In the At Home With Martin & Sylvia story “Night Magic,” Daddy has borrowed Mr. Brown’s telescope with the intention of seeing the full moon. They all decide to stay up late that night, but Martin starts to worry he might get scared in the dark. When the sun finally sets, however, he is dazzled by the magic of the night.
Summer is such a great time for watching the night sky!
Even with your naked eyes and the most rudimentary knowledge of astronomy — or a decent book from the library — you can pick out so many constellations. And the magic of spending time under the stars will stick with your kids long after they've grown old enough to have kids of their own.
It's been years since I've been stargazing with my dad, but I can still hear his voice every time I look up at the stars:
“Arc to Arcturus and spike to Spica.”
“Do you see the tea pot? That's actually part of Sagittarius.”
And my favorite of all: “The Magnificent M” (actually Cassiopeia), a group of stars that my dad convinced me had been put into the sky just because of my name.
Because we were in California — where it sometimes gets chilly at night even in summer — we would always take a thermos of hot chocolate and sometimes even some cookies for a snack.
Cut into star shapes, these chamomile shortbread cookies would be perfect for your next star watching party.
Chamomile's relaxing properties always make me think of it as a nighttime herb, and the cheery, yellow flowers are summery, too. Like most shortbread cookies, these can be a little dry, but if you let them rest for a day after you bake them, they should be just perfect.
Bake up a batch, grab a thermos of hot chocolate (or iced tea in warmer climates), and enjoy some summer stargazing.
Starry Night Chamomile Shortbreads
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
½ cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers
2⅓ cups flour (plus extra for dusting)
2-3 tablespoons water
In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and the paste from the center of the vanilla bean. When those are well mixed, add the chamomile flowers and continue mixing for another 30 seconds.
Add the flour a little at a time, then add water until the dough starts to come together. You need to add enough water to be able to roll the dough out without it crumbling.
Once the dough is mixed, wrap it in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325° and prepare two baking sheets by either buttering and flouring them or covering them with parchment.
When the dough has rested, roll it out on a floured cutting board to about a quarter-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes, and gently place them on your bake sheet, an inch or two apart.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching to make sure that they don't start to brown more than just the slightest titch around the edges. Let them cool on the bake sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool.
While these cookies can be eaten right away, I always think they're a little bit better the second day, so plan your baking and star-watching party accordingly.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.