Monday, May 21, 2007

Oatmeal Cookies

I've heard a lot about Alice Medrich's book,Cookies and Brownies , so I decided to pull it down off the bookshelf and try some recipes. I love her books, and enjoyed her chocolates many moons ago when she owned Cocolat in the Bay Area.
I would not make the chocolate chip cookies again, not because they weren't tasty (they were), but because the dough was dry, crumbly, and very difficult to work with. The results weren't worth the aggravation.
The oatmeal cookies, on the other hand, were amazing. Usually, I like my cookies thick and chewy, so I wasn't too sure about these when they came out of the oven. I was pleasantly surprised - thin, but crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle, and a buttery symphony on the tongue. The nutmeg makes these cookies taste amazing.
It's a mystery to me why this book, which gets universal praise, is out of print.
P.S. Thanks to all of you who wrote and wished me well. I'm doing a lot better!
Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 1/4 teaspoon FRESHLY ground nutmeg (wonderful - try grating it fresh)
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar, lump free
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins

Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, cinammon, and nutmeg in a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or a fork. Set aside.

Cut the butter into chunks and melt it in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the flour mixture just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Let the mixture and the pan cool. Stir in the walnuts and the raisins. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator to soften. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Scoop about 2 level tablespoons of dough and place them 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. If you want smaller cookies, use 1 tablespoon of dough. Bake for about 15 to 17 minutes for large cookies, 13-15 for smaller ones, or until the cookies are a deep golden brown. Rotate baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

Remove from the oven and let cookies firm up on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes. Use a metal pancake turner to transfer them to rack to cool completely before storing or stacking. May be stored in a tightly sealed container for several days.

Makes about 40 large cookies, and about 80 small cookies.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I Have Not Been Abducted By Aliens

Nope. I've just wrenched my knee and hip, sprained my wrist, and badly thrown out my back in the past two weeks. That's why I haven't been cooking much, or posting. But that will change soon! In fact, when I return to the blogosphere, I will have some thoughts on oatmeal cookies! Thank you for waiting, and I'll be back by the end of the week.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Food Contamination Affects More than Our Pets

The mainstream media has more or less dropped the ball on the pet food contamination story that broke about six weeks ago. Fortunately, pet owners and bloggers have kept pushing for answers - the recall now includes thousands of products, including large animal feed. Some livestock that was fed melamine-laced food has made it into the human food chain.

The primary culprit for the contamination appears to be China, although melamine spiking of food goes back decades in both the United States and China. Why? Melamine contains nitrogen, and nitrogen content is commonly used to measure protein content.

In the past couple of days, The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, and USA Today have once again picked up the story. In a virtually unprecedented move, the FDA has limited vegetable-based food imports from China:

The Food and Drug Administration is enforcing a new import alert that greatly expands its curtailment of some food ingredients imported from China, authorizing border inspectors to detain ingredients used in everything from noodles to breakfast bars.

. . .

Inspectors are now allowed to detain vegetable-protein imports from China because they may contain the chemical melamine. Melamine, used in the manufacture of plastics, was found in the wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate that has led to the recall of 5,300 pet food products.

. . .

An import alert of this breadth is rare. Before this new FDA action, only products from two Chinese companies that exported the melamine-tainted wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate had been detained.

Now for the products to reach U.S. foodmakers, the importers will have to prove to the FDA that they are safe. The ingredients restricted include wheat gluten, rice gluten, rice protein, rice protein concentrate, corn gluten, corn gluten meal, corn by-products, soy protein, soy gluten, mung-bean protein and amino acids.

This affects virtually every prepared food product on the market. Here is the FDA's import alert. For more information, check out, pet connection, and