Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Very Special Hand Written Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

On April 14th, I posted the fact that I was giving myself a new challenge to work through my old high school Home Economics recipe box and published a delicious Ginger Bread recipe.  And that was not really part of my high school memory.  But this box has travelled with me through the years and things have gotten randomly stuck in it! 

So now, 5 months later, I realized I let myself and you all down by not pursuing this challenge in earnest!  And I have actually been looking forward to the next one anyway.  Another decision was not to rifle through the box picking and choosing, but to go in the order they sit.  Luckily the recipes are in no particular order, so we are not doomed to me doing a variety of casseroles before I even get to cookies! 

In fact, this next recipe is one I have had since at least 1971, and was at one time, one of my staple cookie recipes.  It is hand written by a friend and on the back says "To Pat, From Dianne  (Remember Me!)

For years, I would look at the back of this recipe and think how silly Diane was for worrying that I would not remember her.......but now I look at it and wish I could remember her!  That makes me feel really bad because I should (but I don't anymore).  When we graduated from high school, there was no such thing as facebook or even email but we all made promises to keep in touch and always be friends.  How exactly did we think that was going to happen?  I am now in touch with my high school graduating class thanks to a facebook group, but I am still not sure who this particular Diane is. 

Alan and I were going away, just for one night, to visit friends we had made on our Norway cruise,

and I wanted to bring them something special. Or was I really just looking for an excuse to bake these cookies?  Ok, so I didn't follow the recipe, exactly?  Things have moved on since I was in high school!

I must admit, though, that I have never had to give someone cookies with a health warning - for some reason, these cookies did not turn out right.  And it was obvious to me but I thought I could outsmart the cookie dough.  So instead of making them drop cookies, I rolled them into balls.

The result was not what I had hoped - they were really, really hard!  But they tasted fantastic! So I felt ok about sharing them!  And it was good that I gave most of the batch away;  Alan and I loved them and risked our teeth to eat all of the ones I kept, in no time at all!
In addition to rolling them - I used cinnamon chocolate chips purchased on our last trip.  I had never tried these before, but will now have to request these anytime someone comes over for a visit, they are divine!  AND I used hand picked pecans given to me by a special friend when we were in Geneva a few weeks ago (Alabama, not Switzerland!). 
I have confidence in this recipe though, it was my main cookie recipe for years, so if you try this, please let me know if your's turned out the way they should!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream ;until light and fluffy 
              1/2 cup shortening (if you can't get shortening, butter or margarine will do)

              1/4 cup granulated sugar
              1/2 cup brown sugar (recipe does not stipulate dark or light, I used dark)
              1/2 tsp vanilla
Fold in and beat
             one egg, well beaten
Sift together:
            1 cup plus 2 Tbs of flour (plain)
            1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
            1/2 tsp salt

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and stir in 1/2 cup chopped nuts and 1 package* chocolate chips. 

*the size of American chocolate chip bag that I used was 11.5 oz (326g)  and the ones I find in UK grocery stores are much smaller - 100g or approximately 3.5 oz.
Drop by spoonfuls on to a greased cookie sheet.
Bake in moderate oven 325F about 10 minutes.
Yield:  about 50 cookies (I got 48 this time)
To Pat
From Diane
(Remember ME!)
"An honest cook serves her food burnt side up"  Amish proverb

Friday, September 20, 2013

Vegetarian Red Beans & Rice (Slow Cooker)

I have been away to the States and working on the blog to go with that trip -  From Tea to Sea not finished with it yet, but I got really hungry for Red Beans and Rice and decided to search for a recipe using the ingredients found in my cupboard.  That is the only reason this is vegetarian!  I don't normally stock ham hocks in general, neither do I usually have red beans though.  That was a result of our last trip to the US and, even then, being hungry for them.  I bought some, brought them home and 7 months later got around to cooking them. 

The recipe used came from another website - slow cooker red beans and rice, and it has all the nutritional aspects of this worked out, including Weightwatcher's pro points at 6 per serving.  And this serves 6.

It was simple and much faster than I ever imagined, so here is what I did!

It was just luck that I had everything I needed for this recipe. I did have to substitute some things, but they worked out ok - red pepper instead of a green one.  yellow onion instead of a red one and lazy garlic instead of fresh........but I thought the main substitution was using Creole instead of Cajun seasoning.  I was lucky to have this in the house - since it is not normally found in Scotland.  But I had purchased this in New Orleans when we were there last year!

I really do not know the difference between Creole and Cajun seasoning and wondered if this substitution would not work.....But it has been almost 30 years since I actually had Red Beans and Rice so I probably do not really remember what it tastes like.  But then I saw a different recipe which said you could use either one, so it is not a massive change!


Since this recipe is for a slow cooker - there is the decision between having to clean a slow cooker, or using a liner!  If there is nothing I hate worse than using plastic to cook with, it is cleaning a slow cooker, so there was no soul searching.  Easy wins any time!  I never knew about these liners until Mom told me years ago!  They are not found in the UK, at least nowhere I can look.  I even asked a friend to look for them in Canada and she couldn't find them there!  But I make sure I always pick up a few boxes when I am in the US
This is probably old news to most cooks, but sometimes just watching something can change your life!  Or in this case, how I deal with peppers!  Watching a kids' show with Corbyn, the lady demonstrating showed how to push the top of the pepper in, instead of cutting it out, and I have done it that way ever since!  There is less waste and it just feels good to do it! 

Since I have already given credit to Slender Kitchen, I am just going to cut and paste their recipe since it was so easy and fast, and I can't improve on that!   However, I would like to say that I only used the smallest suggested amount of salt since I really try to limit salt.  But this was not enough and I am having to add salt every time I eat it.  So the next time I try, I will add 3/4 tsp .....and continue to experiment until I find a level I enjoy. 
Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice
Servings: 6 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
Nutritional Info: 200.1 calories, 1g of fat, 38.6g of carbohydrates, 12.6g of fiber, 10.5g of proteinWeight Watchers® PointsPlus®: 6 *
  • 1 cup of long grain brown rice
  • 2 cups of dried red kidney beans
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup of chives
  • 1-2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. of smoked paprika
  • ½-1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups of boiling water
  1. Add everything to the crockpot and stir together.
  2. Cook on low for around 6-8 hours. Cooking times may vary slightly depending on your crockpot.
* PointsPlus® calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.

"Red beans and ricely yours."
Louis Armstrong signed his personal correspondence this way.