New Baking Cookbooks for Me!

IMG_1386Harriet gave me not one but two new baking cookbooks for Mothers Day – and both are fantastic.

First off: Baking At Home with The Culinary Institute of America: Essential Techniques and Recipes for Creating Great Breads and Desserts. This hefty, beautiful book is full of great step-by-step techniques, illustrations and tempting photos. When I unwrapped it, I opened it to a recipe for Smoked Provolone and Thyme Muffins. They’re in my very near future. Same goes for Eclairs, which I think would  be a hit with the Bake Sale crowd — come to think of it, there’s a bake sale Saturday…

This book is beautiful, worthy of coffee table status, well on my coffee table, anyway. There are SO many new things to try.  And if something goes awry, there’s a “What went wrong?” appendix of common baking problems. (Hmm, I don’t see “didn’t follow the directions” as a common problem; clearly the CIA Chefs aren’t familiar with the root of my problems!)

Next up: The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, who I’ve used before when she contributed a bread baking primer to Epicurious. This book is also full of great illustrations, photos and recipes for every kind of bread you could want to bake – from quickbreads and crumpets to sourdough and stud muffins. (Yes, stud muffins, which I’m going to have to bake just so I can say, “Oh, my weekend was great, I had some superb stud muffins!” )

So thanks again, Harriet, for the absolutely perfect presents.

A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, wanna be mothers and mothers in spirit.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_1382My daughter and I eat oatmeal every morning for  breakfast — out of these blue striped bowls, which seem just perfect for porridge but might not be up to snuff when it comes to holding these delish Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I should at least have to go to the work of lifting a lid, if not unlocking a padlock, to continue to treat myself. But it is Mother’s Day… The bowl stays.

File Oatmeal Cookies under things I could have been eating for years but for some reason thought I didn’t like. I’ll tell you what I don’t like — raisins. Sadly, many bakers introduce raisins (or, as I called them years ago, “dead flies”), to their Oatmeal Cookies and I’m done. But I said “See ‘ya Dead Flies, Hello Chocolate Chips,” and all was good. My daughter — to whom I inadvertently passed along my raisin issues, agrees. We’ve been munching on these things like we’ve got a bus to catch.

My guess is the cookies aren’t as healthy as our morning bowls of oatmeal, to which we add a sprinkle of brown sugar, along with some fruit or nuts or cinnamon. Perhaps it’s the two sticks of butter and two cups of brown and white sugar (that’s more sugar than Oatmeal, come to think of it).

The recipe is from my Baking Illustrated cookbook, which has never let me down. The original recipe calls for, yes, dead flies, (KIDDING – raisins), but instructions are given for a chocolate chip variation. There’s also a recipe for Ginger Oatmeal Cookies. Um, Yum?

I got two more baking cookbooks for Mothers Day and I’ll post about them soon. First I need to eat some Oatmeal Cookies.

How do you spell Cookie?

515aj9rbw8l_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_img_0016Even Betty Crocker, mother of all bakers, (and godmother of this blog) , may have changed her mind over the years on the proper spelling of the singular form of Cooky, um, Cookie.

Apologies in advance for the earworm (what a perfect word), but I think we all agree that C is for COOKIE! I still sing that song when baking cookies, even though my kid’s Sesame Street days are loooooong over. I’ll confess, I don’t sound like Marilyn Horne singing it – what a treat.

Advances in Learning to Bake Land

1) I got a call from another Sixth Grade mother – she offered me the choice of two volunteer opportunities at the upcoming Grandparents Day festivities: Baking or Serving. In the past I have gotten out of baking but paid for this by waiting on and cleaning up after the many grandparents who come to this fundraising informative event. I should add that I, sadly, have not supplied my girl with any grandparents. My mom would have been a super grandmother, but she died long before Harriet hit the scene. But this time I will not be pouring pots of decaf or speculating (silently of course) about who has or has not used Botox. I’ll be home. Because yes, I volunteered to bake!

2)  Since I am stuck off site, far from my computer (and my kitchen) I am trying to post from my phone via the WordPress Ap.

Easter Chick in Chocolate Lace

img_7830Harriet was at her dad’s house on Easter, so I was not on Easter Bunny duty for the first time in 12 years. But I did bake some Easter Cookies.

The girl is a fan of lace cookies, so I made some chocolate lace cookies and tried to cut them with cookie cutters. It did work once!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Snickerdoodle Edition

img_7812In honor of the 40th anniversary of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I baked a Snickerdoodle Caterpillar.

OK, that’s complete fiction — the Snickerdoodle dough must have been a tiny bit too crowded on the cookie sheet going into the oven. But we are big fans of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, even years after it crawled out of our nightly reading list. Certainly we’re not alone, that book link above will take you to the 40th anniversary site, which includes a list of celebrations all over the world. Party Central is Amherst, Mass., home of the The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. I could go on and on about the exhibits and programs there, but if you’re not within driving distance you’ll just be jealous. If you are in New England, click on the link and plan a trip. You do not need a kid to go – although an appreciation of art, graphics, type and the like would be in order. If you are a textile junkie who loves printed fabric you might want to go soon. Turns out that Virginia Lee Burton’s talents went far beyond Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel.

Back to Snickerdoodles! Most of the cookies emerged from the oven solo (there was also a tall, slim snowman). I’ve always seen the name on cookies at bakeries and had no idea they were chewy sugar cookies with cinnamon on top. How many Snickerdoodles have I missed? This particular recipe came from Baking Illustrated and was, as usual, spot on. The only reason I cooked a caterpillar was because I wasn’t paying attention and started following the end of the sugar cookie recipe next door in the cookbook. (How many times do I have to tell you… blah blah blah. I’m beginning to know what my daughter feels like.)

I don’t need a reason to eat cookies, but Eric Carle turns 80 this year. Time to toast him and his caterpillar with a cup of hot tea, or a glass of cold milk, and a Snickerdoodle.

New (Old) Cake Caddy

img_7817$1.99 at the thrift shop. Never needed one before, but now I think “How Brilliant!” And it is brilliant, all shiny and bright. That took some doing on my part. But thrift shop shoppers can’t be choosers.

I can see myself carrying cakes all over town in this beauty. I’ll be the woman who brings her signature beautiful, delicious cakes to everyone’s houses…. OK, waking up now.

(p.s. sometimes I feel very old fashioned baking cakes and putting them in my cake carrier ….. but I think old fashioned girls iron tablecloths)