Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two Months Old Already!

Every day goes by so fast! Calvin's big accomplishment this month was learning how to smile. The first time he really did it on purpose was when we went to go get him one morning at 5:30. He was yelling for us and when he saw us pop our heads over the side of the crib, he gave us a toothless grin. It melted my heart.

It makes each morning like Christmas morning as I sneak into his room only to find the greatest gift I've ever gotten smiling back at me from inside the crib.

We love him.

Here is a montage of smiles!

Shepherd Baby warming up after bath time.

Our Little Meerkat Pup

I don't know why, but he loves to stretch like this. He is such a little bean. He remained like this for about 5 minutes until he decided to go back to his back again.

Another happening this month was his baby blessing on May 30.
Tyler performed a beautiful blessing in our ward here in Provo.

That's about all the news about us this month. He goes in on Friday for his 2-month checkup. I am nervous for his shots...It is too sad when he cries in pain. Not fun, poor little guy.

More updates next month!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cookie Snob

A friend of mine has a great chocolate-chip cookie recipe. When she brought cookies in to work to share them, everyone began gushing about their greatness. When I came in, I was also offered a cookie. Upon partaking of this very delicious cookie, I was asked, "Isn't this the best cookie you've ever had?" I faltered. I didn't know how to answer this question and started considering if I had ever had any cookies that were greater. I couldn't think of any offhand, but I have had a lot of cookies in my life- surely there is a chance that I have had a cookie that I thought was better. Or that I enjoyed at least equally as much. My hesitation was taken as rudeness. I didn't mean to offend, I just didn't know if the cookie was the best I had ever had in my lifetime.

I think found it hard for me to label this cookie as "the best ever" because cookies are generally expected to taste really good. It isn't like tasting some refried beans and declaring passionately that they are the best you've ever had. Most refried beans are just ordinary, so a really great recipe would stick out. Of course, that is not to say that some cookies are not better than others. I have had my share of cookies that are too hard, burnt, overly gooey, etc., but for the most part, cookies are good. I tried explaining to everyone that I wanted to compliment her cookies as being very delicious, but avoid a superlative statement that I did not fully endorse.

Tyler says I'm a cookie snob.

I guess I am pretty critical when it comes to cookies. I don't really consider myself an expert on the matter, but I do seem to be full of opinion. I wonder if I judge too harshly?

I have thought a lot about my cookie critiquing. I would much rather judge cookies by comparing different recipes for the same cookie, as opposed to declaring which cookies are better than others. I have included in this post what I believe to be the best Snickerdoodle recipe and the best No-Bake cookie recipe. And I can say these things without hesitation.

Does anyone else have strong feelings for certain recipes?

The Best Snickerdoodle Recipe
I LOVE Snickerdoodles, but sometimes they are too crunchy or too gooey. When they are done right, though, they are AMAZING. The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook's version of the cinnamon cookie is the BEST Snickerdoodle recipe I have ever eaten. Following it allows you to make perfect Snickerdoodles every time. Here is the recipe for your enjoyment:

1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
Parchment Paper (very important)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the cinnamon in a shallow dish for coating and set aside. Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Beat the butter, shortening, and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Give the dough a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is combined.
4. Using wet hands, roll 2 tablespoons of dough at a time into balls, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat and lay on two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced about 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.
5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

The Best No-bake Cookies
This is another cookie that seems to vary greatly in taste depending on what recipe you use. I have had these cookies a lot over the years, and rarely is there a great balance between the chocolate, peanut butter, and oatmeal. More often than not, they should be called Chocolate Peanut Butter Puddles. Recently, I made my family's age-old recipe that I grew up on. Without a doubt, it is the best No-Bake recipe I have ever had. There is a great balance of tastes. The peanut butter is added as a dry ingredient with the oatmeal instead of melting it with the chocolate (which I think preserves the PB flavor). Cocoa powder is also used instead of melting chocolate chips which somehow also seems to make it better. I have also included this recipe.

3 1/2 cups quick oats (regular oats work well too)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash salt
One stick margarine (or butter)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa

1. Combine oats, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt in large mixing bowl. Stir until peanut butter is as evenly distributed as possible.
2. Combine margarine, milk, sugar, and cocoa in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil one minute. Pour into oats mixture and stir until combined.
3. Drop desired cookie size onto wax paper and wait until hardened.

Let me know your thoughts.