How to Woo Women with Cookies

cookie, baking, christmas, holiday, biscotti, oatmeal, raisin

Firstly, this bachelor doesn’t like baking. But I do love this.

I’ve found there is a distinction between people who like to cook and people who like to bake. Some culinary-leaners, like myself, love the freedom and ability to improvise a dinner out of assorted ingredients. Bakers tend to prefer exactitude and following a recipe. There is still the possibility to improvise desserts, but I find the limitations too strict. That, or I just don’t bake often enough to know substitutions. Ratios need to be precise. I don’t care for exactitude, unless it involves money.

I will gladly help someone else who is baking, but I’ll seldom take it upon myself to make cookies or a cake. This may come as a shock to some of you. Are you sitting down? I’m not a huge fan of sweets. I said it. Can’t take it back. It’s a rare occurrence when I finish my birthday cake.

I digress. It’s Christmas time, which means time to help your fellow man or woman. In my case, I’m assisting my mom as she pulls recipe card after recipe card for every cookie and bar.

Below is the recipe for Oatmeal Raisin cookies. They are pretty simple to make and don’t involve a ton of measuring–my nemesis.

Quaker Oats Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Preheat oven to 375.

2 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (mandatory)

How-to woo women with cookies:

  1. Beat butter & sugars until creamy.
  2. Add egg and vanilla. Beat more.
  3. Add combo of flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix.
  4. Stir in oats, nuts and chocolate.
  5. Scoop out cookies onto a cookie sheet. Invest in parchment paper. Women will think you have your shit together because you own parchment paper. Well worth the $4. AND the cookies won’t stick to the sheet, so you won’t have to buy new cookie sheets because you don’t feel like cleaning off burnt cookie.
  6. Depending on the size of cookie, cooking time will vary. I used a big ice cream scooper for MONGO cookies. They took about 12 minutes to cook at 375 degrees. If you make BIG cookies, be sure to mash them flat, otherwise they won’t cook evenly. And if they don’t cook evenly, no one will love you and you’ll die alone.

I await your calls, letters, telegrams, tweets and sky-written messages detailing your love (or lust) for me. I don’t even care if you only want me to cook/bake for you. #househusband in 2014

quaker oats, cookie, christmas, baking

11 Holiday Cooking Tips I Wish I Knew Sooner

I feel like there should be blurring or black bars for this shot.

I feel obligated to share that I’m eating cold, left-over pizza as I write this. The leftovers are all gone from Thanksgiving. A few weeks ago I started planning what new things I’d try this year. For fellow home chefs, holidays are the day we have been training for: making stocks, timing multiple dishes to finish at the same time, drinking enough to keep up with/tolerate the relatives, and avoid spilling anything on yourself thereby making others question your competency. This year’s turkey day served as a warm-up for Christmas.

The shopping and prep work started a week ago. I hit 5 stores to get all the ingredients. Since I don’t believe in making lists, instead, relying on my faulty memory, where was I going with this…Ah! Yes. Shopping. All told the meal cost about $60-75, which is lower than normal for my family.

Onto the cooking stories and lessons, lest I bury the lede any deeper. Here are the things I wish I knew before embarking on today’s feast. These are now useless until next year. You’re welcome for my planning ahead to help you.

A. Don’t apologize. However things turned out is how they were meant to be. Embrace it. Learn from your missteps, and do better next time. Enjoy the people you’re with and the time you have together. In the end, that’s all that matters. Not that you brined, smoked, and photographed a trollop of a bird, made mashed potatoes of the perfect texture, constructed gravy that would make grandmothers weep.

2. Make-ahead stock. Purchase turkey wings. Roast those with halved onions, roughly chopped celery, some salt and pepper for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Flipping 20-25 minutes in. Then de-glaze the pan with 2 cups of water. Once you have gotten most of the bits off the bottom, add 10 more cups of water. Simmer the wings/bones/aromatics for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Upside: this is mostly a passive activity and beats store-bought stock which is loaded with sodium.

D. Salt your food. I usually omit this step and rely on salting dishes individually. This bothers me largely due to watching cooking shows where chefs lambaste contestants  for not seasoning their dishes. All the dishes I made today needed salt. Otherwise the flavors were balanced. So, as a reminder, salt your food.

4. Delegate photo duties to someone you trust. When handling raw turkey and most meat, you don’t want to be spreading those bacteria to your phone. I had my sister take a few of the pics as I manhandled the bird on the grill. In retrospect, I should have discussed my preferred angles and framing.

5. Mashed Potatoes as God intended.  Heat milk/cream and half a stick of butter. I always used to add them cold to the hot potatoes. When you heat the fats, it makes for a much creamier end result.

6. You can’t eat all day, if you don’t eat breakfast. I had 2. My usual cereal upon opening my eyes. Then I made hash browns with my sister. Homemade hash browns. Added that with bacon, poblano, onion and cheddar for a frittata/omelette.

7. Post and post often. Your friends won’t invite you to friendsgiving if you don’t fill their feeds with food instead of kind notes about how thankful you are. By constantly posting, you’re screaming to the world that you have better food than they do. And that you need attention. But I prefer the former justification.

8. If you aren’t getting the necessary compliments on social media, take the direct approach. Text friends extreme close-ups of the bird or crudites. Possibly calling them, then rushing off the phone. “Gotta go check on my turkey smoking on the grill.” If possible, use a hashtag during the call. The more incoherent the better. I suggest #nevergohungry

9. Try something new. Every year I change something. Some of the changes are small. Some are new dishes. A few years ago, I started making stuffin muffins. Now, largely because of the hype I’ve created, all my friends request I bring in leftovers on Monday. This year saw two changes. First, was smoking the bird, which freed up the oven for other dishes, and was one less pan to wash. The second modification was a second gravy. I roasted poblano peppers after the turkey was done, then blended them with 2-3 cups of my finished gravy.

10. Find someone to wash dishes. Based on my straw poll, very few people like doing dishes. I’d consider marrying someone solely for their willingness to always wash dishes.

11. Embrace tradition. Maybe yours is guessing which relative will become uncomfortably intoxicated. Who will disappear before the dishes are done? If you don’t have any, create some! My family always watches Home Alone. This year I fell asleep sitting upright. No apologies.