Americana

Those who know me best can confirm that the longer I live in Britain, the more American I become.

The truth, of course, is that at 18 you do all you can to fit in, but by 38, you really don’t care.

But the particular aspect of Americana that emerge always surprise me.  Right now, this season, I have suddenly embraced my roots, and discovered a love of cookies.

Please understand:  cookies are not biscuits.  This is not just a word game.  Cookies are chewy and soft and wonderful.  Biscuits are for serving with tea when you really don’t want people to get too comfortable.

It began with a sudden craving for oatmeal cookies a few months ago.
And then — as Halloween came, and then the snow, I have been on a quest for the perfect Molasses Cookie.

The Perfect Molasses Cookie comes from Sturbridge Village.   It is eaten as you walk on dirt paths through bright autumn leaves, or as you stand shivering in the snow and discover a sudden interest in blacksmiths, because the forge is warm.  The cookies are hard when you bite into them — almost too hard — but then they yield and become chewy, dark handfulls of bliss.

These cookies are also big — 5 or 6 inches across, even when such a thing was rare in the states.  (there is no reason to make a 6 inch chocolate chip cookie.  It is just consumerism gone wrong.  A chocoloate chip cookie has it’s best texture at 2 1/2 inches.  But a Molasses cookie needs to be big, to get the right mix of crunchy and chewy — as well as to see you through the gale force ten storm, as you ride the waves.

OK, you’ve caught me.  Sturbridge has no waves.  But the cookie in question has a shipping heritage, and I grew up near Mystic too.  Old Cookie recipes are allowed to accumulate geography along the way.

So far, my attempts to create this perfect childhood memory have failed.  They have failed because I have not found the right recipe yet — and not just because of the inevitable gilding of childhood memory.  But what fun it is trying.

The first batch tasted great, but had totally the wrong texture.
The second batch came closer to the right texture, but the taste was not as good.  The next batch — which is on hold till I either want them enough to carry flour across town in the snow, or till I manage to free my car from the driveway — might just be the one, though I am dubious about the concept that the chewy wonders might be roll cookies instead of drop cookies.

The recipie below is the second one — chewy, but not spicy enough.  I’ll give it as I made it and you can adapt.

I realise, of course, that I should be thinking about more noble things in Advent.  But today is Wednesday, and my day off, and cookies also proclaim the glory of God.

recipe below the fold… Continue reading “Americana”

joy upon joy

I have had such a good day.

It began in drearyness as I fret over a situation.

I’m trying to take a day each week this summer to seriously pray/ learn/ read/ step away and reflect, so off I went to brood.

(you can guess where)

I found  the very book I needed to help me think through the brooding situation constructively (and a few other books too) and spent seven hours in the library reading and transcribing long quotes (which is how I learn and give myself time to think).

The gulls and I shared fish and chips.  There was one lovely gull: so patient as he waited.  Then all the loud pushy types swarmed in.

Home across a suitably silver Tay and into a pink sunset,

to find that one friend has safely had her baby,
another has sent me a date-cake recipe,
and one of my new favourite blogs is offering up a very promising plan for caramel-corn.
Apparently the secret ingredient is baking soda:  who knew?

now time to mollify Molly, who feels somewhat ignored.

oh, and for those of you who may have a vested interest in what I learned today — it will take patience to find the benefit.  The brain got there in the library amidst the gull’s cry, but this particular brain is much better at jumping ahead than taking the rest of the body with it.

bloggers and breadmaking

Mother Ruth caught the scent of bread on Angelhooves’ facebook account, and between them they had an idea…

Bloggers and Breadmaking
Saturday, 6 March — 10 am
St Mary’s Rectory, Dunblane

Hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since the cookie day got cancelled.  But now, we seem to be on more savory pursuits.  Ruth has never made bread, so this will be a basics workshop as well as a recipe swap.

I dare say there will be some sour-dough starter fermenting in various stages.  There shall have to be a sweet bread too.

So, is anyone interested?

Please respond in the comments and pass word along.

baking bloggers

The baking day will be on Saturday, 24 January from 10.30 am – 4 pm.
Times are quite flexible.  Come and go when it suits you.

Please come with the following:

  1. a recipe to share (I can photocopy it)
  2. any special ingredients needed for it
  3. aprons, baking trays etc if you are driving.

I will have:

  1. flour, sugar (white, brown, icing), butter, vegetable shortning/ veg suet, eggs, vanilla extract, spices, cocoa,  bakers chocolate (limited quantities)
  2. several mixing bowls, baking sheets, muffin tins
  3. coffee, tea and nibbles to counterbalance all those cookies.  There will be enough food that lunch feels a bit superfluous.

In the morning, we will look at the recipes, and decide which ones we want to make first, then we’ll just work through as many as we can.   No promises that all recipes will be used on the day.

Sorry to all who preferred the 31st.   There were many more (by blog and email) who asked for the 24th.

Travel details:

Holy Trinity Rectory,
Kilbride Road
Dunoon, PA 23 7LN

There’s a map here.

Western Ferries run from Gourock 3 – 4 times an hour. Come this way if you want to bring your car.

Cal-Mac ferries are less frequent, but bring you to the centre of Dunoon.

Please email if you need my phone number (it’s in the Red Book, of course).  The house is about a mile from the Cal-Mac ferry.  If you’d like a lift from the ferry, please leave a comment to that effect and we’ll arrange something.

p.s. — this is an open invitation to  readers and Pikie bloggers.  Happy for the regulars to consider it a mission and ministry opportunity too (a fancy way of saying  you can bring a friend).