Living With Don Johnson

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I was all set to look up some prompts and ideas for blog posts when I happened to see that Girl Scout Cookies were a trending item on yahoo. Well, that settled it for me. A blog about Girl Scout cookies. Seems like something I could write about. I was, after all, a Girl Scout for many years. As was my mom. I like to think that I know a little something when it comes to GS Cookies.

The item that was trending is the new Girl Scout cookie. Now, keep in mind that the GS have been introducing a “new” cookie every year or so for a number of years. Sometimes they are successful cookies, and they stick around for a few years like the lemon chalets. And other times, the cookie only lasts for that season of cookies (anyone remember the year that the GS sold a Cheez-it type cheese cracker? No…didn’t think so. It wasn’t popular, but I still had to try and sell it).

This year, the new cookie is named the Savannah Smile in honor of the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low. More information about JGL  can be found here. The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace Museum is in Savannah, GA. When I was a Girl Scout, I always wanted to go visit the Birthplace, but never had a chance to. I finally made it when I was 18. I went to GA on Spring Break with the guy who was my boyfriend at the time. We went to visit his friends who were moving to Germany with the military. Why I thought it would be fun to go to Hinesville, GA, I have no idea. BUT, it was a short distance from Savannah. So, on the day that we drove into Savannah, he asked me what I wanted to do. Did I want to head out towards the coast, go shopping, do the tours of ghost places and historic homes? Nope. I had one destination in mind. And it was everything that I had dreamt it would be. I loved it. (Well, looking back on it now, I loved it. I don’t remember what my feelings were at the time, but I’m pretty sure they were pretty darn close to the feelings I have about it now.)

Anyway, back to the cookies. Lemon cookies have always been a popular idea with the GS. They had the Chalet cookies for a long time. You got two kinds in the box. Some had a vanilla creme and some had the lemon creme. I remember when they introduced the Chalet cookies. I think I was a Brownie. They introduced the Lemonades a couple of years ago which are shortbread cookies with a lemon glaze. I’ve never tried the Lemonades.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had Girl Scout cookies every single year. I started selling them as a 1st grader. And since my mom was my leader, I had to attend every. single. booth sale. I hated it sometimes. It got a little repeatative to ask “Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies?” And my mom had strict rules about booth sales, and I don’t know if these were her rules or the rules of the store where we set up the booth sales. We were not allowed to ask people when they were walking in to the store because if we asked on the way in, they might not have enough to get all of the groceries they needed. We were only allowed to ask people on the way out. AND even if they said no or didn’t even acknowledge us, we still had to say Thank You. I participated in a lot of booth sales as a child. There were years it seemed like our troop did more booth sales than any other troop. My mom explained it to me when I got older. (I think she’s pretty awesome, but this just might make you think she’s pretty awesome, too). She told me that a significant number of the girls in my troop were from lower income families and didn’t have the same opportunities to sell cookies as I did. Every year, there is a cookie patch which you receive when you sell a certain number of boxes. My mom did booth sales to help ensure that every girl sold enough boxes of cookies to receive the cookie patch. Because I attended every single booth sale, I always got the extra +100 or +200 patch to indicate that I sold more than the needed number of boxes. I imagine that a lot of the boxes that I sold were divided up amongst the other girls to help them reach the needed number. I didn’t know how many I sold at booth sales. I don’t recall my mom ever keeping a running tally at the sales of who sold what.

I didn’t realize how deeply some of those items stuck in my brain until I was an adult, and I was approached to buy cookies at a booth sale outside of a Wal-Mart. The random Junior asked if I wanted to buy a box as I walked into the store. I remember being appalled that these girls had asked me when I walked into the store. I mentioned it to whomever I was with at the time. They probably just laughed at me because it is completely normal for them to ask as you walk  into the store.

The names of the cookies are different for the different regions of the country. I grew up with one baker for the cookies, so I had one set of cookie names. I grew up with Thin Mints, Samoas, Tag-a-longs, Trefoils, and Do-Si-Dos. When I moved to Texas, I got funny looks when I asked for a Samoa. They were supplied by a different baker. Therefore, they had different cookie names (although I think Thin Mint is the same across the board) like Caramel Delites, Peanut Butter Patties, Shortbread, and Peanut butter sandwiches. I will always call them by the names that I grew up with.

The age groups have changed slightly since I was an active participant in the Girl Scout Program. It used to be:

Daisys- Kindergarten

Brownies- 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade

Juniors- 4th, 5th, and 6th grade

Cadettes- 7th, 8th, and 9th grade

Seniors- 10th, 11th, and 12th grade

Although, I kinda jumped the gun and was a Senior when I was in 9th grade because I’d already completed the highest award for the Cadette level, so there really wasn’t anything left for me at that level. I’d had a fantastic experience in all of my years in Girl Scouting until I reached the senior level. That was the year I joined the Bluebonnet Council in Texas. Until that point, I’d only had 2 sets of leaders. My mom was my leader until I reached Cadettes, and then I bridged up into an awesome, already established troop. And then we moved to Texas, and it all fell apart. We found the closest troop that had some openings, and in I went. And I think I wanted out almost as soon as I joined that troop. It was nothing like what I’d experienced before. I already knew at that point that my previous troops were a little out of the ordinary. My mom had told me that. Because of the number of low income girls in my previous troops, my mom always made sure that we did all the tasks for one merit badge a month so that every girl had the chance to earn some badges. And the troop (my mom in many cases) bought the badges for the girls. I think the troop also provided a sash or vest to the girls who needed it. We also did one fun thing a month and one service project a month. I did that in every single troop. We were also Troop Beverly Hills, but that is a story for another day.

Back to the troop in Texas, I was shocked when I discovered that this new troop didn’t earn badges as a troop or do service projects. It seemed like it was a self serving little troop. They just wanted to do the fun stuff and none of the work stuff. The highest award at the time was the Gold Award which was equivilant to the Eagle Award or Arrow Award or whatever the heck it was called for the Boy Scouts. It was supposed to be a project that each girl completes on her own. She was supposed to come up with the idea and plan it from start to finish. There were also some smaller awards that needed to be completed before the final award (things like the Leadership award and Community service type thing). The big project was supposed to be something that would benefit the community in someway. For instance, for my Silver award, I organzied the Vacation Bible School for my church. They had no one to run it that year, so I thought (or my mom thought) it would be a good idea for my Silver project. I ran it. I picked out the materials. I found the teachers. I planned it. As a 7th grader, I did this. I have no idea how I did this as a 7th grader. My mom must have helped out a lot!  My Texas troop decided that they were going to do a group project, and it was going to be something silly like make party decorations for some stupid event going on in town. I remember telling them that it was a stupid idea for a project, and I didn’t think it qualified as worthy to be a Gold Project. I’m surprised the troop leader didn’t tell my mom not to bring me back after that one.  My mom made me stick it out for a year, and then I was allowed to quit. I was so happy when I got to leave that troop. It was awful.

Thanks for following this little stream of consciousness post that started with cookies and ended with Gold Projects.

Now that cookie season is about to start, do you have a favorite Girl Scout cookie? Do you buy several boxes at a time and throw them in the freezer to eat later in the year?

Me, I’m a Samoas kind of girl. And I usually just get one box of Samoas (to eat now) and one box of thin mints (to throw in the freezer for the future).


I made these cookies yesterday for some friends who were coming over (and I’ll be taking the remainder to work on Saturday).

Jello cookies are something that I grew up with. When my mom was dating my (step)dad in high school (they were high school sweethearts who finally got married 30 years later), she learned how to make these from his mom. She made them for me and my brother when we were growing up. I always seem to remember them being made around Christmas time. She’d make strawberry cookies and lime cookies (red and green for the holidays). Sometimes, instead of making drop cookies, she’d roll the lime flavored ones out like a sugar cookie and cut them out using a christmas tree cookie cutter. It made really cute Christmas cookies that she didn’t have to decorate.

Over the course of 27 years or so, my (step)dad’s family lost the recipe for Jello cookies or just stopped making them. He married my mom 2 years ago (high school sweethearts who went their separate ways for 27 years, remember?). I made Jello cookies as a dessert one day because I knew that they were coming over for dinner or something. Imagine my dad’s surprise when he saw that I’d made Jello cookies! A recipe created by his mom that he hadn’t had for years. I’ve made these cookies quite a few times in the last two years. Here’s the recipe:

3/4 c margarine or butter

1/2 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 1/2 c flour

1 (3 oz) package of Jello*

Cream butter, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in salt, baking powder, jello, and flour. Dough will be stiff. Roll into 1″ balls and smash with glass dipped in sugar. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until cookies are set up and slighlty brown on the edges.

*I usually use strawberry jello which results in a bright pink cookie. Wendy likes pink, what can I say. The only flavors I have tried that don’t work out well are lemon and orange. The flavors don’t seem to be strong enough to flavor the cookie and you wind up with a cookie that tastes like flour.

I figured I’d post this recipe since Holly asked for it. Chocolate Zucchini Cake comes courtsey of the A Family.

1/2 c marg.                                         2 c zucchini – shredded                             1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 c vegetable oil                            2 1/2 c flour                                                  1/2 c chocolate chips

1 3/4 c sugar                                     4 Tbl cocoa

2 eggs                                                 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla                                       1 tsp baking soda

1/2 c sour milk                                 1/2 tsp cinnamon


*To sour milk add 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice to 1/2 c milk and let sit for 5 minutes.

Cream marg, oil, and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and sour milk. Beat until combined. Mix together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture. Beat well with mixer. Stir in zucchini. Pour batter i n to greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips. Bake at 325* for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and dry.

Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as a cake can transport you back to a more carefree place in your life? I’ve been making chocolate zucchini cake for 20 odd years now, and every single time I make it I feel like I am 10 years old again.

The first time I made this cake, I was spending the night at my best friend’s house. We were 8 when we met. We made this cake so many times over the 6 years that we lived in the same town. Looking back, it seems that we always made it at her house. I don’t know why we never made it when she spent the night at my house.

This cake reminds me of slumber parties. I want to pull out my sleeping bag and go crash on the floor of my best friend’s room. It makes me want to get in trouble for staying up late and waking up her little sisters because we were too loud.

So many things have changed in the 20  years. My best friend is married with two small kids of her own. Even her little sisters are married now. I’ve been married and divorced and married again. Life moved forward as it should. But chocolate zucchini cake has stayed the same.

When I ate my first forkful tonight, I smiled as I remembered all of the carefree times that we had making a chocolate mess in my best friend’s kitchen.

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