Just Baked

November 29, 2009

"Deluxe" Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fact*: Everyone has a grandmother who knows the best chocolate chip cookie recipe known to man. That's just how it is. But make no mistake, my gram could bake the best chocolate chip cookies around.

*This is in no way an actual fact; I have done no research of any sort to back up my claim.
Until I went searching through her recipe box, I had no idea how many variations of the chocolate chip cookie that she had collected. In fact, I couldn't find the exact recipe we used every time that we baked cookies, although I did eventually find a card that was nearly perfect. She made her chocolate chip cookies so often that she didn't need to refer to a recipe card for them. Any references to recipes while making the cookies were solely for my benefit, so she would just point me to the ingredient list on the back of the chocolate chip bag while we gathered up the ingredients, but then say "But we're really going to use a little more of this, and add in yy and zz. Those are what make the cookies so good." A typical kid, I decided that what went in to my grams cookies was highly classified information, and would make a point of telling people that I knew what the secret ingredients were.

For awhile it seemed like we made these cookies every time I went to her house, something that I'm sure my nutritionally concious mom loved. Then, I started visiting less often, and for shorter times. We stopped making cookies, since you can't very well make a batch of 7 dozen cookies in a 45 minute visit. I think at that point she had stopped baking for the most part, anyway, except during fits of insomnia. Then, one morning, I woke up to flurry of ringing phones and my parents racing about. Due to some construction on the house, I had been sleeping on a couch downstairs. At some point, my dad poked his head into the room and announced "gram is dead," before he disapeared again, gone to who remembers where.

The next thing I remember is standing in the kitchen creaming together enough butter and sugar to make a gigantic batch of chocolate chip cookies. I must have gone to the grocery store and gathered up baking supplies, because there's no way that we had adequet cookie supplies in the house. I don't know what made me decide that baking chocolate chip cookies was the right thing to do at the time; it just seemed like there wasn't anything else that made sense. I'm not sure if all of the cookies ended up being eaten or not, because I certainly wasn't in the cookie eating mood, but I know my dad distributed some of them to people. At least they were there if anyone wanted one, and things can't be entirely hopeless if there are family recipe cookies around.

This was the first time I've made chocolate chip cookies with this recipe since then, and I don't think I'll go back. I had forgotten how good they are. A word of warning, if you like fat, cakey cookies, this won't become your favorite chocolate chip recipe; these cookies have golden brown edges and a chewy crunch to them.

Cookie time!

November 20, 2009

Brandy Swirl Cookies

I'm sorry for not posting a recipe this week. Between trying to figure out the best dish to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck (a variation of sweet potato casserole, thanks mom) and spending a few days down and out with a cold, I haven't had time.

OK, I'm lying, a little. I have had time. In fact, I baked a huge batch of "brandy swirl cookies." I hate to reveal this to you, but the cookies were terrible. I'm sorry Gram.

The recipe card itself looked promising. Neatly written, stained various shades of brown with what I assumed to be frequent usage- but when I mentioned the recipe to my parents, neither of them were familiar with it. I should have realized that this was an ill omen. Perhaps the reason that the recipe card looked like it had been soaked in brandy was that my grandmother was trying to destroy it, but was interrupted before she got around to lighting it on fire- who knows.

In any case, the cookies seemed like a potentially promising variation of a butter cookie, but turned out to be pale flat swirls that melted in to a buttery floury mess on the tongue, and not in a good way. Yuck. I took some photos of the unbaked cookies, but it seems pointless to post them.

In order to restore my faith (and my tastebuds), I've decided that next week I'm going to bake her classic chocolate chip cookies; complete with her "secret ingredient."

Until then...

November 13, 2009

(Potato) Corn Chowder

To be honest, this isn't something I ever remember my grandmother making. Fresh cooked sweet corn on the cob as a side dish? Sure! But corn chowder? Not that I recall. I don't remember ever eating soup at her house, to be honest, although I'm sure she must have heated up a bowlfull of something at some point.

I don't remember her making soup, but I do remember eating soup with her. Some nights when I was staying over, she would decide that we were going to go out to one of the local diners. This was never for the early bird specials that my dad is so fond of; it was just for a change of pace. I know what else anyone ordered, or if we would just get the salad bar, but I remember that this particular salad bar always seemed to have big tureens full of cream of brocolli soup, and my grandmother and I would always each eat at least one bowl of it. She always preferred creamy soups over ones with a clear broth, unless wontons were involved.

Because of the dreary weather that we've having, I really wanted to find a soup to make today, instead of the cookies and cakes that the recipe boxes are full of. Ok, full disclosure, I ate a huge brownie yesterday and then chowed down on a good amount of ice cream,  so the desire to make soup was also influenced by not wanting to look at anything sweet today. Anyway, I found several variations on corn/potato/corn and potato chowders, and this one seemed the most appealing and also the one with the most basic ingredients- I'll save the soup calling for "6 freshly grated ears of sweet corn" for when sweet corn is in season.

And, off to the soup!

November 04, 2009

Custard Rice Pudding

Rice pudding gets a bit of a bad rap. Maybe it's that rice pudding seems like something you only order if you've shown up to a restaurant for early bird special, or maybe it's that it bears the stigma of looking a little bit like another lumpy white food, cottage cheese. Personally, I like them both, no matter how lumpy they may look on a plate. Then again, I don't think that Nattō looks all that gross. Uh, moving on...

Anyway, rice pudding with raisins in it is something my gram used to make on occassion. It's one of the few desserts that both of my parents enjoy, which is probably why it never seemed to last too long in her house. When I was really little, I used to pick out the raisins in my bowl with my fingers and put them on a napkin; this would normally result in my being told that "that isn't something a nice young lady would do." Now, like a nice young lady, I like raisins in my rice pudding, and leave them be.

On to the recipe!

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Honey Never Spoils by Temma Hankin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.