease is that it lives within me, and it affects the way I am able to perceive myself and my situation. I couldn't go to school. Sometimes I couldn't even watch TV. My parents, brother, and boyfriend put up with more tears and sobs than anyone should be forced to handle. As a family, we contemplated hospitalization again. This time we decided I would stay home and they would create a safe environment for me. For the third time, my parents had to toddler-proof our home. 

With the help  of the counseling center, my therapist, and psychiatrist, we amended my school schedule to make it more manageable. Now, I go to school for only fourth (the last) period each day to take either French or Foundations of Technology. I meet with a teacher at home for three hours per week for English and pre-calculus. I dropped all of my AP classes and severely limited my schedule. Frankly, I'm embarrassed. I feel like a failure. I feel like I'm doing the bare minimum, and even though that's what I have to do right now, I hate it. I've avoided contact with my classmates because I'm so embarrassed by my situation. I can't explain how spending all day at school was making me suicidal and hopeless, that my ability to think forward to the future was being compromised by the hour, that I lost sight of a future family, a career, college, and even graduation. 

The greatest question that plagues me, that I need to understand, through science, philosophy, or any other subject, is why is my brain doing this to itself, and what puts a brain on the path to self-destruction? The agony is derived from the possibility that I may not ever have the answer.

In the meantime, however, I can at least try to take care of my sick brain and the other parts of my body. I've finally discovered the joy of yoga, and I understand why people who do yoga want to do it all the time! I try to go to a seventy-five minute class about five times a week. I'm trying not to give into the thoughts that make me want to hide under the covers and sleep for half a millenium. I'm making efforts to socialize (even if it is just a little bit), and I still love going to work a couple nights a week.

Overall, I am on the path to recovery. How long that will last, I don't know. But I'm optimistic that with this wonderful, powerful support network I have that I will make it to graduation, college, a career, and a future family.

On a side note, I have jumped to the twenty-first century! I have an iPhone now :)
So you can follow me on Instagram if you like. I'm @awkwardindiegirl

I've also been passing time by posting on my Tumblr lately. I try to post only beautiful, simple, and inspiring things. Here is the link: