Real Cooking

h, I know you’ve said it’s bad…but I never expected this.”

My evening visitor had stopped by to drop off a Christmas present. She stepped through our front door only to be confronted by the ugliness of a house gripped in the throes of major remodeling.

“Yes, it’s a real challenge,” I replied. “Every room in the house except for two, the kitchen and the master bedroom, have some form of remodeling or rebuilding going on in them.”

I sighed as I scanned the carpetless living room that was filled with the displaced furniture and boxes of belongings that had come from my children’s bedrooms.

“You know, I just came from the basement storage room where we keep the freezer and I found myself thinking how neat and tidy that area now looks to me. Even with its boxes of old Christmas decorations and the bins of toys that the kids no longer play with.

“And how spacious! Why, I could actually walk a straight path without stepping over a bucket of joint compound or wading through a pile of paper scraps that have been freshly peeled from a wall.”

I think I tried to laugh.

At the beginning of my holiday break from school, I was optimistic about how much we would be able to get done before the kids and I needed to return to our daily business with USD 410. I had envisioned our family working shoulder to shoulder as we plowed through the finish work that needs to be done before the new flooring arrives.

I should have known better.

Minor ailments, play dates, weddings, holiday parties, trips to the Kingman dairy and family gatherings have all chipped away at the time we had set aside for working on the house. And rightly so. I wouldn’t have wanted our family to miss the opportunity of spending time with family and friends.

So now, with just a few days left at home before returning to my job, I find myself perched on a ladder for most of my waking hours. Peeling wallpaper stuck to walls in my daughter’s old room has been occupying most of my time, but I’m almost giddy with excitement because I’ve finally decided on the color palette that shortly will be used in decorating the main floor.

As soon as the final paper comes down and the walls are washed and sanded smooth, they’ll be covered in Gentle Dill. The new textured ceiling will be painted in White Stalk, a cool, light green.

And as soon as that’s done, we’ll move down the hall to my daughter’s new room and paint that ceiling Almond Cream, a color that looks like melted toffee ice cream.

When those rooms are painted, we’ll finally be able to move most of the stuff that packs our living room back into that wing of the house and we’ll be able to get started on spreading Kangaroo Tan throughout the main floor of the house.

Kangaroo Tan…. I like the color, but I like the name more-which is good, because I’ve found that if I don’t like the color’s name, I have a tendency not to like the paint once it’s up on the walls.

We had tried a sample of Bit O Honey, but that just wasn’t the one. And I wasn’t as fond of the name Bit O Honey as I was, say of Cocker Spaniel or Blazen Skies.

Or Kangaroo Tan. It’s kind of a rich caramel color that blends well with the upholstery of the living room furniture and the green-yes, green-carpet that we’ve ordered.

Forest Shade. That’s the color of the carpet. Deep and soft. Forest shade. Sounds quiet and restful.

All of a sudden I’m getting an image of a kangaroo bounding through a forest glen.

Did I mention that the ceiling will be painted in Fawn Mist? Hmmm.

There’s only one room left without a plan for it’s final decoration: the laundry room. Maybe I should take a moment to sort through the Decorator’s Palette paint wheel charts The Lumberyard so graciously let me borrow and select a color for that part of the house.

Artesian Well, no. Running Water, no. Ahhh, Cool Thicket.

I see a theme forming. Except for that crazy Kangaroo.

* * *

While at a home-improvement store in Wichita, I noticed a number of cooking magazines displayed near the checkout line, so, as we waited to pay for our light fixtures, I had the opportunity to thumb through a couple of different issues. I ended up bringing home a copy of Cooking Light-New Year, new goals and all that, you know-and found the following recipe for a light cookie that was the winning recipe in a chocolate contest sponsored by Hershey.

Better eating habits are one thing, but there is no way chocolate will not be included as a part of my diet. After all, in my opinion, it is one of the major food groups.

Chocolate Toffee Puffs

4 large egg whites

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

2 Heath candy bars, crushed

Cooking spray

Beat egg whites in a large bowl with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Combine powdered sugar, cocoa and candy bars in a small bowl and mix well. Fold half of cocoa mixture into egg whites. Egg whites will deflate quickly. Fold in remaining cocoa mixture until smooth. Drop the egg mixture by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets coated with pan spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, puffs will be soft in the center. Yields 2 dozen.

(One cookie: calories 52, 24 percent from fat; fat 1.4 grams, saturated 0.9 grams; mono. 0.5 grams, poly. 0.1.)

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