you NEED to make these cookies!

This is what my mom and I will be baking this weekend, as the week ahead holds the traditional cookie-exchange parties and other standard church-lady get-togethers. It is a seriously yummy cookie–almost chewy-brownie-like, yet still a cookie–perfect with a glass of milk.

It’s kind of like:+ (PLUS) +

YUM.

I brought some to the library (to thank them for their unending patience with my unending interlibrary loan piles) and to A.’s violin teacher (also a fount of unending patience.) Plus, Tim took some to work.

(And I may or may not have eaten one with milk before dinner. Don’t tell.)

And so:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together until light and fluffy:

1 cup of butter

3/4 cup of brown sugar

3/4 cup of white granulated sugar

When light and fluffy, beat in thoroughly:

1 large egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Meanwhile, blend together with a wire whisk IN A SEPARATE BOWL:

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just blended–do not overbeat.

Fold in:

1 cup of peppermint bark, whirled a few times in the food processor

(For the bark, you can substitute 1/2 cup chopped white chocolate and 1/2 cup broken peppermint stick pieces)

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Bake in center of oven for 6 minutes, rotate pan, bake another 6 minutes.
Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

{Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies. Inspired, as many things are, by Elise @ Simply Recipes.}

MAKE SOME TODAY!

Real Halloween Nightmares

I have always loved candy, but I wasn’t allowed to go trick-or-treating when I was a kid. The prevailing sentiment in the churches we attended was that Halloween was a “devil’s holiday.” We had “harvest parties” instead. I certainly never was lacking for candy around the 31st of October.

My kids haven’t gone trick-or-treating either, but that’s mostly because we’ve lived overseas for most of their lives; last year, we were here, but Aidan had a broken leg and getting him around to go trick-or-treating was pretty much out of the question. So far, then, I haven’t had to give a great deal of thought to Halloween candy.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m not opposed to letting my kids have sugar. We went to an Easter Egg hunt at the state park in springtime, which (brilliantly, I thought) had receptacles for unwanted candy to be redistributed to needy kids who hadn’t been able to attend. I think the food traditions in a culture–trick-or-treating, cupcakes at school for birthdays–are kind of nice. If there’s any beef I have at all, it’s that the ordinary days are a bit out of control.

[What’s the point banning birthday cupcakes at school if the kids get access to soda and sweet snacks from vending machines at school?!?]

Simplify our ordinary days, that we may be able to enjoy a good celebration.

The last thing I want to do is be a killjoy who takes candy from kids. But what if that candy takes kids from their parents?

In West Africa, an estimated 200,000 children are enslaved on cocoa plantations. And major chocolate producers like Hershey’s get their cocoa from these places.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Fair trade chocolate exists. When you buy a certified fair trade product (like chocolate or coffee), you pay a little extra, but it means that the working conditions have been found to meet certain minimum criteria, and that the workers have been fairly compensated for their work, and, most importantly, that they are not victims of trafficking. (People who have been moved to a different location and/or held there under force, fraud, or coercion.)Chocolate’s no longer an exotic luxury; for most of us, it can be had pretty cheaply. But the mini-bars and fun-sizes come cheap at a very, very high cost to the children whose labor brings them to us.

I want my kids to have a fun and safe time on Oct. 31.

But I want that for all God’s kids, too.

You can sign a petition asking Hershey to begin sourcing Fairly Traded chocolate here.

You can watch a whole documentary on child slave labor on cocoa farms here and below.