Monthly Archives: April 2009

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Granola Breakfast Cookies

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Earlier this week, as I was thinking that I should actually do something with this blog I’ve started, I remembered seeing several bloggers make a rediculously indulgent chocolate cake, then some very pretty apple turnovers with ricotta cheese in the filling.  I’d been thinking about that cake on and off for a while, and decided to do some research.  I found… the Sweet Melissa Sundays group.

Basically, they’re working to bake their way through the Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy.  After looking through the recipes in the book, I emailed Lorelai at Mermaid Sweets, and for some reason she was cool enough to let me join the group!  I was even assigned a week to pick the recipe!  I felt just about as excited as I was in fifth grade when I got a part in the school play right after moving from Illinois to Ohio.  Never mind that everyone who auditioned got a part.  And that everyone in the group has an assigned week.  I still felt cool.  I’m easily amused like that.

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But anyway, this week Jessica, from A Singleton in the Kitchen, chose Granola Breakfast cookies.  Technically, we were supposed to make the granola, but that wasn’t going to happen this week.  It’s been way too nice outside to run the oven for two hours cooking granola.  Don’t worry, the granola will be made as a recipe later, I’m not completely ditching my responsibilities in my first post.  I also managed to find a granola at my grocery store that had everything I needed except dried cherries, and those were easy enough to add.

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Before I get to the cookies, though, I really have to thank Michele from Veggie Num Nums, who emailed me not only this recipe, but also the granola recipe and next week’s recipe.  I’ve ordered my book, but it hasn’t arrived yet.  I wouldn’t have been able to do this recipe if Michele hadn’t helped me so much!  Thank you!!!

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I was initially wary of these cookies, as they have a fair amount of molasses in them.  I’ve always thought molasses had such a strong, noxious smell that I’ve avoided it.  I found a molasses specifically labeled “mild flavor”, and decided to go with that.  The verdict: these were really yummy cookies.  They were pretty spicy, not a surprise given the molasses and that I added some of the spices we were supposed to use in the granola, since they didn’t seem to be in the store-bought version.  The tartness of the dried cherries was a great contrast.  I felt like the cookies could’ve used a bit more granola, as it wasn’t too prominent.  As far as appearances go, though, these won’t be winning any beauty pagents.  They didn’t spread much, and kept the haphazard shapes I’d put them on the pan.  Instead of spreading, they got really tall.  They kind of look like lumps.  Their taste definitely makes up for their appearances, though.  Overall, I thought they were a success for my first SMS recipe.

Check out the Sweet Melissa blogroll and see all of the other bakers’ thoughts on these fantastic cookies!

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Banner Picture

My banner isn’t the best picture I’ve ever taken.  I’ll probably replace it.  But to me, it’s a reminder to cook for fun, and a reminder to challenge myself.  A lot of people would probably say it’s not much of a challenge, and now I would agree with them, but then?  Completely different story.  Here’s why.

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This was Easter dinner in my first apartment.  I know, you’re probably thinking “Why weren’t you with your family?  It’s Easter, for pity’s sake!”  And there is a perfectly good explanation for that- I was in Berlin.  I was doing study abroad, and sharing an apartment with a girl I went to high school with.  We had two friends who were also in Europe, one in England and the other in Denmark, so they decided to come to Berlin for Easter, and we all celebrated together.  We had Karla’s (roommate) mom’s yummy Asian-style asparagus, scalloped potatoes, and a beautiful ham with an orange reduction on top.

Cooking in a different country is always interesting, especially trying to reproduce things you eat at home.  Sour cream?  Good luck!  And milk in Berlin comes in these odd Tetrapaks, plastic-coated cardboard similar to what you can find stocks in in the States.  However, milk in Tetrapaks doesn’t have to be refrigerated until it’s opened.  I was afraid of German milk.

And going to the butcher’s to get an Easter ham?  They looked at us like we were nuts.  It took three days to find a ham.  And when we did, we learned another cultural difference.  In the United States, you’ve probably noticed, hams are either pre-cooked or smoked.  This makes it pretty much impossible to mess up.  In Germany, they take away the safety net.  Completely raw, unsmoked ham.  If we messed up and undercooked it, we were gonna be in a world of hurt.

Another silly little thing about our German apartment was the stove.  Rather than being able to set the oven to temperatures, it used gas marks.  If you haven’t heard of a gas mark, it means that the dial on the oven had the numbers 1-9 or 1-10 on it, rather than temperatures.  Fortunately, we found a conversion online to get us to actual temperatures, but between never knowing if our oven was the right temperature, and taking two weeks to figure out how to even light it… we were getting worried by the time Easter rolled around.

The table looked really pretty!

The table looked really pretty!

Obviously, everything worked out fine.  I’m still here, I didn’t die from eating undercooked ham.  The asparagus was delicious, even if it was difficult to find cashews (and we didn’t want to substitute hazelnuts).  The scalloped potatoes with their Tetrapak milk and impossible-to-find Cheddar cheese tasted fine, even if they were a bit undercooked.

The lone boy in the apartment did a lovely job carving the ham.

The lone boy in the apartment did a lovely job carving the ham.

And at the end of the day, everyone was happy, well-fed, and full of good-quality German chocolate.  And the potatoes were a little bit undercooked.  And the asparagus got done too early.  And the orange reduction never quite sunk into the ham like I’d hoped.

But you know what?  I didn’t care.  No one did.  We had fun.  We weren’t alone for Easter.  And we made it through the whole weekend with a lot of good memories (reading The Lorax and going to a 90’s pop disco), new skills (cooking a raw ham without a meat thermometer), and the guts to do it again.  And to me, that’s what cooking is about.  Helping you to realize that if you can just do that one thing, if you can figure it out, you can do anything.

Ok, that was cheesy enough.  I promise I won’t do this again.  And I’ll try to find another picture for my banner.  But for now, here’s my friends at the 90’s disco.  They played Backstreet’s Back, and we all sang along.

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