Neighbors

Next door is very close to our door. Next door finally has some love. Next door got some curb appeal, which doesn’t take much in our little ‘hood. Next door radically upgraded the backyard, the property we have a view of. The backyard has a maintained small-child play area, a red paver patio between house and play area, a patch of moss-dandelion-buttercup-free green grass lawn, and a stretch of vegetable beds, the area of which matches my own.

12 years of bamboo growth screening the yard someone finally cares about.
12 years of bamboo growth screening the yard someone finally cares about.

Next door has chickens, which we welcomed, ourselves being aficionado of all things Gallus. And, next door has a rooster-not welcomed by the surrounding neighbors, the town officials, nor us when awakened pre-alarm clock. Next door are relatively new to the neighborhood and may have chickens because we have chickens, perhaps not checking city guidelines for backyard poultry. Next door does not speak English as a primary language. We’ve chatted a few times. We’ve talked chickens and gardens a bit. We’ve waved and smiled a lot. I, despite many fizzled attempts otherwise, am primarily, well, only, an English-speaking person. I do, however, speak cookie.

2 flours, 3 sugars, an egg, and other sundries.
2 flours, 3 sugars, an egg, and other sundries.

Today I am going to stop by and find out if they are aware of the Rooster Restrictions. I will bring cookies. I hope they like them. A few are just oatmeal, but the rest contain chocolate-covered raisins I found in the baking drawer. I tested one pre-treadmill. It was really good.

Yum.
Yum.

Here’s how I made them today.

Oatmeal Cookies Makes 14 3-inchish cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup white unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar added to the coconut palm sugar to make 1/3 cup total

1/3 cup evaporated cane juice sugar

1 egg1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup raisins (or chocolate covered raisins)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and oats.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat until it looks like a smooth paste.

Add the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined. Scrape down the mixer paddle or beaters, the sides and bottom of the bowl.

On very low-speed, add the flour mixture. Beat on low-speed just until it looks mixed in. Scrape the bowl again, turning the dough over to find any unmixed flour.

Still on very low, add the raisins and mix only until they and the flour are completely mixed in.

Use a spoon or 1-ounce cookie scoop to place mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet pan. (You should be able to fit 12 cookies, spaced evenly, on a standard size baking sheet.) Flatten the mounds a bit with your fingers held flat or use the bottom of a measuring cup.

Note: at this point, you can put the pan of uncooked cookies into the freezer, freeze then put in a Ziploc bag. They can be pulled from the freezer and baked at a later time.

Place the pan of cookies into the pre-heated oven.Set the timer for 10 minutes.Check the cookies and continue baking a few more minutes if they look really raw.It is better to under bake cookies than over bake.

Let cool for a minute or two, then slide the cookies onto a cooling rack. Repeat the scooping, flattening, and baking until all dough used.

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To Go

Sometimes the best dinners are never eaten at home. For my niece’s birthday, we met at Edmonds Beach and picnicked on oven-fried chicken, green bean/cherry tomato/shallot salad, cold sesame noodles, carrot sticks, just-baked sourdough bread with grass-fed butter, crisp not-too-sweet walnut sandies, and Theo’s 85% cocoa chocolate. The company, the beach, the sunset, ferries and freight trains made it a lovely way to celebrate this beautiful human I’ve known since the minute she took her first breath.

IMG_2649
My niece dining with a dino
The T-Rex is still enjoying the chicken
T-Rex still enjoying the chicken
Cozy
Cozy
Farewell!
Farewell!
Edmonds Beach
Edmonds Beach

Walnut Sandies

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Annie’s bourbon vanilla extract
9 oz emmer flour
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the flour at low speed, scraping the side and bottom of the bowl, until the dough just comes together.
Add the walnuts and beat just until they are incorporated and lightly broken up. Divide the dough in half and form it into two 2-inch-thick logs. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with 1 log at a time and keeping the other one chilled, cut the dough into scant 1/4-inch-thick slices, arrange them on the baking sheets and sprinkle them with sugar(optional).
Repeat with the second log of dough.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges and on the bottom, shifting the baking sheets halfway through.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Necessity

Early in my cooking life, I found myself intrigued with gadgets, gizmos, and trendy must-haves for any kitchen, many of which are now stowed away, given away, or garage-saled away.  The few things I love and use regularly are: tongs, whisks, sharp knives, swivel-head peeler, zester, stainless steel bowls, glass stacking bowls, wooden spoons, metal spatulas, immersion blender, Kitchen Aid mixer, and my digital scale. Of these, the one thing from which I’d never want to part is the scale.

Taylor Compact Digital Scale
Taylor Compact Digital Scale

Measuring implements are not created equal. For that matter, vegetables are not created equal either. When recipe calls for: 1 onion, chopped, how much onion is that? If a recipe is developed for cups of white, all-purpose flour, how can I know the type of measuring cups used? Is it possible to substitute other flours using the same measurement? I have an assortment of measuring cups. If I use the one-cup measure from Set A, will using the half-cup measure from Set B give me the correct ratio? All of these dilemmas can be removed by using a scale. A pound is a pound, whether of flour, fruit, or flesh.

When I began making sourdough bread, which requires ingredients to be measured by weight, I gradually switched many of my baking recipes to pounds & ounces. I know the pizza dough requires 12-oz of flour, the cheesecake requires 2-lbs of cream cheese, the ganache requires 13-oz of heavy cream, and the pancakes are happiest with something closer to 11.5-oz of milk. Somethings, like pancakes, don’t always require the weighing of flour as the batter, thick or thin, is a matter of preference, but in a commercial kitchen, consistency and cost control dictate that all recipes be scaled. Thanks to my secret lover Excel, I can know how much made-at-home pizza costs vs Pagliacci delivered.

All that being said, I get lazy. I find new recipes, I make substitutions, the end results seem fine. For a while now, I have used a chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated The Best Recipe. This recipe calls for melted butter, lots of sugar (brown & white), all-purpose flour (2 cups + 2 tablespoons, usually a give away that the original recipe formulations used a scale), an egg plus egg yolk, and the other usual baking bits. From the get go, I used only evaporated cane juice for the sugar, and of that I reduced the recipe amount by half. I usually replaced half the flour with whole wheat, and when I was grinding the sprouted flour, I replaced the white flour completely. Eventually, I stopped adding the 2nd yolk,  just using 2 whole eggs instead. Most recently, I’ve switched to using coconut palm sugar, which is very different from sugar sugar or ECJ.

So, last night, after the successful einka pasta, I thought some einka chocolate chip cookies were in order. Knowing that the einka flour was looser than regular whole wheat, and knowing that baking science is more exact than that of cooking, I measured one cup. It weighed 3 ounces. I grabbed a cup of white flour and it came in at 4.6 ounces. I would need to scale recipes when using the einka.

Even though I did throw in too many chocolate chips (I found a bargain on 42% cocoa rather than my preferred 65%)  which upped the total sugar content and sweetness level, the cookies are delicious.

einka, coconut palm sugar, backyard eggs, grass-fed butter, annie's bourbon vanilla, and fair trade chocolate
einka, coconut palm sugar, backyard eggs, grass-fed butter, annie’s bourbon vanilla, and fair trade chocolate