Saturday, May 20, 2017

Second-Stab Saturday: Attempting to speed up rhubarb pie

Guess what turned up on sale in the frozen section!

I know the bag says "a low calorie food," but does anyone eat rhubarb without first putting a lot of sugar on it?
Anyway, this past Sunday was Mother's day, and Our Grandmother of Cookrye really likes  rhubarb. So, this seemed as good a time as any to once again make... this!
A Book of Selected Recipes, Mrs. George O. Thurn, 1934

Custard Rhubarb Pie
2 c cut-up rhubarb (or 10 oz frozen)
2 eggs, separated
1 c sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1½ c (approx.) powdered sugar
1 pie shell

If using frozen rhubarb, thaw it and retain all juices. If using fresh, pour boiling water over it, soak about 5 minutes, and drain, retaining about 3 tablespoons of water on the rhubarb.

Oven method:
Heat oven to 350°.
Stir together the sugar and flour. Add the egg yolks and mix. Melt the butter and add it along with the rhubarb. Mix everything together, beating out any large lumps of sugar and egg. Put in the unbaked pie shell and bake about an hour and a half.
Make the meringue about ten minutes before the baking time is up:
Beat the egg whites until almost completely stiff. Add the powdered sugar a spoonful at a time until sweetened to taste. Scatter each spoonful over the surface rather than dumping it in a heap on the egg whites; it will mix in easier that way. Spread it over the pie (it will be thin- more like a baked-on icing). Return to the oven, reduce heat to 300°, and bake until the meringue is a nice golden color.

Stovetop method:
Bake the pie shell before beginning.
Put a the bottom of a double boiler on to boil, reduce heat to medium when it boils vigorously.
In the top of a double boiler, stir together the sugar and flour. Add the egg yolks and mix. Add the rhubarb and butter and mix everything together, beating out any large lumps of sugar and egg. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to help it mix.
Put over hot water and drop in the butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until the custard very thick and the rhubarb is soft and easily falls apart when pressed into the side of the pot with a spoon. Put it into the pie shell.
Just before making the meringue, heat oven to 325°. Beat the egg whites until almost completely stiff. Add the powdered sugar a spoonful at a time until sweetened to taste. Scatter each spoonful over the surface rather than dumping it in a heap on the egg whites; it will mix in easier that way. Spread it over the pie (it will be thin- more like a baked-on icing). Bake until golden.

A Book of Selected Recipes, Mrs. George O. Thurn, 1934
The pie was really good the last time we made it. For one thing, it's wonderfully simple- a plain crust, a tart filling, and just a bit of sweet meringue on top for flavor contrast.
One got the idea that the recipe looked different before the Depression forced severe cutbacks in grocery budgets. More eggs (or some milk or cream) would have made the sugar actually mix into a liquid instead of forming damp clumps in the pot.
But the cutbacks in dessert ingredients actually made this pie better than it might have been. Having less custard made the rhubarb flavor wonderfully concentrated. Even saving out the egg whites to make a thin-yet-still-there-dangit topping was a lot better (I thought) than a huge cloud of meringue or whipped cream would have been. It offset the tart rhubarb perfectly instead of having a big, puffy, and entirely separate existence on top of it. The recipe may have directed that one bake the meringue at a lower temperature (as opposed to using a really hot oven the way one normally does) so that the cook could energy by baking other things alongside it, but it also made the meringue more like a firm icing than a hyper-light foam.
That said, it spent a long time in the oven. I've baked whole chickens faster than this pie. I didn't even have a baked potato sharing oven space with the pie, nor is the weather cold enough to make heating the kitchen for so long seem reasonable. We thought it might be better to fire up a stove burner than the oven. So, today we shall find out: Is it better to cook this pie on the stove or in the oven?
As we begin, I want to note that the makers of frozen rhubarb definitely saw me coming when they printed the defrosting instructions.

And so, this pie begins with... sugar, eggs, and a stealth amount of flour! You can't see the sneaky glutens because I already stirred them together.

Once again, we had to pretty thoroughly beat the crap out of a bunch of egg-sugar lumps. Later it occurred to me: Why not drain the rhubarb juice into the bowl and mix it in at the same time as the egg yolks? That might add just enough liquid to prevent sugar clumps which you have to bash into the side of the bowl with the spoon.
I have no idea what that butter is supposed to do, but let the record show that I remembered to add it.

I must admit that I'm curious if this is any better with fresh rhubarb than frozen. But rhubarb can't take the heat in this part of the country. The few guides I've seen to growing it in this climate say that the only way it will work is if you plant it in August or September, let it grow through what we laughingly call a winter, and accept the fact that the plant will die as soon as the summer heat returns.They also say to expect a puny harvest since the plants will not live long enough to mature. So, frozen it is!

I had only one thought as I looked on what I had wrought:
"More like rhu-barf, right?"

I won't lie, it tasted fricken amazing. If you've never had rhubarb before, you totally owe it to yourself to find it in the frozen aisle. But it looked like miserable cafeteria slop--- after someone already ate it. Putting it in the little pie crusts did not make it any prettier.
Still looks like pink puke.

Maybe that's why Mrs. George O Thurn has us save the egg whites: hiding what the pie looks like.
Hooray! The pies are pretty!

 You may have noticed that those are tiny little pies. And the reason for that is... look what was on sale!

I should have started making tiny pies before I ever tried to roll out a crust for a big one. Seriously, this was so easy compared to trying to keep a big sheet of pie dough from tearing. Incidentally, those who want to make tiny pies but don't want to get the pans can totally use cupcake pans (disposable or not) instead - see here and (more ineptly) here. You'll get adorably dainty individual-sized pies out of it.
Note the use of foil because I hate washing dishes.

While the pies were baking, I smushed the pie scraps together, found some forgotten fruit, and made myself a little present.
I don't care how ugly it looks, it was delicious.

Anyone using foil to make a pan for a fruit pie should note that the juice dripping out of the bottom is a very powerful glue. You will spend more time than you think removing stuck-on foil from your creation.

But back to the pie! Or in this case, miniature pies! They came out of the oven looking as delicious as they tasted. It's not that I fuss over presentation, but it's nice when your culinary perpetrations do not make you say "Just try it, it's better than it looks."

Oddly, there was a lot more custard in the stovetop pie than in the baked pie made from the same recipe. However, both of them tasted the same. Which brings us back to: is it better to make this pie on the stove or to just bake it?
While the pie was definitely done a lot faster this way than by leaving it in the oven for a really long time, it was also more work to separately cook the crust, the filling, and the top. But between baking the crust and later the meringue, the oven time did not get reduced as much as one might think.
It's definitely delicious either way. But I personally favor just dumping it all in the oven and coming back in an hour or so. The stovetop method might be worth it if you're making the filling ahead (obviously, you can just freeze the egg whites for the meringue alongside it), but otherwise it's not the time-saver I hoped for. The pie's still fricken delicious though.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Most delicious (yet oddly brown) strawberry cake!

Today on A Book of Cookrye, we salute our sister-in-law on her birthday! (At least, I think it's her birthday. If not, it's close enough.) Yes indeed, she was brave enough to marry into this of all families.
Her birthday being a few days after Mother's Day, we decided to celebrate it on that Sunday. A Mother's Day gathering among relatives had been planned for some time. Whenever a lot of people in the same extended family manage to free up the same day, any nearby birthdays, anniversaries, or the like get celebrated all at once.
Originally, I was going to make a lemon cake since lemony things are always popular at family gatherings. But Our Mom of Cookrye dropped some subtle hints that a strawberry cake would be really nice. By "subtle hints" I mean clipping multiple strawberry cake recipes and handing them over. It's rare that anyone puts in a specific request instead of "Oh, whatever you think would be good," and therefore, I made... this!
Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts, 1968

Well, that was the recipe I started with, anyway.
Strawberry cake recipes are surprisingly rare, and most of the ones I found start the ingredients list with "one box of white cake mix." So, I figured swapping out the applesauce in this recipe with blenderized strawberries (and removing the spices, nuts, and raisins) would result in a cake-like substance. Though the original recipe actually looks pretty good and I'd love to try it.
Strawberry Cake
20 oz frozen strawberries, thawed (retain juice)
1¼ c sugar
½ c butter
¼ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp salt
2 eggs
Tiny dash of lemon extract (optional)
½ c milk
2½ c flour

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and dust with flour a 9x13 or tube pan. (For this cake, you really want to dust the pan with flour after greasing it to make very sure the cake doesn't stick.) If you're making a layer cake, you might want to do three layers instead of two- there's going to be a lot of cake batter.
Put the strawberries and all their juice in a blender, and thoroughly liquefy them. Measure out 2 cups. Save the extra strawberry puree- you can add it to icing, put it on toast, or whatever you like.
Cream the butter and the sugar. Mix in the baking powder, soda, and salt thoroughly. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the lemon extract (if using) with one of the eggs- a tiny bit of it seems to bring out the strawberry flavor.  Stir in about half a cup of flour, then add the milk. Mix well.
Alternately add the flour (in three additions) and the strawberries (in two additions), starting and ending with the flour.
Pour into the pans and bake until firm (this cake needs a long baking time). It should spring back when pressed in the middle. I baked it in a bundt pan and it was done in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
I personally think this cake is best with a thin layer of icing on it rather than an extravagant coating.

Adapted from Penuche Applesauce Cake; Mrs. Gloria Shaw of Sedan, KS; Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts, 1968

You may notice that aside from replacing apples with strawberries, the only ingredient change was reducing the sugar. This is not at all because the sugar ran out while measuring it. I simply decided that the cake would be sweet enough for having strawberries instead of applesauce. I did not mutter "eh, close enough" when the sugar sack ran empty on me.
Poor planning aside, it turns out blenderized strawberries are really red.

Strawberries aside, this recipe started out like almost any other cake recipe. By that I mean could not stop taste-testing the batter. Really, you could have just baked this as it was and it would have been an unusually lovely white cake.

But we at A Book of Cookrye did not set out to make a white cake. Many birthdays have been marked with white cakes, and near everyone likes it, but this is supposed to be a strawberry cake. Therefore, let us bring forth the strawberries!

Looks like I had a fit of experimentation and dumped spaghetti sauce into a perfectly innocent cake, doesn't it? But the strawberries tasted so good. And the batter went so pretty and swirly as soon as I started stirring.
This is more exciting than it should be.

The cake batter tasted divine. And also look at how pink it is! Usually you need artificial flavor and food coloring to get something to be so tasty and also such a pretty color.

Originally, this was going to be a layer cake because, as aforementioned, it's for a birthday. But I looked at the extremely full mixing bowl of cake batter and realized that 1) We don't have that many pans and 2) I did not wish to spend half the night waiting for cake layers to cool enough to get them out of the pans for reuse. And so, from deep in the depths of the cabinets, a bundt pan was unearthed! It had accumulated a healthy layer of dust and deposits since the last time anyone baked anything in it. But it retained a stunning state of preservation after a quick wash, and also apparently bundt cakes are old-fashioned enough for people to like them.
Also, these days I always think of that scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding whenever a bundt cake lands on the table before me. 

So you know, this recipe makes a lot of cake. Behold how high the waterline in the pan is!
Looks like a big pan of cotton candy, doesn't it?

I cannot lie, this smelled divinely and intensely of strawberries while in the oven. Between how delicious the batter was and the way it perfumed the entire house while baking, I was sure this cake would be delicious. However, I had some slight doubts when I removed it from the oven and it was not pink, not red, but brown.

My initial theory that it just had a dark crust on top after spending so long baking was soundly disproven after getting it out of the pan. However, the cake smelled promisingly delicious and looked really cute.

Granted, it didn't appear to contain berries of any form, but it ended up looking adorably festive once decorated.
Charming, ain't it?

All right, I can't lie that long. The cake looks cute, but it only looks like that because I cannot decorate cakes at all. Please, if you ever see me snipping the corner off a sandwich bag loaded with icing, snatch it out of my hands. Yet, because this is a birthday cake, I stupidly tried.

The design I attempted looks nice, yes. And in competent hands, it would have been quite charming. However, it only looked good from a distance. When closely examined (as one might when it is right in front of them at a table), my piping-bag shortcomings were embarrassingly obvious.
This is too bad to pass off as homemade charm.

However, all was not lost. Every other time I've had cake decorations fail me like this, I've been able to immediately hide the damage by simply spreading the icing and pretending the design was never there. Indeed, the only thing you have after smearing the attempted art away is a cake that looks like you decided to put a coat of icing on top.

Well that didn't work. Can you imagine wishing someone a happy birthday, peeling away the foil tent, and revealing... this? It looks like someone put Play-Doh on it!
I was so unnerved. I've had many failed attempts at decorating, but this is absolutely the first that couldn't be fixed by smearing it with the back of a spoon. The lovely, probably-delicious cake was now hidden under a disastrous icing job. I yearningly thought of glaze. Why hadn't I just used glaze? Just a few seconds of pouring, and the cake would have been complete. Instead, the artful squiggles on the cakes in the supermarket bewitched me.
In desperation, I looked at the recently vacated oven. Doesn't icing melt into glaze if you get it hot enough? Didn't the cake happen to sit on a metal platter, thereby eliminating any worries about shattering glass or melting plastic? How long do you need to preheat a broiler?
Hoping for the best yet forgetting to light a candle, I put it under a broiler (set as hot as it could go) and anxiously watched. This happened.
I'd like to take this opportunity to inform you that this is the work of someone who has done a whole semester of cooking school.

The icing kind of melted. You can see how it sort of slumped onto the cake instead of sitting on top of it like a crown of modelling clay.  I briefly tried to convince myself it didn't look awful. Then I prepared everything else for the next day, but all the while, the ugly thing in the kitchen nagged at me. Eventually I wondered, how hard is it to get icing off of a cake?

Humiliatingly, the cake looked better after an inept and desperate removal job than it had looked with an intact coat of icing. All I needed to do was hide the spots with glaze. And I am very good at glazing cakes. In compensation for my pathetic failures at cake decorating, I've gotten very good at dumping glaze on baked things. Behold how lovely the cake looks after a quick treatment of glaze, my faithful and failsafe standby!

....Yeah, that's worse. At this point I was having a mild existential culinary crisis. The cake I had so lovingly baked had become spectacularly ugly at my own hands. Every time I tried to fix the cake, it got worse. Now it looked like it had these grotesque wax drippings all over it, with a puddle on the plate.
I thought to myself, perhaps a decorative dusting of powdered sugar would offset the melted-candle look and make the cake lovely.

I eyed the results and thought to myself: Perhaps it looks better from another angle.

It's true that the powdered sugar did, in its own insufficient way, make the cake look just a tetch better. However, powdered sugar did not have any magical ability to save this cake from my alleged decorating. I asked myself how hard it would be to strip the cake again. After all, I'd already done it once. A few test prods of the icing showed that it had already hardened enough to lift a small chip off.

Yes, the cake looked better with the icing pulled off than it had a few moments earlier. However, it still looked pretty awful for something you're bringing to celebrate someone's birthday.
I'd like to point out the clean platter on which the cake sits. Notice that it has absolutely no icing flakes or thin smears. That's because I kept wiping it with a wet paper towel between icing attempts. It is really depressing when you can put wet towels on cakes with no damage whatsoever, but every attempt to ice a cake makes it worse.
I considered my options. The outside of the cake did not seem like it could withstand a third stripping (I was pulling off pieces of cake with some of the larger icing pieces), so whatever I did would be final. I just couldn't risk it again. Powdered sugar had made icing attempt no. 2 look slightly better. Perhaps it was just the thing to hide the splotches of bare cake and peeling icing. I even got out a strainer to sprinkle the sugar through to prevent any lumps from landing on the cake.

You know what? It doesn't look bad! It just needed a quick fix of scraping the crusted icing deposits out of the center hole.

I stared at the cake, alternately thinking it looked cute and thinking it looked awful. Granted, there was nothing more to be done for it at this point. It threatened to fall apart when I tried to pick off any more icing. I tried to make peace with the cake in its final form, and in the end had to reach out to unsuspecting friends:

It must have looked better than I thought, because everyone said it looked lovely! Either that or they were trying to be nice.
But regardless of appearance, this cake tasted delicious. It was gloriously strawberry-flavored, moist, and surprisingly light. Seriously, this cake is amazing and delicious. There wasn't a single unfinished cake slice on the table.
However, I wish it hadn't turned brown in baking. It didn't affect the flavor at all, but I would love to know why that happened. If you want it to look more like it has a whole pint of blenderized strawberries in it, you might add a semi-generous amount of red food coloring to the batter. You would probably get what looks like a lighter-colored version of red velvet cake.

See? It's really brown. But it's also really delicious.

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.