Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Icebox Cookies and Towing the Mazda!

I slept much of the afternoon with cold feet, a neck ache and a headache. But I am better now and ready to go to work and bake some more cookies.

I think the long Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with the eye team in southern Honduras got to me, or maybe it was the change in climate from 80 degrees and humid to 60 degrees, wind and no heater. Most houses in Honduras do not have heaters and we have had really cold weather yesterday and today. When I get really cold I turn the oven on and blow warm air through the house with a fan. I am smiling for those of you in Kansas who are enjoying really cold weather. I also lifted several heavy packets of eye glasses.

But just may be that the neckache and headache are caused from the fact that I pulled the Mazda with the Ford, on a chain for 2 hours up and down hills and through creeks on a dirt road, because it wouldn't start and the jerking may have knocked my neck out of whack!

I drove, pulling the Mazda and praying, every time Jose put his foot on the brake and it jerked me, I was really upset. I would stop and tell him to NOT brake when I was pulling him and he would tell me that I was "driving like a maniac." I was not driving like a maniac. I was only going 15 to 20 miles per hour top speed and usually less than that.

I was upset, because the truck wouldn't start. I was upset because he doesn't know how to "be towed" and I was upset because I have taken good care of that truck and I was complaining, "Why, God is this truck not starting?"

He and his friend had tried to start the car when we arrived in San Francisco de Coray where we had left the Mazda at 11:00 pm one night several weeks ago when it had "died" after Jose tried to drive it through a creek so high that water came into the floorboard. He backed out of the creek, walked through the creek, went to his meeting, but then when he finished his meeting, the car wouldn't start and he couldn't understand why. His boots still STINK!

So I drove that night in the middle of the night to collect Jose and his car from La Vega, Coray. That night I towed it for almost an hour and then dropped it off at the police station to wait until daylight when I had time and wasn't so tired. I guess I need to place pontoons on it! Anyway, Jose and his friend tried it and told me that it had water in the oil, which I didn't believe, so I pulled out the oil stick and looked and it looked "oily" to me but not "watery". So then they fiddled with the battery, the car turned over, but wouldn't crank up.

Anyway, I towed it, and prayed and towed it and complained and Jose "guided" it behind me. I stopped and asked Jose to try to start it again after I had towed it a while, but it was DEAD according to Jose. By the time we arrived to pavement, I was not in the mood to tow it another 4 hours to Tegucigalpa. I took it to a Honduran car repair shop. I got out of the Ford and he lifted the hood, adjusted the battery cable NOTHING ELSE and said, "give it a try". Jose got into the car and it started right up! The guy looked at me and said, "That will be 2,000 lempira." (translation $105.50) I laughed, he laughed and I didn't pay him anything. Several months ago, his nephew needed hernia surgery and my teams had taken care of him.

Seems that the battery had run down, just enough to not be able to start the car. Then when Jose and his friend had fiddled with the battery, they loosened the cable enough that it came off on the dirt road, so when he tried to start it 20 minutes into the "tow job", it was "completely dead, (no battery cable connected) but the cable didn't come off until after the battery had been charged up enough to start the truck, once the cable was reattached. I wonder if I should switch him to a mule and a cart or if I should just get him some pontoons to attach to the Mazda?

Oh, I almost forgot the best part of it all! The Mazda doesn't have air conditioning and if it had it wouldn't have worked because the car wouldn't start. It has not rained in southern Honduras in several weeks, so the road was really dusty and I do mean really dusty. When Jose got out of the truck, he looked like he had been in a dust storm. His hair was dusty, his shirt was covered with dust and his face looked like he was painted up to play a gingerbread man in a play.

Speaking of gingerbread, I am going to turn on the oven to warm the house up and bake some cookies! I will make the dough for these tonight and then I will bake something else!



Martha Stewart's Icebox cookies are really just extra-pretty sugar cookies. Before baking, the dough is flattened, rolled into logs, chilled, and sliced-steps kids can have fun doing themselves with your supervision.


• 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
• 1 3/4 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs, plus an extra egg white for "glue"
• 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 5 cups flour, plus more for work surface
• 2/3 cup milk
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
Food coloring, in various colors


1. Using the electric mixer, mix the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and the salt, and mix well. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add flour a little at a time, mixing it in until all of it has been incorporated.
2. Divide the dough into balls, one for each color. For chocolate dough, add cocoa (1/4 cup is enough to flavor half a batch). Mix well with electric mixer. For colored dough, start with 1/4 teaspoon food coloring, and mix well. Add more in tiny amounts for darker colors. Gel-paste coloring can be intense, so add it gradually.
3. Wrap each ball of dough in its own sheet of plastic wrap; pat flat into a rectangle. Refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to use.
4. Parchment or waxed paper makes a good work surface. Sprinkle generously with flour, then roll out each piece of dough 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick to make the swirls; you can use thicker layers for the bull's-eyes.
5. The bench scraper is a good tool for trimming dough's edges to make them even. The egg white, brushed on with a pastry brush, will act as a glue, making the layers stick together.
6. For center, with your hands, roll chocolate dough into a 1/2- to 1 1/2- inch-thick rod; chill 20 minutes. Place rod on edge of rolled-out dough that's been brushed with egg white.
7. Roll rod inside sheet of dough. Cut the dough where it meets up. Seal by pinching and pressing gently. Chill 20 minutes, then repeat to add other layers. To decorate, go to step 7, or jump to step 8 for plain.
8. For spirals, measure and trim two or more colors of dough to same size. Brush on egg white, then stack layers. Brush top with egg white. Starting at one end, roll up the dough.
9. Smooth and straighten the layers as you roll them so there are no gaps, then gently pinch and press the edge of the roll to seal it. Now the dough is ready to decorate. If you want plain cookies, skip to step 18.
10. Add your favorite toppings (try coconut, colored sanding sugar, chopped nuts, or chocolate sprinkles): Spread topping in baking sheet, brush dough with egg white, and roll the log in topping.
11. Roll each log in parchment or waxed paper; twist the ends of the paper closed. To help the logs keep their round shape, set each in a cardboard paper-towel roll that you have sliced open lengthwise.
12. To remember what colors you have already used, with crayons, draw the designs onto key tags; tie the tags onto the paper covering the logs. Chill logs until they are solid, about 1 1/2 hours.
13. Cut 15 inches of dental floss (or double thickness of thread). Let log soften for about 10 minutes. Remove parchment. Wrap floss around log and pull through. Make the slices thin: 1/4 inch or less.
14. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slices on an ungreased baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). A grown-up should bake the cookies 12 to 15 minutes, until firm but not browned. Let cool on baking sheet for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

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