I love my kids. They are real sweethearts. They love to eat good stuff. As long as it never had a face or the potential to have a face. They are vegetarians since inside the womb.
Before they started school, I had complete control over their diets. We were always together and I was always prepared with homemade yummies for them to eat. But in Febuary they started school and began exploring a world out of my reach. This world included daily snack left out for the kids to eat at their own pace until 11 AM. All of a sudden my kids had access to pretzels and animal crackers, which my son enjoyed so much the teachers had to ask him to put some back. He was taking more than his allotted quota.
And in this new world, there seemed to be an in-school birthday party practically every week. The standard ‘happy birthday’ fare consisted of pizza and cupcakes or cookies. In the mornings when we arrived at school I would check out the snack for eggs and gelatin, giving them the okay if it was free of that stuff. But with these birthday parties I just explained to them ahead of time that they will not be eating the pizza or cupcakes or cookies. We do not eat food from places where meat is cooked and it was a practical given that the baked goods would not be egg-free.
They accepted this without any whining. My kids don’t want to eat stuff with eggs in it or accidently get some meat juice in their food. They think that would be gross. People often ask if my kids feel deprived but they don’t. They get lots of good stuff to eat at home.
Last week my son, Venumadhava, was hounding me for ‘face cookies.’ Like the kind they had at school. For a birthday. Which he and his sister didn’t eat. He described to me how they should look and after a few days of realizing that this is a very important thing to him, we went to the store and bought tubes of icing sugar.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not the best with presentation. That is why I favor cooking to baking pastry. So the prospect of decorating cookies seemed a bit frightening to me. I talked it over with my kids that I would do my best and in exchange for my honest effort, they cannot flip out if the face cookies didn’t turn out just like the ones at school.
The kids were so excited about the cookies that they kept bumping my elbows as I was trying to make the faces. We didn’t get done until after 10 o’clock at night (way past their bed time). But as you can see from the pictures, there were a lot of happy faces in the house!
My son was the most excited!
As vegetarians, we don’t usually eat things with faces. But I don’t think my daughter was thinking too deeply about that.
For the cookies I used a shortbread recipe adapted from Miriam Kasin Hospador’s Heaven’s Banquet. It is an extremely versatile recipe, great for lemon or cheesecake bars, giant sprinkle cookies or just made as is, cut into squares and eaten with fresh whipped cream and berries.
Here is the recipe. I hope it brings as much pleasure to your life as it has brought to my kids’.
Shortbread (Heaven’s Banquet/Miriam Kasin Hospador/’swonderful shortbread)
1 c nuts, measure and then ground (walnuts, pecans, almonds)
1 c butter
¾ c sugar
2 c unbleached white flour
1 tspn lemon juice
¼ tspn salt
combine everything. Bake at 350 25-30 minutes.