Monday, July 26, 2010

Meringue Porcupines and Letting things be

Good grief. These were a disaster. Egg whites are finicky. I decided that I was going to start going chronologically through the recipes. Start with the first, work my way to the last. I figure that way I give a fair chance to those cookies that are not particularly my favorite, or so I think, because I obviously have never had them yet. I am a notoriously picky eater so I'm a little worried I won't eat those "other" cookies. Anyway, I started these meringues thinking this was going to be a snap. I whipped and whipped and thought things were going great. I was, at the same time, making dinner for Pickle and his friend who were involved in guy time which meant I was making dinner, whipping eggs and trying to juggle the oven temps between the two, with a toddler under foot and trying to be a hostess at the same time. Ah, the plight of the house wife. Back to the Meringue Porcupines. They call for long bake times and low heat. I learned that baking meringues is a delicate process. You have to bake them until they are crisp on the outside but marshmallow-y on the inside and you have to make sure they don't brown. Then you have to turn off the oven and let them dry out. Something I learned about myself during the meringues is that I have a compulsive need to pick. This is not something new, I can't stand a crusty on Beep, or when I get a text message, I have to check it and respond instantly, etc. I can't just let things be. I check and re-check my e-mail all day. I am continually checking the clocks so I can know the time at all times. Ha, punny. The crockpot is perfect for putting the food in and walking away for 6-8 hours. Yeeeeah... not really my style. I have to check on it every hour or so. These are just a few examples from my daily life. Meringues require me to let them alone for an hour and trust that they are baking the way they are supposed to. I couldn't do that and they suffered. They were super sticky and weepy. We ate a few and threw the rest out. There are a few other meringues in the book and I'm quite nervous about them now. I suppose it will be a personal challenge to JUST LET THEM BE!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chocolate Charms and crusty days

Today was not a fantastic day. I'm still sick and now Mr. Pickle is getting sick. He woke me up in the middle of the night to inform me that his throat hurt because of me. We went to a church breakfast this morning at a far away park in the hot sun and I spilt syrup on my flip-flopped toes. As the goo ran between my toes in the scorching sun, I knew it was going to be a crusty day. Baby Beep did not believe in sleep today. Chores did not get as done as we were hoping. I felt like emotions were running a little high today. So I decided today was a chocolate cookie sort of day. Simple to make, and chocolate. Chocolate Charms. I plopped Beep up on the counter to include him in the baking process. He helped me mix and count the number of scoops of flour. It makes me smile that he knows "Two". Scoops of flour, Me "Oooone", together "Twoooo"... When we were done, I let him suck on the beaters covered in chocolate dough and he grinned, with chocolate goop running down his chin. Whatever crusties I had left over from the day, seemed to melt away as I rolled the squishy dough between my hands until a ball formed. And as I bit into my first Charm topped with unsweetened cocoa powder, I realized how much these cookies were like my day. Hard, crusty shell with a bitter tasting coating but a soft, sweet, pure taste on the inside, at the end of the day. Pickle says "I would have liked them to be more creamy..." Creamy days are overrated in my opinion. I think the best days are the ones with the gritty texture that blends into smooth, rich moments in the end, with layers of the bitter mixing with the deep chocolate undertones. Maybe I'll make a creamy cookie for him next. He could use a creamy day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Butter Twists and Keats

Today, I am sick. Nothing serious, just the kind that is a nuisance. Scratchy throat, no energy. I begrudgingly realized that my toddler was not going to let me just sit on the couch and continue feeding my newest obsession of "Pushing Daisies". I finally got up and decided to make my first batch of cookies: butter twists. Really, really easy and delivers almost instant gratification. Sugar, flour, butter, and eggs. As I was rolling out my dough-logs, my mind starting wandering and landed on the poem 'Endymion'. The first few lines are the ones I remember the best.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: 

Its lovliness increases; it will never 
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep 
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep 
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

I'm not quite sure why those lines were on a loop as I made these cookies, but it's better to have poems running through my head than Chumbawuba lyrics, I guess. Martha's twists are so soft and smooth looking. Mine were rather long and cracked, distorted and different lengths. Towards the end though, they did start looking Martha-esque. And the buttery cookies feel just as good in your stomach ugly as they do Martha-esque.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Start

If any of you don't know, 'Julie and Julia' is the story of a woman in New York a few years ago who was kind of bitter and sad. The only time she could relax was when she cooked from Julia Child's cook book. So she started a project of cooking all of the recipes in the book within a year and she blogged about it. At the end she discovered something about herself. And got a book and movie deal. I'm not looking for any of that, I just would really like to set a goal for myself and accomplish it. And eat cookies. :) I feel for Martha Stewart the way Julie feels for Julia Child. I have always wanted to be able to decorate my house the way she does, or look at a pile of garbage and figure a way to turn it into a Christmas wreath for a hostess gift. She makes everything sound so effortless like she just happened to throw this little quilt together or she always has gourds and lamp kits lying around. This project is going to be 175 recipes from 'Martha Stewart's Cookies' in 365 days. That means I will have to go through roughly 3-4 recipes a week. I have flipped through the book and can already tell there are going to be a lot of cookies I don't like. But I'm sure I will have friends who will want to take them off my hands!