Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Baking and Studying for Finals

Tonight, I am spending my night baking and studying for finals.  Why bake while studying?  Easy.  Prof. H's birthday is tomorrow and I promised him a batch of my new experimental holiday cookie for him to munch on while all of the students take our finals.

Ok, so as I've been reading chapters out of "News Reporting and Writing," I've been at the mixer whipping up a batch of Oatmeal-Craisin-Pecan cookies.

I'm a huge fan of oatmeal cookies.  Underneath the sweet goodness of an oatmeal cookie lies something healthy, oats.  Yep, they're low in cholesterol, high in fiber, boring plain, but put in a cookie, delicious.

I've always baked oatmeal raisin cookies.  I've never been crazy about raisins though.  So, I've usually just baked plain oatmeal cookies with lots of cinnamon.  Either way, thanks to my Grandmother, I've got this incredible touch when it comes to baking.  Everything that seems to come out of my oven, whether it's a cake or cookies or some kind of candy, they always delight the tastebuds of everyone who's ever tried them, and they've all come out with one word, "Yum."

However, with my grandmother's touch with cookies, baked goods and confections, I also come with her curse of being terrible with meats.  That's right if I can overcook it, I do.  Roasts that are tough as rawhide are the bane of my existence and the usual result of me trying to make a roast.  My pork chops, however come out juicy and succulent, so I guess it only goes to roasts that I'm terrible at.

But life is all about maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses, right?  So tonight, standing over my mixer, I could almost hear my grandmother as she told me just how long to cream together the sugars and butter.  Then, adding the eggs and vanilla, beating them into the sugars until they turned into this creamy golden goodness which told me to turn the mixer off again.  After that, I put together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a separate bowl and stirred them together.  I turned my mixer back on to add in the flour mixture, adding it in a tablespoon at a time until it all coalesced into this beautiful golden dough.  I then measured out three cups of oats, savoring the smell, then added them to the dough, turning on the mixer long enough for the oats to be stirred in.  Then, came the point where I knew I was living dangerously.

Raisins are one thing, but craisins (cranberry raisins) are another.  They've got a sharp, tangy, yet sweet taste which I had never seen added to a cookie before, but I decided that life is all about calculated risks, so instead of the cup full of raisins that were dictated by the recipe, I used a cup of craisins instead.

Then I really jumped off the edge.  I've rarely heard of an oatmeal cookie with nuts in it before, but if I had gone that far by adding the craisins, then a half cup of pecans would do just fine.  In they went as I looked up at the ceiling imagining my grandmother and hoping it would all turn out ok.  Never once has my grandmother's touch let me down when it came to baking, so I figured, if all else failed, I'd bake up another batch.

Well, as I finished putting together the cookie dough, I dug a pair of tablespoons into the dough and started laying them out on my cookie sheets, hoping everything would come out delicious.

Ten minutes later, the timer on my oven went off and the first dozen came out.  With the words, "Here's to you MaMa," (read "Maw-Maw") I grabbed a cookie and took a bite.

Yum.  Now I'm kind of sad I didn't make these earlier.  The unique thing about these cookies is that the cranberries kind of stay with you as this refreshing, tart aftertaste that is leaving my mouth feeling clean, yet sweet.

And for all of you who want to see what they look like, here ya go.

Now it's back to the books and more studying with the delicious smell of freshed baked cookies filling the air.

While I'll miss my guildies tonight, the cooking and books have to come first.  Finals tomorrow!  Onward!

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