Monday, November 30, 2009

The Great Bake

Oh Blogosphere, how long has it been?

Too long, by my records.

The garden eased it's way into fall nicely with the killer frost some time in October. Now with November's warm rainy weather (and I'm not complaining TOO loudly, mind!), all the bulbs I planted are starting to grow. My grass is still green. It's going to be an interesting winter.

November has almost slipped away and our minds have naturally turned to the upcoming Holiday season. In this house, that means Christmas. Lots of family, lots of stress, and most importantly, lots of $$$. Well, we have an abundance of the first two and very little of the last one. Try and act surprised at what you get this year, K?

Back in my days of yore, I used to bake everyone gifts. I love to bake and it provided a needed outlet from school and life stress. That eventually evolved into baking with others, splitting costs and having memorable visits with a few dear ones. I can still smell the shortbread in the air at Vic's old place in Newmarket as we cleaned up quickly to head outside for a sneaky smoke. I can also remember baking gingerbread with my Mother in law and laughing at each other's attempts as we tried to place teeny candies on each cookie. So many good memories, so much time has passed. The BFF now lives in Windsor with her delightful, raucous family and Marg is sadly no longer with us. Over the years I have baked less and less, spending what time I had on shopping, babies and getting Christmas dinner together for my immediate family. I think last year I made a batch of shortbread and a package of Pillsbury reindeer cookies. Yes, I had sunk to that level...

This year, Sean's Mom's family is trying something new. We're all convening in Kincardine before Christmas to have a meal and a visit with Grandma. Each family is assigned to bring something different; I got "a dessert tray of assorted cookies and squares". Once my initial panic settled down and I had consulted my schedule (I'm working actual Christmas this year and nights for the two weeks leading up to it) the (small!) sane part of my brain thought "F@#k it, I'll just go to a bakery". Sometime after I had considered all the functions we are invited to and the actual dinner I have to cook for my family, my pride welled up and throttled that small sane part of my prefrontal cortex. Bakery be dammed! Get the sifter honey, we's is havin' an old fashioned bake off!

But what to make? I do have an adventurous palate, but I recognize that many in my life do not. To be honest, I've almost had it with pretentious baking as well. Your poppyseed bran concoctions with lentil glaze and rice flour may taste good initally, but I'm tired of trying to be diet conscious, fat free and "healthy". It's a cookie dammit! It is supposed to have sugar and fat in it. Martha's OCD can also take a long hard one on my ever-widening ass. Her food is lovely but her recipes should include a crate of mood stablizers with each ingredient list. So, what to do?

In the last two weeks I've compiled a tome of my favourite recipes. Some are more homespun than others, granted, but they are all simple foods that are easy, reasonably inexpensive and can be made with one eye watching a small child. I've decided to get back to basics... no fondant, no exotic spices. Just old fashioned yummy treats that I and anyone else can whip up in no time flat. Some are childhood favourites, others I have picked up along the way from family and friends. Like the ornaments on my tree, each is a thread in the tapestry of my lang syne.

Today I made my first batch and started with the most simple and arguably the tastiest recipe of all. My Mom's chocolate drop cookies. If you really want the super slueth award, yes, there is fibre in them.

Chocolate Drop Cookies

(These take 5 mins to make)

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly:
1/2 c milk
1/2 c butter
6 T cocoa
2 c white sugar

Remove from heat and add:

3 c rolled oats
1c fine coconut
1/2 c walnuts (optional... I never add them)

Mix well and drop by teaspoon on waxed paper.

Does it get any simpler? One tip I will add: wait a few minutes before beginning to drop them onto the waxed paper. You want them gooey, not runny. In a few minutes they will harden into sweet chocolate loveliness. Hide them from your family. You will want to make a second batch to replace the one you just ate.

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o`clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." ~ Al Hutchinson

I will add more (and images too) as time allows. I also have a series of pre-schooler crafts that at least a few of you will appreciate. Now if you will excuse me, it is time for a nap.

No comments: