Monday, August 31, 2009

What Not To Do At College


Today I learned how to be a successful student. And nowhere on there did it mention baking, but it did mention time management skills. So far, I'm doing okay. I slept for ten and a half hours last night, and at my current rate, I'll get to sleep for about eight tonight. So far, so good.

Well, except for the fact that I haven't done my reading for Wednesday yet. So tomorrow I'll have to kick myself into gear, between classes, running, a meeting, and sleep, there should be plenty of time for that. Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow without any repercussions? It's not like I spent hours online playing Text Twist or video chatting with my nonexistent boyfriend five states away. Instead I made cookie dough, spent an hour and a half getting dinner (my stir-fry had banana peppers!), and then proceeded to spend the next two hours baking cookies. It takes some time when you only have one baking sheet. And I met four new people (and most likely can't identify them in a line-up), learned how to play "cutthroat," and amazed people by the fact that, yes, these cookies are made from scratch. And no, I don't think it's a waste of my time in college to bake. I love to see people's faces when I offer them cookies, or they walk into a room and see some stranger baking. It's fun!

These cookies put Friday's cookies to shame. It may be that I like brownies, and these cookies taste like brownies. And are significantly prettier and chewy. And much prettier. These cookies I'm not scared to walk up and down the hall with, and with their petite size, I don't feel guilty offering them to everyone either.

Chocolate Crinkles
pretty much the same as the recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup mild oil (I used canola)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, granulated sugar, chocolate, oil, baking powder, and vanilla. Stir in the flower with a wooden spoon or awesome spatula. Cover and chill teh dough until easy to handle, about an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Shape teaspoonfulls of dough into balls. Roll in powdered sugar to coat generously, they will be much prettier this way. Place balls 1/2-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are set and tops are crackled and edges are set. Let cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday Night Cookies


The first Friday night at college. Hot, sticky air. Lots of noise. Cramped spaces. Peanut butter cookies from scratch.

Yep. That would be me! I spent my first Friday night not in search of a wild party, beer, or a bed. I spent it making peanut butter cookies... well, I guess 8pm could be considered the evening here, in which case I did spend my Friday night doing other things... like playing Twister, card games, and getting pink grapefruit gelato and trying to figure out how inebriated the person limping down the hallway really was ("I'm fine, really, I'm fine." "Okay... if you say so.")


I fought with an oven that I couldn't figure out how to turn on, leading someone else to push buttons randomly and get it to work after I pretty much murdered the first batch of cookies. I panicked that I would set off the fire alarm when I forgot about the third batch, which someone else wanted to happen to see how many people came out of the building. All in all it was a good experience. Nobody complained nor went into anaphylactic shock. I'd say that's a sign of a successful night.

Milk Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
from the back of a bag of Target chocolate chips

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 oz (1 bag) milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Beat butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla on medium speed until creamy. Beat in egg.

Mix in flour, baking soda, and baking powder with a spatula or on a slow speed until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Press down with a fork to flatten.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet slightly before transferring to a cooling rack or somewhere else. Do not eat directly off cookie sheet or you will be in pain and learn a lesson.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Raspberries, Sorbet, and Fudge: A Temporary Goodbye


I've left home and at college now. It's a little weird. I don't start classes for over a week, my roommate isn't here yet, and the campus is fairly quiet. That, and I'm not at home where the kitchen is. This could take some getting used to.

Right before I left, I tried to take advantage of the kitchen I was neglecting, because I know that I'm going to miss it. I made zucchini bread, but not as much as I intended to, raspberry sorbet, and fudge. I was going to make tofu with bok choy for lunch one day, but I never got around to it with the leftover gormeh sabzi in the fridge. Hopefully someone in the house uses the tofu before it goes bad. But the best received thing I made was the dessert I made the night my aunt and Ed came over for dinner. I'd made the raspberry sorbet earlier in the day, and wanted something to go with it. Cookie cups would have taken a little too much time since I made it back to the house 5 minutes before my aunt showed up. Aunt B really likes chocolate, so I settled on fudge.

It was a tasty pairing. And super simple as well.

Almond Topped Fudge
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3 cups (18 ounces) chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Line a baking sheet with or 9" square pan with parchment paper.

In a saucepan or in the microwave, melt the chocolate. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

Spread the fudge into a 9" square. Top with almonds and press down lightly. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Since Everybody Could Use Another Potato Salad

Just in case a lack of words and pictures hasn't made it obvious, I haven't been cooking much lately. Or at least not much new or noteworthy, and if it has been new and noteworthy, there weren't any pictures to back it up. That, and I just haven't been able to come up with much to say.

But here's something. And I didn't make it, which makes me sad. But it's an idea, from a potato salad at Whole Foods. Something different for the last month of potato salads.

Grilled (or cooked however) potatoes, tosssed with crumbled blue cheese, torn watercress and sliced scallions in a vinaigrette of olive oil, red whine vinegar, shallots, dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.

How's that for simple and different sounding? Not that I could get the proportions right. Maybe I'll try sometime this week. Or not.