Which came first: Tequila vs. Revolution (Vanilla Lime Cupcakes)

One tequila, two tequila, three tequilas more, four tequila, five tequila, six tequila, floor.

Happy Cinco De Mayo, we Americans will spend it sipping margaritas, taking shots of tequila followed by sour faces, and the hugging of the porcelain express. Leave it up to Americans to take a holiday from another country and turn it upside down, IT IS NOT A MEXICAN DRINKING HOLIDAY.

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WARNING HISTORY LESSON AHEAD: In 1861 Mexico was going through an economic crisis, debt was not being paid, other countries were involved, it was not a good time. Good ol’ Napoleon III decided that France should take over Mexico because of the prime real estate next to the US. So the French army went over to Mexico and started a French vs. Mexican war. On May 5th, 1862 they Mexican army was surprised by the French in Puebla but somehow, although the Mexican army was out numbered, they defeated the French for the battle of Puebla!

Mexico City was still taken over by the French, until they decided that they did not want it anymore in 1866 then handed it back over to the Mexican government. Cinco de Mayo in Mexico serves as a day of Mexican pride where they hold parades and mock battles, but tequila is not a requirement.  END HISTORY LESSON.

America has a great way of taking something and blowing it out of the water. Alcohol companies did a great job taking a celebration of pride and turning it into a day of drunken stumbling in the US, but hey who can resist a good shot of patron?!?

Unfortunately tequila and cupcakes don’t match, just like tequila and anything creamy doesn’t match, trust me I tried. However what is a must have with tequila? Limes of course and despite the lime shortage this year I was able to snag a handful and make wonderful Vanilla lime cupcakes. So take a shot, and chase it with these vanilla lime cupcakes! Happy Drinking Everyone!

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Vanilla Lime Cupcakes

Since tequila and cupcakes lead to a sour blend, these cupcakes signify what comes after the shot, and I am not talking about a sour face! This vanilla cupcake is super light and goes down easy, while the buttercream Lime frosting is not too sweet, but chases the cupcake like a champ!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

Cake

1 2/3 Cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon of salt

1 Cup granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted

2 Egg whites

1/4 Cup vanilla yogurt

3/4 Cup Milk

2 Teaspoons Vanilla extract

Frosting

1 Cup Unsalted butter at room temp.

6 Cups Powdered sugar

Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

Zest of 1 lime

Few drops of green food coloring

Small lime slices for garnish, if desired.

 

Directions:

Cupcakes –

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside
  3. Melt the butter.
  4. In a stand mixer (or a large bowl for a hand mixer) mix the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg whites, yogurt, milk and vanilla until combined.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until incorporated with no lumps.
  6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 the way with batter, bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Frosting –

  1. With a stand mixer beat butter until lite and fluffy.
  2. Add powder sugar, salt, lime juice, and zest and mix until creamy
  3. Mix in a few drops of green food coloring
  4. Transfer into a piping bag and frost the cupcakes when cool

 

Confessions of a Lazy Baker (Oatmeal M&M Cookies)

4 million dollar, 4 million, that’s how big my mistake was at work this week. Needless to say I am stressed, and when I’m stressed I eat. On Monday I found myself pacing back and forth outside of a conference room because I wanted left over cookies from their lunch meeting. There were no leftovers.  I raced up and down the aisles at work to get a small bite of chocolate, no one had any. When I was stressed and needed it the most my work let me down.

Cookie dough... Reminder: do not eat all of it.

Cookie dough… Reminder: do not eat all of it.

I decided I was going to make a sweet treat for me, I mean everyone at work. I also lost a bet to one of the departments and promised them cupcakes. But the thing is, on Tuesday when I came home from the gym, I realized I did not have enough butter for a butter cream frosting. I also did not have any cream cheese for a cream cheese frosting. And on top of all of that it was 8:30 pm, I was not going out to get anything. So I settled with cookies.

What I really wanted to make was double chocolate chunk espresso cookies. Well, let me tell you, I did not have anything to make that. No espresso, no Dutch processed coco, and not enough butter. This whole baking thing was starting to stress me out almost as much as my 4 million dollar mistake.

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TO THE INTERNET! I don’t often borrow recipes from the internet but when I do I make sure the recipe is legit. I borrowed Chewy Oatmeal M&M cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction, AND MAN DID THEY COME OUT WONDERFUL! I made two batches, one for my work fellows and one for the house. For the first batch I followed the recipe to a T. I was pleased how they came out however the cinnamon was throwing me off, something with the cinnamon and the chocolate was not working for me. However it did take me 3 cookies to decide this. For my second batch I dropped the cinnamon and added another teaspoon of vanilla. These came out much better for my liking. Chewy, soft, hearty with the oatmeal, and still sweet with M&M’s thrown in. A perfect distressing snack.

Chewy Oatmeal M&M cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Makes roughly 24 cookies

Ingredients

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 Cup brown sugar

1/4 Cup granulated sugar

1 Large egg

3 Teaspoons vanilla

1 and 2/3 Old Fashioned rolled oats

1 Cup all-purpose flour

½ Teaspoon baking soda

A bag of M&M added to taste (small or large does not matter, I used large because again, I did not have small)

 

With a stand mixer cream the softened butter and the sugars, add the eggs and vanilla and mix.

Beat in the oats, flour, and baking soda until combined. Stir in the M&Ms/

Preheat the oven to 350. Line pans with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until golden

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These were a hit at work!

To the girl who gave me advice (baking myths tackled)

“If you wear your pajamas inside out and backwards it will snow.”

Mrs. Poinsett my second grade teacher would tell us this daily in winter, and being a snow enthusiast, I listened. Let me tell you how hard it is to zip an onesie inside out and backwards… Have you ever tried to take off a wet wetsuit? How about ever tried to hook a tiny necklace clasps with fake nails? Have you ever sneezed spraying  purple tie dye powder all over your mothers freshly cleaned kitchen; then tried to clean it  up and found out it just stains everything when you get it wet? Oh come on I can’t be the only one that has happened to!! My point is it’s close to impossible.

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How did this myth or superstition come into practice? What started this phenomenon that now has children morphing into contortionists to zip their onesies? Some myths out there are so ridiculous. If I step on a crack, I can guarantee I will not break my mother’s back.  And if I stare at the microwave while its running my eyes won’t turn green and glow at night (trust me I tested this daily as a child, don’t get your hopes up).

The topic of baking does not escape the rapidly running rumors and myths. This topic actually sparked my interest because in a class I took (Writing about Food, at Cedar Crest College); a girl had the audacity to tell me my cookies would be better and softer if I stored them with a piece of bread. A piece of bread, A PIECE OF BREAD!!! What the hell would a piece of bread do? How dare she question my supreme baking abilities, who was she to question my authority!!! I’ll attack this myth later. Before I go on another rant about how much this upset me…

Baking Myths Tackled!

Myth: Shorting instead of butter will make cookies fluffier.

Answer: Sort of. It depends how much of a butter expert you are.

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Right out of the fridge butter is a solid, while right out the microwave butter is a liquid; and at room temperature butter is an odd mixture of both. In order to get butter right for cookies it has to have a certain consistency that is somewhere in between a liquid and a solid. Shorting has the correct consistency all the time and does not need to concern itself with the troubles of room temp vs. liquid state of butter.

Another reason that shorting produces a fluffier cookie is butter contains water. Shorting contains, well you don’t want to know, just know that there is no water. By containing no water, cookies with shortening are guaranteed to always stand a little taller than those made with butter.

Myth: All the alcohol in my chocolate stout cake will bake out in the oven

Answer: Eat the whole cake and you might start to get a buzz, or diabetes.

It is believed that alcohol will bake out because it has a lower boiling point than water does, but that does not mean that all of the alcohol will bake out. There can still be up to 50% of the alcohol remaining. You would have to bake a cake for over three hours to get the cake down to 5% alcohol.

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I majored in psychology in college, but I’m about to go all science on you. Alcohol can bind with both fat and water molecules. Binding to the fat molecules gives the food the flavor of the alcohol, while binding with the water makes it almost impossible to get rid of.  When water and alcohol bind they form an azeotrope, and when you boil or bake this mixture the ratio of the alcohol will always stay the same. Unless you boil out all of the liquid, but no one like a dry cake.

Myth: Baking soda and Baking Powder can live forever with the cockroaches.

Answer: While baking soda can be passed down from generation to generation, baking soda only has a shelf life of about a year (which makes me think I should restock the one in my baking supply shelf).

While baking soda is sodium bicarbonate which means when it is introduced to liquid and an acidy ingredient it bubbles which make your cakes rise. While baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate it also contains an acidifying agent and a drying agent. When baking power is added to dough it is activated by the heat of the oven.

So how do you test if your baking powder is ready to erupt? Since it is activated by heat and liquid add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to hot water. If it bubbles, it’s still fresh, If not (like I fear mine will do),  time to run to the store.

Myth: Salted Butter doesn’t spoil when it is not refrigerated

Answer: disgustingly true.

I have an aunt who doesn’t refrigerate her butter and it always look like something I just sweated out and congealed. Needless to say unrefrigerated butter grosses me out.

The reason that salted butter does not spoil is the salt. It contains so much salt that it inhibits the growth of bacteria. However unsalted butter, which I prefer, will spoil in about a week if left out to fend for itself.

Just to be safe, please, always put the butter away.

Myth: Why something is baking in the oven, opening the oven will ruin it.

Answer: Depends on what you are baking, but no for the most part

Mom this one is for you. When making cupcakes, no opening the oven will not cause them to not rise, however if you are making a soufflé I promise I will not open the door. Delicate things such as a soufflé are harder to preserve and they could flop if the door is open.

Myth: Putting a slice of bread in a sealed container with your cookies will keep them soft.

Answer: She was right.

It kills me to say this. Yes Amber you are right. Putting a slice of bread in with your cookie will make them soft. BUT WHY, WHYYYYYYY?!?!?!

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Cookies contain sugar, more sugar than breads with yeast. The sugars in these cookies are “hygroscopic” which in English means that they draw water out of the air into the sugar structure. Bread (white, wheat or rye) are not hygroscopic and evaporates its water into the air.  When a bread and cookie meet in the same environment the cookie starts taking water from the air, and the bread starts giving water to the air. So the Cookie gets soft and the bread gets hard.

Bitch.

On Tradition: Or Lack there of

“Santa’s coming! Santa’s coming!” Quick pole, who do you think in my household would be more likely to shout this?

  1. Me
  2. My Mother
  3. My Cat
  4. A small child who snuck into our house at night

If you guessed anything other than, B. My Mother, you are wrong.

Thanksgiving morning every year my mother turns back time and becomes a child. She wakes everyone up at promptly 9am singing that the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade is about to start. While my father and I stumble down the stairs in our Pajamas and squirrely bed heads, whispering obscenities under our breath; my mother sits like a child on the couch watching the parade waiting for the arrival of the holiday season kickoff, Santa.

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It’s a tradition, a weird backwards tradition. The balloons go by, the marching bands, the weird singing acts that get stranger with each passing year, until finally my mother’s big moment. I watch them build, like puddles on a rainy day, her eyes slowly gloss over then overflow with tears of memories. For the past 50+ years my mother has done the same thing every Thanksgiving without skipping a beat, as a child, to young adult, to mother, to now. Thanksgiving morning has always brought her to tears knowing that the season of family, love, and Santa Clause was about to Kick off.

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Another tradition in the family is the pies. It doesn’t matter who makes the dinner, or who says they will make the desserts; my family still makes the pies. Until last year it was solely my mother; apple pie, chocolate cream pie, and pumpkin. But some traditions need to be spiced up.

Until two years ago I never made a pie, any kind of pie. You name it, I’ve never made it. But that was the year of the great apple picking. My mother and I went apple picking and bought our weight in apples. We don’t know why we did this, but for the next few weeks there were apple everything. Meals, sides, sauces, turnovers, pancakes, if you are what you eat, I was a big fat juicy apple. My favorite way to eat an apple is on a stick, covered in M&M’s and caramel, that’s when I found the recipe for a caramel apple pie.  

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It sounded perfect. What is not to love about caramel, apples, and brown sugar? There is something about this combination that is warm and inviting. It is like the pie is wrapping you with a warm brown sugar blanket saying, “sit down and stay awhile”.  I made this for the first time at home; it was a bonding experience for my mother and me, my first pie. It came out perfect. Warm, crispy, and with the home made love that you just taste. For the beginning pie maker this is one of the easiest pies you can ever make. We spent hours on the crust (as you can see in the recipe I am joking), after a few ingredients thrown together and an hour in the oven, this masterpiece is complete.

From my tradition to yours, I hope you enjoy your caramel apple pie, don’t forget the ice cream!!!

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Caramel Apple Pie

Ingredients:

1 Box premade pie crust (I recommend Pillsbury)

½ Cup caramel topping (try butterscotch caramel!!)

2 Tablespoons AP flower

8 Cups of apples that are peeled, cored, and sliced (this should be 6-8 medium apples, I always use 7)

½ Cup brown Sugar

2 Tablespoons AP flower

1 Teaspoon milk

1 Teaspoon Sugar

 

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prepare crust as directed for a two crust pie.
  3. Combine caramel topping, and flour in a small bowl and spread it on the bottom of the pie crust.
  4. In a large bowl combine apples, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Pour over the caramel mixture and shape with the highest pile of apples in the middle.
  5. Place crust on top of apples, pinch edges all the way around, and cut air holes in the top.
  6. Brush milk over the top of the crust and lightly dust the sugar.
  7. Place in over for 50-60 minutes (Cover crust after 30 minutes of cooking to prevent browning)  

 

 

 

A Lemon Christmas (Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins)

I used to wish my Christmas tree would burn down.

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Using an old grater for my zest

I hated Christmas. I hated the fact that after Halloween (my favorite holiday), Christmas music would start. I hated the fact that it got cold. I hated slushy snow. I hated speeding hours in a kitchen with my mother. I hated spending countless hours, or multiple days, decorating an 11+ foot tall Christmas tree that we would get every year.

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Lemon and sugar mix

I guess you can call the child me a Grinch. I didn’t understand it. Why bother cutting down a perfectly good tree (as if humans aren’t doing that enough already), and spending countless hours arguing about how to decorate it, only to throw it out the week after Christmas.  Sure it looked pretty for that occasional family member that wandered over to drop something off, but what was the point?

We spent evenings that felt like eternities manipulating cookies to taste just like the ones from the store. What was the point? Couldn’t you just, I don’t know, buy them?!?! During the Christmas season everyone just complains about their diet anyways.

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Someone was interested in the Sour Cream mixture.

Looking back to how much of a Grinch I was, it makes me wonder how I got to where I am today. I cannot wait until snow hits the ground, this means Santa’s coming!!! The smell of the tree, while sitting next to the fire, looms my dreams for the rest of the 11 months. Don’t get me started about cookies; I think it is obvious what happened there (if not feel free to read my post on Chocolate Chip Cookies).

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Batter

An Odd thing about me and Christmas, for some reason I always associate Lemon with the holidays. Perhaps it is because almost every Christmas morning my mother would make Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. Or perhaps it has something to do with the lemon drop cookies that I spent hours recreating. It could just be my obsession with zesting things and the smell that lingers on my fingers afterword’s.

Anyways, last night (while dancing to Christmas music) I made mini lemon poppy seed muffins for breakfast at work. These guys love when I bring in treats for them, and it gives me an excuse to eat all day. Throughout the morning I had countless people exclaiming how I am ruining their diet, while stuffing three mini muffins in their mouth and taking two for after they swallowed.

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My mini muffins in my cookie jar, almost gone that is

Looking back at my childhood I am almost 97.2% positive that my mother never made these from scratch. I think she cheated and used a mix. Well that cheater, cheater, pumpkin pie eater; try this one next time!

Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2/3 Cup sugar

2 cups AP flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 Cup sour Cream

2 large eggs

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Stick unsalted Butter, melted

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

Directions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees, grease muffin tins (or use liners, your call)
  2. In a large bowl mix the lemon zest in with the sugar. This is easiest done with your fingers. Mix until all the sugar is wet with lemon.
  3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix this together well.
  4. In a medium size bowl whisk together sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and butter.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and mix until wet.
  6. Add Poppy seeds then stir to combine
  7. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way and bake for 10 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Optional Icing

For icing I did not have any lemon juice, or lemons lying around. I only had 1 which I used for the muffins. I used a vanilla glaze, but a lemon glaze is what I intended on doing so I’ll give you both options.

Lemon

1 Cup Confectioners’ sugar

2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice (preferably fresh)

Mix till combined, drizzle over cooled muffins.

Vanilla

1 Cup confectioners’ sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix till combined, drizzle over cooled muffins

Makes 4 dozen mini muffins, almost 1 dozen normal sized muffins (amount ranges on size of the tins)

Cheaters Coffee Cake

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The Journey of the Crumb Cake

                I was never one for cheating, but I like to win. Family monopoly games turned into battles to the death, unless I was the dealer. If I was the dealer, it was always a landslide victory in one direction. I’m not saying I cheated; I just helped out my cause a little.

                Cheating in sports is another thing, I never cheated, but cheaters always made the game more interesting. There was always that one team at the softball field that counted too many runs, or sent someone up to bat to early. This was always resolved with at least one coach being ejected from the game, parents screaming obscenities, and at least one girl crying. It’s not a game unless someone cries.

In baking I can proudly say my cheating is minimal. I prefer homemade everything, to premade anything. Cookies in the bag don’t cut it, box cakes can suck it, and store bought can remain in the store. There is an adventure involved in cooking from scratch, a sense of accomplishments, and pride.

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Don’t cheat and use a stand mixer, DONT DO IT! Do what I say not what I do.

Today, I confess, I cheated. Today I made coffee cake and used (gulp) Bisquick. I could have made homemade Bisquick, but I’ll save that for another story. This was one of the easiest recipes I could have ever followed, and at 7:00am easy is what I need. I even accomplished this recipe without my morning cup of coffee.

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                Apparently, this Bisquick coffee cake is a classic. My mother commented how her mom used to make it, and on mother’s day, tradition is the only thing that mattered. The cake part is light and fluffy, sweet and moist, comparable to a slice of cloud from the heavens. The crumbs, if you are a coffee cake fiend, like myself, I recommend doubling or tripling the crumb topping. I doubled it, and still could have used a little more. But the small balls of sugar will forever satisfy my early morning sweet tooth.

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The crumbly finished product

Without further ado, here is my slice of early morning goodness. Remember, cheaters never win, but at first they do succeed.

Cheaters Coffee Cake:

Ingredients:

Cinnamon streusel

1/3 Cup Original Bisquick mix

1/3 Cup packed brown sugar

1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons firm margarine

Coffee Cake:

2 Cups Original Bisquick mix

2/3 Cup milk

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Egg

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375*F. Grease a 9 inch round pan.
  2. In a small bowl, stir streusel ingredients until crumbly. If you like big crumbs try using your hands. For smaller finer crumbs use a whisk.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix coffee cake ingredients until blended, then spread evenly in pan.
  4. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the cake batter.
  5. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The Cookies that Changed My Life

Life of a cookie

The games tied 1-1 and the Red Sox are up to bat. It’s the bottom of the 9th and only this inning can tell if the game goes to extra innings. The first batter is up to plate, hits a single to center. The second batter comes up; he hits a sacrifice fly to right field, and the runner on first advances. Third batter hits another single down the third base line. With runners in scoring position the teams lead homerun hitter comes up to bat. Could the Red Sox win it all? “Lauren come in here and help me with dinner!” screamed my mom from the kitchen.

“But mom! The game!” I stammer out.

“Lauren get your butt in here you can watch TV after dinner.”

I hated cooking. I hated the kitchen, always calling me away from the best TV shows a girl could ask for. Without fail my mother could be cooking for hours and she would ask for my help right when something started to get good, or right before the killer was discovered. I think she did it on purpose.

I think I got my dislike of cooking from observing my father. My father is the type of man who will work from nine to five, spend the rest of the day (or till the sun goes down) making acquaintances with worms in his garden. Soon after he will come inside, eat the raw pick of the day and be content with life. He always enjoys his food in the purest of forms, straight from the garden with a little dirt still on it. While sitting on the couch drinking a beer and watching sports, of course. There was no time for this “cooking shit” that my mother is so proud of. But after my mother cooked, my father would eat her hot meal without a complaint or hesitation.

Sugars, butter, vanilla and egg
Sugars, butter, vanilla and egg

Never would my father lift a finger to help my mother cook dinner. “Cooking dinner is a women’s thing” he would say to me. I always wondered if it had something to do with the chaos he caused when he walked in the kitchen. He always thought the food needed something extra and he would shove countless “secret ingredients” in my mother’s face. This inevitably would result in a shouting match over who is the true cooker of dinner.

Mother on the other hand, she always tried to force a wooden spoon in my hand. Stir this, watch that, cut this, sauté that. When I was seven she tried to teach me how to cut up veggies for soup. I did not want any of that, so I cut my finger instead (in reality I was just very bad at cutting things with knives).

My mother reminds me of spinach. When spinach is fresh, it is a great addition to salad; it is sweet, crisp and fresh. But once you cook spinach, or you get my mother mad, it is sour, pungent and it resembles something that should have just remained in the garden. My extreme dislike of helping my mother in the kitchen, made her like cooked spinach.

“You need to learn how to cook!” my mother would shout, “How are you ever going to survive on your own!”

“Mom, I’m nine! I don’t care!” I would scream back. This was a good enough excuse until I was sixteen.

For my sixteenth birthday I asked for the top of the line field hockey stick, an acoustic guitar, and a kitten. Why do I remember this you may ask? For my sixteenth birthday my mother got me sixteen cookbooks, just what my mother wanted when she turned sixteen. This made me even more upset, “MOM I DON’T CARE ABOUT COOKING, JUST BECAUSE YOU DO DOESN’T MEAN I DO!” I screamed. I yelled. I cursed. I hated the heavy hard covered doorstoppers that my mother forced upon me.

“You’ll regret it when I’m gone.” She would argue back, for some reason she always thought I would care more if she threatened me with her own death. I never understood that.

Months into my sixteenth year I avoided the kitchen like the plague, always sneaking around it, making excuses to exit the front door instead of the garage door, which was located in the kitchen. Then one day while my mother was at work, I wanted something chocolaty, like a cookie. I went into the unoccupied kitchen, checking the time diligently to make sure my mother would not be home within the next four hours where she might catch me lingering in the kitchen looking for a snack. There was nothing to eat anywhere! Okay that might be a slight exaggeration. There was food everywhere, but not what I wanted. Bored, I sat down at the table and started thumbing through a dessert book my Mom had on the counter. That’s when my life changed forever.  There on page 136 this lady, Betty Crocker, outlined what she called “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.” That was exactly what I was looking for! My existence in this world was justified. I was put on earth to make these cookies. With no prior baking background or experience I decided right then and there that these cookies would be my first culinary masterpiece.

dough

I scrounged the kitchen looking for the ingredients. Three-fourths cup dark brown sugar and granulated sugar, what was this dark brown sugar? I could only find light brown sugar. To be on the safe side I used one cup of granulated sugar. Butter at room temperature? I did not have time for that! I melted it in the microwave instead. Baking soda? I didn’t like soda, I used powder instead. In the end the mixed glob that sat in the bowl before me, which contained one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and one bag of M&M’s dumped in it, was the best thing I ever created. I scooped the slop onto a greased cookie sheet (even though the recipe clearly stated ungreased) and let it sit for the suggested amount of time. Or ten minutes more.

Lil' Dough Ball
Lil’ Dough Ball

When the smoke detectors finally alerted me that the cookies were done, I pulled the pan from the oven to see that my creation faintly resembled chocolate chip cookies. I let them cool for about twenty seconds before shoving a three-hundred and seventy five degree cookie into my mouth, and losing all the skin in my mouth due to third degree mouth burns. Although they were burnt to a crisp I could taste it, the sweet taste of success (in retrospect it could have been some of the blood from my mouth burns too, but mostly success). This is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! I wanted to put masterpieces together using my hands, I wanted to be better than those people who bought their cookies in packages, and I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make sweets!

Hours passed as I waited with baited breath for my mother to come home so I could show her my culinary masterpiece. What I forgot about, was the fact that my mother is the kind of person who keeps her closets in alphabetical order, whereas I am the person who takes everything out and lays it on the kitchen counter and leaves it there. In laymen’s terms, the kitchen was the aftermath of a category five hurricane in a trailer park. When my mother walked through the doors she had a small heart attack and immediately started screaming that we’ve been robbed. When I finally managed to calm her down and tell her that I have been baking she almost had another heart attack. I showed her my creation, and with utter disgust she managed to crinkle her nose and attempted to hide her disgust and to applaud my creation. I could tell that she was still in distress from seeing her kitchen a mess, and couldn’t take in the beauty and wonder of my creation.

Over the next weeks, months and years to come, my mother would encourage my baking. She explained to me that unlike cooking, baking had to be precise and the recipe had to be followed exactly or you ended up with “globbly-gook” like my first attempt at cookies. She still tries to force me into helping her cook dinner, but after another incident with a knife she came to the conclusion that maybe I was more of a baker, and let me stick strictly to that.  She took my sixteen cookbooks and turned them in to twenty-two recipe books strictly on desserts and sweets.

Today the smoke alarm no longer alerts me when my cookies are done; I take them out all by myself, well, with help from the kitchen timer. I no longer discard baking soda from recipes because of my dislike of soda, and I no longer make up my own amounts of sugar. My baking caused my family to change as well, my mother no longer nags me to get up off the couch when the game is on to help her with dinner. And my father no longer reaches for a dirt covered vegetable; he insists that a cookie or cupcake is way better than the crunch of gravel between your teeth, and I couldn’t agree more.

Baked COokies

Life Changing Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies”

These cookies are the basic introduction to baking that even the person with the smallest kitchen experience can manage; just make sure to follow the measurements and the time exactly.

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

3/4 Cup packed brown sugar

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 Teaspoon baking powder

1 Package (12 ounces or 2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Wisk sugars (brown and granulated), butter, vanilla and egg in a large bowl until mixed together and creamy
  3. Mix in with a wooden spoon flour, baking soda and salt, and mix. The dough will be stiff, mix until combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips
  5. By rounded tablespoons drop cookie dough on an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart
  6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet and move to wire rack to cool completely