Friday, June 14, 2013

Country Roads and Cookies

The drive to my friend's home to make mosaics a few days ago took me along many of the roads I drove to work for over 20 years, out into the west county. Narrow two-lane roads, often with no shoulder at the side at all, wind their way past apple orchards and redwood groves, over rough places where there are either patches or potholes. At this time of year the grasses on the verge have turned to shades of pale gold. Here and there you can spot some bright orange California poppies nodding in the breeze. It's hard to drive by the hillside where Max died, especially in summer. I miss him. Once school was out he used to come with me. A friend of his lived not too far from where I worked, so he would spend the day with Mark and I would pick him up after work. It reminds me of our dog Xam, too. He loved to come with me, even though he would spends hours in the back of the SUV. I only took him when I worked a half day. He would get a walk in the woods when we arrived, then another one after two hours and a final walk when we were ready to drive home. I know he spent a lot of time asleep, but he slept during the day at home, too. If I had the office to myself, he could be in the office, where he slept most of the time, too. I think he actually liked the car better. There was always a large bowl of water and some toys and something to chew on. The car was usually parked in the shade of the tall redwoods and he could see the birds and squirrels making their forays in the trees when he was awake. He was such a great dog and a good companion. Even though we love Pi, I still miss Xam.

Roads are the original reason for milestones; a way to mark the passage of distance. Today I celebrate a few milestones that mark the passage of time and, perhaps, dedication. This is the 790th post on the blog and yesterday Feeding My Enthusiasms passed 200,000 pageviews! When I started writing and taking photos and trying out recipes in 2006 I never thought how it would feel, down the road, to know that there is some interest out there in the blogosphere for my kind of musings and food. It feels almost like a hug. Very glad that y'all have enjoyed it, and I hope that some of these recipes are being made in your kitchen. It does take a bit of time and effort to create one of these posts, but then cooking and baking also take time and effort and the results are gone pretty quickly most of the time. I guess over time I'll associate these posts with fond memories, much as I have come to associate country roads with so many good times in days gone by, as well as fine times today.

We have been working this week on the new entry and today put together the first wall framing! Sweetie is the genius behind it all and I've become a pretty good helper. Windows and doors are ordered and today we also worked on the interior plans. Looks like we will be having some beadboard wainscoting...I really like that look.

If you are the praying type like I am, please say a few for two wonderful women I know who are in the process of dealing with cancer. If not prayer, good thoughts are always welcome. They both have great spirit, so I'm pretty sure that their battle with the disease will be successful, but it never hurts to pray...or send good thoughts.

Well, enough catching up...on to our recipe. Todays' recipe is for a cookie that I have been meaning to make for a long time. Our daughter worked after school and on the weekends when she was in high school to earn money for college, plus some to spend on fun stuff. For a couple of years she worked for a cookie company! My favorite was a white chocolate macadamia cookie. You would think that I would bake that kind since I liked it so much. Well, I never did, until yesterday. I think the cost of the nuts put me off. Macadamia nuts have a very hard outer husk and apparently it is costly to process them. The nuts themselves have a buttery quality which goes really well with the mild chocolate flavor of white chocolate. I added some regular dark chocolate chips in, too, because I can. These cookies spread a bit, so leave some room between cookies. They are also a bit thinner than traditional Toll House type chocolate chip cookies, with a little chew to them. Don't forget the vinegar...I think it contributes to the great texture. Give them a try! They would be perfect to take along on a picnic down some country roads.

Classic Macadamia White and Chocolate Chip Cookies
based on a recipe at King Arthur Flour website Makes about 33 cookies

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 (4 oz.) white chocolate baking bar, chopped
1 cup (8 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped lightly

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment or a silicon baking mat) two baking sheets.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugars,  molasses, vanilla, and salt until smooth.

Beat in the egg to combine. Beat in vinegar. Beat in the baking soda and baking powder and as soon as they are beaten in add the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, combine thoroughly, then add the white chocolate chunks, chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Stir with a silicone or rubber spatula to make sure mixture is thoroughly combined.

Drop the dough, by tablespoonfuls, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, until the cookies are an even golden brown, without any hint of softness in the center. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

If you have enough left, store in an airtight container for, at most, a week.

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