Calling For Christmas Cookie Recipes — 2011 (VIII)

People often say that baking and then icing sugar cookies is easy, but I don’t agree.  Sometimes you can get a crumbly ball of dough that just is not workable and has to be tossed out.  I tried a new sugar cookie recipe this year, and that unfortunately happened to me.  When it did, I returned to this recipe, which is tried and true.

Easy Sugar Cookies

Ingredients: 1 cup butter; 1 cup sugar; 2 eggs; 1 tablespoon milk; 1 teaspoon vanilla; 3 cups sifted flour; 3 teaspoons baking powder.

Baking:  Cream butter and add sugar gradually.  Add eggs, milk, and vanilla and cream well.  Sift together flour and baking powder, then add to butter mixture.  Chill for 10 minutes.

Roll and cut dough into desired shapes.  Bake at 400 degrees until very light brown.

I like to ice the sugar cookies, and I make the icing by putting confectioner’s sugar into coffee cups, then pouring leftover evaporated milk into the cups until the icing is the right consistency.  Too runny, and I add more confectioner’s sugar; too thick, and I add a drop or two of evaporated milk.  I add food coloring to come up with some different, but always bold, icing colors — one for each coffee cup.  I particularly favor bright orange.

Calling For Christmas Cookies Recipes — 2011

Calling For Christmas Cookies Recipes — 2011 (II)

Calling For Christmas Cookies Recipes — 2011 (III)

Calling For Christmas Cookies Recipes — 2011 (IV)

Calling For Christmas Cookies Recipes — 2011 (V)

Calling For Christmas Cookies Recipes — 2011 (VI)

Calling For Christmas Cookies Recipes — 2011 (VII)

Title Creep

Our local school district recently hired a new official.  Her title is “chief of innovation, improvement and human capital” for the school district.

You may be scratching your head about what a job with such a high-flown title entails.  Well, her position replaces the “human resources director,” and a release from the school district says the official will “serve as a key leader and facilitator in bringing staff together through collaboration, guiding the organization to grow and learn, and engaging the community to reach the district’s vision to be one of the most innovative and high performing districts in the nation.”  That’s clear, eh?

Reading between the lines, it sounds like she’s supposed to help teachers improve and thereby help the school district’s performance.  My guess is that her actual performance criteria focus on those subjects, which really is the acid test.  What else would she be evaluated on?  Hey, what kind of “return” did you achieve on that “human capital”?  Had any good “facilitations” lately?  What have you done to make the community more “engaged” in reaching our “vision”?

In many workplaces, we’ve seeing a form of “title creep,” as people try to come up with new, more impressive-sounding names for the same old jobs.  Banks led the way; long ago descriptive job names like “tellers” and “loan officers”  were replaced with empty titles like “assistant vice president for lending relationships.”  The “personnel manager” became the “human resources director,” which apparently now has given way to “chief of innovation, improvement and human capital” — but has the job really changed at all?

Jong Turn

Kim Jong-Il, the leader of North Korea since 1994, is dead.  Official reports said he died of a heart attack, as a result of physical and mental overwork.  (The official reports aren’t a surprise; Kim Jong-Il was usually depicted, in standard totalitarian fashion, as a selfless, gifted, heroic, hard-working leader.)

The dead leader apparently will be succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-Un.  Not much is known about him; he is in his 20s and was appointed the successor only last year.  Whether he will continue the isolationist, mercurial policies followed by his father is anybody’s guess.  He will inherit a country that is cut off from the rest of the world and a population that has been decimated by famine and ill-advised economic policies.

There are lots of backward nations in the world, and we don’t usually care much about who leads them.  North Korea is different because its focus always has been on its military — often at the expense of its starving people — and on constant saber-rattling with South Korea and its other democratic Asian neighbors.  The fact that North Korea is largely unknown, has always been unpredictable, and has been publicly trying to develop nuclear weapons means we can’t overlook it in the face of the other challenges.

The world is a very dangerous place.  We’ll learn soon enough whether it has become more, or less, dangerous with Kim Jong-Il’s passing.