Weather. Or Not. And Cookies.

2010
12.13

You know what I hate? (Well, come on. You know it isn’t cookies.)

I hate the current weather obsession that seems to have insidiously sneaked into our culture, made more ominous by access to things like TV’s weather channel(s) or weather mapping online, or general hysteria pervading workplaces where windows are actually available. (The kind you look out of; not the Windows 10 or whatever you have on your computer.)

This past weekend, dire storms were predicted. 10 inches! 12 inches! 24 inches! Worse than the storm of ’91. Worse than anything we’ve ever seen!

We’ll all be killed!

Quite by accident, I turned on the weather hour the other night, and there was our local weatherman doing some kind of kabuki dance in front of his map. His arms were in the air. His arms swept across the states like the prairie winds a’ howlin’. His arms drifted downward, and then back up. He was all over the place. Had the sound been turned off, I’d have thought I was watching “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” though this guy didn’t look like Richard Simmons and (thankfully) he wasn’t wearing the TMI short shorts.

People, listen up: This is Minnesota. It snows here every winter. Every single one. I promise.

Since man first crawled out of the cave, which was about 3 years before I was born, it has snowed in Minnesota, even before Minnesota had a name. It usually starts in late November and it lasts until March or April. You could set your clock by it.

Snow is not news. Storms are not news. I don’t know why we obsess about it. It’s cold here. It SNOWS.

Predicting storms, which is often incorrect and just sort of dumb because you have to come back later and say oh, I guess we missed it, is just pointless. You know it’s going to snow. Turn off the TV or walk away from your computer and do what the Boy Scouts tell you to do: Be prepared.

It is never too early to start preparing. Three months ago was a good time, but today’s okay, too. Here are the simple rules any of us can follow:

• Get a warm coat, a hat, a few pairs of gloves and mittens, a long soft scarf and warm boots. You will need them.

• Do not wait until the first snow storm to purchase a shovel, snow tires, a snow blower or scraper for your windshield. Buy them BEFORE the snow flies so you will be prepared. Hardware store employees will thank you. (These are not potentially useless items like, say, a pineapple corer or an inflatable air-mattress which you may never use. If you stay in Minnesota, you will need the aforementioned items.)

• Leave the house earlier and drive slower when it snows.

• If your car was parked outdoors overnight and got snowed on, as happens every winter to many of us, sweep off all the snow and ice before you leave your parking space. All of it. Do not wipe a dinner plate sized circle over your steering wheel and think you are ready for the open road, because when World Domination takes over, I swear to God we will confiscate your car and leave you standing on the side of the road with your lunch pail in your ungloved hands, wondering when the next bus will come along and how much it’s gonna cost. You know who you are.*

That’s enough to get you started for now. Keep shovels and ice melt-y stuff in your garage, along with brooms and a jug of anti-freeze, because if you are staying in Minnesota, you will need them. Get your battery checked, too, which is easier to do in summer than winter, if you think about it.

Having unburdened my heavy sorrows tonight, I leave you with a recipe. These are sometimes called Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes or a number of other goofy names, but I like to call them “Snowballs,” because that’s what they look like. And because if you don’t get away from that Weather Channel I’m going to chuck a few at your head.

These are great winter treats and they mail well so you can tuck them into Christmas presents. They’ll last a long time in an airtight container, too, but who are we kidding? One weekend stuck indoors because of a storm, and these gems are gone, along with last year’s turkey carcass and some experimental tins of Fancy Feast.

Be Prepared, my friends.

Snowballs

1 cup soft butter (Not melted. And not margarine. Live a little, why dontcha.)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon water

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds

1 more cup sifted powdered sugar for later

Cream the softened butter and 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Stir in the vanilla and water, and then add the flour and nuts. Mix just until all ingredients are blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. (Let me add here that an oven thermometer is a wonderful invention that you can get at any hardware store for well under $10, and by doing so you might save yourself an $85 house call. Or you could do both in reverse order, and end up sadder but wiser. I tell you this absolutely free.)

Anyway, shape the chilled dough into walnut-sized balls. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes, just until they begin to turn light golden brown. Remove the cookies to a wire rack. When they are completely cooled, roll each one in a shallow dish of the 1 cup of powdered sugar. Store these at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

Enjoy!

*PS: $1.50 after January 1st, but there are no buses on London Road.

6 Responses to “Weather. Or Not. And Cookies.”

  1. Rosy Bradley says:

    Thanks for a great essay, Patt! And for the wonderful cookie recipe!!

  2. Marilyn says:

    Okay, I admit I am obsessed with the weather. Not the weather here in south Florida, although the past two weeks I have complained about the cold fronts moving through. I am obsessed with Minnesota weather. I watch the national weather religiously so when I’m sitting by the pool sipping my lemonade on a December afternoon I can keep up with the number of inches of snow falling in my former home state. And just for a few minutes I can be totally happy that I’m here in the land of hanging chads, and not in the land of icy snow. I miss my friends, my family and much of the Minnesota lifestyle, but I really don’t miss Minnesota winter.

    I’m off to bake some cookies. Merry Christmas!

  3. Cathy says:

    I first remember my Aunt Helen making these cookies, and calling them Russian Tea Cakes. Since her husband was Russian Orthodox, I thought they were from Russia. I think I like Snowballs better.

  4. Patt says:

    Cathy,
    My Telecare friend left a message on my phone saying “Oh, how I loved the Russian Tea Cakes!” It is an exotic name, isn’t it? Apparently everyone has their own name for them. Whatever you call ’em, they are GOOOOOD.

  5. Kathy T says:

    My Polish cook book calls them “Polish Kisses” Same cookie. thanks

  6. Sister Krista says:

    You have described my husband perfectly! My attitude has always been like yours. This is Minnesota. It’s December. It gets cold and it snows. There is your forecast for about six months out of the year.
    Sweetie always has his eye on the weather. We watch the news channels that shows the weather first. We’ve left for trips three hours early “just in case” the weather gets “bad”. :)

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