Friday, November 13, 2015

The 47 Nights of Christmas (Cookies) - Cardamom Currant and HRC's Original Chocolate Chip

Even though they are covered with the warm, adorable blanket Terry made for me last birthday, my feet are so cold I fear frostbite.

Frostbite in Florida - inside the house - what the hell.

My life and my health have devolved precipitously this past month. The downtime (uptime?) between fibro flares has decreased to the point where I can no longer remember the last time I had a day without pain. Sometimes I have a couple of hours without much pain, so I rush to water my plants or bake cookies before the moment passes. It's astounding, time is fleeting.

I should be happy.  My cousin Maura and I booked our cruises to Alaska yesterday.  My bucket list number two item finally taking place, and even better, with my cousins.  Right now, I hurt too much to enjoy what should be a very special event.  We sail May 21, 2016 on the Crown Princess.  (Yes, I do travel on something other than Carnival sometimes. Like Thanksgiving of 2002, we were on the Norwegian Majesty. Right after that the ship was decommissioned.) I also stay at hotels other than Marriott. But not often. I am a creature of habit and I love loyalty programs. Besides, Carnival owns Princess, and this ship was built in the same yard as many of the newer Carnival ships. It is going to be an awesome experience.

My wonderful husband returned from an errand in Orlando bearing gifts: Einstein Brothers' bagels, a half pound each of pastrami and tongue, and a box of black and white cookies from Toojays.  The day was definitely looking up, but I still hurt.  It is very difficult to convey the degree of pain.  I've never known how to fully describe it. But it has the ability to suck ever bit of goodness and joy out of my life. There is no normal anymore.

During one of those moments without much pain, I watered my porch plants.  Since I could not carry the large water can (too heavy when filled with water) I made multiple trips to the sink with the smaller water can.  Much smaller, many trips.  My peppers are still fighting with the frakking aphids, and my herbs are looking down in the dumps, but I still have 4 or more jalapenos on the plants, and all five of my avocado pits have rooted and are sending healthy shoots out into the world.  I also moved the strawberries and the marigold box, and I'm sorry I did.  Too heavy for me, and the plastic was cutting into my fingers. Crap.

More resting, more snickering over political gaffes, a little Facebook, a cup of lentil soup, and just enough energy to whip up a batch of cookies.  Just one, not 4 or 12 at a time like I used to do back in the day. I also baked one recipe yesterday, but because I missed a day's blogging, you all missed a day's recipe.

Never fear - you know I love BOGOs better than coupons ...

Cardamom Currant Tea Cookies                                                                  

These are from a glorious cookbook, The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book, by Camilla Saulsbury, in which she gets inventive with cake mix, refrigerator cookie dough, brownie mix, and even cereal (don't tell me you never tasted a Rice Krispies Treat.) You should buy the book from Amazon. Seriously.

I love currants. Think of them as tiny raisins, perfect for rugelach and cookies from delicate dough. This cookie not only has currants, it also has cardamom, a marvelous spice, sort of a cross between ginger and nutmeg.  Only three ingredients, which make up for having to make a special trip to Whole Foods for the zante currants.

1 - 16.5 oz. roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 cup dried currants
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or silpat a cookie sheet.

Break up the cookie dough in a large bowl, and let stand 10 to 15 minutes to soften.  Add the cardamom, stir with a wooden spoon, then add the currants.  Mix well, using a wooden spoon.

With a kitchen teaspoon or very small scoop, drop the dough onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes until just set and golden at the edges. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for just a few moments, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Now, you can enjoy the cookies as they are, which is wonderful and delicate and tender, or you can take one extra step and make little sandwich cookies, which is what I decided to do, using Speculoos Cookie Butter as the filling.  Makes 48 cookies, or 24 sandwich cookies.

Here's your BOGO. kids, and it is delicious. Even Robert said that if there were an election, he would vote for these cookies.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's Original Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 - 12 oz bag semisweet chocolate chips

Believe it or not, there is a cookbook called "Presidential Cookies" and I has it. I bought it at the Clinton Museum Store in Little Rock, Arkansas, and it has cookie recipes representative of each presidential administration.  In the later administrations, the recipes were able to be vetted as coming from the various First Ladies, including Lady Bird Johnson's Chocolate Nut Drop Cookies, Rosalynn Carter's Raisin-Oatmeal Cookies, Nancy Reagan's Brownies, and three recipes from Barbara Bush, including her losing entry in the chocolate chip cookie contest started by Family Circle magazine.  The winner, of course, was The Notorious HRC, and as we all know, Bill Clinton won that election.  As the cookie goes, so goes the election, which brings me to a silly vision of Carly Fiorina running against HRC in the general election next November - who bakes the cookies? The contest has always been between those hoping to become First Ladies by virtue of their husband's success at election time - should we anticipate a cookie contest between hopeful First Dudes?

While you puzzle that one out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease the cookie sheet, or if you have two silpats, like I do, put one on a cookie sheet and one on the kitchen counter.  I prefer to bake the cookies one sheet at a time in the smaller, upper oven, and second silpat lets me set up the cookies for the second batch while the first batch is baking. Once the baked cookies are removed and the cookie sheet cools a bit, which only takes a few minutes, I slide the cookie sheet under the second silpat and right into the oven.

Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. I do this by adding them to a wire strainer and sifting them together into the bowl.  In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together the shortening, both sugars, and the vanilla until creamy. Add the eggs, beating until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture, and then gradually beat in the oats.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a well-rounded kitchen teaspoon or a cookie scoop (I use the one next in size from the really small scoop I used for the lemon drops and cardamom currant cookies) place the dough on the cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.  These cookies do spread, and bake best with 12 cookies on a sheet.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until golden.

Very important: once you remove the cookie sheet from the oven, let it sit for five minutes before using a metal spatula to remove the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. The yield is approximately 4 dozen cookies.  HRC's recipe yield says 7 dozen, so I can only assume she made a very small cookie. I like this size for chocolate chip cookies, but your mileage may vary.

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