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Tuesday Recipe Club: Olive Tapenade, Twice-Baked Potatoes, Chewy Chocolate Cookies

May 23rd, 2006

I’m watching my Wacky friend A’s kids on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays until school is out. She is paying me. I can get pedicures now.

“We don’t like our other babysitter,” the older kid told me.

“Yeah, cuz she forces us to sit there and watch TV,” sez the younger one.

“Yeah,” sez his big brother. “Like, forces us.” These are boys who really do like their TV viewing, so damn, you know she was parking them non-stop.

“Also, she treats us like kindergartners,” they both said.

“You would be doing us a big favor,” the older one said, and what kind of heartless bitch could resist that?

And really? When people say it’s just as easy to take care of 2, 3, 4, 5 kids as it is to take care of 1, 2 kids they are not lying, people. We all five went to the coffee shop after school, after perusing the book fair at school and snapping up a bunch of buy-one-get-one-free books, yeehaw Captain Underpants! What did they all do? They behaved. They read their books. Played together, quietly. I wrote in my journal and pretended I was there alone, until Wacky Boy broke my solitude by demanding that I read him a My Little Pony book. He likes the pleasant little stories, everyone doing their best to work things out, not making fun of Minty even though she cannot accessorize for shit and trips all over herself when she goes out on the runway. Sigh. C’mon, Minty, you can do it!

Well, it’s just as easy taking care of a herd except when you’re talking about the cost of feeding them. Her kids eat. Mine do not, as we’ve discussed here previously. Which makes mine fairly cheap to feed. One peanut butter sandwich split two ways and you still have leftovers to give the dog his pill in. Woo-hoo!

So I’m all, “Uh, you want a sandwich? With meat? WTF?” And they’re, you know, patiently sitting there looking at me like, “Crazy lady. One small package of mac and cheese will not feed all four of us.”

It’s a difficult thing to wrap my head around. Kids. Sitting at the table. Eating. And it’s worth it, feeding these two, because they’re setting a Good Example for my non-eaters, gobbling up cheese and crackers. Carrot sticks. Pretzels and raisins. Things like that, which apparently some kids enjoy.

For snacks today we had hot cocoa (which always makes me think of Maira Kalman’s book, Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman — “Hey Hiroko/are you loco?/Do you want a cup of cocoa?” I love her so) and chocolate shortbread. Which reminded me of my Wacky Mom’s Chewy Chocolate Cookies.

Are you noticing a theme here? My whole life is akin to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I am v. susceptible to, what do you call it? Peer pressure. Underlying messages. The commercials that have some kind of coded words in them, so suddenly you’re thinking, “I need to buy a new car.” That sort of thing. Off to make dinnner. I leave you with:


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
Four 1 oz. squares baker’s chocolate (unsweetened)
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Blend all ingredients together (except powdered sugar); cover and chill for two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop dough by spoonfuls into powdered sugar, coating lightly. Place on baking sheet, two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes four dozen cookies.

(courtesy of my Wacky Auntie)

One large can chopped olives
Two fresh tomatoes, chopped
Three canned green chiles, chopped
Three green onions, chopped

1 1/2 T oil
1 T vinegar
Seasoning salt (to taste)

Combine. Let sit covered overnight. Serve with tortilla chips.

You have made these before, no doubt, but you have not made them the right way. My way.

1. Bake as many potatoes as you would like. I generally do half a dozen large bakers, and make enough to freeze a pan or two of them.

(In case you’ve forgotten how to bake a spud: Scrub, stab with a fork, bake at 400 degrees for an hour or until done. Make sure they’re really done, so they’re easier to scoop.)

2. Let cool.

3. Slice each spud in half lengthwise, and scoop insides into a large bowl, being careful not to break the skins.

4. Mash them with whatever you’d like — just milk, half-and-half (low cal! yum), vegetable or chicken broth, salt and pepper. Add butter if you’d like, chives or green onions, and/or one or more of the following: cottage cheese, ricotta, grated mozzarella or cheddar.

5. Spoon mixture back into shells.

6. Top with a slice or two of cheddar or mozzarella.

7. Bake at 375 degrees 20 minutes or so, until tops are browned and cheese is bubbly.

Now here’s the wacky part. Wacky Dee and I had a mutual friend — that’s how we met, actually. A British girl who was prone to calling the stove the “cooker” and covering everything with cottage cheese. She really loved spuds. So she got us serving them baked (plain, not twice-baked) with a scoop of baked beans on top and a scoop of cottage cheese on top of that. “And you have to have a veg! Otherwise it’s all starch!” So she’d fix broccoli or green beans and there you go — nice comfort food. Really? I thought it was crazy.

Then I tried it. And made WD eat it. And we loved it. Especially with Spike sprinkled on top. I frickin’ love Spike, have I mentioned this before? A “special blend of 39 flavorful herbs, vegetables and non-irritating exotic spices with just the right amount of salt crystals”!!!! (Exclamation points all mine.)

Bon appetit, everyone!



  1. Kit says

    I’m also a British girl calling a stove a cooker and I love baked potatoes too, one of my favourite winter no-effort suppers. But you have just revolutionised my life with the suggestion of freezing any extra and reworking them as twice baked potatoes. Love it! Even lower effort supper! Plus potatoes are something that my kids will eat (I just commented on your Mac-cheese post on their particular quirks). Great to have found your blog. I’ll keep reading.

    May 27th, 2006 | #

  2. edj says

    all these recipes sound wonderful. If I come to your house, will you cook for me? I promise I’ll out-eat your kids :)

    May 28th, 2006 | #

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