International Women’s Day – My Story

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We’ve come a long way, Baby! Even in my short 62 years, lifestyles have changed so much. I still remember the hassle of hose with girdles and garter belts, pantyhose, and seamed stockings. Way back in the olden days, women were required to wear dresses to school and work – and we were not allowed to go bare-legged so the solution was to wear some kind of hosiery everyday. We would stand behind trees as the winter wind whipped up our dresses while waiting for the school bus to pick us up. It wasn’t until my Senior year in high school that the dress code was dropped and we could wear pants.  What a relief. In the workplace, pantsuits were allowed, but some companies still required dresses. And you certainly could not show up for a job interview wearing pants. I still cringe just thinking about all those days strapped into uncomfortable underwear. Men have no idea what it’s like, and back then they sure didn’t care.

I grew up in the Midwest and when you say Illinois, people always think of Chicago, The Windy City. Next door to Chicago, is Milwaukee. It’s pretty windy there, too. I did some computer work for St. Joe’s Hospital. One Monday morning, I flew to Milwaukee, picked up my luggage, and headed for the taxi stand. I could see it was windy, so before I stepped out the door I gathered the edge of my dress in both hands, along with a suitcase, garment bag, and briefcase. Despite holding my dress in both hands, the wind whipped my dress over my face as I walked out of the terminal. So embarrassing! And to make it worse, the cab driver let me know everyone noticed. I never travelled in a dress again. My company continued to insist that I travel in a dress, even when I showed them an article written about travel guidelines suggesting women never travel in nylons. I found another job and that company doesn’t exist anymore – these two facts are not related.

In celebration of all women everywhere and their stories, here are some chocolate cookies that just melt in your mouth.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

  • 6 – tablespoons butter
  • 2 – tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 – 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
  • ¼ – teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 – 12 ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • ¼ – teaspoon salt
  • 1 – cup sugar
  • 1½ – teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 – eggs
  • ½ – cup flour

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, chocolate squares, and 1 cup of the chocolate chips over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and set it aside for later.

In a large mixing bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat the sugar and eggs for about 2 minutes. Blend in the cocoa, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. By hand, stir in the melted chocolate, flour, and chocolate chips in that order. Cover the cookie dough and chill until firm – at least a couple hours.

Preheat the oven to 350. Using a melon–baller, drop balls of dough 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake the cookies 10–12 minutes, until puffed. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

A Cookbook Filled with Family Favorites and Age-Old Classics.

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I spent 30+ years in a cubicle, programming computers.  Late in my career, I began to notice that nobody cooked much anymore.  Everybody works now days and there’s so much to do after work that it’s just easier to head for fast food on the way home. These realizations inspired me to start writing down my family recipes.  Six years later, I had prepared and written up over 600 recipes that I had been collecting from family and friends over my lifetime.  All this cooking and typing made me want to encourage others to cook more or learn to cook and save all their family recipes, too.  I was inspired to learn more about the basic ingredients my family used and share that knowledge with my readers to help them feel more confident on their cooking journey.  And now Caveman Chemistry is ready for you.  Purchase my cookbook on http://www.lulu.com.  I know you will enjoy preparing and eating my family’s favorite dishes.

Valerie and Her First Book

Valerie and Her First Book

Awesome Oatmeal

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Don’tcha just love oatmeal?  It makes such a satisfying, cozy breakfast, the way it melts in your mouth and makes you feel all warm inside as you eat it.  I could eat oatmeal everyday.  And when I worked in a cubicle, I did.  Instant oatmeal is so handy and easy to make at work.  But, of course, its best use is what?  Oatmeal cookies!  Every variation of oatmeal cookie is good.  I’m going to share my family’s favorite recipe with you.  We make these cookies all the time.  They’re called:

Oatmeal Crispies

1 – cup butter or margarine, softened 1½ – cups flour
1 – cup sugar 1 – teaspoon salt
1 – cup brown sugar 1 – teaspoon soda
2 – eggs 3 – cups quick cooking oats
1 – teaspoon vanilla ½ – cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a large mixing bowl with a mixer on low speed, cream the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt and soda and stir them in by hand. Add the oats and nuts and stir until well blended. Form the dough into 3 logs, 2-3 inches in diameter. Roll each log in wax paper, and refrigerate the cookie dough overnight. It’s like making your own slice-n-bake cookie dough.
Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the cookie dough into ¼-inch slices and place the slices on a greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes, until light brown. Even with nonstick cookie sheets, butter the cookie sheet every time. Cool the cookies on a wire rack or eat them warm out of the oven.
This recipe has been a huge family favorite for as long as I can remember. The cookies bake to a crisp, so they are great for dunking. Oatmeal Crispies also pack and ship well, for a surprise treat in someone’s mailbox.

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