Daily Archives: May 15, 2008

Stepping Out of the Cookie Comfort Zone

Last July I wrote a post about what cookies I wanted to try out when the Unicorn kitchen was completed. I’ve checked off the Molasses Spice Cookies with Rum Glaze, the Chewy Ginger Oatmeal cookies, and the Gingerbread cookies, all of which were A+, keeper recipes. I knew I wanted to make cookies for this weekend, but nothing in that post was singing to me. Then I ended up bored at work with nothing to read except cookie recipes on Epicurious. I came across this recipe for Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies.

They sounded so different from anything I’d made before. I mean, they called for no eggs! And steel-cut oats! I’m so used to making Tollhouse Chocolate Chip cookies, this could only be a fun experiment. But just in case they didn’t work out I needed to know ahead of time to plan for the weekend, right? The cookies just had to be tried tonight.

The most exciting part of the recipe was the oats.

The user reviews on the recipe suggested that the steel-cut oats might be too al dente to be tasty. They sure look like a cool, new, unusual ingredient, though! That had to count for something. Still, as the dough was being mixed, contingency plans were drawn up for purchasing rolled oats for a replacement batch.

The second most exciting part was kneading the chips into the dough.

The dough was just butter, flour, sugar, and cocoa, really, so it was really dry. Mixing the chips in was easier via kneading. It was so satisfying to pick up a giant chunk of cookie dough and play around with it like I was in 3rd grade art class. Also, by this point in the process we discovered if the cookies were even half as good as the dough, we had a winner on our hands. Literally!

The third most exciting part of the process (this was an exciting cookie-making experience for me, apparently!) was flattening the rolled dough balls. Someone left a tip on Epicurious to grease the bottom of a glass then dip it in sugar before using it to flatten the cookies.

This tip worked like a charm!

Next up the cookies were baked for 14 minutes until the tops were nice and cracked. The second tray burned, leading me to conclude that the dough should be refrigerated while waiting to be trayed up. I think being left out on the counter didn’t help it. The non-burned cookies, however, were gorgeous.

In the end, the plans for procuring rolled oats was dismissed for being ridiculous. The steel-cut oats bring a delightfully different crunch to these cookies. The cookies are dry and crumbly, but in a delicious biscuity kind of way. The chocolate flavor is deep and dark and insanely satisfying. These cookies have the potential to be a canvas for further adventures in flavored extract fun. Best of all the cookies were insanely easy to make and don’t require eggs, making them an ideal slightly-fancier-than-cookie-pudding impulse dessert.

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Filed under Baked Goods, Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts With C

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day: May Edition

We discovered the fantastically wonderful blog project Gardener Blogger’s Bloom Day on May Dreams Garden last month, just after the cut off for April’s Bloom Day submission. We’ve spent the last just-under-a-month giddy with excitement for our first Bloom Day. Every bloom in the yard has been encouraged to hang on just a hair longer, and every bud has been lovingly coaxed into opening up by the 15th. Alas, the Belle of Woking clematis was too stubborn to contribute (it will most likely be a riot of gorgeous white flowers tomorrow morning), but we had a special surprise to make up for it (which will be saved for last, as the best always is).

Beginning at the front door and working our way around the front yard to the back and then ending back at the front door in the vegetable garden, this is what Maple Hoo Garden has blooming on this fine May 15th.

There were two planter urns left at the front door when we moved into Maple Hoo. Boomer traditionally plants them with pansies every spring.

Last summer the yard service that was supposed to be feeding our trees screwed up, mixed the plant food juuuust a hair too toxically and… killed every single foundation planting we had. Every last one. So we got all new plants, almost none of which we know the names of.

We’re pretty sure this is a holly, but we’re not sure if berries count as blooms. We’re putting them in anyway because they look so cool.

Speaking of holly, hidden behind the giant holly tree in the side of the front yard was this light pink azalea.

The previous owner created a mulched bed at the front of the yard that had nothing in it but a straggly shrub. We designated the rest of the bed a pumpkin patch but couldn’t really find a good reason to tear out the shrub. I’m so glad we didn’t as it’s turned into this:

Here at Maple Hoo, we’re vegetable gardeners; if it can’t be eaten and it’s not a geranium or a pansy, we don’t know what it is. After reading the other GBBD posts today, though, I’ve decided for no good reason that this is a vibernum of some kind. I will probably continue to refer to this as such as long as it’s in the yard regardless of what it actually is.

Just as I’m saying we have a distinct bias toward plants that can be eaten, I’m going to stretch the definition of “bloom” to include our proto-apples (Enterprise) and proto-peaches (Reliance). The blooms on the fruit trees this year were stunning, but since we missed the earlier GBBD we thought we’d include the results of the blooms here.

Keeping in the fruit theme we’ve got some tiny blooms on the raspberry canes but they are apparently very shy and didn’t want to be photographed. The blueberries are coming in, too. You can taste the muffins just looking at this little white flowers!

The last in the berry theme is the strawberry. The very first pass-along plant we got was this strawberry, given to us by Sarah and Paul of Sew Buttons, from their garden. We weren’t plant people then (our sole charges were two pathetic Meyer lemon trees). We stuck the strawberry in a pot left behind by the previous owner of the townhouse we lived in before Maple Hoo. We didn’t have enough soil to fill the pot but we were too lazy to do anything about. Nothing came of the planting (not surprisingly) but we moved the plant and pot with us anyway. You can tell by the picture that we still haven’t given it more soil, nor have we weeded the pot (which is obviously stored under a maple tree). But it seems to want to make a berry or two this year!

In the non-edible plant portion of the backyard we find Boomer’s favorite oxalis and columbines, both of which are thriving like never before here.

While those are Boomer’s favorites, Schnookie’s always loved rhododendrons best. Included in the plant carnage last summer was the rhodie that Boomer and I handpicked for Schnookie’s birthday. So it was with much excitement that Schnookie noticed this morning the replacement rhodie was blooming just in time for this post (Belle of Woking, are you listening?!).

So that wraps up the non-vegetable garden portion of our GBBD post. However, given the amount of pride we take in our veggie garden, we can’t help but include something from the raised beds. First up it’s the marigolds carefully tucked into the corner of the beds in an effort to ward off unwanted pests.

And, as promised, the piece de resistance of Bloom Day at Maple Hoo…

Drumroll please…

Our first tomato flower!

It might be too small for even the macro lens to get into focus, but that there is a future Black Plum paste tomato. Considering a week ago we were convinced they tomato crop was dead, this is a thrilling discovery! It even makes up for the lack of Belle of Woking clematis flowers this month. Here’s hoping they’ll be ready for their close-up on June 15th.

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Filed under 5. May, Garden, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day