Saturday, January 29, 2005


Winter came to Atlanta last night in the form of the Dreaded Ice Storm - freezing rain and sleet that created a beautiful tracery of crystal on every branch.

But beautiful as it may be, an ice storm is a Major Pain in the Ass.

Our steps and driveway were covered with a half-inch glaze of sheet ice. Only the thin layer of sleet encrusted in the top surface provided enough traction so that I could walk down the driveway to fetch the morning paper.

You know you’re in trouble when you rely on sleet to provide extra traction.

The ice gave us an excuse to stay in bed a little longer than usual. Instead of rushing off to shul, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had a leisurely morning. A Pancake Morning. A lounge around in the pajamas morning...something bloggers should all relate to. Hah!

Rather than spend the day watching the tube, I decided to bake a couple of batches of cookies. First out of the chute was a load of cardamom cookies. The most estimable Bakerina had written a cardamom-infused post a couple of weeks ago, which in turn directed me to Kimberly (she of the gorgeous cats), who had posted a recipe that had been gnawing at the base of my brain ever since I first saw it.

I followed Jen’s advice and jacked up the cardamom content of these cookies roughly sixfold from Craig Claiborne’s original recipe, and they were dead solid perfect.

And then, since I already had a Big-Ass Bakin’ Mess on my hands, I figured “what the hell” and decided to throw together my all-time favorite: Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies.

The recipe is one that I originally found many years ago in Maida Heatter’s Great Book of Chocolate Desserts over twenty years ago. You can tell how much I enjoy that book - and that recipe in particular - by the amount of crusty build-up on the pages. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Saveur magazine had published the recipe in their most recent issue, but I was shocked to discover an apparent error in the version they printed [their version called for ½ cup of flour versus 1½ cups in the Heatter original. Wrong-O!]

Anyway, for your delectation, go to PCAMB for your Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies and remember that it’s 1½ cups of flour, not ½ cup. (My bad for not noticing the hack when I transcribed the Saveur version!)

Our friends Gary and JoAnn braved the ice this evening and joined us for dinner: pan-seared Hamburger steaks, sugar snap peas with butter and Ile de Ré fleur de sel (fancy-pants sea salt), and whole-grain kasha with onions, prepared with my yummy made-from-scratch chicken stock. Dessert? Coffee, cookies (natch!), and a fine 1999 Deinhard Riesling Beerenauslese. Boo-yah!

As for the ice storm, we lucked out. An enforced day of leisure, with no power outages, no broken trees, no pratfalls. Turns out that the only real negative was that it forced a one-day postponement of our shul’s Talent Show. Funny, that. The last time our congregation held the “Challe Follies,” it was five years ago.

The exact same day Atlanta had its last big ice storm.

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