Category Archives: cookies

where she admits Spring is here

What a disappointing winter…
The height of DC’s snow: Shaw Recreation Center on Feb. 12th
I repeatedly humored the so-called winter weather, preferring to think that all the mild December and January temperatures presaged a violent dumping of snow to occur in mid-March or *gasp* end-of-April (birthday). But the climate appears not to have heard me. I think I can finally declare to myself that Spring (and temps in the 80s) are here to stay. Cue groaning about DC humidity here
Unfortunately this gives me a good excuse to gripe about my running schedule as well. Progress in training this week has been irregular, and I am comparing myself to the early-peaking cherry blossoms in reproach. It’s not ME! It’s the CLIMATE!
That’s okay, though. If I’ve learned one thing from my mature years, it is that one dip does not mean the end of the streak. No, we shall just go bumping along, like many other fearless creatives who are risking it all for their happiness.
Well, folks, it’s been a tough week, with the runs falling a bit short, and having to face several goals that are not being met (pages written, healing accomplished, enlightenment achieved). One morning, I woke up decidedly against running. Daylight savings had it completely dark outside during my usual run time, and I was tired from the time change. I didn’t want to run, so I decided…
To Bake.
That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Maybe not. Well, it’s like this: my body didn’t feel like running, but my mind craved the satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment, that come from putting in the effort toward a worthy goal. So I made these cookies, from the blog, Coconut & Lime. They were pretty good. And I got to conduct a science experiment.
Ingredients:
6 oz semisweet chips

3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature*

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, the spices and oatmeal. Mix until well combined. Fold in chips. Place tablespoon-sized blobs of dough on the lined cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart and bake for 12-14 minutes or until they look “set” and the bottoms are just golden. Carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
The experiment was this: you know how some cooks recommend you squash down the tops of drop cookies before baking? What’s that about? Instead of Googling it, I did half spheres and half smooshed spheres of cookie dough and observed their behavior in their natural habitat.
Squished on the left, Round on the right

The smooshed spheres of cookie dough burned on the bottom faster than the regular spheres, which even got an extra minute in the oven. After combing the Googels extensively for 20 minutes, I found this article that stresses the amount of baking soda as key in how much a drop cookie will spread when baking (more soda, more spread). However, I’m having difficulty finding the cause of the tradition of flattening the drops of dough. Does anyone out there in Blog Land have an idea? Please let us know in the comments- your help would be much appreciated!

The cookies were gobbled up to general satisfaction, but it will be good to get back to running.

3-2-1…Cast-Off!

Well, hello there.
If this is your first time visiting, you might want to catch up before you continue reading. I fractured both of the arm bones in my right forearm while ice skating in January, which curtailed some of my adventurous living for a few weeks, but now I am back.

The date for the Cast-Off, as I liked to call it, was Valentine’s Day, and it was as good a distraction as any… plus a big positive step in the right direction! Now I’ve got a removable brace and physical therapy exercises, which aren’t too bad at all.

This being my first time with a broken bone, it was pretty cool seeing how the process went. It was painfully obvious that the technician did a dozen of these a week, but it was new to me, and fascinating. So of course I took pictures. Cackhanded.

 First he used this mini-circular saw, powered by what looked like a shop-vac (see top picture) to cut through the fiberglass part. It tickled a bit, and gave off some heat. Me? Worried?

Then he used a pair of surgical tongs to widen the strip, and then surgical scissors to cut through the under-layer of gauze. I had been wondering what kind of super-sensing machine could saw through it all without nicking your skin for 4 weeks, so I was somewhat relieved that there were graduated steps to this process.

 When the cast came off, my skin felt weird. Old. And that makes sense, when you think that skin under a cast doesn’t have a chance to slough off in its natural course, so I needed to exfoliate it. Ick.

What was surprisingly painful was the range of motion. I was kind of assuming that when the cast came off, I would be able to move my arm normally again, if carefully and with caution. Nope. What you see here is as far as my wrist would go backward and forward, on its own. Whoa. They said it would feel ‘stiff,’ but this was nuts! It got much better after 24 hours though, and now I’m chipping away at it with the PT. I’m very grateful it was a clean break and I didn’t need surgery. Whew!
Now I am pretty much back to my old tricks…

Yaki Soba noodles and spice packet, but with pre-chopped vegetable mix from Trader Joe’s (new item, and not something I would buy with two good hands)

Linguine with Smoked Trout, with fennel and onion broth (using up leftovers, frugal foodies can rejoice!)
Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

What’s not to love? I was having fun with the microwave reflection in this as well. Because if you can’t have fun with your peppermint chocolate chip cookies, what can you have fun with??

More to come on those action steps from the Tea Klatsch, including social connections, skill cultivation, and balance. Do any of those jump out at you as something you’re working on, or might need to focus on? Leave a comment and join the group!

Oatcakes and Orange Flower Water

Greetings, Friends.
The ship may no longer be going Full Steam Ahead, BUT it is not idling away in dry-dock, either.
For all you non-nautical types out there (including me), please refer to my disclaimer about overworked metaphors. While I do have a broken right arm, I’m planning on sneaking my way around that obstacle at least a few times over the course of the next 3-5 weeks. Probably with the help of my friends.
As for my two main goals for the beginning of 2012- training for the 10-miler and increased pace of writing- they will both be put on hold. Tuesday I get fitted for my cast, and I plan to pepper the orthopedic surgeon with questions about what I can do to promote healing and what I shouldn’t do to prevent further problems. I dunno, team, do we think I can ramp from nothing to 10 miles in 5 weeks?
Since I am right-handed, typing cack-handed severely slows down the flow of words. I suppose I could still invest the same amount of time and just get half the anticipated output, but I kind of don’t want to slog through that. Or am I really just scared that nothing will come if the spigot isn’t all the way open? Could be.
I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks!
But now to think back to a time when I had two working arms, when I could multitask like nobody’s business, when I could pump out three recipes a night… 
That’s right, more Scottish food! I actually made these the week before Christmas, as a balance to all the Cookie Swap sweetness. I found a link to the Leftover Queen’s recipe, and found that she was quite the blogging queen, coming much belatedly to that party. The dough was quick to come together, easy to manage, simple to scale. The oatcakes’ texture was nubbly, toast-y. The flavor was mild and wheat-y and heartland-y, if that makes sense. Pretty great! It made me think more on what a culture’s food says about its people… fascinating speculative exercise…
The same day, I thought I’d better get my mojo going on the cookie swap recipes I’d bookmarked. Two that I was closest to having all the ingredients for shot to the top of the list: HungrySquirrelCakes’ Chocolate Orange Chunk Cookies and Mrs. Galvan’s Dark Chocolate Cafenelas. Here I’ve got the first one, which got more oooh’s and ahhh’s from the officemates (even though they were both fab, I think this one was more unique).
Standard mix-and-drop cookie, with one out-of-the-ordinary ingredient (orange flower water, which can be found in Middle Eastern/ Lebanese groceries or near syrups and jams in a Whole Foods), and the need to keep a close eye on the oven exposure- you want to nab these guys before they’re fully cooked to avoid going to the Crispy Side.

**Helpful Note for Americans looking to convert this recipe from metric measurements: 225g = ~3/4c butter; 200g = 1 1/4c sugar; 175g = 5/6c sugar; 350g = 3c flour; 175g = ~5/6c dark chocolate; 170 deg C = ~338 deg F ** I think.
Yum. Next up: Cafenelas and what to do with Black Radishes!