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Monday, February 14, 2011


Rachel Chaikof is an amazing young woman I met "virtually", because we have the commonality that she hears with cochlear implants like my youngest son.  Her mom and I became acquainted YEARS ago via a listserv support group for parents of children with cochlear implants.  I have "watched" Rachel grow up, graduate from high school, be an international exchange student, graduate from college, and now doing post-graduate studies in England.  She is an highly successful young woman...who happens to be deaf.  I like that her deafness does not define her.  She speaks fluent English, French, and some Spanish (she did an immersion exchange in Peru without knowing Spanish...that would have scared me to death).  She seems to have no fear in going boldly into the world, travelling, learning, blogging, creating web sites, educating others, and taking amazing photographs of her travels and experiences.  I invited Rachel to be a guest blogger this week.  She's been posting some photos on Facebook regarding her culinary escapades in London.  I've enjoyed them thoroughly.  This week she and a friend made sugar cookies for Valentine's Day.  I asked her to write about her experiences, and she graciously did just that.  Enjoy!

GUEST BLOGGER:  Rachel Chaikof

I am honored to do a guest blog post for Debbi's blog. While I am from the US, I have been studying in London since September for a masters. Being an international student is quite an experience because I learn so many cultural differences from my classmates. Because ovens don't exist in almost all homes in China, a classmate of mine who is from China, Sophia, has been fascinated with utilizing the oven to bake many kinds of food that do not exist in her home country, since arriving in London and discovering an oven in her flat. She has been wanting to learn how to make "Western World" cuisine, in particular desserts that require the use of an oven. Every other weekend, she comes to my flat to learn how to make a dinner dish and a dessert from my home country. Then on the other every other weekends, I go over to her place to learn how to make REAL Chinese food. I should note that Fortune cookies do not exist in China!

Because this past weekend was shortly before Valentine's Day, I wanted to choose a traditional Valentine's Day dessert to celebrate it and to teach Sophia about the holiday. I explained to her that making sugar cookies in heart shapes and writing notes and names on the cookies by using icing in pink, red, and white is one way to express our love for other people. She asked me why red, white, and pink are Valentine's Day colors. I explained to her that red signifies the traditional red roses and roses are traditionally given by husbands to wives or by boyfriends to girlfriends. I told her that pink means love and also red too. Pink also represents combining white and red. I told her that white has a similar meaning to what we use in weddings, which is spirituality and purity.

Sophia and Rachel busily decorating cookies!
I used the recipe that Debbi posted, Laurie Mather's World's Best Sugar Cookies. While I have made sugar cookies from scratch in the past, I found that the ones I've made are not as good as the cookie dough that I can just buy from a food store. Because Sophia is not going to find cookie dough in her home country, it was very important for me to find the BEST recipe so that Sophia can make the cookies when she goes back home and purchases an oven. After I saw her posting pictures of her Valentine's Day sugar cookies on Facebook, I knew that Debbi would have a GOOD recipe, as she has far more experience in baking than I do!

This sugar cookie recipe was the first one that I really enjoyed! It had a rich taste that other recipes that I used did not have. I also loved the fact that these cookies didn't expand as they cooked, and they stayed in their perfect heart shapes.

For frosting, I just used a very basic recipe using confectioners sugar, butter and milk and mixing them together. Of course, I put in some red food coloring to jazz up the cookies!

Sophia absolutely loved the cookies when she tasted them! In honor of her family and friends who can't be with Sophia to celebrate Valentine's Day, she wrote "Mom", "Dad", her husband's name and her best friend's name from China in Chinese on the cookies. Of course we took pictures so that Sophia can e-mail them to her family to show her new discovery - Valentine's Day sugar cookies! ...And to show that she has been thinking about her family while living thousands of miles away from them.


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