Wiki Wednesday

1. Go to Wikipedia.
2. Click on “Random article” in the left-hand sidebar box.
3. Post it!

Here’s what I got:

The Sedgwick County Zoo is an AZA-accredited wildlife park and major attraction in Wichita, Kansas. Founded in 1971 with the help of the Sedgwick County Zoological Society, the zoo has quickly become recognized both nationally and internationally for its support of conservation programs and successful breeding of rare and endangered species. Having over 2,500 animals of nearly 500 different species, the zoo has slowly increased its visitors and now ranks as the number one outdoor tourist attraction in the state.

A little something started by Verbatim.

Thin Mints

Last night, a dream came true. I made Thin Mints. The recipe is adapted from one at 101 Cookbooks. Her recipe is “all-natural.” I don’t keep organic powdered sugar on hand (or organic much of anything else, for that matter), so my cookies weren’t all-natural. They were, nonetheless, quite good. So good, in fact, that one of my co-workers dubbed me The Queen. Of cookies, I guess.

The cookies are scary-easy to make. The most difficult part was coating the wafers, and that was more mind-numbing than difficult. They have to be coated one at a time, and it just takes a while. Because the recipe makes something like 48 cookies.

Here’s the non-all-natural Thin Mints recipe.

Homemade, Unnatural Thin Mints
8 ounces butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat your oven to 350. Racks in the middle zone.

Make the cookie dough: In a mixer cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and cream some more, scraping the sides of the bowl a couple times if necessary. Stir in the vanilla extract and then the salt and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter is smooth and creamy, sort of like a thick frosting. Add the whole wheat pastry flour and mix just until the batter is no longer dusty looking, it might still be a bit crumbly, and that’s o.k. You don’t want to over mix and end up with tough cookies.

Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and kneed it just once or twice to bring it together into once nice, smooth mass. Place the ball of dough into a large plastic bag and flatten it into a disk roughly 3/4-inch thick. Place the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.

Rollout and bake: Remove the dough from the freezer and roll it out really thin, remember how thin Thin Mints are? That’s how thin you need your dough, about 1/8-inch. You can either roll it out between two sheets of plastic, or dust your counter and rolling pin with a bit of flour and do it that way. Stamp out cookies using a 1 1/2-inch cutter (this time I used one with a fluted edge, I’ve done hearts and other shapes in the past). Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely on a baking rack if you’ve got one.

Make the peppermint coating:
While the cookies are in the oven you can get the coating ready. I use a makeshift double boiler to melt chocolate (a metal pan over a saucepan of gently simmering water), but I know many people who swear by melting chocolate in the microwave. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until it is glossy and smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract. If you think the chocolate needs a bit more peppermint kick, add more extract a drop or two at a time – but don’t go overboard.

Finishing the cookies: You are going to coat the cookies one at a time and then gently set them on a parchment-lined baking sheet to set. Drop one cookie into the chocolate and (using a fork) carefully make sure it gets fully coated. Lift the cookie out of the chocolate with the fork and bang the fork on the side of the pan to drain any extra chocolate off the cookie. You are after a thin, even coating of chocolate. Place on the aforementioned prepared baking sheet, and repeat for the rest of the cookies. Place the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer to set.

Make 3 or 4 dozen cookies.

Recipe from 101 Cookbooks, mostly.

Weight Watchers beware: These little babies are 2 Points each.

"The Matador"

Yesterday, Rockford and I got a babysitter and went to the movies (and then to the grocery store, because we’re cool like that). I’m not sure what the last movie we went to was, but I think it might have been “The Chronicles of Narnia” two days after Christmas. If you know us, you know that’s crazy talk. Four months without a visit to the theater?

Anyway, we joined our friends Monica and Amy to see “The Matador” at our local funky downtown theater. We donated our ’70s-era, orange couch to the theater awhile back and were hoping to get a chance to sit on it one more time. It’s in the very front row, though, which is a little too close for comfortable movie-watching. But here’s a brief exchange from the people who did sit on it, while they were standing behind me in line for the bathroom at intermission:

Mom (I’m guessing, anyway), gently holding daughter’s hand: Do you want some soup?
Teenager: I can’t even think right now.

Shortly before the movie restarted, the girl walked in with a bowl of soup, so I guess things had mellowed for her. Good for you, Girl Who Sat On My Couch Eating Soup And Watching A Movie. (Hey, I’ve done that before!)

So. “The Matador.” Rockford is much better at this review-writing thing (and I’m still hoping to get him to post his thoughts, but he keeps yammering about “packing” and “moving” so I’m not sure he’ll get around to it), so I’ll keep it short.

Pierce Brosnan, you are so much better than those silly James Bond movies. What were you thinking, squandering yourself on that? Oh, you were thinking about the very big paychecks? Well, OK then. I can see that.

And you, Greg Kinnear, I think I love you just a little bit. You’re so cute and nerdly, just like my Rockford.

“The Matador” is funny and sad and touching. But it does have some R-ratedness to it, so have your eye-covering pillow at the ready.