Friday, March 31, 2017

A small batch of lovely cookies

It is nearly April, which if you live in the US means you're finally getting around to filing taxes. I don't know about you, but all of this adulthood business made me want some fricken cookies. Some people constructively work through their frustrations and vexations; I eat them.
However, being on a momentary diet upswing, I did not wish to have two dozen divine cookies making the kitchen smell divine. Does the internet have a solution? Heck yes it does! It took like 5 seconds to find what was claimed to be a single person's single portion of cookies.
But first, let us now behold what turned up in the clearance bin!
Fifty glorious percents off!

I didn't realize I wanted peanut butter chip cookies until the chips were half off. And so, we will get over our tax vexations with...
Three Big Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg yolk
¼ c flour
⅓ c chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°. (A toaster oven will be big enough.) Grease a sheet pan.*
Cream the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the baking powder, mixing thoroughly. Then beat in the egg yolk. Stir in the flour, and when all is mixed add the chips.
Divide the batter into thirds, and drop each portion onto the pan. Bake until browned on the edges and done, which will be faster than you think- about 10-15 minutes. They go from baked to burnt quickly, so keep a close eye on them when they start to look nearly done.

*I recommend using foil because then you don't have to think about washing the pan.

Note: This originally was a recipe for oatmeal cookies which is good also. Just add ¼ cup each of oatmeal and chocolate chips at the end (if you desire, replace the chocolate chips with raisins- though apparently raisins cause some people to have paroxysms of raisin-induced rage).

It may be all well and good to control one's portions instead of permanently sacrificing all that is delicious in the name of one's clothes size, but it feels so odd to be making an entire batch of cookies in such a tiny bowl.

I've never perpetrated a bowl of cookie dough so miniature. Like, you don't get out a wooden spoon or even a measuring cup. Well, you could, but it's hard to stir such a tiny thing with a big spoon without splattering it everywhere.

This doesn't even use a whole egg. Have you ever seen a recipe so tiny you had to throw out half the egg? Or, in my case, be so irked at the idea of waste that you put the egg white in the freezer and swore you would find a recipe for it at some point?

Ordinarily, I might add chocolate chips. But as aforementioned, today the peanut butter chips were gloriously on sale!

Although once again, we have an unrelentingly single-color batch of cookies.

It's worth noting that these are a lot bigger than any other cookies I've ever made. The original recipe said to make three plops of cookie dough, but that made for some really big cookies.

All right, this recipe claimed to be a not a single batch of cookies but a single portion of them. And true, we only made three. But these things are huge- at least as big as the ones they have at gas station counters. You know, the ones that look so tempting you start to assess whether you can divert $2 of your gas money toward dessert. Each of these cookies nearly covers my whole hand.

That said, these are three really delicious cookies. And as weird as it is to be making such a teeny little batch of cookies where you measure out all your ingredients with a tiny spoon, this opens up so many new ideas. You could have fresh cookies whenever you wanted them without having pans and batches of extras taking over your counters and freezer. You can diddle with the recipe and try all sorts of weird ideas, calm in the knowledge that however dreadful your strange ideas turn out (barbecue sauce cookies, anyone?), you didn't waste very much in the name of experimentation.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Runny- er, Bonnie Doon Oaties

Today, we at A Book of Cookrye present not a reader-submitted a recipe, but a friend-submitted one! Yes indeed, this one comes from someone who personally thought of me and felt this recipe called out to me.

Truly, this touches on a lot of things we like to do here at A Book of Cookrye. To wit: It's some forgotten recipe from who-knows-where. It's for dessert. It's made on a typewriter. Incidentally, check out the completely error-free typing.
Thus says the person who scanned and posted the recipe card:

"These cookies were a family favorite when I was a kid. This was also the first recipe my mom made by herself when she was young."

Any recipe with a note like that has got to be really good, right?
I've never heard of oatmeal-coconut cookies before. However, the idea sounded really delicious. And so, we begin with a lot of coconut to toast! Besides, I needed to heat the oven anyway.

How many people make toasted coconut for anything these days? I know people used to put it on top of cakes, but these days it seems no one does it.
Meanwhile, the recipe turned into the part of making cookies everyone will recognize.
I know the recipe says to use shortening, but the last of the Christmas Crisco was already gone.

Just about every recipe that starts out looking like this ends very well indeed. Besides, this was some random person's mom's first recipe which then became a family favorite.

After eating a lot more of this cookie dough than I intended to, I can swear to you that this recipe promised to be as amazing as the notes made it look to be. I meant to only have a small taste, but somehow ended up eating... a lot.

And finally, we were ready to add the coconut which, in accordance with someone's mom's carefully typewritten instructions, we toasted. It looked like Rice-A-Roni.

At this point, we checked to see how much oatmeal went into it and.... shit.

You know how they always say to carefully read recipes before beginning? I should try that. At least waiting for the oatmeal to toast provided time to clean up the mess. Following the method that worked on the coconut, we put in the oven and left it there, stirring it sporadically, until it made the kitchen smell toasty. Do you think it made a difference?

All right, here's the point where the already delicious cookie dough theoretically becomes, as promised on the recipe card, Bonnie Doon Oaties!

Wow. This recipe is very, very monotonously brown. This is the brownest bowl of brown stuff I've seen in a long time. And it's all the same shade of brown. No dots from chocolate chips or anything to break up the brown monotony. It is so, so brown.

Also, with all the toasted things in it, this is the crunchiest cookie dough I think I've ever made. Imagine if you will stirring tiny croutons (obviously without the seasonings) into cookie dough and you can get an idea of what this was like when you tasted it. Hopefully baking would soften all that toasted stuff.

I know that cookies are supposed to spread in baking, but somehow, these looked wrong. They also looked like splats of puke.

Sure enough, we did not end up with cookies. We ended up with a cookie sheet.

Actually, I gotta tell you. The camera is being a lot nicer to these than is justified. Don't ask me how, but it's making them look better. They really looked like this.

If you look closely, it looks like the kitchen floor of someone's house. Does it look like old linoleum to anyone else?
Once again, we at A Book of Cookrye have made something that looks like it belongs underfoot.

I don't know whether to call this cookies or refer to it as a single failure. It/they was/were so thin, there were holes everywhere.

Undaunted by having somehow turned cookie dough into leather, an attempt was made to separate it from the pan.

I am so glad I put a foil over this pan. I always do because I hate washing dishes, but in this instance, the foil really paid off. But somehow, I managed to cut out and lift off some of the cookies intact. They were very flimsy. Seriously, look how much daylight you can see through them.

Also, I just have to detour to ask if cameras have a Pinterest setting that makes your life look better than it is. Just like a lot of them have selfie settings to subtly make your face look better, to cameras have a setting to make all your craft projects and baking look a lot more flawless than it is? I mean, look at this! I left one of the "cookies" exactly as it is out of the camera, and it looks beautifully golden brown and ever-so-tempting. It looks perfect for putting on Pinterest with all those other godawful craft projects that take 5 hours, all of which are posted by people claiming you just whipped this up in a few minutes and ending half their captions with "#blessed."

In recognition of what the first batch of cookies did when we attempted to bake them, we decided to take that shortcut so beloved among all of us who want cookies but don't feel like carefully spooning out little plops of dough one at a time. We smooshed it into a pan instead.
Looks like tuna salad, doesn't it?

Once again, I have to ask if cameras have a special setting for all those people who want to show off their perfect lives. You know, the ones who spend more time making sure their house looks suitable for uploading to Facebook than the spend doing anything else. Behold what a tempting deep brown this appears to be!

All right, it looks kind of leathery and dried out. The camera can't fix everything. But in the spirit of honesty, it really looked like this. You may think it looks fake or that it looks like I just put a blue-green filter over the whole thing for some reason, but I swear to you this is what it actually looked like.
Kind of like when you compare the delicious-looking dinner on the box to the miserable-looking slop that comes out of your microwave, isn't it?

That said, the bars didn't look too terribly bad. But instead of looking like cookies, they look like some of those "healthy" muffins you see in stores. You know, the ones with chia seeds, sunflower kernels, and other things we used to put in bird feeders.
Yes, this is the Pinterest-filtered one out of the camera.

As for the taste: they taste like granola bars. Given all the toasted things that went in them, this should not surprise.
If you weren't expecting sweet cookies, they're not bad. But they taste a lot healthier than they are. You could claim that these have extra fiber and five types of nutritious grains in them, and people would taste the cookies would believe you. So yeah, they are actually pretty good, but you may as well use whole-wheat flour and add some other things to make them closer to healthy since they taste like they should be.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Book of Cookrye goes forth to learn how we've done it all wrong

This is a special time here at A Book of Cookrye. We are going forth to... cooking school! That's right, we are going out in public, where we always receive a lot of side-eye, and attempting to get a piece of paper that says we can successfully wield both spoon and fork.
I don't know what to expect out of this, aside from hopefully getting actually paid to cook at some point. And when I say paid, I mean paid enough to actually pay my own rent in a not-dangerous neighborhood and still have funds left over to eat better than rice and dried beans.
In the meantime, I have made sure I do not show up at the community college without the truly vital things in life.

Holding true to the spirit of A Book of Cookrye, the cookies were a post-Christmas discount and the tea was on clearance. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Icing Macaroons!: or, Avoiding Christmas waste

It's a new year, and as everyone (who's honest) would say, "New year, same excuses!" We at A Book of Cookrye are no better, but we have finally gotten around to cleaning out a lot of things in the kitchen. And so, we found these!

Bags upon bags of leftover icing which we cannot throw away. We have lemon icing, cinnamon icing, cream cheese icing, and lots of other glazes and icings in various colors. We have extra icing from cakes, cookies, and other assorted confections, all bagged and frozen in case we for some reason need a very small amount of icing and had no powdered sugar in the house. You may think we should throw this out, but whenever we at A Book of Cookrye ever consider throwing away food that is not utterly rotted in the refrigerator, the though of food waste inspires this:

But we at A Book of Cookrye have wonderful news! Your leftover icing can be made into... these!
In the spirit of cleaning up, this is on a leftover Christmas paper plate.

And these are actually the best macaroons I've ever made! Granted, the only other recipe I ever use is the one on the bag of coconut, but these are better. We actually got this idea from Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery. One of the cake recipes has this line at the end:

Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, Miss Leslie, 1837

"Whatever icing is left, may be used to make maccaroons or kisses."
Miss Leslie doesn't explain how one might make macaroons or kisses (which are meringue cookies- see here) out of icing, which is surprising since most of the recipes in the book are very detailed, without any annoyingly vague instructions like "Prepare in the usual way." In a book so detailed she even describes what to feed your hogs before she gets to cooking a ham, she just mentions offhand that icing macaroons can be done and says nothing more about it. But we at A Book of Cookrye always like a challenge, and so we figured it out!
And so, we present, a Book of Cookrye picture tutorial: Icing macaroons!

You will need only five things:
Extra icing from whatever you were baking (canned or homemade),
Shredded coconut  (sweetened or unsweetened, I can't tell the difference once they're baked),
Baking powder, and

All right, so obviously the extra icing you have (probably) won't be in a nice, even amount in cups. That won't matter, you'll be eyeballing a lot of the ingredients anyway. The first thing we will do is get all the icing in a bowl. Well, actually, the first thing we do is heat the oven to 350°, but then we put the icing in a bowl.
As a note, you don't need to save and stash icing in the freezer until you have a lot of it. The extra icing from one cake or a single batch of decorated cookies will be enough to make a nice-sized plate of macaroons- just right if you want cookies but not want a lot of them.

You may correctly think icing isn't supposed to look like that. I guess all the time in the freezer and refrigerator hardened it.  So, into the microwave with it! You don't want to melt it, you just want it to get softened.

Now, we take a whisk and flog all the icing together. There may be some hardened icing flakes that do not mix in- don't worry about them. If they don't soften and mix in before they bake, they the coconut flakes will camouflage them.
I didn't plan this, but it just so happens that all the icings were somewhere in the yellow-to-orange part of the color wheel. This will help your cookies come out a nice color, as opposed to the weird gray-brown you'd get if you mixed something like purple, green, and red. So, whatever colors you have, it will help if they're from the same part of the color wheel. If you do get some weird gray color, you can fix it by adding food coloring in whatever color it's already leaning towards (for example, if it's a blue-ish gray, you can add a lot of blue). You'll have darker-colored cookies, but they won't be the color of unfortunate rocks.

All right, we will now add the things that turn the icing into cookies! We'll start with the eggs. The basic unit of icing measurement we're using is the small single-layer cake (or about half an icing can). For every small cake's worth of icing, add one egg and one teaspoon of baking powder. As you can see, we have about enough icing for either a two-layer cake or a sheet cake. Since that's about two small cakes' worth of icing, there shall be two eggs.

When you add the baking powder, be sure to whisk it really well to break up any clumps.

We are almost done! The next thing to add is enough flour to make a dough. It's hard to measure out, so just eyeball it. You don't want to add so much flour you could shape the dough into balls, because that would make the cookies bland. But you do want it to be a lot thicker than cake batter. We're going to make drop cookies.

See how the dough almost holds up the spoon? And how it holds a shape but falls back on itself instead of standing up when you scoop it out? And how it's still really sticky? That's what we want. Now, we'll just dump in the coconut and we're ready to bake!

You can decide how much coconut you want to add. Some people like so much coconut in their macaroons that they seem like solid coconut with just enough cookie dough to hold them together. Others like to put in less. As for myself? I dumped in the last of a coconut package leftover from some recipe or another and decided that was exactly what I wanted.
Now, just drop this off a spoon onto a greased baking sheet. They will need room to spread. Bake them until they're golden at the bottom edge. If you're like me and forgot to turn the oven and let it heat up, the temperature for today is 350°. You can make the cookies small and dainty-sized, really big and American-sized, or any size in between. As you can see, we at A Book of Cookrye decided to make them big.  They took about 15 or 20 minutes to bake. If you bake them long enough to get really browned on top (as opposed to just the protruding bits getting browned), they'll be really crunchy.
Some cookies you can lift off the sheet once they're cooled, but for these you should get out a spatula.

And so, the icing that would have been thrown out has become... these cookies!

They'll be really crispy on the outside and soft in the middle when fresh, and soften completely by the next day. And these really are delicious. But you don't need to stash icing in the freezer forever- you can get a nice plate of cookies out of the extra icing from just one cake (or one batch of iced cookies). And they are so good.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

More Mayonnaise!

Mayonnaise has featured in a two more cake recipes than it should have on A Book of Cookrye. One of them also had carrots in it. In the spirit of ringing in a new year hopefully full of weird culinary perpetrations, we present with no further comment this picture.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from A Book of Cookrye!

We started this year attempting to eat pudding out of a mayonnaise jar, and found the pudding all leaked out before we could eat it. It was a metaphor for what the year would bring.
As the first hours of Christmas arrive (in our time zone, anyway),  we at A Book of Cookrye extend wishes for a nice Christmas to everyone. Note: we didn't say wonderful or the loveliest or anything like that, just nice. All those other ones are too much pressure.
We would like to remind everyone of something else: You have the same right to be tired today as you do at any other time of year. So many people are grimly determined to put on Christmas cheer that they try to stomp out any sadness, frustration, or blatantly open displays of fatigue in their vicinity. Others think that being jolly on Christmas is a capital-D Duty. If you're happy today, then be happy. But if you're not, no one says you have to be. Well, all right, a lot of people say you should force yourself to be happy anyway, but you can ignore then and leave them to frantically wear themselves out in the name of the holiday spirit. If you're a bit tired of hearing Jingle Bell Rock on the radio for the fifth time this morning*, you have the same right that you've always had to change the station or turn it off. Don't make yourself miserable trying to force yourself to enjoy this day as much as possible.
And, as a special note to anyone who will have guests over (related or not), don't fret about obsessively removing every bit of dirt and each smudge from every corner of the house. If the people coming over would mutter in disapproval that there was -O the horror!- fingerprints on the windows, they will snoop and find some spot you missed in your cleaning efforts no matter how thoroughly you scrub. And anyway, why worry what such picky, persnickety people think? You already know they won't be satisfied even if you hand-stenciled the platters. Such people never approve of anything, so you may as well let them be their disapproving selves while you relax instead of hunting down every last speck of dust in your entire house.
On a more materialistic note, Marcus noticed my "subtle" hints and got me an Otamatone!

And so, we at A Book of Cookrye are spending the earliest hours of Christmas morning attempting to play songs on a Japanese squeaky toy. Merry Christmas everyone!

I'm leaving this here because Connee Boswell is awesome and I love her voice.

*As an aside, at least one radio station in my city switched to 24-7 Christmas music in early November and have been playing the same 50 recordings ever since. Even if someone likes Christmas music, surely they would get tired of hearing so many people perform vocal gymnastics to the tune of Oh Holy Night before December began.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Second-Stab Saturday: Cinnamon Pie, or Finding new ways to fail

Remember when we attempted this?
The [Los Angeles] Times Cook Book, no. 2, ca.1905

You may recall that the last time we tried this recipe we just mixed everything, dumped it in a pie pan, and baked it. The result was scrambled eggs floating in this brown stuff that was burnt on top.
 However, this recipe seemed like it would be good if it actually worked. Also, this is a community cookbook. Theoretically, all the recipes are ones that the contributors were particularly proud of and therefore are guaranteed to work. Furthermore, not only did they publish the names of each recipe submitter, but they also put her address. If a recipe failed, you would know who to blame and where to find her.

CINNAMON PIE. Mrs. C.C. Norton, 1407 Girard street, Los Angeles, Cal.--(Original.) Sift together seven tablespoons of sugar, two level tablespoons of flour, four teaspoons of ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Stir into this four cupfuls of sweet milk, butter size of egg* and two eggs beaten well. (Filling for two pies.)

 *Since I had to crack an egg open anyway, I measured its contents before mixing them in. "Butter the size of an egg" is about a quarter cup, give or take.

It seemed we made a very simple, easily-corrected error in our first cinnamon pie attempt. This pie theoretically could easily fixed with a double boiler.
Looks as gloriously cinnamon-brown as it did the first time.

Indeed, this recipe yielded a really nice custard. However, as much as the kitchen smelled delightfully of cinnamon by the time it was done, the contents of the pot tasted curiously bland. It seems that over the course of the extended boiling, all the cinnamon oil evaporated right out of the pie-to-be. Fortunately, this was easily fixed. And in future makings of this recipe (which surely would prove so good as to be made again and again), it would be very easy to just add the cinnamon after taking it off the stove.
There's no such thing as too much cinnamon when your recipe is called Cinnamon Pie.

All signs pointed to this being a successful recipe. Our Mom of Cookrye had tried some of what remained in the double boiler and said it was delicious. The pie itself looked amazing, even if it didn't fill the pie pan as much as one might wish.
Feel free to ignore the random splots of who-knows-what on the counter and focus on how delightful, delicious, and de-lovely the pie looks.

We brought this to Thanksgiving with great excitement. However, as is often the case when bringing experimental recipes out in public without first making sure they'll work, this pie never actually set. It was basically a slightly runny pudding that happened to be in a pie crust. You could put it in little Dixie cups (for bonus points, with a blob of whipped cream on top) and been the hit of any potluck. However, this recipe was sold as a pie. And so, no one really ate it. It spent the day in my aunt's oven, steadfastly failing to set.

This pie's failure to actually turn into an actual pie is really galling given how good it tasted. How could you, Mrs. C C Norton of 1407 Girard Street in Los Angeles? Is there some crucial step we missed since you barely put any directions? Is there some ingredient you forgot to list? Why do you tease us so?