Friday, May 3, 2013

Cooking Tips and A Cookie Question with Some Answers

The good news is the snow is almost gone at the lake with just a few scattered snow piles along the roadside ditches and in the woods.  Some minuscule blades of grass are showing their color. 
The bad news the lake still is covered with ice and is slow to melt due to the cool temperatures. Opening fishing is scheduled for next weekend which for the Up North it is a sacred tradition for many. I have yet to see a loon. The birds seem to be in a frenzy all clustered about the yard chattering "Where's the food? Where's the food?"  Minnesota even made the national news today with a recent 18 inches snowfall in parts of southern MN. I guess I thought winter had been served its "walking papers." 
One local TV station decided enough whining and searched for a positive spin. They gave a list of the 10 best things about having cold, rainy, snowy weather. But sadly, it didn't console me one bit when they list how good it is for maple syrup because the sap is still running, and there are no mosquitoes.
Bella stands by the water's edge waiting to see what my next move will be.
I thought baking some chocolate chip cookies would be a good mood booster.
Heloise was born Kiah Michelle Cruse on  April 15, 1951. Her  current name is Ponce Kiah Marchelle Heloise Cruse Evans. She is an American writer, author, and speaker specializing in lifestyle hints, including consumer issues, pets, travel, food, home improvement, and health. 
Heloise's mother, Heloise Bowles, started a newspaper column in the Honolulu Advertiser called "Readers Exchange" in February 1959, later changed to "Hints from Heloise" when King Features Syndicate picked up the column and started syndicating it nationwide. Within just a few years, the column appeared in over 600 newspapers worldwide.
Heloise (the daughter) took over the column in 1977 when mother Heloise died of heart disease. She worked with her mother for several years and contributed to the column as Heloise II. It is still one of the most widely syndicated newspaper columns. She is a contributing editor for Good Housekeeping Magazine  and writes the monthly column "Heloise to the Rescue." She has written 11 books, hosted a national radio show and is a nationally known speaker. She currently resides near San Antonio, Texas.
We all know that Heloise gives tips/hints for organizing and cleaning but did you know she gives out recipes
Keeping in the"Heloise Mode" I thought I'd pass along some cooking tips and techniques that come from some of my Cuisine at Home magazines 
DIY Steamer (June 2013)
If you don't have a steamer basket create one with a colander. Set the colander over boiling water and place a lid over the vegetables to steam. If cooking pasta for dinner, just steam the vegetables right on top.
Flavor Boost (June 2013)
To add more interesting flavor to box cakes, substitute for the water strawberry or cherry nectar. It is good with chocolate. Be creative and experiment with different combinations.
Quick Cool (August 2011)
Are there times when you want to take freshly baked goods to a gathering but not quite cool enough to travel? Here is an idea. Set an ice pack under the cooling rack and it will quicken the cooling process. 
Shrimp's On (December 2011)
Rather than serving shrimp at parties on ice that seems to melt quickly try serving shrimp on frozen lemon slices. It adds a little flavor as well as looking nice on a tray.  
Space Saver (December 2011) 
Overnight breakfast casseroles can take up space in the refrigerator. Try storing the mixture in a pitcher overnight. In the morning pour mixture into a baking pan and slide it into the oven.  
Another section of the magazine I enjoy reading is Questions & Answers
This is from June 2013
Question: Why when following the same chocolate chip cookie recipe some cookies sometimes turn out thin and greasy or crispy or even thick and chewy. 
Chocolate Chip Cookie with Nuts 
Answer:  The temperature of your ingredients and dough affect how the recipe turns out. To overcome the variables and ensure consistent results get in the habit of chilling the dough until its very cold. 

This way the fat stays firm long enough for the shape of the cookies to set meaning they won't spread thin. Chilling allows the protein to relax and the liquid to absorb, giving cookies better texture and flavor. Of course, chilling dough is no use if you put the dough on hot baking sheets.  For chewy cookies best to let cookies cool on baking sheet a minute or two before placing them on a cooling rack. 
While I agree with this advice I would like to add another tip of my own. I place the bowl with dough in the freezer and take out what is needed then place it back in freezer till needed for the next batch. I go between two cookie sheets so the dough goes on a sheet that is at room temperature.  Hard to believe anyone would ever think of adapting the basic Nestle Chocolate Chip cookie recipe. But I did. It calls for 2 sticks of butter. For me two sticks of butter make a cookie that is thin and greasy. So I use 1 stick butter and 1 stick margarine. 
I must say there is nothing better than a chocolate chip cookie to lift one's spirit.

1 comment:

  1. I almost always bake with margarine. I, too, like my cookies thick and not greasy. Great tip to share.