Cookies for Oldsters

Chewy, buttery, loaded with regularity and middle-aged goodness, this recipe is so similar to the Quaker Oats oatmeal cookie recipe that I should probably be arrested for plagiarism (or grand theft auto, but that’s a story for later). Instead of oats, however, there is bran in these here cookies.

Bran, as you are no doubt aware, tastes like sawdust. The texture is much like sawdust, too, and requires plenty of moisture to make up for its inherent dryness. There is a lot of butter and brown sugar in this recipe. A lot. Do not labor under the illusion that these are low calorie. I don’t do low calorie.

I bumped up the spice factor to delight the palette and bury the sawdust taste in the woodworking shop where it belongs; and the end result is so good, I ate six of them in an hour. I can’t wait for them to kick in… if you catch my drift.

THE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup margarine or 1 cup butter, softened (Please use butter. Please.)
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (Also add 1/2 teaspoon cloves, cardamom, allspice and/or nutmeg. Whatever you got.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Allbran, Bran Buds or a generically branded sawdust
1 cup raisins or currants (I prefer the latter because they stay chewy and aren’t quite as sweet.)

SOME INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars by hand or in mixer. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Dip-level-pour the flour (or sift, if you’re like that) and add it and the salt, soda and spices to the wet ingredients. Stir until combined. Add the bran and the raisins or currants, and stir to combine well.

Place walnut-sized blobs of dough around two inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 10 minutes. They should be slightly dark around the edges, and the sheen from the center should be almost gone. Cool them briefly before removing from sheet. Makes around 40 amazingly tasty cookies full of fiber, iron and whatever vitamins they put in the cereal.

A PHOTO OF THREE COOKIES:

brancookies

Weak Cup of the Week: The “Why I Tried Red Bull” Edition

The prognosis is bleak. I’m not just lactose intolerant, it’s a strong possibility that I have a full-on allergy to cow’s milk. It’s dismal and life altering, and though not directly responsible for my inability to post weekly Weak Cups of the Week, it has everything to do with why I tried Red Bull. Let me ‘splain.

At this stage of life sans dairy, it’s easier to point out what I can’t eat than what I can eat. I can’t have ice cream, for instance, and there is no true replacement. Later this evening I’ll dip into a “frozen chocolate treat” made with almond milk and make note of my findings, but I can tell you all right here and now it isn’t going to taste anything like Haagen Dazs.

When people say, “Oh, but you can have soy and rice and almond and blah blah blah, ” it takes me a second to get that, “You’re an idiot with no taste buds,” look off my face and attempt polite agreement. I then point out that I can’t have too much soy (gas city) but I can have goat’s and sheep’s milk, and love the cheese and yogurt culled from these critters. I then receive a, “You’re an idiot with no taste buds, and you’re gross,” look from my conversation partner and we agree to disagree or mount a cold war.

I can’t have Starbucks Doubleshots in a can, either. This is my go to drink when I don’t have the early morning wherewithal to operate a Melitta filter and a coffee grinder, but it’s mostly milk. Bibicafe is good, but expensive and hard to find. Pepsi is too sweet and Coke dissolves dimes and teeth, and both are very high in sugar; and that is why I bought my first Red Bull.

I’m not going to lie. I didn’t fancy the stuff. To keep things somewhat genteel I shall give my assessment in wine-tasting terminology. Sort of.

When I first pulled back the flip top on the slender, blue and red can I caught a whiff of vanilla and dare I say floral? A deep floral, like Hawaiian white ginger, neroli (a variety of orange flower) or exotic ylang ylang would pair well with many cola beverages, but the vanilla made me nervous.

It was odd that the top note was ever so slightly deeper than what comes next in perfuming and wining; the sustained middle note. The next thing that hit me was citrus, which is a typical top note. Mandarin? Bergamot (related to grapefruit)? Lime? Regardless, when mixed with the strong florals and vanilla it started to smell like Cascade dishwasher detergent.

I bravely took a sip and felt the surprisingly bland, caustic fluid strip my teeth of their enamel. Apple and cherry leapt to the forefront, and who doesn’t want grapefruit and vanilla on their apples and cherries? After that it became chemical. Though it doesn’t contain a chemical sweetener, it tasted as though it did. Much like milk substitutes don’t taste like milk to me, chemical sweeteners will always taste like anything but sugar.

I swooshed the sip in hopes of finding something redeeming, but instead ended up with a mouth full of explosive calcium carbonate that had to go somewhere… so I swallowed.

*ulp* *burp* Pardon.

The can sat staring at me for a few more minutes, chiding and bullying me into trying again. “Billions of teenagers think we’re da bomb, you dopey old lady! What’s wrong with you? 80 milligrams of caffeine and I can stay awake through history class AND math!”

When I brew a cup of coffee or tea, I’m hard core. What I end up with has more like 200 milligrams of caffeine and tastes good. I have two or three cups, too. Mind you I doubt I could keep my eyes open during 10th grade English, but I can get in a ton of housework and social networking AND still make time to watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills while knitting a 300 mile long scarf. Good luck with that, teenagers.

The can waited patiently, breathing and wheezing carbonation for half an hour, and I thought, “Okay. Maybe the taste improves with aeration.”

The vanilla, citrus, chemicals and tree fruits were gone, and were replaced not with a bottom note of cola nut, chocolate or espresso bean, but with what could easily be described as Perrier.

“Mmmm, boy,” I said to the dog. “To think I paid $1.99 for the experience of drinking lightly caffeinated, overly carbonated mineral water, when I could be sipping a full, round, smooth, deadly strong cup of coffee with two tablespoons of sugar and a hefty sprinkle of non-dairy creamer.” He watched intently as I poured the rest of the Red Bull down the sink.

At any rate, now I know what I can’t have–and what I don’t want. That’s progress, right?

Weak Cup of the Week, Weeks Eight, Nine and Ten

Don’t judge the lengthy interim. A lot has gone on, and I’m sure you could find other important stuff to read and discuss in my absence. Many of you are clever like that.

These three weak cups of tea are brought to you by the art on my big brown art wall. I collect a variety of art forms, the only requirement being that each piece can’t cost more than $100. I hope some day their worth will be on par with lotto winnings, as ‘hope’ is my retirement plan.

On the left is a painting by a friend, Laurie Fox Pessemier, who lives in Paris and whose prices have risen a bit since this purchase. (A second painting by her broke my rule.) Her paintings are a delight, as are her artist husband Blair’s. This is of Notre Dame from the Pont Des Arts bridge and yes, I was there when I bought it.

The middle one is done by a clever Seattle gent, Bill Heberholz, and is made with metal scraps from toys and an old fuse storage box and four dominos, all nailed to a board for good measure. It was more like $135, which is also against my under $100 rule but I really dug its charm.

The one on the right is by an artist named Leland Leichman. I snagged it during one of Seattle’s monthly art walks. The artist was sitting cross-legged on a felt tarp, underpricing himself. He was handsomely gaunt; which, admittedly, was why I approached.

When I chose this painting he asked, “Are you sure?”

I’d chosen it because the use of space intrigued me, but hadn’t noticed the subject matter. I took in the nudity and bleeding and said I liked it all the more for its subliminal anti-domestic violence statement. He rolled his eyes, shrugged his shoulders and asked for $12. I gave him $15.

All artists mentioned are very google-able.

Photo by Herb Ritts

Weak Cup of the Week, Week Seven

Today’s post brought to you by me dying of a fever/flu/plague/bad karma… I really don’t care what you call it, it’s miserable. Or as I’ve been saying lately, “biserable”.

This Week’s cup of weak green tea is a bowl of chicken broth, homemade by someone but certainly not by me. In their defense, the fat hasn’t been skimmed from the dead, brown liquid in this photo. That was shown in their next photo, which was even less appetizing than this.

As a general rule, chicken freaks me out unless it’s white breast meat cooked just so and preferably breaded, fried and slathered in mustard or barbeque sauce. I can’t remember the last time I, personally, handled raw chicken flesh. Unless it’s slightly frozen, it’s like cutting into human flesh. (I have vast experience in the human flesh cutting arts from my serial killing days.)

That aside, I have made broth from pieces of raw chicken dropped from a package that allowed for no physical contact. I then added veggies, aromatics, salt, wine and water. The cooking smell is a little gamey and fatty for me if I don’t add wine, and though some say not to salt until the end I find it imparts a more rounded flavor in the finished product.

The resulting chicken is, itself, too rubbery and full of cartilage and skin, and I’m not one to patiently pick the scant palatable flesh from the bones (not since the aforementioned serial killing days). I strain the whole thing very well, and then make risotto, clear matzo or noodle soup with just the broth; or I add some chicken breasts, tomatillos, jalapenos, avocado, etc. and make a fiery chili verde that really cleans out the sinuses.

Weak Cup of the Week, Week Six

Hi, my name is Wendina and I’m a Coffee Nip addict. I’ve been struggling with a 5-10 per day habit for two years, and it has ruined my life and the lives of those around me. My dentist, however, loves me.

Why, just the other day he gave me a front massage when he thought I was fully sedated. When I opened my eyes and thanked him he blushed and said, “No charge for this appointment! Don’t tell anyone! Ha ha!”

One Nip contains 30 calories, 5 mg caffeine and may harbor trace amounts of peanuts; which, apparently, is a big problem for a lot of people. I don’t know any, but I do know a gal who can’t eat parsley or oranges without swelling up, choking, turning blue and basically dying.

Weak Cup of the Week, Week Five

Ten or so years ago I decided I’d join the food and drink fadsters, and my first assignment was to try a vogue, mysterious bubble tea beverage. Lucky for me, there were dozens of bubble tea outlets in the Seattle metropolitan region. Seattle is replete with Asians and asiaphiles, ensuring that every few feet there will be a place that primarily caters to the food tastes of people who consider me and my food habits unusual.

I swung into a tea shop, and was delivered an endless list of possible combinations of tea and bubble flavors in rapid-fire Chinese-English by a girl who’s speech pattern indicated she wasn’t above the misuse or omission of punctuation*. Making matters worse, I had to choose between clear, brown, bright green, blue or pink bubbles.

Seriously? When I order something at Starbucks it takes two seconds. “Double short latte, please.” Done. Sometimes I want a fancier drink, but I do it to teach the, “Single tall, caramel, decaf macchiato with twenty-five ice cubes, six Splendas and–oh, why not?!?–a drizzle of chocolate sauce, please, because I went to the gym today,” people a lesson in proper coffee ordering.

It wasn’t easy, but I pared down my choices to green tea with a splash of milk for the primary fluid, and unobtrusive beige bubbles that I was promised were also made with green tea. I still felt ridiculous.

As that first blurp of tapioca climbed up through the oversized straw and into my mouth I thought, “This looks and, quite frankly, tastes like a clogged toilet.” The starchy blob didn’t have any redeeming qualities other than bitter sweetness, nor did it have a purpose in the drink. I tossed the almost full cup into the nearest trash can and ran before I could be judged.

Assignment: complete. Results: unfavorable.

On the heels of the bubble tea craze came the donut craze, immediately followed by the high protein craze; at which point I resigned from the fadsters. I enjoy a lot of meat, but I can’t skip carbs without enduring potentially fatal withdrawals.

____

*For the record, neither am I.