Monday, September 6, 2010

Cookie Extravaganza

I'm turning into Alice.

Alice was my friend Rose's mom.  Alice lived through the Great Depression, and was extremely frugal.  So, Alice made everything from scratch.  She never, ever bought a store-bought anything if a little time and effort could cause that thing to be grown, dried, canned, frozen, baked, or otherwise manufactured at home.

Alice made her own soap. She used lard and lye.  It smelled kind of.... lardy, but when I used her soap, I had the best skin.

Another thing Alice made was cookies.  She would periodically bake batches and batches and then freeze them. I'd drop by to hang out with Rose, and Alice would pull a ginormous Tupperware container out of the freezer.  Icebox cookies. Snickerdoodles. And, what eventually became my favorite: Cornmeal cookies.

I haven't started making my own lye soap (yet), but this weekend I did make cookies.

Two batches. If I were really channeling Alice, this weekend's cookie extravaganza would have included at least three kinds.

Of course, I froze most of them for future consumption.  In little Tupperware containers. 

Because Spouse 1.0 is supposed to go gluten-free, I was experimenting with recipes using oat flour and brown rice flour.

G-free flours are, according to my cookbook, a lot less forgiving than wheat. Precise measurement is essential; experimentation is discouraged. And, my cookbook contains recipes for neither snickerdoodles nor cornmeal cookies.

Probably just as well that it doesn't contain a cornmeal cookie recipe. The spouse is only permitted organic blue cornmeal, not white or yellow.  I'm thinking blue cornmeal cookies might not look very cookie-like.

So, Friday night's cookies were oatmeal, made with whole oats and oat flour.  Think of them as oaty-oatmeal cookies.  The recipe called for raisins, which neither of us loves. But, the recipe said you could substitute chocolate chips. 

So, of course, I substituted dates & carob chips for the raisins, plus added a few pecans. 

Results:  A little cakey, but generally yummy. Mostly because of the carob chips and the pecans.

Today's cookies were peanut butter with rice flour. Except we aren't supposed to eat peanut butter. So, I substituted cashew butter. And, I substituted brown rice flour for the rice flour. But, other than that, I stuck to the recipe.

Results: A bit bland. 

Part of the problem: Cashews aren't peanuts. This is OK in Thai cashew sauce, where the flavor is supplemented by other strong ingredients. But, in peanut butter cookies, your strongest flavor is the peanut butter. So, with cookies you're a lot more aware of the fact that cashews aren't peanuts.

Another part of the problem: Rice flour is bland.  It just is. Even brown rice flour.

Third part of the problem: The recipe no doubt was formulated using normal commercial peanut butter, which contains lots of yummy salt and white sugar and hydrogenated oils and preservatives in addition to the peanuts.  The cashew butter contained... cashews.

This has ramifications on both taste (bland) and texture (a bit oily and cakey).

So, next time I'll try almond butter. Or use potato flour. Maybe add more salt and raw sugar.

But, in the meantime, we have cookies in the freezer.

Just like Alice.

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