Sunday, December 17, 2006

What's Cooking?

I've never been much of a baker.

Mom seldom did and Mam-ah's attempts with her (catcher's mitt-sized) handful of this and pinch of that never went anywhere. So, I never learned how and since I don't care that much for sweets, I've really felt little if any inclination to.

That doesn't mean I haven't tried. Except for chocolate chip cookies and blueberry muffins, my family long ago expressed the desire that I ("Please!") stop.

Herself's family always seems to have some tasty baked thing coming out of the oven, and keep insisting I'm really not cursed.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I again got that wild urge to try to bake something. (It was almost freezing outside and as drafty as this old house is, it gave me an excellent excuse to turn the oven on.) I pulled out the ol' trusty chocolate chip cookie recipe. As usual they turned out strangely shaped but tasty.

Between Herself taking a bunch to her family, some going to a neighbor and Da Kid taking a ton with him to a station he was filling in at, they were all quickly gone. So, I made more the following Sunday.

Same thing: gone!

There was one, to me, one major difference between the two batches. With the second one instead of running around desperately rigging stuff to take the place of the "wire cooling rack" I've never had that I'm supposed to be placing the still-warm cookies on so that they can cool properly, I finally broke down and bought one.

A set of three, actually, that stacks one rack atop the other, and it cost me (I'm worth it!) a whole ten bucks.

Week Three was the (Saturday) pound cake, except the loaf pan in the cabinet I used turned out to be the wrong size so it kinda . . . well, I bought the larger one that was the correct size and Sunday's version turned out much better. Sunday night they were both in the refrigerator when I went to bed. Monday morning when I got up after Da Kid left for work, I discovered both had simply disappeared.

I could have made still more chocolate chip cookies Week Four but I decided to do something really wild. Wild for me, that is. I decided to try making my first-ever batch of peanut butter cookies, and to top it off I didn't make plain peanut butter cookies, either, but the more difficult Peanut Butter Kisses.

Chill the dough so you can roll it between your palms — like making a bunch of meatballs — and while still hot from the oven, cram a Chocolate Kiss in the middle of each one.)

After chomping down several Da Kid said they were, "Oatmeal?.


The next week, Week Four, I went totally nuts but it really wasn't my fault.

The old mixer had almost lost the battle with the peanut-butter-cookie dough and when one of its beaters (again) fell out before I could eject them, I finally broke down and bought a new mixer.

Nothing fancy, mind you, but now that I had it I just had to use it on something.

Besides, Philadelphia Cream Cheese had been on sale and I'd accidentally overbought. Really!

And then there were these springform pans that had jumped off a shelf at Wal-Mart, insisting that they'd been made only for me and that if I didn't take them home with me immediately, they'd do me serious bodily harm.

Okay, okay. The truth is I'd bought the cream cheese thinking about making another pound cake but then when I got home and looked at the recipe I realized it's sour cream and NOT cream cheese, and wondering if cream cheese was an ingredient in anything, I began thumbing through the index and . . . cheesecake!


But, I didn't have enough cream cheese and I'd never even heard of a springform pan before. Next thing I knew, I'm knocked on the floor at Wal-Mart by a three-piece set (ten bucks) of springform pans, and uh, Wal-Mart had Philadelphia Cream Cheese for two cents less than Winn Dixie had had it on sale for, too!

So anyway, I almost chickened out that Week Five Sunday morning. A cheesecake? From scratch? Me? But what the heck.

Later Da Kid swiped his finger across the top, tasted what was on his finger and after misidentifying the Peanut Butter Kisses hesitated. Then said, "This tastes like . . . cheesecake?"

First one sliver disappeared, then the next day a third of what was left. Then half of that, and then it, too, was just gone.

"Mom, I've never had homemade cheesecake before."

If I can bake a cheesecake, I now know I can do ANYTHING! exCEpt, then came Week Six.

Da Kid came in today and seeing the mixer on the counter and the wire cooling racks up said happily, "What are you baking today, Mom?"


Noticing for the first time what was already on the cooling rack, he did the smart thing.

He ran.

My first mistake was thinking somehow magically, for the first time ever, dough wouldn't stick to everything it's not supposed to.

I followed the recipe's directions exactly. I EVEN spent twenty-two bucks on some stupid thing to roll the dough out on, that dough's not supposed to be able to stick to at all.

Bullllllll SHIT!

Let's not even talk about the floured rolling pin, or the spoon OR spatula I used trying to scrape the dough off the twenty-two buck "non-stick" rolling pad, and I don't even want to talk about my hands.


I don't know anything about food coloring but figured Christmas is coming up. I've got these cookie cutters and wouldn't it just be WONDERFUL if I did these ROLLED cookies in green and red. You know like . . . a Santa here, a snowman there, a Teddy Bear and so on.

So, I'd already divided the dough like the recipe says I'm supposed to, anyway, and then added drops of red to one bowl and what I thought was green to the other.


Turns out it's not the color of what's inside the tiny plastic bottle you're supposed to be looking at, but the color of the plastic tops in each one.

So now I've got two separate bowls of GLOP: one bright yellow and the other the shade of blue I'm sure you'd recognize from seeing moldy bread.

Screw it.

I baked ‘em, anyway, as drop cookies. But, if the top of the cookie is done then the bottom turns "crunchy brown;" if the bottom isn't burnt, then the rest of the cookie is . . . uh, "too chewy?" Finger- licking good? Try bordering on RAW!

If there's one thing to be grateful for, with all the stuff that was stuck to everything that it shouldn't have been, the batch of "60" cookies the recipe says it will make turned out to be far less than half of that number.

Da Kid, when he finally felt it safe to reappear, said not to worry. When he leaves for work in the morning, he'll take them with him.

I don't know if he's taking them to the station he's working at tomorrow, or if he's going to pitch them out of his truck's window on the way there.

He didn't say, and I'm not asking.



Blogger pamibe said...

LOL! I can bake, but I taught myself.

My mother -a wonderful cook- never taught me anything... so I can't really cook. I get by making the same pedestrian things over and over... and don't care. Thank goodness my hubby doesn't either...!

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OH dear Donna, you need my cookbook. It's perfect for wannabe bakers like yourself, and yes I do believe that's what you are. Ask Paula. She baked peanut butter cookies using my recipe and couldn't quit raving about them. Quick! Order one while they're still available!! :-)

8:50 AM  
Blogger Tammi said...

You made homemade cheesecake? From scratch?!?! Doyle, you should be VERY proud of yourself. That is an art. ANYONE cake make cookies. It takes an artist to make cheesecake!!!


1:31 PM  
Blogger doyle said...

I'm a Luddite, Peej. I don't Playpal and such. Email me with an address to send my check and you'll have ANOTHER order for your cookbook. Not that it will do any good when it comes to my (in)ability to roll dough. Or make biscuits. Or ...

I AM proud, Tammi. Amazed, too. The funny thing is (and this is going to sound insane coming from me, I know) except for getting the crust to stick to stick to the walls of the pan (Crazy Glue works wonders doncha know.) the recipe wasn't really that difficult. Trying to figure out how long it had to cool, though, was a bitch. And, I screwed it it. Not by much but next time, I'll know it needs a little MORE time.

Herself had been fooled, Pam, but she's learning. She thought I spent hours (days even) on some dishes with the way Da Kid apparently talked to her about them.

A working wife and mother doesn't have time for fancy, but with practice that doesn't mean she can't fool people into thinking she has.

Herself introduced me to a co-worker (another RN) a few months back she'd shared one of my "recipes" with, who then grabbed my hand pumping it up and down (down and up) saying she was thrilled (and honored) to meet me, the person behind the method of cooking I was showing Herself.

Method? I dubbed it "Kamikaze Cooking" long ago.

At first things may not always turn out exactly the way you hoped but so long as no one ends up in the hospital having their stomach pumped, don't worry about it.

Once you get the "recipe" down, you can have a full meal ready while at the same time helping with homework, doing loads of laundry, feeding horses, cleaning stalls, taking care of dogs, and . . .

(And if worse comes to worse, there's always Hamburger Helper.)

8:18 PM  
Blogger Norma said...

One masterpiece at a time. My motto.

5:52 PM  

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