Friday, November 14, 2008

Bakin' With Betty

As we all know, "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts." And while I will be discussing the latter today, some of my readers may become the former. I know this in advance. However, there are times in life when a woman has got to take a stand (mixer), lash herself to the blade and ride out the quick trip from the Stir/Mix/Whip of emotions that the subject is sure to bring out in her readers. After years of careful thought and deliberation, I am now ready to take my bold stand: I am Pro-Cookie.

Oh, please, take your hands off your ears while I explain why I have taken this dramatic stance.

Yes, brownies are good. They, like the cookie, are comfortable, fun treats--at first. However, the placid surface soon cracks and when they are cut into squares they begin to get testy, argumentative, a bit overbearing. They are like the couple who agrees the divorce will be civil, but when the final separation occurs, there are crumbs to be claimed, crumbs no one wants. The division is never completely square. Some assets are bigger than others. There are rough edges that may never be smoothed out. They fall apart. They've changed; what was once sweet and unified is now more than a little bitter and overly-complicated.

Out of a sense of duty, we must tolerate the occasional doughnut as it sits, the aging plus-sized model, lined up in the box beside the other gussied up corpulent doughy has-beens, each absolutely convinced she is the star of the fashion show as they all proudly wear their coats of white icing, coconut, chocolate and the perennially garish multi-colored sprinkles. They sit, swelled up and florid. Little do they know, no matter the designer, no matter whether the stage is white or pink, we have seen this show over and over again. They are out of style, some puffed up with their own air of over-confidence, their glazed expressions hiding their lack of inner substance. Some are just plain old-fashioned.

To the inexperienced, the round pie seems to be the ideal dessert. Yes, the spherical shape connotes a sense of global awareness. The crust suggests a playfulness and sense of mischievousness, but the drama unfolds when the pie is cut and placed on individual dessert plates. Then the seemingly peaceful facade of the pie disappears. The piece sits before you. Turn it so the crust is nearest to you , and the tip points accusingly at other guests, or draws all eyes towards the dirty kitchen. Turn the plate, and the pie, without the slightest bit of hesitation or pause, points directly at you. Suddenly the table is silent as everyone looks at you and considers his or her long-held, but repressed opinions about your self-absorbed, self-important nature. You eat the tip quickly, hoping to stifle the looks, only to glance up and realize you have just reinforced those unspoken accusations. "Did you SEE how she gobbled the pie up, like someone besides Her Majesty herself was going to get at it?"

All of these examples lead me to my bold stand stance: I am Pro-Cookie. Cookies are the quiet and self-contained work horse of the dessert world. I am particularly fond of the oatmeal cookie which presents itself with an admirable sense of dignity. They are the sturdy wheels upon the wagon train of the everyday meal. They do not crumble easily, but maintain a quiet strength while knowing all along that, despite a modest exterior there is within a soft goodness and a sweet combination of lovable ingredients. My friends, is this not exactly what we, as people, should strive for as well?

Therefore, I now publish for the first time:

Bossy Betty's
Oatmeal Cookie Recipe.

1/2 of a tub of Earth Balance spread. (You can use two sticks of butter instead.)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (You can use egg replacer too)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Tiny bit of almond extract (two or three drops)
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups oatmeal (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
handfuls of chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, Crasins, cut up pieces of dried apricots.

1. Heat oven to 350. In large bowl, beat butters and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extract and beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Add oats and other ingredients.

2. Drop by rounded tablespoons on to ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack.

Now I hear some of you out there saying, "That seems like a lot of work, Betty. Can't I just go to the store and buy some cookies?" And Betty says, "Oh, you must be so busy and tired from your long day of sitting in your cushy office chair and this IS a big job so of course you can go to the store and buy yourself some cookies! You can also quit your job, hitchhike to Las Vegas, get drunk as a skunk, get a tattoo, stumble down the aisle of a tacky wedding chapel/bar/cigarette store to marry the first pathetic person who shows you the slightest bit affection and live in a hellhole all your life too, but is that what you really want?

Straighten up, put on that apron and get to work! This is America! Do you think our pioneer ancestors, bent-over, hungry and tired from their work busting the hardened harney silt loam with a horse-drawn plow dropped into a 7-11 for some pre-packaged Nutter-Butters or Chips Ahoy and a Big Gulp? No! Now let's hear some bowl-rattling in that kitchen!

Happy Baking to All!
With Love,


Alyssa said...

I am particularly fond of this post, although you did give out that super secret ingredient. Hope you and Mable enjoyed that nap!

Anonymous said...

Betty, I have tempted fate by toying with perfection in baking treats for college care packages. Because it is crunch time, I substituted granola for oatmeal. And I used cardamom instead of cinnamon to appease my little valkyries. Finally, I'm baking them as bars instead of cookies.

It's in the oven, now. Wish me luck?

Bossy Betty said...

This is that Betty calls "Getting Jiggy With It." While I normally do not approve of spontaneous wildness in the kitchen, I must applaud your creativity with the use of cardamom. (It also reminds my readers to send a CARD to A MOM for the upcoming Mother's Day holiday.) I also use granola as a substitute for oatmeal occasionally, but find I that if I use one cup of oatmeal and two cups off granola I have a better consistency.

Please inform me of your results!


Anonymous said...

What an introduction! Obviously, I have no choice but to bake them! Mmmm! :)

Jenny said...

Love the admonitions, and the cookies sound good too.