Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fear and Loathing in Disney World - Queen's Cakes

When in danger, or in doubt
Run in circles, scream and shout

Thursday - Yesterday it occurred to me that all of this week's tragedies are designed to move us all one step closer to worldwide jihad.  This is not just about France; what the Islamic State wants is to provoke all the non-Islamic countries to the point of another World War. Why else issue specific threats against the U.S. while bringing down a Russian plane over the Sinai peninsula and publishing photos of beheaded prisoners from China and Norway? In simple terms, ISIS wants to piss off everybody. The Syrian refugee crisis is, to ISIS, just another means of causing great dissension among and within the western nations facing the terrible question of whether to bring the refugees within their borders. Either way, ISIS wins; the debate over humanitarian aid versus strict security enforcement is setting Americans at bitter odds with each other.  If the President gets his way, we run the risk of admitting an unknown number of ISIS terrorists. If the Governors of over 30 states get their way, the outrage among the pro-refugee Americans will cause yet another rip in the fabric of our culture.

Think of it - with all the great nations of the world in a confused uproar, without the leadership normally provided by the United States, ISIS is in the perfect position to attack. They already live among us, pretending to be westerners, recruiting our children, spreading their cancerous tentacles deeper into our country and our culture.

If we are to learn anything from history, it is that no war has ever been resolved by anything but brute force. That is a terrible thing to realize, but all the high-level discussions and negotiations never solved a damn thing in the geopolitical universe. Obviously ISIS knows that, and is rubbing its collective hand in glee at the thought of world jihad, or as I tend to think of it, Armageddon.

The latest ISIS threat is an attack on Times Square in New York City, but I have no reason to believe that they will not simultaneously attack other "soft" targets like Madison Square Garden, Grand Central Station, Kennedy Airport, the Statue of Liberty and even the Museum of Modern Art.  I also have no reason to believe that other cities are safe, and living as I do in one of the biggest tourist areas in the world, I share the fear that we will be targeted - Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Orlando International Airport, Amway Center, Gatorland, Kennedy Space Center on the east coast, Busch Gardens on the west - think about it. Because I am dead certain that they have.

Well - the usual aches and pains mixed with a healthy dose of sadness, and here I am still sitting on the bed, unwilling to fire up any additional nerve endings with a trip downstairs. I've not had breakfast (nor lunch - yeah, it's that late) nor coffee, and I'm not sure I care. Well, maybe about the coffee.

Yesterday was not a bad day, as days go.  Found a new route to the therapist's office, wandered a bit near Bay Hill where the rich athletes live, checked out a brand-spanking-new Publix, baked a big batch of Queen's Cakes. Oh, and if you heard any screaming around 9:58 PM, that was me after Evan Fournier sank a 3 point shot just half a second before the buzzer sounded at the end of overtime. The Magic never win in overtime, except last night they did, tied 101-101 with the Timberwolves, and then Fournier did what he did.  I love those guys, especially Coach Scott Skiles.  The rest of the world is falling apart, but the Orlando Magic have risen from the ashes left behind by Dwight Howard, Jacques Vaughn, and Otis Smith.

Today, however, is not a good day. I tried to eat some of the fabulous pasta salad I'd put together 2 days ago, and it is delicious, but apparently eating normal food is not going to be one of the day's accomplishments. The coffee is not working its usual magic. I had a rather sudden nosebleed, splashing blood all over me and my keyboard and nosebleeds always depress me under any circumstances.

Let's talk about cookies. One cannot be depressed, despite the stabbing pain on the left side of one's back, when one is contemplating fresh, homemade cookies, can one?  I've been working my way through my list, trying new recipes but always going back for a batch of old favorites. This recipe for Queen's Cakes is from The Joy of Cookies by Sharon Tyler Herbst, copyright 1987 which makes it as old as my son. Ha. You will need some miniature muffin tins; I have 4 tins, each baking 12 mini-muffins, that I bought in 1976 to make the Nut Cup recipe I got from a coworker.  Just this past month, I found a 48 mini-muffin pan, really well-made by Wilton, and I treated myself.  Heck, I was in Walmart, it was reasonably priced. I've also seen 24 mini-muffin tins there.  If you like to bake, mini-muffin pans are something of a necessity, in my opinion.

Robert loves the way they taste, as do I, but I also love the fact that they are called Queen's Cakes.  I have a special bond with Queen Elizabeth II, although she is unaware of it - she was crowned in 1952, the year I was born, so in case Alex Trebek ever gives me that answer, I have the question. Royalty for $400? God save the Queen!

Queen's Cakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries, blotted well on paper towels
coarse decorating sugar (I used turbinado)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease or no-stick spray 48 miniature muffin tins. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar and extracts together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sour cream, then stir in the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, blending well after each addition.  Stir in the currants and cherries (I like to use a rubber spatula to fold them into the dough).

Divide the dough evenly among the 48 miniature muffin tins. (I used a scoop. No kidding.) The tins will be almost full. Sprinkle lightly with the decorating sugar. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the cookies are baked through and the sides and bottom are golden brown.  Remove the cookies from the tin and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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