Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas is.....

Special cards from friends and family...

 My grandma's crucifix and my mother's bell...

Cutter in the kitchen helping me make cookies...

Nature's unexpected gift after the rain...

 The color red...

Being greeted by the locals...

And feeling well enough to take a walk... I'm so thankful.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A walk outside between storms

"It was a happy thought to bring 
To the dark season's frost and rime
This painted memory of spring,
This dream of summertime." 

 

"But welcome, be it new or old, 
The gift which makes the day
more bright,
And paints, upon the ground of cold
And darkness, warmth and light!" 

Flowers in Winter by John Greenleaf Whittier

(1807-1892)

(Only two stanzas of a very long poem.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Feeling Better and Makin' Cookies

Saturday morning I was feeling better so I baked some cookies....
This is called the Ultimate Ginger Cookie. It's one of Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa) recipes. You can find it on the Food Network website and a lot of other places because it's a very popular cookie.
I watched Ina make these on her cooking show a few weeks back and decided to try them. I bought the crystallized ginger and then got sick. Saturday was the first day I felt like baking again so this is what I decided to create.
The only changes I made to the recipe were to reduce the amount of ground cloves from 11/2 teaspoons to 1/2 teaspoon, (I wanted GINGER cookies not CLOVE cookies.) I increased the ground ginger to 1 tsp. from 1/2 tsp. and when I chopped the crystallized ginger (very finely) I only had 1 cup instead of  11/4 cups that it called for.That was plenty. Almost too much.  I think a half to three quarters cup would be fine.
I used a size 40 scoop and refrigerated the dough for about a half hour to stiffen it some. It's very soft dough. Then I dropped the scoop of dough right into the sugar and carefully rolled it around. This dough is sticky so you don't want to handle it very much. When it's covered with sugar pick it up and put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
I pressed each scoop with a fork (like peanut butter cookies) and bake for 13 mins. This is where I made a slight mistake. I only baked them for 11 mins. They looked done because they are so dark in color. I think I should have baked them the full 13 mins.
They came out crispy on the outside and moist on the inside but today they are soft all around. I think they needed the extra minutes to stay crispy. The sugar gives them a shine on top. I would like to try a decorative sugar that's bigger and doesn't melt in as much as regular sugar does to see how it looks.
After a taste test, the Prospector and I agreed that this cookie was a keeper. They were delicious. The recipe made about 30 cookies.
You don't need "kosher" salt. I don't even know what that is. I thought salt was salt. Although, it may have to do with plain or iodized. I don't know. Just use what you have in the cupboard.
Follow the mixing directions to the letter. Don't use butter instead of oil and cook them for the full 13 minutes.
Now... enjoy them. They are even better the next day. We had one for BREAKFAST yesterday. All those spices kind of shake hands and start dancing together overnight. The flavor blends and "marries". ( This is a relationship that deserves a poem, Chef E.)
I took a nap after the cookies were done. Still not back to normal but, oh, I feel so much better. Maybe it's the GINGER.
Have a good week before Christmas and Bon Appetit!!