Sunday, December 13, 2009

NPR Puzzle 12/13/09 But Who's Counting?

Welcome to Cookie Weekend.  It's not quite over yet (a couple more recipes to make, and a couple to decorate) but here we are at the beginning of the weekend, with the first few recipes completed.

We estimate that when we're done, we'll have made in excess of 90 dozen holiday treats.  But who's counting...that's why it's an estimate.  This week's puzzle deals with numbers, though.  Henry (pictured at right) solved it very quickly indeed, although gracious man that he is, he credits me with giving him the vital idea.  Huh.  My brain really isn't working yet this morning, so you can take that notion with a grain of salt.

Here's this week's puzzle:
It comes from Scott Kim, the puzzle maker for Discover Magazine. He has a 2010 page-a-day calendar just out called Mind Benders and Brainteasers. Here's one of the puzzles in it: Name five two-digit numbers that are evenly spaced out — like 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40 — in which all 10 digits from 0 to 9 are used once each. What numbers are these?
Cookie Weekend has evolved from the early days, when Henry (we were married then) asked what would be an appropriate Christmas present for the various paralegals and support staff he relied on at his office.  The problem is that it's not like his secretary (she may have a more PC title, but if so Henry doesn't know it and Katrina is not the sort of person to use it), who gets a proper present.  Everyone else on his list was someone who did a little bit of work for him every so often.  So I suggested cookies.  (Also, as I recall, his floor at that time had a holiday party to which good food was purchased or made.  The cookie haul from Cookie Weekend went to that party as Henry's contribution.)

Of course, I did all the baking at first, but he's really gotten into the spirit of the thing over the years.  By now, after three years of living on his own, he's got some well-honed skills as a kitchen helper (meaning, I mostly have him chopping nuts!).  Also, he's a great engineer -- there are times when figuring out how to get delicate chocolate cookie men off the waxed paper and on to a cookie sheet without distorting them is a true feat of ingenuity.

Here's where we are now:  Sixteen recipes completed, with two left to decorate.  We're going to get Ross to help with those, especially the "Frosted Bonbon" which he helped shape.  (Shortbread dough pressed around a chocolate kiss, or candied cherry, or Andes mint & chocolate candy -- Ross really got into the spirit of a) getting them precisely right, b) going as fast as he could, and c) not making any more than he had to.)  We've promised him he can make the chocolate men cookies into Crosswordman cookies -- joke's on him, though: we used a specialty set of three cutters: one with his head "bittten off," one with an arm "already eaten," and one with a "nibbled" leg.  Crosswordmen losing their heads?  Could never happen!

Here's the whole spread:


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