A little sweetness #SOL21 2/31

Just yesterday I was talking with a friend about the evils of sugar. Just yesterday I agreed with her that the only rational choice is to limit sugar or even to avoid it altogether. I talked about the month a few years ago when I went sugar-free; I remembered that I felt really good by the end, though it was hard in the middle. We commiserated about our children’s sugar habits. Really, we said, when it comes down to it, we should be setting a better example.

So it’s just as well that no one is in the kitchen right now as the gooey insides of a warm butter tart drip down my fingers and into my mouth. My eyes shift to the right: no kids. I scrape my teeth across the cupcake liner to get the last caramelized bits from the edges then quickly crumple the evidence and throw it in the compost. No one needs to know about this.

I’m home today, playing hooky with my older child. Well, I say we’re “playing hooky” but the truth is that I’m not calling it hooky, I’m calling it rest because we both needed a break. Pandemic school is tough, and we’re practicing being kind to ourselves when we need it, so when he asked if we could extend the weekend by a day, I said yes. This morning while he slept in and read in bed, I took a walk, went to the library, and sent a few emails. When my almost-teenager, still wrapped in a blanket, wandered into the kitchen around 11 and asked if we could bake something, I delighted in the opportunity to say yes.

We thumbed through a cookbook, and he chose butter tarts. Before I moved to Canada, I had never heard of these, but the idea is simple: they are tiny pecan pies, usually minus the pecans. Traditionally they are made with a flaky pastry crust, but we opted for a simpler pâte brisée. Easy peasy. Then the filling: a cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of melted butter and one egg. That’s it – I mean, you can make it more complicated and some people add raisins or pecans or (shudder) chocolate chips, but we went for the classic. We whisked the ingredients together and spooned them into our crust-lined mini-muffin tins. Mere minutes later, we had butter tarts.

They’re a little pale, but they taste just fine.

They needed some time to cool and set, so my 12-year-old co-chef went upstairs to play video games while he waited. And I can hardly be blamed if some of the filling had oozed out of its shell, onto my fingers and into my mouth. I sigh, and realize that I won’t be giving up sugar until the sweet days of baking with my boy have passed.

Thanks to https://twowritingteachers.org for hosting this annual challenge

39 thoughts on “A little sweetness #SOL21 2/31

  1. Oh, yum! I love how you began by sharing your recent discussions of the evils of sugar and then moved right into sugar bliss and sweet memories. I heard once that we actually activate more pleasure zones in our brains when we’re doing something slightly “forbidden” –like cheating on diet or eating sugar when you’ve just said you shouldn’t. So you set yourself up to get the maximum pleasure from this sweet experience. I have such happy memories of baking with my own children. Kudos to you and your son for recognizing the need for a gentle down day and taking it. I hope you enjoyed every bite…I mean, bit…of it!

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  2. Amanda, Every part of this little story hit me right in the heart- I related on all levels. From worrying about sugar intake and the model we are for our kids to practicing being kind to ourselves (all so in need of rest!), to jumping at the chance to make and bake with our not-so-littles anymore. I’m with you. I’m new to Slice of Life this year, and the mama of 4 kids aged 2 (last week!) to 9, and we probably bake 4 times a week minimum;) You can bet baking butter tarts (thanks for introducing me!) will show up in my March writing too. Xx Nawal

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    1. Happy 2nd birthday to your youngest! I can’t wait to hear if you bake butter tarts – and welcome to the Slice of Life community: it’s pretty sweet around here. 🙂

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  3. It’s 6:42am and I want a butter tart with my coffee! I think you are making one wise choice to make and embrace sweet, sugar laden memories with your boy right here and now! Doesn’t mean you can’t limit the sugar for you! Thanks for sharing, Amanda!

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  4. You are a love after my own heart. I can identify with you 100% about the dastardly pull of sugar. I gave it up for Lent and it’s still a struggle every day. Thank you for letting me know – so entertainingly – that the struggle is real and I am not alone!

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    1. I may or may not have just re-counted the number of sick days I have left & compared it to the number of non-teaching days I have left. They are dangerously similar… that’s a lot of possible rest…

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  5. You had me smiling right here: “My eyes shift to the right: no kids. I scrape my teeth across the cupcake liner to get the last caramelized bits from the edges then quickly crumple the evidence and throw it in the compost. No one needs to know about this” I’ve been thinking about humour and how difficult it is to convey, but this is a wonderful mentor text!

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  6. The contrast of the second paragraph with the first paragraph grabbed me as a reader. I can relate! I think it’s about finding balance.

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  7. It’s funny that you were talking about sugar. That was a topic at dinner last night for us. Nancy had to see a nutritionist as part of her “survivorship” process, and she was encouraging a low-sugar diet. She had tried a Panera run yesterday, and only after ordering the lemonade did she think about how much sugar it probably took to make lemonade taste good. A lot. Actually a glazed doughnut has fewer grams of sugar! Now, though, I’m hankering for a butter tart. That sounds excellent.

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    1. Of course you were – because I’m beginning to think that our lives are a little like looking through a funny mirror. In fact, the friend who prompted the sugar discussion is dealing with cancer – she’s been very lucky, but obviously would like NOT to have it come back.

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  8. First, these sound amazing. A Pecan pie without the pecans?! It’s like my dream come true, lol! And second, I love how you end it with saying that you won’t be giving up sugar until the sweet days of baking with your boy have passed. Such a wonderful bonding activity that is totally worth it. I love baking with my kids too.

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  9. What a beautiful post! I look forward to the days my now-toddler asks for a rest day, and we can make memories like that.

    Despite the fact that he is only 18 months, I already feel like I’m having to hide sneaking sweets!! Any moment he hears a bag open, he RUNS (okay, waddles) with his chubby hand extended – doesn’t even know what he’s asking for, he just knows he wants what we’re having. HA!

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    1. Cooking with my kids is, in fact, a delight. I mean, it’s a mess & they don’t clean up & they *still* don’t always read the directions to the end, but one way or another, you’re heading for a lot of fun.

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  10. Every time I think I’ll give up sugar for any length of time something special, like a butter tart comes along. 🙂 I will never give it up entirely. I’m glad to hear you are anti-chocolate chips in the butter tart. #solidarity. I love them with raisins though. I haven’t made my own butter tarts in years because I know that one is never enough. I buy them at a little bakery so I am limited to just that one. They might be the best part of living in this country!

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  11. Amanda, this is an absolutely sweet slice (pun completely intended). You described a most wonderful extended weekend day. Good for you for taking care of yourself and your boy.

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  12. Sweet days of baking with my boy resonated with me. My grandson found a gingerbread cookie cutter on his adventures in our kitchen digging in drawer after drawer, so of course his grandmother made gingerbread. Why not? It was so fun and believe it or not, I actually had all the ingredients.

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  13. Butter tarts! They sound delicious. They sound divine. They sound delectable. I must say, I chuckled a little when you said, “…simpler pâte brisée. Easy peasy.” I obviously have some work to do on my baking skills and my vocabulary. Ha!

    The first paragraph’s attention to the problems of sugar and then the rest of the post talking about all that sugary goodness made me chuckle. It sounds like a delightful day that will be remembered for years to come.

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  14. Brava on the rest day. We are not programmed to take proper care of ourselves. You are setting a good example. Wonderful memories too 🙂

    Butter tarts and raisins. They might be the only thing I like that has raisins in it. Can we still be friends 🙂

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  15. Brava on the rest day. We are not programmed to take proper care of ourselves. You are setting a good example. Wonderful memories with your boy too 🙂

    Butter tarts and raisins. They might be the only thing I like that has raisins in it. Can we still be friends 🙂

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  16. I love that he wanted to bake something on your rest day. That is perfect. I also love that you are taking rest days! Much needed. I’m dying after just two days of hybrid, and I just barely made this deadline to turn in my writing. My brain is not functioning properly, and I don’t feel creative at all. Is it too soon to take a rest day? I need to take a rest from sugar too, but that might be the only thing getting me through these next few months. June. I’ll try that in June. My best memories of my mom are the ones where we are baking together.

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  17. That leap from the ascetic tone and stance of paragraph 1 to surreptitious indulgence in paragraph 2… In a word: delicious!

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