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Monday, March 7, 2011

Sugar Crisps

It’s official, I’m a professional train rider. It’s true, I can ride a train with the best of them and 99% of the time I’ll wind up in my desired location! I even just returned from a trip to New Jersey, via train. I’m pretty awesome at train travel. A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to call myself a professional, trains were a mystery to me. My first real train experience was in France, while on vacation with boyfriend.

For our first trip abroad, boyfriend and I decided to take a Mediterranean cruise. It was a safe choice because even though you were wandering through foreign countries by day, you could come back to the ship and be in a little slice of English-speaking territory by night. Not that we couldn’t manage to get along in Spain, France and Italy. Boyfriend pretends like he can speak Spanish (FACT – he cannot. I speak as much Spanish as the guy who took eight years of the language). I speak French fairly well and can stutter along in Italian until I find someone who speaks a little English. (My favorite phrase is “Mi dispiace! Io non parlo Italiano! I love the way it sounds.)

Anyways… While in port in Villefranche sur Mer, we decided that we would take the train to Nice, then on to Monaco. Supposedly the train station was easy to find and it was a few stops to Nice. First know this, when presented with two directional options, boyfriend will inevitably choose the wrong one. Should we turn right and walk along the boardwalk or should we go straight up these millions of stairs? Up it is. Right it should have been.

Luckily we were in port for many, many hours because while we did a fine job of buying tickets (Bonjour!) and getting to Nice and Monaco. Getting back was a bit tricky. Did you know that the ticket salespeople in Monaco aren’t nearly as helpful as those in Villefranche? And you should also know that the express train does not stop in Villefranche sur Mer, you need the local train. We spent a good half hour extra passing the port and then backtracking on a return train. This was after we walked up a million stairs in Monaco, searching for the train station (again, not my fault).

I’ve come a long way from that first train trip four years ago. I’ll regale you more fabulous train stories in the future, until then know this… I wanted cookies after I got back from my trip to NJ and these only took a few minutes to throw together. They are sweet, crunchy and I think they look like platelets once they cool (notice the little dimple in the center?).

Anyone else have train troubles as a beginner or while travelling abroad?

Sugar Crisps

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, beat together butter and shortening until smooth. Add sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Beat until combined and smooth. Add egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour, slowly, mixing until all combined.

Preheat oven to 300° F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on a baking sheet, about two inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes until puffy, do not let the cookies brown. Cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute and remove to a wire rack. Enjoy!
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