Easter Recipes

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By Collier Curran

Though not everyone celebrates Easter, I am always excited when the holiday approaches. Usually taking place in those tedious weeks between midterms and finals, Easter offers a one-day reprieve from ruminating about papers and exams. Also, since I love all things food, Easter provides an opportunity to repeat that big meal usually reserved for Thanksgiving and winter holidays.

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Beat Midterms Stress: Easy Study Treats!

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By Collier Curran

I will admit, the title of this article can be slightly misleading. All college students–especially upperclassmen–know that the stress of midterms never truly fades until reading week, when it is replaced by equally suffocating finals stress. However, activities like cooking and baking can provide a temporary reprieve from hours in the library, with the added bonus of a delicious snack to boost morale. I have found three tasty and indulgent dorm-friendly recipes for when you need a sugary, buttery pick-me-up.Read More »

Russian Tea Cakes: The Best Cookies for Any Occasion

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By Collier Curran

I distinctly remember my first interaction with these mildly sweet, perfectly crunchy, and admittedly messy cookies. My family and I were on vacation in the beautiful Cayman Islands in the winter of 2016, and our hotel had placed a display of these cookies out for guests to enjoy. Never one to turn down free food, I tried one, unsure of what to expect underneath the thick powdered sugar coating. Immediately, I was hooked.

I went back for more cookies repeatedly throughout my stay, and began scouring Pinterest for a recipe as soon as I was on the plane home. I am delighted to announce that this easy homemade version may even be better than the ones at the hotel (but don’t tell them I said that). These cookies have a mild buttery and nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk.

Full disclaimer: I found this recipe from the blog Crazy for Crust over a year ago, and have loved it ever since. I use a mix of pecans and walnuts that I blend up finely before adding to the cookies. As the recipe notes, there are many options for the nutty component, though I love the subtle but delicious taste I get from both pecans and walnuts.

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These cookies are so simple to make, and rolling them in powdered sugar is one of the most satisfying moments a baker can experience, in my humble opinion. 

They are great to bring to parties or to make for guests, because they can easily be made the night before the big event (if you can manage to resist them for that long!). I have made these many times both for my friends and for friends of my mother’s, and I am always asked for the recipe.

Russian Tea Cakes

Makes 48 Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup finely chopped nuts (I use walnuts and pecans)

Powdered sugar for rolling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. If the dough is too soft, chill it until you can work it easily with your hands.
  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes or until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute until you can handle them. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in sugar until coated. (My tip: definitely take this time to make sure the cookies are not only cool enough for you to handle, but also firm enough that they will not crumble when rolled in the powdered sugar. The first time I made these cookies, a few of them fell apart because I did not allow them enough time to sit before rolling in sugar.)
  5. Place on a rack to cool. (You may want to re-roll them after they’ve cooled for the maximum powdered sugar content, which is highly recommended.)

And there you have it: delicious, easy, and crowd-pleasing cookies for your next event or for a relaxing weekend with friends. Physically resembling snowballs, they are perfect for the cooler months ahead and are a great way to impress friends and family when returning home for the holidays!

I made this batch for a holiday party and they were a hit!

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Think Twice Before Shopping This Thanksgiving Weekend

by Laura K. Garrison

Every Thanksgiving, people across the country sit down with family and friends and give thanks for all the wonderful things in their lives and dig into a bountiful meal satisfied with what they have. And everyone lives happily ever after. The end.

Just kidding. This is America after all.

This Friday, millions of Americans will descend on shopping malls at ridiculously early hours on the hunt for door-buster deals that only happen one day a year. That day happens to be Black Friday, the day immediately after a holiday in which we are supposed to reflect on all the things we are thankful for in our lives.

I’ve never shopped on Black Friday, and while I once saw the novelty of it, I never will participate in what has clearly become an arms race for retailers. This year, countless stores across the country will start their sales on Thanksgiving Day, including large chains like Sears, Macy’s, Target, Kmart, JC Penney, Sports Authority, Old Navy, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. While this may seem like a great idea to the shopaholic in all of us, those stores need to be manned with people, people who have families who want to share Thanksgiving with their loved ones.

As someone who has family members who work in retail, every year around the holidays we must take into consideration everyone’s work schedules to decide when and where we should hold Thanksgiving dinner. For the past couple of years, my family has had trouble coming together on Thanksgiving, partially because someone needs to wake up early to get to work the next morning. Not only is this sad, it’s really not necessary. There is plenty of time to shop before the holidays, and Black Friday sales aren’t even that impressive. The most popular shopping day of the year is actually the Saturday before Christmas, and sales only get better the closer we get to December 25th.

There’s something particularly distressing about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, some as early as 7am (thank you Big Lots!). Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays that are almost universally celebrated in the United States, and everyone can think of something exciting about Turkey Day. Seeing family! Watching the parade! Eating a huge dinner! Watching football! Store openings are now preventing some individuals from enjoying these activities with their loved ones, or at the very least cutting down on the time they can spend with their family. When we sit down at the table, we should anticipate watching TV or taking a nap after dinner, not running to the mall.

Black Friday, in reality, isn’t any better. Even if a store waits until early Friday morning to open their doors, chances are their staff will have arrived even earlier and had to adjust their holiday plans in some way to accommodate their hours. While they may receive overtime pay, I’m still not convinced this is fair compensation for missed time with family, only so that we can buy a huge flat-screen television at a fraction of the cost.

We’ve all seen the footage on TV of Black Friday shoppers rushing into stores, bound and determined to grab whatever they can before someone else does. Every year, we hear about injuries and, during the worst years, deaths related to Black Friday shopping. It’s the same phenomenon we’ve witnessed as college students around free food (cough cough Big Sub): people lose all control and lack all reason when the opportunity to gain is present, with disturbing results. No material good at an absurdly low price is worth the casualties. Especially when many of the goods may actually be of substandard quality.

This year, I hope you and your loved ones have a thoroughly enjoyable Thanksgiving filled with good food and quality family time. The only way to show retailers that everyone deserves a Thanksgiving holiday is if we choose to stay home and enjoy the company of our loved ones while we can. There will be other sales after Black Friday, I promise. Go shopping then.

Laura K. Garrison is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of someecards.

A Very Barnard Thanksgiving

by Molly Scott

Go see Hello Kitty up close!

Barnard and Columbia’s Thanksgiving Break is short, so it’s not uncommon for people to stay on campus. While the campus may seem a little deserted while people celebrate at home with our families, there’s no need for those stranded in Morningside Heights to feel like we’re stuck! Check out these fun things to do around Thanksgiving in New York City:

Thanksgiving Day

Go to the 86th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
If you are in NYC on Thursday, this is a must-see event. The parade route runs along Central Park West between 77th and 59th Streets, 7th Avenue between 59th and 42nd Streets, and 6th Avenue between 42nd and 34th Streets, ending at Macy’s in Herald Square. Along with awesome balloons, there will be many performances by celebrities (it’s a surprise who will perform though)!

Gather your friends and EAT!
There are tons of people staying here for the break, so find some friends (or maybe make a few new ones) and invite them for a mini-feast. Pitch in to buy all the essentials – pre-cut turkey meat, cranberry sauce, string beans, microwavable stuffing, etc. – at Westside Market or Morton Williams. Decorate your floor lounge or suite with festive place settings and a table centerpiece. When everyone’s together, share your traditions that you practice at home on Thanksgiving night.

Spend the day on Skype
Go wild on Skype with your family and friends. It will make you feel much better to not just talk to, but also to see your relatives on this meaningful family holiday. Keep in mind that friends at colleges all over the country have the day off too, so take this opportunity to catch up with them!

Think you have what it takes to compete?

Black Friday

Go shopping!
Since you’re in the fashion capital of the world, you’ll find virtually every store imaginable here. Get up super early to be there when the stores open or spend the day in bed with your laptop to score some major deals online. Warning: online shopping is highly addictive, so be careful you don’t empty your bank account.

Get a head start on your holiday shopping
Many major gift-giving holidays are quickly approaching, so use this free time to buy gifts for your family and friends (and take advantage of the Black Friday deals)!

The Weekend

Explore all the museums you’ve been meaning to visit
Let’s face it: none of us take advantage of the city as often as we’d like. This weekend is the perfect opportunity to go to New York’s outstanding museums. With your student ID, you can get into many museums for free or a discounted rate. Another bonus: the museums shouldn’t be as crowded as they are on other weekends. Check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Frick Collection, the MoMA, the Guggenheim Museum, the New York Historical Society, and the Museum of the City of New York.

Check out the city below 110th Street
There’s no shame in being a little touristy with your weekend off! Grab a few friends and explore SoHo, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, China Town, Brooklyn – the possibilities are endless. Consider visiting the to the top of the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center before it gets too cold. Or go thrift shopping in the Village and then grab a cannoli at the famous Ferrara Bakery in Little Italy.

Molly Scott is a sophomore at Barnard and Girl Talk editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of The New York Times and American Public Media.

Dear Diana: High School Reunion

Dear Diana,

Let by-gones be by-gones—keep an open 
mind to the new people that you and your 
classmates may have become


My high school is holding a reunion party for past graduates over Thanksgiving break. I’m really excited to hang out with my old friends again, but I’m also nervous because I’ll be seeing some people for the first time since graduation. While I think we’re all over our high school drama, it may be awkward running into people from my past life. What do I say to people I haven’t talked to in years? What persona do I put on for the evening? How can I prepare myself for a party full of people I’ve largely forgotten about?

Thanks,
Homebound and Helpless


Dear Homebound,

First, let me start off by saying you are not the only one who has this fear! Lots of people come to college and discover new identities to add in with their old ones, or remake themselves completely. It’s a natural process and an important one. I think the best thing to remember when you go to this high school reunion is that change isn’t marked by material. It doesn’t matter who’s lost or gained weight, who has the latest haircuts or accessories, who’s suddenly single or in a serious relationship—what matters is how much you’ve grown as a person, as a student, and as a friend.

Remember that you have grown. Even if you can’t see exactly what that is, be confident in the idea that the experiences you’ve had at college—both good and bad—have helped shape you into a different person. Don’t let your past life bring you back to your high school self. This might mean that you don’t fit in as smoothly with your old group of friends, but that also means you might connect with people from your high school that you might not have been as close with before! So try your best to keep an open mind. People around you have changed, too. It’s important not to hold them to their pasts, just like you might not want to be held to yours.

Lastly, and probably the most overused piece of advice (sorry!)—be yourself. Hopefully you like the person you’ve become, and people from your past life will like her too. Talk about things your interested in now, things you’ve invested time and passion into, things college has opened your eyes to. And don’t forget to listen, too. You might discover something great!

Good luck and have a lovely time. You’ll be wonderful!

Diana

Photo courtesy of Meme Generator.

Have a question for Dear Diana? Click Here.

Handling the Holidays

By Molly Scott

The holiday season is filled with joyful family celebrations, delicious food, wonderful gifts, and a much-deserved break from the rigorous academic life here at Barnard. However, for many people, the holidays can be a time of high anxiety, depression, or stress. Here are a few reasons why you may be feeling certain emotions and what you can do to bash those holiday blues.

Not feeling the holiday cheer?

Limited amount of time and money for gifts
 Let’s face it: we’re college students, therefore we are broke and have absolutely no time to go gift shopping (especially during finals). Many students feel guilty about not being able to purchase nice gifts for their friends and loved ones. Don’t punish yourself over this though. Your family and fellow students totally understand this. If you really feel strongly about gift giving, though, there are many options that are stress-free. Go shopping at your local mall when you get home after finals; you won’t have to deal with the stress of studying and you won’t be paying New York City prices (that is, if you don’t live in Manhattan). Another holiday shopping idea: online shopping! Shopping on Amazon is a great study break and Barnard students can qualify for Amazon Student Prime (free and fast shipping!). If you’re on a budget, just get simple things. Look for sales, and shopping online is probably a better idea than spending money in a store in Manhattan.

Missing a loved one
Losing a loved one is an extremely emotional event, and sometimes the holiday season can make that even harder. You may remember joyful holidays that you shared with them in the past. You don’t have to go through this grief alone, though. Talk about these memories and your feelings with a family member. Chances are, they too miss your loved one during this season. Allow yourself the time to grieve. Another great way to get through the loss is to honor them during the holiday season. Light a candle in their honor at a family meal or dedicate a certain holiday decoration in the house to them. If you are feeling sad while you’re still at Barnard, try a visit to Furman. They are experts at helping you through any type of grief that you’re experiencing.

The older you get, the less magical the holidays become
 This may seem silly, but it’s so true. Remember when you were younger and the anticipation for gifts, music, and food was so exciting? As we grow, we take on more responsibilities during the holiday season and the magic is lost. In order to make this season feel really special and exciting, I’ve come up with a few little tricks:

  • Dedicate about 30 minutes a few times a week to listening to your favorite holiday music. It’s a great study break and stress reliever too.
  • Decorate! Deck out your dorm room/suite with holiday decorations. This will make things festive and lighten everyone’s mood.
  • Try a gift exchange! If you and your friends have the time, set up a “secret Santa”. Put your names in a hat, pick a name, and pick the perfect present for that person. Dedicate a night where you guys can get together and exchange.

Molly is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of All About 24