Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Oatmeal Cookies

Baking with Ms. Information
Buy the really giant size of oatmeal, the kind that looks like a silo and barely fits in the car. The reason you need this size is economics; the smaller size costs twenty five cents more for 100 lbs less product. (Thank you consumer’s digest.)

The new improved box has a plastic lid which actually makes it close well, and makes you feel guilty about discarding it, unlike the old box which opened with a string which would invariably break while trying to open the oatmeal causing you to employ every sharp utensil at hand, the end result being an imperfect bottom ridge which crumpled when you try to replace this makeshift lid. You still had to throw that one away because they only recycle newspapers and glass in your neighborhood. In fact, there is no place which accepts paper containers except for nursery schools and if you do not have a toddler, they will not accept gifts from strangers either.

I realize that this detour is immaterial to the process of cooking, but it is food for thought.

Okay, use the recipe which used to be on the back of the box, but which will be on the inside of the lid causing you to open the box before shopping for ingredients (kind of dodgy to open it in the store, but we do what needs to be done.) Make half the recipe because if you don’t you will eat all of the cookies yourself if they are any good. Also the idea of using half a pound of butter in anything will make you sick. Mutter bitter imprecations towards the media for enforcing extra guilt on you.
Carefully add ingredients in their proper order and then, realizing that your family will not eat walnuts and that you have already eaten ¾ of the chocolate chips straight out of the bag, decide to use apple chunks instead, no matter what havoc the extra moisture will cause, and some dates because you like them and they will bulk up the batter. Add more stuff than you think the recipe would have called for and then throw in the leftover chocolate chips.

Note: the calories saved by eating the chips without the cookie part will save you tons of calories! Think about it.

Notice that the texture is very creamy and produces few cookies on the tray- Attribute this to halving the recipe and question your foresight. Put cookies in oven and in approximately 1½ minutes, just enough time for the batter temperature to have melted the chocolate, realize that you have forgotten to add the oatmeal. Blame this oversight on the fact that the box was so large you assumed it was furniture with a recipe tacked to it. Ignore the fact that oatmeal was listed as an ingredient and that you forgot it. Quickly grab the cookie tray with a potholder and pull the tray out of the open. Your first impulse will be to grab the tray with your hands but believe me when I say, this is not a good time for second or third degree burns on your fingers.

Scrape the melted stuff back into the bowl with the remainder of the batter and incorporate, looking at the interesting color of the cookies as opposed to what you had previously expected.

Helpful hint: the only really acceptable tool for scraping runny batter off of the pan is the 1950
Farberware metal spatula acquired from your mother who received it with a matched set of utensils as a wedding gift, or you could use a spackling tool, whichever comes to hand first.

Add the missing oatmeal and a bit of flour to firm it up and put cookies back on the tray and into the oven. Under bake just a bit for soft chewy cookies.

Further note: when entertaining, finely ground glass sprinkled liberally over the cookies prior to baking lends a festive glitter and added crunch to the surface.
Bon Appetit!

Next week: How to mix cement.

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