Buns and Thumbs and Fizzy Cordial


It’s officially September.


This means several important things.

A.) The first sickness of the schoolyear is over. They got me early. I was hacking and coughing by the middle of week two. So I didn’t bake for a while until I got over it. Plus, I didn’t feel like baking. Weird, right?

B.) I’m over that! This week, I got the fire in me again. But a nice, pleasant, smouldering little fire like you might have on a chilly, rainy, late-summer afternoon. This weekend, I’m making things because I want to.

C.) I’m a tad overemotional. I was flipping through one of my favorite blogs, The Little Library Cafe, and I came across this blog post: Currant Buns: The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

I love Peter Rabbit. I love everything Beatrix Potter. I always have. Her cozy little English farm scenes are the stuff of happy childhood dreams (despite how dark some of her tales are… Read The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck recently? Yeah, a fox eats all her eggs. Yikes). Basically, that evening ended with me sobbing quietly while browsing Peter Rabbit mugs on Amazon (I’d also like the Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail mug). Thus, I must make these buns. The picture of these buns made me cry. I must make them.

I had a little tin box with this picture on top of it. It was a special box where the most special of things ought to be kept all while I was growing up. I will always be grateful to Beatrix Potter for helping infuse a sense of wonderment into my childhood.

Clearly, currant buns were on the menu for this weekend. See recipe above — it’s too long and complicated to necessitate me redoing it here. Plus, adorable picture of currant buns with Peter Rabbit teacup.

A few notes: I could not find currants (silly British people), so I used raisins instead. Regular old delicious raisins. If you do not like raisins, I pity you but I understand you. Too often, raisins are these sad, dry, awful things that threaten to crack your teeth. Get the raisins out of the big bins at someplace like Sprouts. They are soft and delectable and use them right away in delightful afternoon treats like currant buns.

Secondly, make sure you cut your makeshift piping bag nice and thin. My flour mixture came out soooooooooooo thick. It tastes fine, it just looks a mess.

Thirdly, the recipe calls for something called “mixed spice”. Hm? What now? Never heard of that before. Tricky Brits. This is how that goes:

Mixed Spice

  • 1 tbs allspice
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsps ground mace
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Mix it all up and you could pass for someone from the Cotswolds! It is quite spicy but will make your currant buns so flavorful.

Oh my god, so flavorful. They’re so good. They’re like cinnamon raisin bread, but on steroids. So much flavor because of that mixed spice. I kept making unladylike noises whilst eating. I could eat one of these with tea every day. I’d even drink the tea. Last note: butter is also glorious on these buns.


Then, I made thumbprint jam cookies, because they’re my favorite. I always associate jam with Bread and Jam for Frances, one of my other favorite childhood books.

And let’s be real. Thumbprint jam cookies are amazing. They definitely do not get the recognition they deserve.

Thumbprint Jam Cookies

  • Servings: 20ish
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 and 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (approximately) jam/jelly


  1. Preheat your oven to 350º.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
  3. In a smaller bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
  4. Beat in the egg and vanilla with the butter and sugar. Add the dry ingredient in increments and mix (otherwise dry stuff goes flying everywhere).
  5. Chill for at least half an hour.
  6. After it has chilled a while, scoop the dough into 1 in. round balls, rolling them in the sugar. Smush a thumbprint into each one, making sure not to go down too far, or else your cookie will be structurally unsound after baking. Replace into the refrigerator to chill for at least fifteen more minutes. The more time they chill, the tighter their structure will be and the less they will spread. Thus, a more desirable jam-to-cookie ratio.
  7. When they are done chilling, scoop jam or jelly into the thumbprints. I used a 1/4 tsp as my implement of choice, because it is very easy to go over the amount of jelly you really want in there. Too much and it runs all over the place and then burns in the oven. No bueno.
  8. When you are done jamming, place the cookies in the oven for 10-13 minutes. I took mine out at around 9 or 10 and let them sit on the pan for a bit before I put them on the cooling rack and they were perfect.
  9. Enjoy as soon as they are cool enough to do so!


Lastly, I also made a delectable raspberry cordial. Raspberries were crazy on sale at the Flagstaff Farmer’s Market (store), and that same lovely blog had an Anne of Green Gables recipe for raspberry cordial. That’s the hilarious incident where she and Diana think they’re being all fancy and drinking raspberry cordial but they’re actually drinking currant wine (there are those sneaky currants again!). They get a little….um…..sloshed and, like usual, Anne with an “e” gets in trouble. I recommend a little sloshing of your own with this cordial, or at the very least something fizzy that you add the cordial to.


So refreshing. Excuse me while I stuff my face full of cordial fizz, buns, and cookies. It may be past “tea time” but “tea time” is exactly what I’m about to do.

Cupboard Dump Granola Bars and Easy Cheesy Quinoa Enchilada Lunches

It’s back to school time! Be still my beating heart.

Actually, I’m excited in many ways. I had to move classrooms because our school is adding another grade level, but that was surprisingly positive. My new classroom is fresh and organized and clean, and I have three (THREE!) windows — that you can actually see out of! There’s so much natural light in my classroom! Previously, I had one big window, which let in plenty of light but not much scenery. Now I get both! I just have to watch out for obnoxious 8th and 9th graders on Friday afternoon. I can just imagine pimply little faces pressed to my window. Guh. Oh well, it’s their way of showing they care. Weirdos.


Anyhow, I am turning back to the ever-present problem of what to eat. During the summer, it’s easy. I’m home all the time (I have no life) and so I just eat whatever’s handy. Usually, this summer, it was bean burritos followed by a bowl of ice cream and a nap. Excellent. But now, I have to actually plan what I’m going to eat. And carefully, because a hangry teacher is a terrible teacher.

Lunch has to be filling enough to get me through the majority of the afternoon. I don’t have much of a break this year in the afternoon (but my afternoon ends early, so that’s nice). Last year I struggled because I would make these delicious salads that had plenty of calories and nutrition, but didn’t really have the carbs to make me feel like I was full. That said, I’m starting the year off with a quinoa enchilada lunches. Quinoa’s pretty exciting. It has protein, fiber, amino acids… And it’s way more filling than lettuce. No offense, lettuce. Adding onions, peppers, olives, and chiles ups the vegetable factor. Too late I thought, ooh, black beans and corn! But next time, they will definitely be in there. For future reference, add black beans and corn when adding the olives and chiles (if they are canned). If the corn is frozen, cook it with the onion and peppers. Finally, sprinkle liberally with cheese and green onions and voila! Delisioso!

Easy Cheesy Quinoa Enchilada Lunches

  • Servings: 5 lunchtime portions
  • Time: 25 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 cup dry quinoa + 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans sliced black olives
  • 3 bell peppers (any color)
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • cheese and scallions to top


  1. Cook quinoa.
    1. Rinse quinoa first to remove outer husk. This will make your quinoa much more delicious.
    2. Put rinsed quinoa and the 2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth in a pot. Note: you can absolutely use water, but broth makes the quinoa more delicious. We want optimal delicious quinoa, so we will rinse, broth, and season (a pinch of salt, at the very least).
    3. Bring pot to a boil, stirring occasionally so the quinoa doesn’t get to stuck to the bottom.
    4. When it comes to a boil, place a lid over the pot, turn the stove down to simmer, and let it sit for 15 minutes.
    5. When the 15 minutes are up, remove from the heat but allow to sit, covered, for a further 5 minutes. This ensures maximum fluffiness and broth absorption.
    6. Fluff and incorporate into the rest of your enchilada mess.
  2. Dice your onion and peppers. I used a yellow, an orange, and a green bell pepper for maximum color because they say a colorful diet is a healthy diet. Sautee and season. I used salt, pepper, and garlic powder in small amounts, and healthy amounts of cumin and chili powder. Probably about a tablespoon cumin and 1-2 tsp chili powder. I am an eye-baller, though, so these are relative measurements.
  3. Add onion/pepper mixture, fluffed quinoa, black olives, green chiles, and red enchilada sauce all together in a bowl. Mix.
  4. Spoon mixture into tupperware, putting an even amount in all the tupperware. I got five but probably could have just as easily had four.
  5. Sprinkle cheese and green onions on top and refrigerate until ready to consume.
  6. Microwave until cheese is melted and mixture is hot. Enjoy!


I am assuming that, like me, you have at least one cupboard that is full of odds and ends. You know. You bought a bunch of pecans for a recipe but then didn’t quite use them all, but you don’t want to throw the extra pecans away because pecans are delicious, but there’s too little of them to really use in a recipe. It’s like, a handful. Or the half-empty container of dried apricots that you used once and then forgot about because Oreos are tastier than dried fruit. Sorry, dried apricots. I love you, I do, I just love Oreos more. Solution? Cupboard dump granola bars! I literally stood on my little stepstool (because I’m a garden gnome) and pulled everything out of my cupboard that I thought would be delicious in a granola bar: pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, dried apricots, dates, whatever I had lingering forlornly in the dark corners. Here’s what I ended up with:

No Bake Granola Bars

  • Servings: 8 bars
  • Time: 5 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/4 cup peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 honey (or maple or agave syrup, for the vegans)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit of your choice


  1. Process the dates for about a minute. They should form a doughy ball.
  2. Put the dates, oats, nuts, and fruit in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Heat the peanut butter and honey for about thirty seconds together in the microwave. Basically just until warm.
  4. Mix it all together. It should be delightfully sticky.
  5. Somehow, wrangle it into an 8 X 8″ pan. The website I got this recipe from recommended putting parchment or clingwrap in the pan to help it not stick.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 15-20 minutes, then cut into regular pieces.

Oh, and I made my own peanut butter from Alton Brown’s Homemade Peanut Butter and Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked-Up Banana Bread. Yummmmmmm. And I made my own Quick and Dirty Brownies with Hersey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. Oh man are they good! Excuse me while I go eat myself into a coma.


Summer Tasties

Summer is by far my favorite season here in Flagstaff. The weather is practically perfect, I have most of it off or easy, everything is green and gorgeous, and monsoon season is enchanting.

One of the strange things about summer is that even though I have all this extra time, it’s so hot that turning on the oven to do some baking sounds really unpleasant. Besides that, I usually give most of my baked goods to my coworkers. Without them, it’s up to me and my husband, essentially, to eat all of my treats. Believe it or not, we’re kind of terrible at that.

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Cookie Jar!

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It finally happened! I got a cookie jar! I’ve been waiting very, very patiently (I promise!) to get a cookie jar that I really, really wanted. I’ve seen foxes, owls, I wish I’d seen a robot, and none of them seemed quite right. Today, I found it. A honeybee cookie jar. It reminds me of Winnie-the-Pooh. Dear old Winnie’s always getting into something he shouldn’t, namely the hunny pot. Isn’t a cookie jar the same thing, essentially?


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Project Week!


It is officially the end of the school year — thank goodness! This has been a tough year and I am DONE with it.

At our school, the last five days are “Project Week,” where teachers run a project they are passionate about and work with a bunch of different kids than they might regularly see. The first year I worked with two other teachers and we did a Star Wars project. The second year, the three of us did one about The Lord of the Rings. Last year, another teacher and I did “Life Skills”. This year, I wasn’t really on top of working with other people, so I ended up being on my own. Since I was on my own, I did my own thing: Medieval Times! We have learned about Old English, built castles, whacked each other with swords made out of pool noodles, and watched Merlin to our hearts’ content.

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