On Feeding My Husband
I’m not much of a baker. I really like to cook – fresh, gourmet, fancy food with lots of veggies and spices. My husband likes to eat – regular, plain, country cooking with lots of meat and no discernible spice. He also loves baked goods. Shoot. What is a wife to do? I either cook food that doesn’t excite him or I have to learn a new way of doing things. So far, my philosophy has been to cook slightly healthier versions of things I think he’ll like about 75% of the time and introduce him to my idea of good food 25% of the time. He’s very tolerant of whatever I make and eats it with a smile and thanks, and maybe a question of “Is this a little spicy?”, but I want to delight him the way he delights me. For that reason, I decided it was time to to bake some cookies. From scratch.
The last time I attempted to bake cookies from scratch was probably fifteen years ago. I stopped because I got tired of hard, flat cookies. Whatever the secret to making soft, delicious cookies didn’t get passed on to me! On second thought, there’s one exception to that. I love to bake peanut butter cookies with Hershey kiss centers. Of course, my husband doesn’t like peanut butter cookies! I really, really liked Monster Cookies as a child. Our family friend, Peg, made them faithfully and it was always such a treat to get those huge mounds of oatmeal and M&Ms. Monster Cookies have no flour in them, only oatmeal, and so I’ve decided they’re healthier than regular cookies. So I choose them for my “first” attempt. If you know anything about Monster Cookies, you know they call for a dozen eggs – a monstrous recipe! Holy moly. I cut the recipe down to 1/4 of the normal amount, so I’m using 3 eggs…
I assembled my ingredients, figured out which attachment I’m supposed to use on my Kitchen Aid Mixer, preheated the oven, and started mixing my ingredients. With my new mixer, it was actually really easy. I followed the recipe (with the minor adjustment of using 1/4 cup less sugar than it called for) and soon had cookie dough just waiting to be baked. I scooped out the cookies and started baking, watching carefully to be sure I didn’t burn them. I’m learning a new oven, new pans, and new timers. It takes a little while to figure out if the oven needs more or less or the same amount of time as the recipe calls for. THEN I found out the pans matter as well. The stoneware pans I have require more cooking time and the non-stick ones require much less time, however things don’t burn easily on stoneware pans.
One problem popped up as I got to the last few batches. I added the M&Ms to the mixer and many of them were broken and had fallen to the bottom of the bowl. Therefore, my first few batches had a lot fewer candies than the last batches. I’ve baked them again since then and hand mixed in the candy at the end, which worked great. I also used less candy than it called for and that was PLENTY.
So what was the decision of the judge (my husband)? Thumbs up. He liked the second batch even better because I added cinnamon to the recipe. They were soft and chewy. (I’m not sure he even realizes there’s peanut butter in them.) YAY!
I also attempted homemade granola. One of my new friends here makes it and her house smells so wonderful when it’s baking that it makes my mouth water. Then my Aunt Karen served me her homemade granola when we visited my dad’s family in Iowa last month, and she gave me her recipe and talked me through it. Again, I was amazed at how easy it was. We got our groceries at the Amish grocery store where they sell a lot of things in bulk, making them much less expensive. I modified the recipe to use about 1/4 less sugar than it called for because her recipe is really sweet. In this case, I wish I hadn’t cut it quite so much, but I just add a little honey to it when I eat it and it’s perfect. The best news about homemade granola is it’s a delicious way to load up on super-foods and totally whole, unrefined grains.
The decision of the judge? Eh, he wouldn’t even try it. He prefers Lucky Charms! Oh well. I love it and have found something other than eggs to eat for breakfast.
One thing I’ve found that we both like equally well is Deviled Egg Salad. I use the same ingredients as making regular deviled eggs, but instead of mushing up the yolks and squeezing them back into the whole egg whites, I just chop up the whole eggs and mix them with the other ingredients. Then I line two slices of bread with lettuce (to keep the bread from getting soggy) and stuff the middle with the egg salad. YUM. And it’s so easy. If you make too much, you can top a lettuce salad with the leftovers and you don’t have to worry about salad dressing that way.
Before you go thinking I’m a fabulous cook though, I should warn you that it doesn’t always go as planned. A few weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner and decided to try out a new recipe I’d seen on Rachel Ray. It looked so delicious, I just couldn’t help myself. I followed the recipe exactly and the outcome was a flop. The flavors just weren’t that good together and I completely ruined a perfectly good salad by trying to make homemade dressing as she recommends. I used half the lemon juice and still had so much lemon juice that I grimaced every time I ate a bite of lettuce! My guests were kind enough to eat it and report that it was “edible”, but I was disappointed. I do plan to try that recipe again, with different spices that I think will taste a lot better, but I won’t try it on friends until I’ve figured out exactly what it needs!
Here are the recipes mentioned above.
Monster Cookies (with my modifications)
*Some ingredients were hard to break into 4ths, so I’ve used the designation < or > to indicate slightly less or more than.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
<1 t. vanilla
2 t. baking soda
1 t. maple syrup
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 c. peanut butter
4 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 lb. milk chocolate chips
1/4 lb. m&m candies
Mix all ingredients together in the order given. If using a mixer, hand mix in the candies for even distribution. Using a small scoop, drop on cookie sheet and flatten. Cookies do not spread much during cooking. I use stoneware pans, so they do not need greasing. Bake for 12 minutes on dark, non-stick pans or 15 minutes on stoneware pans.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large roasting pan, mix the following:
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. sorghum molasses
1 T. vanilla
1/2 c. brown sugar
<1 c. honey
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
When mixed, add:
2 lb. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1 c. chopped almonds
2 c. grape nuts
1 c. wheat germ
1 c. sunflower seeds
Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. After it cools, add dried fruit if desired. Stir while cooling to keep it from clumping.
Deviled Egg Salad
hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
mayo – a lot
mustard – just a little
pinch of sugar
I just add the ingredients until I get the consistency and flavor I like. The tarragon gives it a mild, smooth flavor. The pinch of sugar seems to bring out the flavors more. I’ve never measured it out. It just depends on how many eggs you use and how creamy you like it.
If you decide to try any of these recipes, I’d love to hear how they turn out and any modifications you make to make them even better! 🙂