Treats and Tricks

The other day James wanted something sweet to eat, so I offered to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I have a handy, quick and simple, recipe from the book The Old-Time Brand-Name Cookbook. It’s a fun book to read as it gives the history of the recipe on one page and the recipe on the other. There are recipes like Orange Bread and Mrs. Frank Sinatra’s Spaghetti and Meal Balls (neither of which I have tried yet) but every single one has some appeal. There are lots of colorful pictures of old ads and labels, and all of the recipes I have tried were simple, requiring ingredients you would generally keep in stock in your own kitchen.

I did alter the cookie recipe slightly since watching and baking my own version of Michael Smith’s (or better known as Chef at Home) chocolate chip cookies. He explains the “scientific” reasons for using particular ingredients in cookies, during that episode, so that you end up with the chewiest, melt in your mouth, chocolate chip cookie – and he was right! First, I only used brown sugar; white sugar crystallizes, which gives the cookie a bit of a crunch, especially once cooled. I used a bit more brown sugar, but also added 2 tablespoons corn syrup in the white sugar’s stead; this also adds to the cookies chewiness (and is what Michael recommended). Last, but not least, I upped the amount of walnuts. The Brand-Name book uses walnuts (Michael did not) and I love nuts in cookies, so I wouldn’t skip that part. The cookies turned out delicious, albeit a little flat. Next time I will either add a bit more flour to make up for the corn syrup addition/white sugar negation, OR will try some whole oats. I also love oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!

Today, we were, again, feeling like something sweet and decided to make a Cardamom Coffee Cake from The NEW Moosewood Cookbook (it’s actual title). We were obliged to half the recipe, based on the butter we had available, but it still made a very reasonable amount; pretty much a normal sized bundt cake, as far as I can tell. So the whole recipe must make a GIANT bundt cake! Anyway, it is a nice, not so sweet, but richly flavored cake. Light and fluffy with a filling of brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon. Good with coffee or tea, although I ate mine way too fast to say for sure! I will likely still make only half next time, unless I have more than 10 people to share it with, and will also add more filling, probably closer to the whole amount, and will also use a knife to “swirl” it a little, so it’s more evenly distributed.

After re-reading this post, I thought I should write a quick note about something we’ve recently made other than treats. Thursday we roasted a whole chicken and made a scrumptious chicken soup with it today. My wonderful mother-I-L was generous and gave us 3 whole, frozen, organic chickens she purchased from a local farmer. I tried the turn roasting technique from Joy. We propped the chicken on, and with, balled tin foil so that every part could be roasted. You do the sides and back, turning every 30 minutes. Then for the last 20 or so, you put the breast up to so it keeps its moisture but also gets a bit crispy by the end. It worked great! Even the usually dry white meat was juicy. This might have also been due to the quality of the meat, but nonetheless it was tasty. The soup was easy, after preparing the stock Thursday night with the carcass and also from Joy. Perfect for a snowy and lazy Saturday meal.

And for my last trick/tip of the day: how to remove sticker residue from a glass jar. I wanted to reuse a nice jam jar, but it was covered in labels. I first soaked it in soapy water and then scrubbed it; this only resulted in removal of the paper for the labels, not any of the glue. The answer: oil. I used a towel with a dollop of (canola) oil, and soaked the glue. It needed to be rubbed a bit, but all of it came off. I have also had success with vinegar in the past, but sometimes I need to try both. This time I did try vinegar first. If one doesn’t work, the other one should. Now I have a nice clean jar to put more sewing materials in!

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3 Comments

Filed under Food, Great Finds!, Updates

3 responses to “Treats and Tricks

  1. Shevenell

    Hey Thea: Have you tried using whole wheat flour in your baking recipes? I usually put half the amount of recommended white flour as wheat flour and it usually turns out good! And I’ve started throwing a tablespoon of ground flax into everything from cookies to breads to cakes too :)

    • I have tried that, but not often enough. I do try to use stone ground spelt flour as I find it’s quite similar to white, and more friendly to those with wheat intolerance. Great tip! And good idea about the ground flax seed too. Thanks Shevenell.

  2. Alexandra

    Mmm! Those cookies sound great. Whenever I bake ANYTHING I put vanilla and a tiny bit of extra salt in, even if it calls for neither. That’s my trick!!

    Thanks for the glue tip!!

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