Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rachel's Stir-n-Drop Sugar Cookies

Rachel, another sugar cookie enthusiast (notice that I didn't say "nut" as I, myself, find sugar cookies to be the most perfect of all cookies ... I can't make that claim for Rachel), has read my sad laments in my search for the "perfect sugar cookie."

She very kindly sends a recipe which sounds somewhat similar in results to this recipe but I am quite intrigued by her description, which I have included below. For one thing they sound so simple. For another ... my mouth is watering! Thanks Rachel, I can't wait to try these!
I read in your entry entitled "Christmas Baking?" that you are looking for a sugar cookie recipe. The one I have isn't a cutout, but I think it's quite good. It's in an old recipe booklet called Baking Fun and Facts for Teens, published by Wesson Oil sometime in the early sixties, I think. The trick is that instead of cutting out the cookies, you drop them by spoonfuls on the cookie sheet. Then you oil the bottom of a drinking glass, dip it in sugar, then press the cookies. They make very nicely rounded cookies with a bit of sugary crunch on top. Oh, and they have a lovely light lemon flavor too. In case you're interested, here's the recipe:

Stir-n-Drop Cookies

2 eggs
2/3 cup Wesson oil (substitute your favorite cooking oil)
2 t. vanilla
1 t. grated lemon rind (or I use lemon extract)
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Beat eggs with fork until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla, lemon rind or extract. Blend in sugar until mixture thickens. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; stir into oil mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Gently press each cookie flat with the bottom of a glass that has been dipped in sugar. (Moisten glass with oil, dip in sugar...continue dipping in sugar.) For extra crunchiness, pat several times. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove immediately from cookie sheet. 3 dozen 3-inch cookies.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables.

These are the very first sentences of the introduction to Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. The rest of the book is spent supporting those seemingly simple sentences.

I am only about a third of the way into the book, however, it is clear that Pollan speaks nothing but common sense about food, the way we view it, and how we need to stop viewing mainly it as a nutrition delivery system.

Saveur has an interview with him on their website which gives a sense of what he is communicating in the book. I highly recommend you go read it if you are interested in how Americans eat ... or simply how you eat. Here's a nibble ...
This seems an odd time in which to offer a defense of food, since if you open a newspaper or turn on the TV you'd think we were in the midst of an explosion of popular interest in chefs and cooking. Why do you believe food needs defending?

The way I see it, food is under attack from two corners. One is the food industry, which is busy turning perfectly good food into abhorrent, complicated products. The example I cite in the book is "whole wheat white bread", which is a new, 40-ingredient monstrosity, designed by Sara Lee and some other companies, that has all the tactile pleasures of Wonder bread and "whole grain goodness", too. Real bread needs to be defended from imitations like that.

Food is also under attack from nutritionists and a nutritional–industrial complex that encourages us to look at it strictly as a conveyance of nutrients and which elevates the question of health above all others. To ask only Is this good for your body? Is this going to make you live longer? Is this going to help prevent heart disease? is a very limited and even counterproductive way of looking at food. So while, yes, food certainly has supporters right now, they're a pretty elite group. The attack, on the other hand, is widespread and includes just about everything going on at the average supermarket.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Calloo, Callay, O Frabjous Day ...

I'm smiling because...
  • Tom's mom gave me a Borders gift certificate for Christmas and they've got a whole bunch of the Culinaria books on sale for $10 each. In a way this makes one think of an updating of the Time Life Foods of the World series (reviewed here) although these are done with less of each writer's personality and more continuity between volumes. These books look at the cuisines of countries in depth. When I say "in depth" think about 450 pages, oversized, covering every aspect of culture that relates to food. In short, a foodie's dream. Until now only the hardbacks have been available and they are huge. I mean to say, you don't want to fall asleep reading one because you'd be crushed to death when it fell on you. Sadly, I heard that the original company went out of business but that means the series was picked up by another printer and is being republished in paperback. It is still high quality printing on heavy paper and still huge but at least you can read it on bed without being injured.
Book reports
  1. The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket by Trevor Corson *** ... you will believe that sushi can be interesting! Which I wouldn't have before hearing a Barnes and Noble podcast interviewing this author ... so I got it from the library. A thoroughly entertaining read that shows not only the history of sushi but takes us through a sushi chef class with all the students. Very good indeed.

  2. The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones**** ... much like Julia Child's "My Life in France" (reviewed here) this is a nostalgic journey in the way America cooked from the past to present. Judith Jones is the famous Knopf editor whose love of food and cooking allowed her to sniff out such great food writers as Julia Child, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Irene Kuo, Marcella Hazen and many more. Not only is this a wonderful look at Jones' life and the foodways of America, but her thinking on food is quite firmly stated ... and delightfully sane and common-sensical it is. Highly recommended.
A partial cross-posting from Happy Catholic. More reasons to smile and more book reports may be found here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Creamy Garlic Dressing

I believe I got this from the Cook's Illustrated Family Cookbook which I checked out of the library a while back. It was served over a salad of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and diced avocadoes. Mmmmmmmm. Of course it also works on any less carefully constructed salad that you have thrown together with whatever happens to be in the fridge also.

3/4 c. olive oil
6 tablespoons sour cream or mayonnaise
3 tablespoons lemons juice
4 teaspoons Dijon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all together. Makes 1-1/2 cups dressing.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Cheesecake Bombs

It really isn't fair to start off the New Year with a recipe like this is it? Unless your goal is deliciousness!

This comes from The Anchoress who was good enough to share it a few days ago. I haven't had a chance to try it but I have a movie night group meeting in a couple of weeks and I think I know just what would be perfect to make ahead and take! Thanks Anchoress!

1 pound cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whipping cream
Tiniest pinch salt

12 ounces chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line an 8x8 or 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place pan on prepared baking sheet.

2. Mix Cheesecake Batter ingredients until smooth. Pour into pan. Bake until set, about 30 minutes. Cool well in fridge. Cut into small squares (24 to 32). Place squares on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze 1 to 2 hours.

3. Meanwhile, melt chocolate.

4. To finish Cheesecake Bombs, using a fork to assist, dip and turn each frozen cheesecake portion in chocolate. Let set on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze briefly to set and then place in confectionery paper holders, if desired. Seal in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. Serve frozen or thaw slightly and serve chilled.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I See the Government is Determined to Get Me to Buy Organic

FDA Is Set To Approve Milk, Meat From Clones

Three years after the Food and Drug Administration first hinted that it might permit the sale of milk and meat from cloned animals, prompting public reactions that ranged from curiosity to disgust, the agency is poised to endorse marketing of the mass-produced animals for public consumption.

The decision, expected by the end of this year, is based largely on new data indicating that milk and meat from cloned livestock and their offspring pose no unique risks to consumers.

"Our evaluation is that the food from cloned animals is as safe as the food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, the FDA's chief of veterinary medicine, who has overseen the long-stalled risk assessment.
How about this?

We already have a way to produce animals and milk. Don't need that cloned stuff. Now, if I lived on Mars, which admittedly has very little to offer in the way of farmland, that would be different. But this is wrong on just so many levels. Not just the ethical and moral issues they mention further on in the story but from the sheer standpoint of how to view food in general.

I already buy organic milk, thanks to the Bovine Growth Hormone.

I buy eggs from free range chickens, thanks to the fact that I don't want chickens to be stuck in teeny, tiny little boxes as nothing more than egg machines. Ditto with free range chicken purchased for the same reason.

I am now reduced to so little trust in the government's decision making abilities about our food that I am considering gardening. That is how upset I am. Gardening. Which I loathe and detest. (Yes, I know that gardening is a beautiful thing. But I still don't enjoy it.)

Now, I am going to go soothe my nerves by reading The Slow Cook who has both gardens and cooks ... and who would understand why I'm so darned upset.