Saturday, January 28, 2012

Those No-Bake Chocolate, Oatmeal, Coconut Things

Those No-Bake Chocolate, Oatmeal Coconut Things; Quick Chocolate Drops; Chocolate Dainties; Haystacks; Fiddle Diddles; and the not so appetizing… Turd Cookies.  Are your taste buds quivering with anticipation or revulsion? 

For a lot of people these cookies are old familiar friends, but for the uninitiated, here’s what you need to know.  They don’t require any baking and use ingredients that were staples in every kitchen about 25 years ago.  (Wow I can’t believe I just typed “25 years”! Am I ever dating myself!)

These tasty, chewy treats were regular attendees at church events.  You could pretty much guarantee they’d pop up at all community events and wedding showers.

Like puffed wheat cake, the popularity of these cookies has languished.  I think it’s time our taste buds take a stroll down memory lane.

My family called them Fiddle Diddles. I don’t know where the name came from. It wasn’t the name at the top of the recipe in the cook book, but as a kid it was fun to say.

I took a big interest in baking at an early age and these were the first cookies I learned to make; probably because my mother didn’t have to worry about any potential oven mishaps.  She just had to ensure no fires started on the stove top. (I only remember starting a fire on the stove once and that was when I was an adult in my own kitchen…and it was an accident…but I digress.)

Any time I wanted to bake, Fiddle Diddles were the cookie of choice. They had everything you needed for a successful cookie. From my perspective they were sweet and chocolaty and you experienced close to instant gratification since they required zero oven time – just drop them on waxed paper, wait about ½ an hour and voila…cookies!

From my mother’s perspective they provided oat fiber, cleverly hidden in the guise of a sweet, chocolate treat. So there you have it a cookie everyone can agree on. 

Here’s the recipe, I’ll leave the name choice up to you. J

Put the following ingredients in a medium sized pot:
2 cups white sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa
½ cup milk
½ cup butter
Pinch of salt
Mix together and bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 ½ minutes.
Remove from heat.

Stir in:
3 cups oatmeal (either regular or quick cooking rolled oats will work - don't pre-cook it, just dump in the plain, raw oats)
1 cup coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
When completely mixed drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper and cool.

Do you remember these cookies? What did your family call them? Click on "comments" below to share your thoughts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Acquisition Addiction - Part II

Does the acquisition of consumer goods satisfy? Can buying more “stuff” solve our problems? Can owning a new car, a flashy new cell phone or an expensive sweater change our self-image, solve our relationship problems or make us happy? (From Acquisition Addiction - Part 1)

Yes, a new car or great new sweater will make you feel better. It will boost your self-image and maybe even build confidence. It’s exciting to score that great bargain and the right clothing can make you feel amazing!

Unfortunately the feeling is only temporary. When the initial sense of euphoria fades our problems rise to the surface like dead fish in an aquarium. They can’t be ignored and they stink! Back to the mall we dash for our next hit of self-worth found in the form of clothes, shoes, cosmetics, housewares, jewelry; you fill in the blank.

 The very act of addictive shopping leads to a set of its own unique problems. The shopper descends into a dark, muddy pit of self-loathing and credit card debt.

Marital problems, family problems, financial problems, work problems, self image problems, health problems, social problems, addiction problems...none of the realities of life are fixed by another trip to the mall.

Every day we’re bombarded by advertising messages telling us we need more “stuff”.  Advertisements tell us we’ll feel better about ourselves if we buy a certain brand of make up or own a specific designer’s clothing. We’ll be more beautiful and popular if we buy a certain hair product. Marketers are trained to manipulate our emotions, our desires and our dreams.  Guess what? Advertising works!

With easy access to on-line and television shopping and malls in every residential neighbourhood we’re walking a thin line between healthy buying patterns and those leading to addiction.

Perhaps it’s time to step back and examine our buying patterns and motivations? Do you see an advertisement and find yourself wanting to buy the product so you’ll be more beautiful, more popular, more desirable or happier? Are your credit card balances higher than your bank balance? Do you own a bunch of stuff you don’t need and don’t even want? Do you hide your purchases from your spouse or your friends? Are you ashamed to talk about your spending habits?

Have you crossed the line from responsible shopping into addiction?  If so I encourage you to speak to your doctor, who can determine the best way of managing your addiction. He may prescribe medication or refer you to a counselor specializing in the area of shopping addiction. He may recommend a combination of both.  Treatment plans are different for every person.

Don’t delay on this. Do it now before you’re faced with the serious consequences of bankruptcy and financial destruction. If you’ve already fallen into the bottomless well of debt, don’t despair, there’s still hope. The first step to ending the slavery of addiction is recognizing the problem and seeking help.  Everyone has to start some time. Make it now!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Acquisition Addiction - Part 1

Before I jump into this post I have a confession to make. I’ve stolen the title from Beulah Alliance Church's sign in Edmonton. The two words screamed for my attention when I drove by the sign a few months ago. Immediately the squirrel in my brain started chattering!

In hope of finding a thought provoking sermon on the topic I clicked around their website but came up empty handed.  I couldn’t resist shamelessly ripping off the title and sharing some of my thoughts on the topic.

Acquisition addiction! How many of us suffer from this affliction? Probably everyone to some extent. We all have our little weakness – things inexplicably leap off the shelf and into our shopping cart. Perhaps it’s a collection of dolls, spoons, Christmas ornaments, or other essentially useless items. We're drawn to owning more and more and more...and more.

My four greatest shopping weaknesses are tea, candles, scarves and yarn (not necessarily in that order). I justify these because I drink the tea, I burn the candles, I wear the scarves and when I have time (sadly none recently) I knit.

But do I really NEED all the tea in my cupboard? Do I NEED shelves full of candles and accessories in the basement? Do I NEED a different scarf for every day of the week? Do I NEED four sweater kits when I haven’t had time to finish a single prayer shawl in the last six months? Of course not, but with acquisition addiction that’s not the point!

Why are we compelled to buy more “stuff”? I may joke about buying more tea or yarn but shopping addiction is a serious affliction leading to a rapid descent into overwhelming debt, depression and bankruptcy.

There’s a medical term for shopping addiction – oniomania. Oniomania is defined as, “a passion or mad desire to buy things.” Like any addiction, it is generally a symptom of some other underlying problem.  Oniomaniacs buy things to hide from pain, to reduce stress, to escape their problems, to boost their self esteem, to comfort themselves, to reward themselves, and to escape loneliness and depression.

We’ve just come through the highest spending time of the year – Christmas. People go in debt to put the best gifts under the tree. Relationships are judged on the value of the gift. Feelings of depression and loneliness run rampant as we compare our failed relationships to the “perfect family moment” playing in the movies and on TV. Consumer goods are purchased to numb the pain and marketers know it!

Does the acquisition of consumer goods satisfy? Can buying more “stuff” solve our problems? Can owning a new car, a flashy new cell phone, or an expensive new sweater change our self image, solve our relationship problems, or make us happy?

Please post your thoughts below (click on "comments"). 

Look for Acquisition Addiction – Part 2 next week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

To Give...Or Not

To give, or not to give...that is the question. OK, that’s a bad rip off from Shakespeare’s familiar quote from Hamlet, “To be or not to be...” but it’s an area where we all struggle.

Do we give to charity or don’t we? Do we give to the homeless or don’t we? Do we tithe or don’t we? That’s right, I said the word...tithe. Depending on the church you attend this may be a common word in your vernacular or it may elicit looks of dismay, mumbled grumbling and a general sense of unease in the audience.

I’m not starting the year off with this post to stir up trouble or start a heated discussion about those who tithe and those who don’t.  (Although feel free to leave your comments below.) As I sit down to work through our personal financial budget for 2012, generosity has been on my mind.

It’s easy to be generous when the bills are paid and extra money is readily available. It’s easy to give 10% to the church and support other charities when it doesn’t affect our everyday the food we eat and the number of channels on our TV’s.

What about when the numbers just don’t add up? When you total your income and expenses and realize the final number is red, not black. How easy is it to be generous now?

The knee jerk reaction is to cut back in the areas where no bill collectors will phone us or send us nasty letters. Of course that’s the church and charities. These people aren’t going to call us up and ask us why they didn’t get any money this month.

I’ve volunteered on a few church boards and councils over the years. I can’t remember a single time when we presented a budget at the annual general meeting that wasn’t a “faith” budget. What does that mean? It means there was no way we’d ever generate that kind of revenue without relying on God to produce it.

So what about our personal finances? Do we do ourselves a disservice when we cut back in the church and charity areas? Are we limiting the amount of blessing and joy we get out of life by being generous? Should we approach it like the “faith” budget and trust God to move in our lives and provide for us through various unexplored opportunities?

I don’t have good answers for these questions.  I function with a highly analytical and logical mind and I have issues with seeing the colour red at the bottom of a column of figures!

But you throw faith into the mix and suddenly there are unknown factors in play – the “what if I give God a chance” or “do I trust Him enough to follow through on other opportunities and see what happens?” spring to mind.

What do you think? Are we too fast to cut back on generosity and giving in our personal lives? Do we limit God’s opportunities to show us what He can do for us?