This Will Be A Short Blog Post Today Because I Gotta Fly — California Needs My Rake.


It’s 25 degrees here on the north shore of Long Island today, Thanksgiving. The cats are staying close, what with a turkey cooking in the oven that might need taste-testing.

Coco, my 18-year old cat who lives upstairs, has started sleeping in her litter box. I have tried to coax her back into one of her three fluffy beds but, no, she would not budge from her cruddy litter box. So I had to put her heating pad in one of her litter boxes and she seems to be happy, but it still bugs me:

In my house on Thanksgiving, Top Cat is in charge of everything that goes on the dinner table and I am in charge of hors d’ouvres. I suck at hors d’louvres. Our guests usually have to make do with a bowl of potato chips and a cheese platter. But this year, having watched many episodes of  The Great British Bake Off, I got the ridiculous idea that I have learned to cook like an English person with a charming accent. So I looked around the inter webs for savory hors d’ouvres, and I found this:

It’s a cheese cracker from Charlestown, South Carolina. The legend goes, people in Charlestown like to eat home made cheese crackers with cocktails. I like cocktails. And if it’s a cocktail thing in the gracious South, it should be a thing in my house!

I read the recipe and mistook reading a recipe for being as easy as baking a recipe.

“Beat 12 tablespoons of butter until light and fluffy” it said.

After an hour of trying to make my butter go all light and fluffy I just dumped a wedge of congealed dairy product into a cup and a half of flour and a whole mess of parmesan and cheddar cheese with a little too much cayenne pepper and cut the resulting bolus into quarters and let it “rest” in the fridge.

This is what one of the quarters looks like before I began to do the second round of my impersonation of a Great British Bake Off  Baker:

” Roll out 1 piece of dough on a floured surface to 116” thickness” it said. “Using a 1 12” round cookie cutter, cut out about 30 rounds ” it said.

The dough mostly wanted to wrap itself around the rolling pin, and does anyone in the world have a 1 1/2-ich cookie cutter?? I had to use the only thing in my house that is 1 1/2-iches in diameter. It’s a bottle cap from my old prescription for sleeping pills:

Forget the forget the 30 rounds cut from 1/16-inch dough. I was lucky to get 22 hand-patted crackers:

The recipe said I’d get 10 dozen. After four hours of real work, I got 86 little cocktail crackers and I am never making these crackers again, except if guests from South Carolina show up at my door and they have brought a vat of gin for martini cocktails and I happen to be very *thirsty*, then I will be a good hostess and make them these shitty little crackers.

P.S. The Thanksgiving guests liked the crackers but between you and me, I think butter and flour are not materials that I can handle with any fluency. I’m better with paper and glue than I am with ingredients.

Which brings me to the reason I have gathered you here today. Last week I threatened promised to show you how to build a better paper snowflake tree. Dear Readers, even if this is not the least bit interesting to you, maybe it will be soothing to watch me fiddle with little bits of paper while awe all hide out from Black Friday.

To start, cut out at least five snowflakes in various sizes from ordinary bond — typewriter — paper (Does anyone still call it typewriter paper? Should I call it “printer” paper?):

Then cut out little circles from heavier  drawing paper, for reasons that will become evident shortly:

Glue the little circles into the center of the bond paper snowflakes for reasons that will become evident shortly:

Use hole punch thusly:

Then, remember that you forgot to leave one of those bond paper snowflakes intact, so go and make another bond paper snowflake, glue a little circle of drawing paper into its center, and leave it alone:

While the glue dried on the bond paper snowflakes, lay down glue onto a rectangle of paper — leave the bottom part of the rectangle without glue — and take your lollipop stick  like this:

Roll it until you have gotten the right amount of paper rolled onto it, which is a thing you develop a knack for after you’ve done this five or ten times:

Now you can slide your lollipop stick out and let the glue dry:

Here’s what you do with that intact bond paper snowflake that you had to cut out at the last minute (a few pix back):

When all the glue dries, you will have a very sturdy stick-on-a-snowflake thing:

Look, Ma! No hands!

Now, here is where that knack you have about rolling just the right amount of paper onto your lollipop stick pays off. You are going to slide your hole-punched board paper snowflakes, one by one, onto the stick, which has to be a very teeny fraction smaller than the width of the hole punch:

You can drop a glob of glue onto the bottom of each band paper snowflake if you want, to hold it firmly in place:

When you put the final (and smallest) bond paper snowflake onto the end of your stick, your tree is finished and the only way to handle it is with tweezers:

I also make this kind of band paper snowflake tree. . .

. . . for a project that is still in progress:

More about this (see above) next week.

I hope all you Dear Readers had a delightful Thanksgiving and for the Dear Readers from far away lands, I hope your Thursday was feastful and joyous and that you spent a few happy hours with friends and kitties and felt unreasonably blessed by a benevolent universe.

See you next Friday.




14 Comments, RSS

  1. I once got so sucked in by the Great British Bake Off show that I attempted to make *chocolate eclairs*. After two tries and six hours, I got half a batch to turn out, and they were the most amazingly incredible eclairs I’ve ever eaten but I *never* want to spend that much time in a kitchen again.

    Thank you for the tree demo — they are fantastic!

  2. Kirra

    Happy Thanksgiving Vivian, Top Cat and the cats! I had my first Thanksgiving lunch which was organised by one of my fellow students here in Salzburg who is from the US. We all bought a plate of food to share and it was lots of fun. Cooking something that takes ages and doesn’t work out is horrible! My sympathies to you. However since you are fabulous at making snow flake trees I wouldn’t worry about trying to cook like they do on the Great British Bakeoff, just enjoy the tv show. Look forward to seeing the new project!

  3. Mary Brickman

    I was thinking you wd forget to do yr blog today.It’s 11 a.m., and I tried 3 times earlier today.
    Straws, etc. are a beautiful way to spend your time.
    Always enjoy kitty pictures. Lots of sunny windows to nap in the sunshine on cold days. They are all great looking cats.

    Good luck raking California forests!! So THAT’S WHAT’S WRONG with wildfires; NOT the 85 mile winds going outward from the Santa Ana mountains. Trump shd get ready for fire somebody for this years ‘( not the other 100 yrs) FIRES. GOOD THING HE’S IN CHARGE OF THE WHOLE PROBLEM NOW.

  4. Casey

    Yes, that’s what made those fires in CA, not enough rakes.

    Have you heard the joke that if you handed Trump a rake, a shovel, and a hoe, the only thing he would know how to use is the hoe.

    (Insert photo of his wife, from her “modeling” days, when she was posing with her coochie hanging out to air.)

    I would watch a YouTube channel of you making paper snowflake trees, slowly, talking quietly to yourself or the cats, with a batch of South Carolina cheese crackers being in the oven.

    Happy Thanksgiving Kirra! So glad that you have American students who are exporting America’s best holiday (sorry, Native Americans, no offense.)

  5. Well, kudos for trying the crackers, anyway. A more ambitious undertaking than I would have ever entertained! (They look pretty good, if that’s any consolation.)

  6. I’ve tried crackers with butter… you are not alone (and mine was Julia’s recipe and her stuff always works. Well, almost always, I guess.) I do have a good seedy cracker recipe if you ever decide you want to try again! It’s much easier and no rolling pin is involved.

    Love the tree tutorial — I don’t know if/when I’ll be doing one but now I know how and trying to figure out won’t drive me batty.

    Short comment. I had carpet accidentally laid today. Well, intentionally but I wasn’t planning on it till 8 last night and since the big bookcase broke when being moved for this event I have to figure out what to do with the 200 cookbooks that are all over my couch, dining table and floor. It’s always something…

  7. I give thanks for you and your kitty pictures. (That, and also the fact that with the passing of Thanksgiving, a full 50% of the winter holidays are over. Because that’s the Grinch way I roll.)

    But mostly for your kitties. I want to lovingly scritch all their tummies but mainly Taffy’s, I’ll admit.

  8. Marg-o

    When my little brother was three years old he started sleeping under his bed. It drove my mother nuts, but my father not so much. Let the kid sleep where wants he said, and so my other stopped trying to make my brother get IN to the bed and yes the kid slept under his bed for about six months. Then he got back into the bed and slept like a normal person. To this day (over 30 years later) nobody knows why. So maybe Coco is going through a phase and she’ll stop sleeping in her littler box any day now.

    I love the snowflake trees.

  9. Becky

    Happy Thanksgiving! Trying recipes is just that trying….I always suffer angst when attempting to bake. Knowing that what appears in the step by step directions does not always do what you think it is should to do. I have had things that looked like crap but actually tasted pretty good.
    You have so much patience to make those snow trees. They are beautiful….I would really have angst if I attempted those!!
    I would like to send drumpf and his family rakes and they could make it a family affair to get rid of those leaves. Who knew that those people in California didn’t know what to do. Leave it to drumpf to figure it out.

  10. Silly kittie in the litter box. He is so old it is just easier to stay put just in case. Love the snowflake trees. Thanks for the tutorial. Thanksgiving was a good one, which rather unusual. It’s better my husband not do too much cooking as his stress rubs off on all of us. Your cheese crackers look good. I bake alot and let me tell you I never get as many as the recipe says, not unless I double the recipe. Have a good rest of the week.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *