Lord of the [Bak]ings


I am peculiarly dangerous when I am near a kitchen, because I am frequently seized by very, very bad cooking ideas which a normal person would quickly dismiss, but which I find myself compelled to act upon. Because, hey! I have a kitchen! And what's the worst that could happen?

Some examples: The Peanut Butter & Jelly & Ham sandwich. Savory Oatmeal (that is, oatmeal with no sugar, somef salt, some garlic, some pepper, a dash of hot sauce...). The idea that haunts my dreams and which will become a reality as soon as they come into season: Grapefruit Meringue Pie. I mean, why not? They make lemon meringue pie, they make key lime pie. But no orange pie, and no grapefruit pie. Perhaps no orange pie because the sweetness makes it unsuited to the pie format, but why not grapefruit? Down this dark path I shall soon venture, but that is not for today.

So tonight I was baking oatmeal cookies. I was chatting with my sister, and mentioned I was baking "oatmeal cookie." Note the typo, my failure to capitalize. This planted the germ of an idea, however. Why not, instead of making a second batch of cookies, just pour the rest of my dough onto the baking sheet to make one giant cookie, the One True Oatmeal Cookie?

Here we see the cookie in its doughy genesis:

And here we see it after it had been forged in the fires of Mt. Doom (my poorly constructed and likely to explode gas oven):

Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!


I believe your typo was in failing to pluralize (not capitalize). How did the cookie turn out? I'd be worried about it failing to bake through to the center, although now that I think about it I have a half-cup of cookie dough in my lunch today, so who am I to complain about underdone cookies?

Do you know what's really good?

Peanut butter cinnamon oatmeal cookies. Hot damn.

You are, of course, correct about my error.

The cookie turned out pretty okay. That is, any failures were a result of the master recipe, and not of the Huge Cookie concept. I need more cookbooks; How to Cook Everything is fine as an only-cookbook-you-own cookbook, but I need to start rebuilding my collection. Mark Bittman really isn't into sweet things and seems to have half-assed the dessert parts of his book. I've baked his cookie recipes twice and both times they came out sort of light and puffy, almost like muffin tops. Which is fine if you want chocolate chip muffin tops, but a muffin top is not a cookie, damnit!

I had exactly the same concern as you going into it. I first of all did not pour the dough in one big pile, but rather carefully spread it out to be of fairly even thickness throughout. I cooked it a bit longer than I had the smaller cookies, and carefully tested the center (through poking) to make sure it was mostly-solid before I took it out to cool. It turned out fine, at least, as fine as the other cookies.

Mmm, peanut butter oatmeal cinnamon cookies. I might've done the same, except I used up my peanut butter earlier this week making peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

One thing I'll say about cookbooks, for your collection-enhancing efforts, is that trusting vegan (and even vegetarian) cookbooks on baked goods is a terrible idea. They're full of godless communists. So even if you're still baking vegan-ly, it's most likely worth it to have a few standard unvegan cookbooks around and just make certain routine substitutions: soymilk for milk, Ener-G for eggs, Earth Balance for butter, etc. My favorite for that is the old classic Better Homes & Gardens loose-leaf cookbook, from which I make most of my cookies, pies, cobblers, pancakes, and, uh, pea soup.

One of my initial set of cookbooks moving into my apartment in Berkeley was a hand-me-down Betty Crocker cookbook, which my mom in turn had gotten when she moved to college. It was great for pie recipes, but it was also old enough that it made very heavy use of lard. This lead to at least one phone conversation in which I had to ask my mom what the substitution ratio of shortening-for-lard was.

Note: the above does NOT apply to Sinfully Vegan.

Re: the Betty Crocker book, it's true. The Better Homes & Gardens pea soup recipe required deciding on an appropriate substitute for a pound of meaty ham hocks. But the cookies are worth it.

You really should try The Joy of Cooking. Its a great all around cookbook. Also, I'm an avid reader of the magazine Cook's Illustrated. What's cool about the magazine is they go through a recipe about 20 times to figure out which details are best and explain the reasoning behind the final recipe's ingredients and methods. And for online databases, epicurious.com is really awesome. Although, I wouldn't know how this all fairs in the vegan category. I eat just about anything and everything. And I really love cooking.

I'm actually familiar with Cook's Illustrated; One of the other books in my initial set when I started up in Berkeley (along with the Betty Crocker book and How to Cook Everything) was The Best Recipe, which is a cookbook-style compendium of Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen recipes. I'm angry I didn't bring it with me, because I used to use it for all my cookie recipes and they came out delicious. They also have an excellent pesto sauce recipe, as I recall.

And I feel I've unfairly knocked How to Cook Everything; it's great and fairly comprehensive, but Bittman is somewhat deficient in the sweet foods area (and when I say deficient, I mean that he probably has a more sophisticated pallete than I do and consequently likes his sweets to be not-very-sweet at all).

I've been resisting the Joy of Cooking for years now, only because I don't need to know how to quarter a squirrel. I've really heard only good things about it, though.

Moosewood's New Classics cookbook is a nice all-purpose cookbook. It's partially vegetarian (fish, eggs and dairy are fair game in it) and tends toward tasty, familiar recipes. They've got several other books, too, including Moosewood Cooks At Home, which tends toward tasty, familiar, and quick.

In the free category, www.vegweb.com is quite nice.

Just, you know, while we're recommending cookbooks willy-nilly here.

Hey Zach, I only look to your LJ periodically but it's always full of cooking. Anyways, if you were to get a Joy of Cooking, don't get a hardbound but a spiral bound version. It'll last just as long, be easier to read while stiring something, and cheaper. But to be honest, I don't really like it. The recipes change from edition to edition and in a worst way--they've discovered health foods and substitutions for butter and so forth so that their cookies no longer stand up to the grade and their meats are bland. So if you need another all around cook book buy one used and get a pre 12th ed.
Otherwise, if you're looking for smaller "spice up your life" kind of cook books that aren't specialty (BBQ 4 L$fe) I'm super into the Food and Wine annual collections. While their magazines are ridiculously expensive, their collected works are scrumptious, with good desserts and other delectibles.
Umm... food

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on September 30, 2005 12:57 AM.

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