Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011 (II)

I like cookies with nuts, and also cookies made with cream cheese.  If you combine the two, so much the better!

Merry  Cheesecakes

Ingredients:  1 cup flour; 1/3 cup softened butter; 1/2 cup packed brown sugar; 1/2 cup chopped nuts; 8 ounces softened cream cheese; 1/4 cup granulated sugar; 1 egg; 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; 2 tablespoons milk; 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Baking:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Blend flour, butter, and brown sugar with a mixer on low speed.  Stir in nuts.  Set aside 1 cup of mixture for topping.  Put remaining mixture into an 8-inch square pan.  Bake about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. 

Beat cream cheese with granulated sugar.  Add egg, vanilla, milk, and lemon juice.  Spread cream cheese mixture over crust.  Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool then refrigerate, then cut into bars.

Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011

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Urbanization For Buckeye Nation

Normally Columbus is a grim place when Ohio State has lost to Michigan.  If you walked around Columbus right now, however, you’d see a lot of upbeat people — and it’s all because Ohio State has hired Urban Meyer as its head football coach.

It’s not just because Coach Meyer has been an extremely successful coach, although that is certainly part of it.  He’s won everywhere he’s been, from Bowling Green to Utah to Florida.  He knows how to build a program and how to recruit and then coach talented athletes.  But for Ohio State fans, it is more than that.  We want someone who understands what Ohio State means.  We want someone who grew up in Ohio, who lived and died with the Buckeyes, who got their first coaching job at Ohio State.  Urban Meyer has all of those qualities.

This may be hard for people outside of Ohio to understand; they probably think of Buckeye Nation as a bunch of win-at-all-cost hayseeds.  But for many Ohioans, myself included, the reality could not be more different.  We want to win, for sure, but we want to win the right way.  We want to feel proud of our team, because we are and will forever be proud of the state it represents.  We want a coach who recognizes and appreciate the almost mystical aspects of Ohio State football and its deep resonance with generations of Ohioans and Ohio State graduates.

We’ll see how Coach Meyer performs as Ohio State’s coach; you never know how things will go.  But I was encouraged by what he said at his news conference this afternoon, about wanting to make the state proud of its flagship university and its football team.  And, more importantly, I was encouraged because Coach Meyer’s very decision to come back to Ohio State, when he could have had any job in the country, shows he feels the importance of Ohio State football in his gut, just like everyone else in Buckeye Nation does.  This won’t be a job for him, it will be a passion and a crusade.  He won’t rest until Ohio State football is as good as he can possibly make it.

And that’s why — even after a miserable and discouraging season — the people of a Columbus are smiling tonight.

A Story With No Good Answers

In Cleveland Heights, county workers have put an eight-year-old boy who weighs more than 200 pounds into foster care after concluding that the boy’s mother isn’t doing enough to control his weight.  The boy isn’t suffering from any medical conditions other than sleep apnea, but he is considered at risk of weight-related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.  It’s the first time anyone in Ohio can recall a child being taken from his home purely because of a weight issue.

Childhood obesity is a problem in America — but when should the state intervene to deal with individual cases?  County workers say the boy’s weight is due to his environment and his mother’s failure to follow doctor’s orders; they consider the boy’s condition to be just another form of medical neglect.  The mother, and her lawyer, say the county overreached because the boy is in no immediate danger and the mother has been trying to control his weight.  They note that the boy is on the honor roll and participates in school activities, and add that removing a child from his home and family and putting him foster care can cause its own harms.

This case is an example of what can happen when less-than-perfect parenting and an activist government intersect.  I’m not in favor of officious government workers deciding what’s best for us, but I also question how an attentive parent could let a weight issue become so extreme.  If you conclude that the county acted correctly in this instance, where do you draw the line?  Could it have acted even sooner — when, say, the boy first tipped the scales at 175 pounds?  And if you think the county acted improperly, is there any point at which it should intervene short of the child developing medical problems that clearly are weight-related?

While we wrestle with these abstract issues of individual responsibility and government intrusion, however, I think of the kid at the center of this story.  It’s hard to envision an eight-year-old boy who weighs more than 200 pounds, and it’s even harder to imagine that boy having any kind of normal childhood — particularly now that he’s become the focal point of a much larger tug of war.