Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Can See the Future...

And it's filled with pretty, ripe tomatoes, ready for batches of salsa, gazpacho and sauce. You see, with a family as gung-ho when it comes to the gardening thing as mine is, Spring starts... early. What you see here are several of our assorted baby plants that we started from both the saved seeds of last year's crop and a few heirloom seeds I picked up at the local WalMart over the winter to test out. When all's said and done, we are going to have a small farm on our hands! Mind you, I guess that's not too far off from where we started - the land that our house and yard sits on is actually old potato field! Add the awesome nutritents that the potatoes gave to the earth to the two driveways' worth of triple-mix fortified soil, and I have a feeling that these baby 'maters may turn into... dare I say it... the John De Bello B-rated movie cast of nightshades!

All the photos (except for the last one, with the plastic fork) are tomato plants - rainbow heirlooms, romas, large reds and a few struggling grapes. The pots labeled with the fork (we ran out of popsicle sticks) are actually "little blue peppers" - supposed to be spicy yet sweet fruits a little bigger than habanero peppers (nowhere near as spicy though!). When I saw the seed packet, I knew we had to try them out.

As soon as all these babies are grown up and out on their own in our garden, though... oooh, boy, are we going to have some FUN! Vitamin C overdose, anyone? I need to learn how to can, so I can keep the flavour going all year round!

But what about the near future?? Well, there are cookies. Lots of cookies. Pounds of oatmeal flying everywhere, mixers whirring, raisins soaking, egg replacers being beaten, 10kg bags of flour being emptied, and many many pounds being gained by my ever willing taste-testers (and yes, I said thank-you!).

Why so many more cookies, you may ask? Well, I hate to say it, but the Great Cookie Search must continue. I have not been able to find a cookie recipe that is not outrageously expensive in terms of butter / margarine costs, that doesn't use eggs (again cost and allergy concerns) and that isn't so moist that they stick together and fall apart when I try to transport them. All three of the latest trial runs have produced nice, large, decent-tasting flat cookies (though perhaps a bit too flat in some cases), but I had problems with creating some of the batches of dough (too liquidy / stiff) and again, the stickiness proved to be a challenge. None of them really proved themselves bakery-worthy (i.e. sellable) treats that could be bagged up like my other goodies for my customer shipments. I'm not too worried about time constraints, seeing as they weren't very popular sellers anyway, but I would eventually like to be able to make a (preferably shortening-based [and yes I know, icky shortening]) egg-free, decent looking and tasting oatmeal cookie.

The results were pretty expected, as far as I could have forseen. Not surprisingly, the low-fat Nick Malgieri recipe (the first photo) was not the winner in either taste nor texture, and the batter was very difficult to work with - almost liquid - and I had to allow it to sit for a few minutes for the oats to soak up some of the moisture before I could drop balls of the dough onto the sheets.

While the Baking Bites recipe for Banana Oatmeal Cookies (second photo) wasn't even a serious contender in the eyes of the bakery world, they were definitely the favourite with both my dad and at my mom's work (I knew they'd like the banana flavour... they order so much banana bread from me at a time that I have to restock after every order - usually 3-4 loaves!). The last recipe (and photo), from one of my dear friends TippyStClair at GroupRecipes, was definitely closest to what I was looking for. They spread a bit too much for my liking and I couldn't get all the oats into the batter (they were the stiff ones, obviously) but I would definitely be willing to tinker with this recipe again. And since I bought a big-ass bag (oops... shameful bad language me!) of "cherry raisins" on sale at the Bulk Barn this past week, I can't see any real end in sight until I find what I'm looking for! If I don't, well, you just won't see any oatmeal cookies coming out of Bumblebee Bakery ever again! Unless, of course, you live in the area and care to order some anyway...

Anyway, here are the three recipes I made. Check them out, and maybe one of them will tickle your fancy. At the very least, the house smells GREAT!

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Adapted from Nick Malgeri)
Makes 36
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shortening
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 egg replacer
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dark raisins, soaked and drained
2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, foil, or silicone mats
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and set the racks on the lower and upper thirds of the oven.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the margarine and granulated sugar until smooth.
  4. Mix in the brown sugar, then the egg replacer, applesauce, and vanilla.
  5. Stir in the dry ingredients, then the oats and raisins.
  6. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoons 2-inches apart on the baking sheets and use a fork to gently flatten the dough (I just wet my fingertips to do this, next time I probably wouldn't even bother with this step).
  7. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate baking sheets during baking for even baking.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 53.8
Total Fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 30.7 mg
Total Carbs: 11.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g
Protein: 0.9 g

Banana Oatmeal Cookies (Adapted from Baking Bites)
Makes 24
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 small-medium mashed banana
1 egg replacer
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins, soaked and drained
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugars.
  4. Beat in syrup, banana, egg replacer, and the vanilla extract.
  5. Gradually add in the flour mixture.
  6. Stir in the oats and raisins.
  7. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 11-14 minutes, until set and lightly browned.
  9. Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the pan before transfering them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 83.5
Total Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.6 mg
Sodium: 53.2 mg
Total Carbs: 16.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.1 g
Protein: 1.6 g

Grandma's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Adapted from TippyStClair)
Makes 24
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 egg replacer
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained

  1. Preheat oven to 375F/180C/Gas Mark 4.5. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a large bowl cream sugars and margarine.
  3. Add vanilla, corn syrup and egg replacer. Blend well.
  4. Gradually stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix lightly.
  5. Stir in oats and raisins.
  6. Bake 10 minutes or until edges are light brown.
  7. Cool for 1 minute, remove from cookie sheet and place on wire cooling racks.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 110.2
Total Fat: 4.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 97.4 mg
Total Carbs: 17.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
Protein: 1.3 g

Oh yeah, and in case you were wondering... the future is full of yarn, too. Lots of yarn.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Great recipe posts! Thank you for including my cookie recipe. Tippy