Sunday, February 6, 2011

All-American Healthy Snickerdoodles

Today is Super Bowl Sunday! Back in my high school and college days, I never would have uttered the words with glee.  Because of my total athletic ineptitude, I tried to feign an attitude of being ‘above’ such cares as the NFL, NHL, NCAA—heck, even gym class. However, I always had a secret vice—I loved watching women’s gymnastics and figure skating, and equestrian events during the Olympics.  Gradually, the Olympics proved to be a gateway drug to following all types of sports (not having to play volleyball against people taller than 5’2 was also helpful in stoking my enthusiasm).

However, in recent years, regarding football, I sometimes experience a twinge—I still root on my beloved Giants, but I do sometimes worry about the effects of concussions on all players.  Hopefully, the League will begin to do something to address this in regards to tackling style and helmet design. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Mary, don’t you ride horses?  Well, yes, but there is one crucial difference regarding the danger level—the point of riding isn’t to hit your head. In fact, it’s generally something every rider wants to avoid.

But don’t listen to me, because my methods of risk analysis have never been particularly sound.  If football is an all-American sport, for many years I pursued another all-America pastime—not having health insurance. And to show that I am a true Yankee Doodle Dandy, it was because I thought I didn’t need it.  My rationale was as follows: I was young and my great-great grandparents on my mother’s side lived well into their nineties.   I was a vegetarian and a runner.  Although I am a very physically timid person, even after I lost my mother to cancer, I felt that being sick, really sick, was something that happened to other, older people. On the rare instance I needed an antibiotic, the visit to the doctor and the medication cost far less than even a monthly premium.

One day, in the summer, I arrived home from work, quite tired, and decided to take a swim before ‘turning in.’ I’ve never regretted taking a swim, I told myself.  After doing 30 or so laps, I decided I’d had enough.  My right ear was full of water, but when I tried to shake it out, the water remained stubbornly in the ear canal.
I remember showering and falling asleep, with my head tilted to the right, in hopes that the water would drain out over night. I woke up with the sound of the ocean in my ear.

 For the next day or two, I walked around with my head half-cocked.  By the third day, I was no better and I noticed that a strange amoeba-shaped rash had started to spread all over my stomach.
I asked my father to drive me to the doctor.  Driving had become difficult, given that the right side of my head felt as if it was being pulled down by a fishing weight.

“You always get upset over nothing,” he told me, but agreed.

I went to a walk-in doctor and asked for an antibiotic. “It’s tough living on your own, a single woman,” the doctor said, looking at my chart.  I explained to him I was sure I had an infection.  “It will go away,” he counseled, and when I showed him the growing amoeba, he said it was a rash from my bathing suit, even though I always showed immediately after swimming.

I finally got my antibiotic, mainly because I think the doctor wanted to get rid of me, and within a day or two, the pressure went down in my ear, as if my magic.

A year later, I had to have a pool company (ironically called The Pool Doctor) investigate a leak in my pool. When Dr. Pool Dude didn’t show up, I was surprised, given that The Pool Doctor was one of the most reliable companies I’d ever done business with in my experience as a homeowner.  The pool guy came, a week later, apologizing and saying he’d been in the hospital.  “I had this infection,” he said.  “This weird purple rash had spread all over my body.”

I have had health insurance since I was thirty, and while I hardly use it, I’m glad I have it.  In fact, I’ve even become one of those people who gets angry when she sees a close friend choose to suffer for months, rather than see someone, as if avoiding the doctor is a proof of one’s good health.  So for fuck’s sake, if you need to go, go (that means you B—)!

A happy and safe Super Bowl to both teams (But go Steelers!).  And happy and safe Super Bowl Parties to you all.

All-American, Healthy Snickerdoodles

(A truly all-American cookie, for the all-American pastime).

Adapted from the Hillbilly Housewife


1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 /2 teaspoon baking powder
1/ 4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter or butter substitute (1 stick)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 /2  cup white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar blended with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Cream together the butter and light brown sugar.  Beat the vanilla extract into the egg and fold into the butter-sugar mixture. Sift the baking powder, salt, and both flours. Fold the sifted mixture into the ‘wet’ ingredients.
  3. The dough should be fairly stiff.  Roll into balls, approximately one tablespoon in size.  Roll in the sugar and spice mixture.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.  Cookies will be slightly soft when taken from the oven, but will harden quickly. Can be served warm or cool.


  1. But the best reason for the sports-challenged to care about the Super Bowl is the number of commercials involving adorable animals! And of course Puppy Bowl.

  2. Agreed! I particularly like the Budweiser commercials, and I'm a teetotaler!

    I also geek-ily like to wonder how Madison Avenue is trying to 'mess with my mind.'

  3. Not everyone has to like sports. I think what the Olympics do that help make people get more involved is give background on the athletes. I think if the NHL, NFL, etc did this, they might get more women viewers.

  4. Peabody--that is so, so true. And truthfully, that is a bit of the 'girly' reason that I like sports--I love hearing weird facts about different athletes (like which ones are vegetarians, or have odd outside interests). And the teams that I root for are the teams with players I like the best: Crosby (Penguins), Manning (Giants), and Jeter (Yankees).