Published August 20, 2008
What’s In Your New Lunchbox?
By Susie Iventosch
Georgia Karas, 6, models a fashionable ballerina lunch box in front of McCaulou'

It's "back to school" time and that means thinking about what to pack for those kids who take their lunch from home.
With a spoonful of sadness and a dash of relief, I packed my last school lunch on June 3 for the youngest of my three children. By my estimate, that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,020 school lunches I've made over the years! True, the occasional school lunch sounded appealing to me some days, but, still, it was comforting to know they'd been sent them off with a nutritious, delicious lunch. For years I never knew that my oldest son had developed a black market of sorts, trading his lunch items for Snickers bars or … money!
In thinking back on school lunches, it seemed like a fun idea to travel the neighborhood to check out the latest in lunch pails. That's when I met six-year old Georgia Karas of Lafayette, shopping with her "YiaYia" (Greek for grandma) Evie Karas of Orinda. They were on a special school shopping spree at the Moraga McCaulou's, while Georgia's brother, Dennis, was in Cooperstown, NY with his mom, competing , and apparently winning, in a little league tournament.
Georgia said she'll be in the first grade this year and she always brings her lunch to school with her.
"I bring it in my Hannah Montana lunch pail usually, but sometimes I use my Barbie lunch box," she said. "I have a few lunch boxes."
This didn't stop her from eyeing a cute little ballerina lunch box, and besides, "I take ballet" she said. "I normally bring a turkey sandwich, Jell-o, string cheese, crackers and fruit," Georgia reported.
When I asked her if there were any special treats she wished she could have in her lunch, she said, "Yia Yia's cookies – they're really yummy and I usually eat them at Yia Yia's house."
Naturally, being a recipe buff, I asked Evie about these cookies. "Well, they're a traditional Greek cookie," she said. "They were originally made for Easter, but my seven grandchildren love them, so I bake them all year long."
Evie said they are called "koulourakia" when they're made individually and "paximadia" when made in a loaf and then cut.
"The individual cookies take a lot of time, because you have to roll two small pieces of dough and twist them together for each cookie," Evie pointed out. "If I have time, I make them this way, but since I'm very busy with the grandchildren, I usually make a large loaves from the dough, and then cut them into individual cookies."
Georgia was sure to mention these cookies are good dipped in tea, and, in fact, they are sometimes referred to as Greek biscotti.
Evie was kind enough to share her recipe with me, so I could print it for you.
Here's wishing everyone a fun and educational school year!

Yia Yia Evie's Koulourakia Cookies
(Makes 6-8 dozen cookies)
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks) at room temperature, or melted and cooled
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 eggs at room temperature
8 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon milk
3/4 to 1 cup sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease baking sheet with butter or cooking spray. When ready to bake cookies, reduce heat to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. In a separate bowl, mix 6 cups of the flour with baking powder and salt. Set remaining flour aside. Add mixed dries to butter-egg mixture alternately with cream. Then add enough of the remaining flour to make firm dough.
For Paximadia, divide dough into three large rounds. Roll each out into the shape of a short baguette and flatten slightly with hands. Spread sesame seeds onto a clean plate, or flat surface. Brush the top of each loaf with the egg-milk topping mixture and press into the sesame seeds, covering the top of the loaf. Bake with sesame side up, at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, or until dough seems cooked through. Remove from oven and cut into slices while still warm. Place slices, cut side up, back on baking sheet and toast in a 250-degree oven for about 20-30 minutes more, until golden brown and crunchy, but not too dark.
Store in jar, or freeze.
For individual Koulourakias, take two small rounds of dough, about the size of a walnut in the shell, and roll into tubes about five inches long. Twist together and brush tops with egg-milk mixture before pressing tops into sesame seeds. Bake at 350 degrees, for approximately 12-14 minutes. This process is rather time-consuming, but the cookies are beautiful and festive!

Reach Suzie at: suziven@gmail.com

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