Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rifles For Watie

I was trying to come up with a good Christmas gift idea for Khalil, so I started thinking of what I liked when I was his age. Then it hit me: Rifles for Watie!. I was just about Khalil's age when a teacher got a copy from the school library and challenged me to read it. Khalil is so sharp and inquisitive that I felt he could handle the same challenge, so I went to Borders and bought a copy.

I'd accidentally double-booked, so after hopping a train west to see Khalil I had to zip back to Penn Station and uptown for a caroling party. But at least I had time to share another Italian Burger with Khalil and give him his gift. I told him how my teacher had challenged me with the book, and how I didn't appreciate it at the time. In fact I thought she was a little bit nuts thinking I could read this adult book! But I rose to the challenge and finished the book, and to this day I feel proud of that. I told Khalil all this, and how I thought he could do it too. I also mentioned that I realize he might not relate to it as I did; after all, I was a country boy reading a story of a country boy who runs off to join the Union Army. I told him "It's OK for you not to read it if you don't find it interesting, but don't think you can't read it. Because I think you can."

Back on the eastbound New Jersy Transit platform there was a cold wind blowing, but I had a nice warm spot in my heart.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Khalil's First Scones!

Khalil's mom brought him and his sister over to my apartment around noon, and once again I had a welcome opportunity to share my baking with Khalil. This time it was the ginger scones to which my friends and I have become so addicted.

We measured the ingredients and I showed Khalil how to cut in the butter with the pastry cutter. I emphasized that, just like with pie crust, the point is to agitate the shortening as little as possible. Likewise, that's why we used a fork to mix the cream into the dry ingredients for the scones! We separated the dough into two mounds, laid down some flour, flattened them out a bit with our hands and then a bit more with the rolling pin, patted them down with a layer of cream, sprinkled them with a little sugar, cut them into wedges, and put them onto buttered cookie sheets. Once the oven was preheated I put the sheets in and set the timer. Twenty minutes later we ate them with tea. As usual, the scones were a big hit.

Once again Khalil was proud to have been one of the chefs, and he was happy when I gave him a copy of the recipe to take home. If I remember correctly, he also discovered that he liked tea!