Bake your way through bureaucracy

I’m hip-deep in preparations for our next IEP meeting, which I’m told should NOT include some of my brilliant ideas, such as screaming, “You people are inefficient, heartless asses” or suggesting that my child could, in fact, receive a better education in a cage full of premenstrual orangutans. (I only believe one of those statements, actually.) (But I’m not saying which one.)

This time we’re bringing the Big Guns, by which I mean that we have hired representation because it’s become clear to us that that’s the only way anything’s going to get done. Sad, but true. And really, all of that pesky money I had tucked away was making my mattress all lumpy.

In addition to having many other brilliant ideas, our shiny new advocate has suggested that I bring food to our next meeting. (Don’t you love her already?) She suggested a number of things which are easy enough to pick up at the store, but you know me. If I’m going to kill them with kindness, I’m going all the way. I’m baking, baby.

Have a recipe guaranteed to turn even the most curmudgeonly drone to pliable goo? Please share. I need a good one.


  1. Zilla

    What about pumpkin bread? I share, if you wish. Easy to do and very tasty. Good luck.

  2. Frank

    Being a long time reader, I remember WAY back in the days of pre-Otto that you used to make some sort of cookies that EVERYONE did backflips for… you got the recipe from a friend online, and they were an Internet Sensation. damned if I can remember now (and too lazy to filter the archives)… but I seem to remember Molasses being involved… seems like a good thought for Southern types.
    Probably doesnt help much….. trying tho. Luck to you in any event!

  3. Jen R

    The Pioneer Woman’s chocolate sheet cake. Mmmm… yummy!

  4. Debbi

    Pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips!! :-)

  5. Jodie

    Having attended many an IEP as a child’s advocate I have many suggestions. Brownies can be a bit messy. I find chocolate chip cookies and a caraffe of coffee went over the best.

  6. Megan

    I’m with Jodie – chocolate chip cookies. Of course I sort of feel chocolate chips (the good kind, mind you) make just about anything much better- Pumpkin bread, banana bread… just add chocolate chips!

  7. diane

    Lethal layers –

    Aside from being absolutely delicious (and Southern! with the pecan halves and all), you have the added delight of all of the mental riffs you can make on the name, and what you’d like to do the the premenstrual orangutans…

  8. Randi

    I was going to suggest pumpkin roll, but that’s not something you can just snag and eat – chocolate chip cookies are great – I have a recipe that uses cream cheese – OMG, so good!!

  9. mar

    Banana bread muffins (I use the recipe from Martha Stewart’s original cookbook) and add 2-3 handfuls of mini chocolate chips after all ingredients are mixed. Healthy, yet with chocolate! Muffins are better than bread – they’re the finger food of breakfast treats!

  10. RuthWells

    I think any home-baked goods will have the desired effect. Go get ’em, Mir!

  11. radioactivetori

    Chocolate chip cookies with corn flakes. That’s what I brought to my daughter’s last IEP meeting and she is getting tons of extra help now and seeming to progress much more rapidly. Coincidence? Maybe, but I think it might be the magical addictive cookies.

  12. Holly

    This recipe is for sure going to get them to like you and promise you anything you want and or need. This recipe pretty much guarantees that they will love EVERYBODY! Here’s what you need:
    and A LOT of tequila!

  13. Ellen

    I am in meetings with angry parents quite often… If I had failed to educate the student to the point where the parent had to hire an advocate, I would probably be scared to eat anything they had cooked. I’d be worried about laxatives in the brownies or something :) In my experience, an advocate means that the parent is MAD.

    (This is speaking from “one person at the school”‘s perspective – – I am a devoted follower of at least two of your blogs and personally would eat anything that you baked for me!)

  14. Nicki

    See, I was going to suggest chocolate chip cookies. Does this make me normal, ordinary, run of the mill? *gasp*

    I use the recipe on the back of the Nestle’s semi-sweet morsels bag. It’s a winner. And don’t underestimate the power of a good homemade cookie. Baking is a dying art.

    Best of luck on the IEP meeting. I’ve been through more than I can count and some choclate chip cookies would have really made the process so much more bearable. I DO like your advocate. Not only is she shiny, but sh’s worth every penny. (It’s those penny’s that’ll really wreck a good night’s sleep. You didn’t want them lying around anyway.)

  15. Pam

    As a special ed teacher, I realize I’m speaking from the other side of the camp. Refreshments are always appreciated. Cookies are especially nice, because you don’t need utensils and you can take them easily back to your desk if you don’t have time to eat yours at the meeting.

  16. MomCat

    Mini banana walnut muffins made with walnut oil. Manna from heaven. With the added bonus that if the recipients are nut allergic, your problems are over. (Kidding! I was kidding!)

  17. Aimee

    Frank, I believe you’re thinking of Kira cookies. And they are AWESOME. Seriously, Mir, I don’t think you can go wrong with a batch of those. Especially if you can somehow arrange for them to be still warm when you get there.

  18. bob

    fried chicken, collard greens (w/fatback), corn bread, lumpy mashed potatoes with gravy (made from the leavings of frying the chicken)and peach cobbler with ice cream. served with tea, of course.

    hell, if you’re gonna cook, cook.

    after they eat this, you hit ’em with your advocate. they won’t be able to do anything but nod yes to your demands.

  19. Melanie

    I can’t believe no one else thought of it – hash brownies, of course!

    I am *only* kidding! Mir – just so you know – they will be far more nervous than you as you are coming in with representation. I work in a school (not in that capacity), but I see how nervous they all get when a parent comes in with an ed advocate. It is to your benefit!

    Good luck!

  20. Kate

    Am I the only one who finds it strange that your professional advocate suggested you bring food – and you’re baking? Is this to “soften” your image, set a “we’re all friends” atmosphere, or what? It’s none of my business and I don’t even take issue with your compliance – am just surprised and wondering if I’m the only one (admittedly I have no experience with grade schools, IEPs, and am not from the hospitable South, though did grow up in the Midwest where sharing food – homeade food – reigns supreme). Would you be taking food if dealing with psychologists or other health care professionals not connected to the school system? In any case – sounds like some of them could use fruitcake. Another tack might be carmel corn, sticky buns, or something similarly messy. It’s hard to be self-righteous, uppity, etc. when you’re making a mess. Good luck.

  21. Rebecca

    Congratulations on making the move to hire a rep. Best decision ever, when dealing with a difficult school and IEP issues. GOOD LUCK!!

  22. Kendra II

    Kira’s cookies…totally
    good luck

  23. Meg

    I took big,thick mocha brownies with chocolate chips to our last IEP. It was scheduled for right after lunch and we had about 10 people attending. They DOVE into those and thanked me privately for thinking of them. Most parents don’t realize how exhausting these meetings are for EVERYONE, including the teachers/administrators. Bringing food is like a peace offering, sets the tone for the meeting.

    Also, I always bring a photo of my son for everyone attending. Usually about 5×7, framed by a message about some of his strengths and likes, and with a list of what I feel our goals are on the back. Everyone always exclaims over them and mention it throughout the year. Email me if you’re interested in seeing our last one, I’d be happy to send it!

  24. Wendy

    Ina Garten’s Rugelach – but skip the jelly or jam or whatever she uses and use mini chocolate chips instead. The perfect little finger food treat.

  25. Courtney

    I emailed you two recipes, the first from a book series I read, and the second is a family recipe. They both are best made the night before.

  26. Otto

    I saw the headline and immediately thought YES!!!! BEER CHEESE BREAD TONIGHT!!!!

    But Kira’s Kookies are probably better for the meeting …


  27. Mir

    Dearest Otto,

    Buy some damn beer and I’ll make you the bread.


  28. Madge

    Pumpkin pecan chocolate chunk cookies, found here:

    I think they’re good (and less messy) without the frosting. They’ve accompanied me to a few meetings before and have always been a big hit!
    Oh and almost every meeting I’ve been to (mostly PPT and IFSP) involved baked goods…it’s just a nice way to help everyone focus on the task at hand (with the extra sugar boost, I think!) and stay pleasant with each other (who can be fuming when eating cookies?), and it tends to curb angry bursts/arguments (can’t yell when your mouth is full of cookie!). From the “other side of the camp”, I totally agree with the baked goods angle (and have been known to make them myself if I have a close relationship with the family).

  29. krissn

    Pioneer Woman’s chocolate sheet cake – TO DIE FOR and SOOOO easy to make.

  30. Gwen

    Bakerella’s cake balls…They are kind of labor intensive, but they have magical properties…they caused a 20 year old bachelor to use the kitchen in his apartment to make his own when I cut of his supply.

    I am making a triple dark chocolate version for thanksgiving: dark chocolate cake, dark chocolate icing, dark chocolate candy coating. Mmmmmm.

  31. feefifoto

    What a shame that you have to hire someone to press your child’s case at a public school for which you pay taxes. It seems so very wrong.

  32. karen

    OMG… I can’t believe you’ve had to take it that far. *sigh* Good luck. Pot brownies.. that’s my recommendation at this point.

  33. paige

    Kentucky Butter Cake.

    It’s a ultra rich pound cake type dessert. We call it “Cardiologist’s Boat Payment” in our house. It’s a family recipe….email me if you’d like the recipe.

    I bring this cake when I need to apologize for something big or when I need a bribe.

  34. Amy

    Definitely brownies. These are my favorite: They are REALLY, REALLY good.

    I’m a teacher and I’ve been through what seems like millions of IEP meetings by now. I remember once years ago when I had a 6th grader come to his meeting with his parents and lawyer. This was the first meeting I had been a part of with hired representation. I silently thought “good for them!” because I knew not everyone at the table was as willing to help this kid as I was. I only taught him one period a day–but all the other teachers grumbled and rolled their eyes about the lawyer. Even still, the family’s message was heard loud and clear and progress was made. I hope there are people at the meeting who recognize the school’s ineffectiveness as much as you do. Brownies will help, for sure. Really, though, even in a frustrating school, there must be a staff member involved here who wishes the school would help more than they do and this meeting might be what it takes to kick them into motion.

  35. Anna

    I have loved pretty much everything on the Buns In My Oven website. But my favorite recipe for melting stone hearts has to be the scotcheroos. Peanut butter, chocolate, butterscotch and corn syrup.

    In fact, I’ve had such a terrible week, I might make some for myself this afternoon.

  36. Jen

    I’m with Kate: I find it strange to bring food. But after reading so many nods of approval from the other side of the camp, maybe I have to think about this some more. We have a controversial IEP coming up in a few weeks.

  37. Jen

    I’m so ashamed as a teacher you’re having so much trouble. I know there are some teachers that are just sh**s – I know I work with them, but for crying out loud – the whole point of teaching is to try to HELP!!!! I’m so so sorry for you and those of you that have had to deal with the teacher’s with “rectal/cranial inversion’ as my Pop would say.

  38. StephLove

    It sounds like you have plenty of menu suggestions, so I just have a question. Was the money in your mattress previously in the buckets, or is this a separate revenue stream?

    Good Luck!

  39. Emma

    Well, now I am curious about these Kira’s cookies.
    Good luck with the meeting.

  40. TC

    Our advocate brought fresh-baked brownies to our IEP meeting. I decided then and there she was worth the buckets of money we’re paying her.

  41. Kate Setzer Kamphausen

    No idea on the food front – but I’m starting praying for you guys now. SO sorry you had to go to the lengths of hiring counsel……

  42. Aubri

    Oh man! I made the best sugar cookies the other day! Go here: I used an extra cup of sugar, and an extra tsp of vanilla… yummy! And frost them with the following:

    2 bricks of cream cheese
    1 stick of butter
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    3 cups powdered sugar

    Cream butter and cream cheese together, mix in vanilla, stir in powdered sugar.

    Perfection… I swear it!

  43. Jamie

    Good luck with the meeting! I’m going to make coffee cake tonight for work tomorrow, but at least I’m not going to be yelling at those folks….. and after reading the comments, I’m thinking coffee cake muffins might be best for serving/eating in the meeting room. You’ll have to share Kira’s cookie recipe if you’re allowed!

  44. Debra

    Might I suggest something that does NOT require a fork or a knife… just in case the conversation gets heated.

  45. Becca

    Fudge? It’s dense so it could do some damage if you start throwing it.

    It’s probably a little weird to say this, but thanks for going to bat for him. I wish my parents had.

  46. Chris

    Oatmeal Choc Chip cookies – a “healthy” twist on a classic that is always a crowd pleaser.

    Baked goods are a sort of a peace offering and provide a counter to any potential reaction to the legal advocate.

    While I wouldn’t have thought of it, if it is important enough to pay for outside counsel, it is important enough to follow their suggestions.

    Best of luck – may the mom force be with you.

  47. Lori B

    Okay, this is a little different, but I make a White Chocolate Popcorn that gets raves and is ridiculously easy. Pop a bag of popcorn, melt 4 bars of white chocolate “bark,” pour over the popcorn, and mix. Break it up once it is hard. I mix it in a large metal bowl and then put it in a serving bowl.

    Granted, you’d have to bring the serving bowl, serving spoon and serving plates, so as to discourage grubby hands in the bowl. But, it would let you put little things in your mouth all throughout the meeting when you felt you needed to bite your tongue, instead of large fattening cookies.

    Remember, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:21 Okay, that sounds harsh until you add the next part about overcoming evil with good. And really, that’s what you are trying to do, right? Overcome the evil of apathy and ineffectiveness with the goodness of your momma love. Blessings!

  48. Ani

    Two-bite brownies. From the store. Oh so good and easy

  49. jen

    former teacher here…. (sahm now) nothing messy. i hated eating in front of all of the people at those meeting–worried i was going to get myself all messy! and i was really glad when some families got an advocate. i really wanted to do more for their child but my hands were tied. i was silently cheering for them. go mir!

  50. Mare

    hehehe Otto rocks and your response is excellent. Wouldn’t want for you to be caught out buying beer for heaven’s sake. What would people think? ;-)

  51. Lauren

    I have a FANTASTIC pumpkin bread recipe, and it’s absolutely fail safe. Shoot me an email if you like and I’ll send it along — it’s LAUGHABLY easy.

  52. Jill W.

    LOL, Stephlove.

    Good luck, Mir.

    Also, what are Kira cookies?

  53. Headless Mom

    I can’t wait to hear how you kicked their a@@es all over that room. With cookies!

  54. Brigitte

    Was the spelling of bureaucracy intentional and I’m the only one too slow to get it?

    Everyone at my daughter’s pre-school was in raptures over raspberry cream-cheese coffee cake (bring plates and forks):

    Though they may start to wonder about your intentions when YOU’RE not digging in!

  55. Brigitte

    Is the spelling of bureaucracy some special thing that I’m not getting?

    Everyone at my daughter’s pre-school was in raptures over raspberry creamcheese coffee cake (, though you’ll need plates n’ stuff.

    Though they may start to worry about your intentions when they see YOU’RE not partaking. ;-)

  56. Burgh Baby

    I think you are @RockingPony are living identical lives right now. Obviously, I don’t know the details of the drama going on in either case, but she’s one step ahead of you. Cookies were involved.

  57. Shelley

    I think you should take brownies with “herbs” in them. The IEP will just gaze at you and nod at everything you and your advocate suggest! No? Chocolate chip cookies work too.

  58. Katie in MA

    You probably don’t want my severed-fingers cookies. It might send the wrong message. (Even though they are *quite* tasty!)

  59. raina

    Being a long time IEP meeting participant, its safe for me to say that if there was food involved I would be throwing at somebody.

    Its safer to not even give me a pen at those meetings, actually.

  60. Sharon

    The chocolate chip recipe on the back of the Ghiardelli chocolate chip package. They are the best.

  61. dad

    Make sure Otto brings home enough beer so that there are leftovers.
    Good luck at the intervention.

  62. Kim

    I am with Kate. I have been through years of IEP meetings (my son is now 20) and I would have been appalled if anyone suggested I bring food. It is not a party or social event. Perhaps the fact that the administration seems to be treating it as one is one of the reasons they are not effective?

  63. Ellise

    I actually did that for years, bringing food to the IEP meetings. They loved it and it went a long way in braking any tension that may have been there. I also still go out of my way to Christmas gift the teachers personally (despite any clas gift)and even the aides. I also bring a big tray of cookies/brownies to the special ed department.My youngest is in highschool and I still do this. It really is appreciated. Of course, for the Christmas gift I gift sparkling wine to the teachers and gift cards to the aides. They seem to really like that alot!:)

  64. heidi

    having just been at an IEP mtg, I say bring cocktails.

  65. Kelly

    If it wasn’t for food allergies – I love peanut butter fudge and its so easy and you can cut it easily into shareable squares… but now I have a peanut-allergic daughter so bringing that to school might not be acceptable. But its a great sipmle recipe if you are interested. Everyone always loves it.

  66. Sarah

    As a mom of a wonderful boy who is having some struggles in school, I am following your plight with a lot of interest. I hope I can be in my son’s corner the way you are with Monkeys. Please keep sharing your thoughts on IEP and your struggles as this is a new world for me – ours is just getting going and I’ve absolutely no experience. I’ve been getting advice to have my own independent eval done and now I see you getting your own rep and I wonder if these are steps I should start researching. Thanks for covering this topic – as I told my son there is absolutely no shame in getting help and tools, doesn’t reflect on intelligence in any way. If only every child had a mom like you in their corner!

  67. Michele Bardsley

    You had to hire representation to get your kid an IEP? Are you putting firecrackers in those muffins? Or at least cayenne pepper?

    My son is on an IEP and the school bends over backwards to make sure he has everything he needs to succeed in school. He’s also a special needs kid who gets good grades.

    Good luck!

  68. GrandeMocha

    I had to work with a guy who obviously disliked me. I brought in homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting for my birthday & gave him one. Instant BFF. We are still friendly 6 years later.

  69. Jen

    Sorry, can’t share, need the recipe for my own “your kid isn’t 2e because we say so despite all the private testing you have proving otherwise” meeting. ;)

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