Tuesday, April 23, 2013



Where to start?

I just returned from visiting my best friend forever, Ms. Kacie. She is volunteering in Nicaragua in the Peace Corp. Can I just say, she rocks? She rocks. 

Her mom, Nina, and I visited for just over a week and were able to attend business education classes with her at some of her schools and visit some of the amazing communities that she supports. Oh and yummy coffee, amazing sunsets, colors so bright and the most giving hospitable people I have ever met. 

I went on this trip with very little expectations. Well, actually no expectations. Having never visited a developing country I generally had no idea what I was in for. We were staying at nice resorts to I figured it would be pretty straight forward... Um yeah. Let's just say I was a little overwhelmed from day one. 


Once I had slept (did I mention we took a red-eye and hadn't really slept on the plane), and was a little more refreshed I felt a little more prepared to meet Nicaragua. My dearest Kacie was very patient with her Mom and I as we adjusted to "Nica time" and  got to know her schools and towns she works in. Again, she rocks. 

We visited Kacie's classes, explored the market near her home, went to the beach, the pool and gave Kacie a little R&R from her daily Nica life. 

One of the highlights for me, was visiting her English Language community group. These students are self organized and have just generally been working on their own until they discovered Kacie lived in the neighborhood! She's been meeting with them weekly and helping them develop their English skills. These students were awesome! They made us dinner and told us about their lives. Mind blown. Such a cool experience!

Another highlight: Meeting so many of Kacie's fellow Peace Corp Volunteers. What a great group of people! The picture above is of Kacie's friend Laura who, in addition to being a rock star PCV, also helps homeless dogs in her neighborhood find shelter and food. We met many of her neighborhood rescues. Love!

Overwhelming, yes. Hot, yes. Beautiful, yes. Challenging, yes. But who said travel was supposed to be easy? This experience made me take a deep breath, let go of control (ok a lot of control) and breathe in new experiences. I have a whole new appreciation for what Kacie does every day. What love she shows to her students and for her work! 

Was it worth it? Absolutely. To see my friend in action, teaching students, having a real impact on their lives? So worth it. To see a new country, be challenged, leave changed? SO WORTH IT. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

I worked a half day from home which allowed my a lovely afternoon for baking, catching up on emails, making a photo book of my trip to Nicaragua (post coming soon!) and generally just enjoying being home. 

This recipe was one of my favorites growing up. Soft, a little chewy, and filled with spice. It's very challenging not to eat them all in one sitting! 

The batch only makes a little over 2 dozen cookies (using a small scoop), so I usually double the recipe. 

Big Soft Ginger Cookies
Adapted from my Mamma!
Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies 

3/4 cup butter flavored Crisco or butter (I use butter, unsalted. If you use salted butter, decrease salt slightly)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

2 1/4 cup flour (I split this half/half with whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon clove
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup sugar for rolling the cookies. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover sheet pans with parchment paper. 

Combine butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix to combine. Add molasses and mix to combine. 

Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. 

Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients a little at a time until combined. 

Using a small scoop (or two spoons, whichever is your preference!), scoop out small balls of dough. I usually go for about a ping pong ball size or a little smaller. Make them as big or as small as you'd like.  Roll dough in sugar and place on cookie sheet. Lightly press cookies down with your fingers or palm. 

Bake for approximately 12 minutes. Rest briefly on cookie sheet (2 minutes) and then transfer to wire cooling racks. Cookies will be a little soft when they come out but will firm up slightly as it cools.