San Francisco & Pumpkin Cookies

Back from my weekend trip up north and missing my friends like crazy already. But, there is one simple reason why I do not visit the Bay Area (San Francisco, for those of you non-California folks) more often, even though I love all my friends up there and wish I could see them more than once every few months. The weather is WAY too cold. And yes, even though I went to school in the north, I still consider anything below 70 degrees to be cold. Below 60 = freezing.

Of course, cold weather didn’t stop me from going out and about in the city and celebrating a friend’s birthday, though it made me very appreciative of the weather at home. Like that fact that I don’t have to wear 100 layers before going outside. And although I love having easy access to public transportation that can take me everywhere, I don’t appreciate having to walk 10 blocks up a hill to get back to the apartment (that’s just me being lazy- I haven’t run in over a month!!! Eeek- I gotta get somewhat back in shape so I can gain all the weight again come holiday time.)

Also, on an unrelated tangent, I spent too long at Sunday brunch with my cousin and cubby (see this post for definition of a cubby) and had to rush through the airport. (Why is it that every time you are late for a flight/transferring to another plane your gate is ALWAYS at the other end of the building?) Luckily a nice family let me cut the really long security line and I was wearing somewhat fashionable outfit (royal blue pajama shirt, black skinny jeans and black boots) to make up for the fact that I was that girl who ran through the terminal with hair flying, shoes half on, and sunglasses askew as she dashed onto the plane with 5 minutes to spare. I was definitely a hot mess.

At least cold weather means I can bake cookies and fill the house with their yummy scent and soft chewy goodness. For an office potluck, pumpkin cookies were requested and though I’ve never made them before, that has never stopped me from trying! Being the lazy baker I am, I kind of approximated the amount of some ingredients in order to accommodate lack of others, but I still think it tasted just fine, and I got plenty of compliments.

I used this recipe mostly because I just searched for something that looked really easy really yummy. I made two servings, but I’m glad I only made one serving of the glaze because it was more than enough to cover all the cookies- I’m not sure who would need to make double the amount of glaze- I guess if you wanted to completely frost your cookies, but then I’d rather just make actual frosting. The batter itself was very sticky (could be because I cut back a little on the butter in the hopes that I would be slightly healthier) so after a few failed attempts of using my hands to mould the cookies, I ended up using two spoons to scrape the dough together. An alternative and equally messy method would be to coat your hands in oil to keep the dough from clinging to your hands, but that seemed too bothersome for me. (I like to do things the easy way out, remember?)

When the cookies came out of the oven, I was slightly alarmed as they puffed up greatly and it looked like I had baked biscuits instead of cookies, but after they spent the night cooling, a lot of the air that had been puffed up in the pumpkin puree deflated the cookies, returning them to a somewhat more manageable size.

My pictures don’t do the cookies justice, but I have never been one to take photos as I’m baking/cooking. I don’t have the patience to make sure the lighting perfectly highlights the golden tint of the pumpkin and arrange cookies artfully on a plate. If that’s you, more power to you. I salute your powers of patience. Me, I’m more eager to finish the product and then commence eating 🙂

And yes, I realize that my cookies’ glaze looked like someone took a whiteout pen and scribbled all over them but cut me some slack- this was my first real attempt at dribbling glaze in an artful pattern! Besides, everyone knows that your food will never look as good as the ones in the book. 😉 (It’s actually kind of gross, the tricks food photographers use when they photograph dishes and such for books/magazines/articles.)

Back into the Oven

I’m a haphazard baker, I’ve realized.  I’m too impatient to carefully sift and level out measurements, so I just kind of shake things into cups and eyeball the amounts.  I realize that baking is more of a precise art than cooking; you add too much of one ingredient, and it might irrevocably alter the chemical makeup of your food, thus ruining its shape/texture/taste/etc.  But I continue on my merry way, leaving flour and butter all over the counters, but keeping my clothing miraculously spotless without the help of an apron.  Because it’s always easier to clean a spot off the stove than it is on your shirt, right?

I made those delicious peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies that I blogged about previously.  This time I didn’t rely on whatever what was left in the house, which would have yielded very sad cookies indeed, seeing as I had no chocolate chips or sugar or butter left.

I made three batches this time for a baby shower and for a while my house turned into a cookie factory:

Cookie Conveyer Belt

Although my efforts might have been less than precise, they came out beautifully again and again everyone RAVED about them.  I might need to consider a career in baking, if this is the response I get for just simple cookies.

My Buttery Goodness Playlist That I Concocted on The Fly:

Lots of butter and solid beats were the order of the day.  I wanted rich vocals layered amongst rhythms that could soothingly accompany a late night baking session, but upbeat enough to keep me awake!

1. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell- One of those songs that simply demand to be sung aloud while you do a silly little dance.

2. “Shark in the Water” by V.V. Brown

3. “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations- Really only added this because it had “butter” in the title, although it still is a pretty awesome song.

4. “What I Know” by Parachute

5. “Eres Tú” by Kany Garcia

6. “Save Room” by John Legend

7. “Touché mon Amour” by Winterplay- A fabulous jazz group from South Korea.

8. “Sunday Table” by Pink Martini- my grandparents actually introduced me to this group, which puts a modern, international spin on the big band sound.  People guffaw (I love that word) when I tell them I get things from my grandparents, but I know you’re just secretly jealous that I have such cool ones who have awesome taste in fashion and music.  I often raid my grandmother’s closet and I always get compliments on the things I fish out.  Favorite steals: her drool-worthy selection of high heels.  I’ve scored some fabulous finds, like Calvin Klein boots, her Italian leather stilettos, a pair of Stuart Weitzman heels that I called her “Cinderella Shoes” because they’re silvery and sparkly….I’ll stop rhapsodizing over them.  This has nothing to do with Pink Martini.  Or does it?

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

This actually occurred last night, but I figured one blog post a day is enough.

I wanted to make cookies for my work (this is at my current part time job; still looking for that elusive full timer!)  So being the resourceful scrounger that I am, I looked around my house for things I could use and keep my shopping bill down to a minimum.  Two of my roommates have already moved out and left all the food they didn’t want in my care, which includes most of the baking goods and spices.  So as the weeks towards my own move-out tick down, I do what any reasonable ex-college student would do: see how much of the food in the house I can use up.  I should just re-purpose this blog into one written for people moving out and trying to be creative with the bits and pieces they have left.  Or poor college students.

So, based on the things I had in the fridge/pantry, I decided to make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  As it turned out, I didn’t need to buy any of the ingredients (thank you, ex-roomies!).  Awesome.  I used this recipe from the blog How Sweet It Is.  She is an excellent blogger, funny and passionate about what she does and I want to be her friend.  But she doesn’t like veggies, which makes me sad, because I love veggies.  I think it’s years of being forced to eat them by my mother until I finally surrendered and acknowledged that veggies are, in fact, delicious.

I followed the recipe step by step, with a few exceptions.  I didn’t have any salted butter, just some creamy unsalted butter (Doesn’t “un” infer that the butter was salted at some point, but then the salt was taken away?  So shouldn’t it be “non-salted butter”?  Maybe I’m just being a picky English major.).  I also only had enough vanilla extract for one teaspoon, not two.  As it was 8:30 PM when I decided to make the cookies, I decided just to go ahead.  I was almost too lazy to separate the egg white from the yolk, but I figured since I played around with two other ingredients, I shouldn’t risk altering the cookie too much.

They turned out OK (well, I’ve never made them before so I can’t say they taste better or worse than previous attempts), and I think they taste fine, considering that some of my ingredients were of questionable age and freshness.  Don’t worry, I checked them and ate the cookies myself with no side effects, so I’m not going to poison my office.  Hey, I didn’t say that all of the stuff left in the house was new.  I’m just a poor graduate, remember?  I’ll take what I can get.  But people at work LOVED them, so it’s all good!

You might have noticed that some of my cookies were more “rough” looking, and some looked more like smooth snickerdoodles.  I had rolled the dough in between my palms for my second batch, resulting in the smoother cookies.  They tasted the same.  I can see these being really cute mini-cookie bites at a party.  Also, my cookies are smaller than than those found on the recipe blog, but that’s probably because I made them small on the side of caution.  Besides, small cookies are easier to eat.  Less guilt when you munch on a couple 😉

So that’s another new recipe I tried out.  Let’s see what else I can make with the remaining food…Something involving jam, I think.  I’ve got some sweet (har har, no pun intended) raspberry preserves…