FLAT Ginger Molasses Cookies

This post has been sitting in my brain since Thanksgiving (the Canadian one, that is), so I figured for the American one I could accent your Black Friday with a chewy cookie.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 16

These cookies inspired by Gimme Some Oven came out way flatter than I normally like and tasted a little greasy. I still prefer my Starbucks knockoff cookies, but I’m always on the lookout for another recipe, and someday when I no longer have a tiny boy with a short attention span on my hands, I may come up with my own.

Start, as you do with most cookies, with your powdery bits. Whisk together 4 cups flour, 4 teaspoons baking soda, and 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (put it together from here).

Ginger Molasses Cookies 1

Set that aside and cream together 1 1/2 cups salted softened butter, and 2 cups granulated sugar.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 2

Then pour yourself a lovely gob of 1/2 cup molasses.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 4

Tip that into the butter mix, together with 2 eggs, and beat that up until combined.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 5

Ginger Molasses Cookies 6

Slowly add the flour mix and beat until well combined. Chill that dough for 30 minutes.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 8

Preheat your oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll your dough into golf ball-sized balls and roll them in granulated sugar (with a dash of cinnamon mixed in). Plop them on the baking sheet and leave a lot of space as they flatten quite a bit.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 9

Ginger Molasses Cookies 11

Bake those puppies for 8-10 minutes, until they start to crack, then let them cool on the sheet before removing them to a rack (or just eating them).

Ginger Molasses Cookies 12
See? They expand quite a bit. And eat all the other cookies.

Again, not my favourite adaptation but good nonetheless.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 14

Ginger Molasses Cookie

So there’s a certain giant mega-corporation coffee chain near our office. I’m sure you know the one – it has a fishy logo. Because it’s the only place near our office, we go there ALL THE TIME. And I’m kind of in love with their giant ginger molasses cookies. But they’re a million dollars and I just KNOW that the reason they’re so chewy and amazing is because they’re filled with all sorts of ick. And there’s probably some form of addictive substance in them (other than sugar, I mean), because I don’t even LIKE cookies and I can’t resist these. And I just found out TWO DAYS AGO that the place near work has discontinued the darned things.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 12

So it’s been a quest of mine to re-create the recipe on my own. Turns out I’m not the only one who has tried. Most of the recipes I found seem to be taken from the same source and have mostly the same ingredients, so I picked this one from Food.com. Forgive my crappy photos – it’s a weeknight in the winter in Canada so it’s dark. Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Then grab your ingredients.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 1

Whisk together 2 1/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Set that aside for a few minutes.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 2

Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 3/4 cup butter and 1 cup dark brown sugar. I didn’t have dark brown so I went with regular brown. But the darker your sugar, the darker your cookie.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 3

Scrape down the mixing paddle and the sides of the bowl and crack in 1 large egg. Pour in as well 1/4 cup regular unsulphured molasses. I used fancy grade molasses, because that seems to be what you can get in Canada. Not sure what the difference is.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 4

Give that a good beating until it’s smooth.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 5

Now, slowly add in your flour mixture while beating on low speed. Keep mixing until the dough forms a cohesive mass – it’ll be super thick and you’ll have to scrape things down occasionally to ensure good mixage.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 6

Now grab your cookie dough, and your baking sheets, and a shallow dish or plate. Tip about 1/3 cup granulated sugar onto the plate and spread it around. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the dough (I’m not kidding, these things are huge), roll it into a ball, and roll it in the granulated sugar before placing it on the baking sheet.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 7

Do that five more times for the first sheet, spacing them far apart (they spread). Do the other six on the other baking sheet (yeah, this recipe only makes 12. If you’re not insane and you’d like a smaller cookie go ahead and do that).

Ginger Molasses Cookies 8

Next, wet your fingers and press down on each cookie ball to flatten it slightly and dampen the sugar coating. Shove one baking sheet in the fridge and the other in the oven.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 9

Bake each sheet, one at a time, for 12 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until the cookie is an even brown and is mostly solid in the middle. Let those giant suckers cool on the baking sheet.

Ginger Molasses Cookies 10

I’m not sure if they’re *quite* the recipe I was looking for – I might add more ginger and more molasses (or maybe my ginger is just a little old). But they’re really good nonetheless!

Ginger Molasses Cookies 15

Humidifying – without a humidifier

Humidifying 12

I don’t know what winter is like where you live (if, in fact, it IS winter where you live), but here in the Ottawa Valley winter is cold. Very cold. And very, very dry. It’s not uncommon to spontaneously bleed from the nose as you battle a searing headache and croak for more water through parched lips. And that’s not even an extreme case. In our house, the Pie’s sinuses dry up and cause him to snore. My asthma acts up, meaning I cough and wheeze all the time, and, because we have wall-to-wall carpeting, Gren has been avoiding us because we static shock him every time we pet him. It’s no fun.

Humidifying 1

We have a humidifier in our bedroom, and it helps a whole bunch. We did our research and got the one that worked the best for the money we wanted to pay and we’re very happy with our choice (remember, kids: always do your research when buying an appliance). I also picked up a travel-sized humidifier for the various hotel rooms I seem to be finding myself in these days (and Winnipeg is even colder and dryer than Ottawa, and I’m in it as we speak).

Humidifying 11

But sometimes you don’t want to buy a humidifier. Sometimes you can’t afford one (the ones that won’t give you Legionnaires’ Disease or fester with black mould tend to run a bit expensive). Sometimes your dormitory has ruled them out (usually for mould reasons). Or maybe you just need to give a bit of extra oomph to the humidifier you have. Here are seven quick-and-dirty tips to help you humidify your home the old-fashioned way.

1. Shower with the door open.

Humidifying 2

Yeah, so this won’t work if you have roommates or small children or larger children or children at all. But if you don’t, skip turning on the exhaust fan and get things all good and steamy.

2. Get more house plants.

Humidifying 10

So plants, when they’re done with all the nutrients and stuff in the water they suck up through their roots, basically sweat out water vapour through their leaves. It’s called transpiration. And sweaty plants make for a more humid environment.

Humidifying 9

3. Skip the dryer.

Humidifying 4

When you’re doing laundry, hang your clothes to dry inside the house in a warm spot. As the clothes dry the water on them will evaporate into the air in your house, making it more moist. MOIST. Plus you save on energy costs.

4. Spritzy-spritzy.

Humidifying 5

Grab a spray bottle of water and gently – GENTLY – spritz your curtains with a little bit of water. You don’t want them soaked or anything, but a little misting on them will produce the same effect as wet laundry – without putting your skivvies in the middle of the living room.

5. Set out bowls.

Humidifying 6

Place shallow dishes of water on sunny windowsills or on top of heating vents and the water will evaporate as it warms. Make them pretty crystal vases and you’ll add to the decor of your home. Add a floating bloom or some pretty pebbles. Granted, if you have small children or pets, leaving a bowl of water on the floor in your kitchen is asking for trouble, so be warned.

6. Wet a towel.

Humidifying 7

Run a small dish towel under your tap and then wring it out thoroughly. Lay it over a heating vent (make sure the fabric isn’t so thick that it blocks the warm air completely) and let the heat percolate through and humidify the air as the towel dries. Again, probably not a good idea with small children. This is why we can’t have nice things.

7. Cook!

Humidifying 8

When in doubt, cook. Whip up a batch of chilli or soup, anything on the stovetop that will get hot and steamy. I like to make a giant pot of tea, and when the kettle whistles and I’ve poured my pot and turned off the burner, I put the kettle back on the cooling element to let it steam itself out.

Humidifying 13

You could also try a “simmer,” which is super trendy right now. Set a saucepan full of water on your stove and heat it to a low simmer. Toss in some whole spices: bay leaves, cardamom pods, star anise, cinnamon, and allspice; or rosemary, citrus zest, and lavender – or some combination thereof – and let that sit there simmering and scenting your house while it steams it up. Just keep an eye on the pot and add more water occasionally so it doesn’t all boil away.

Bees plus Booze: Making Krupnikas

Krupnikas 50

This recipe popped up on Global Table back in January 2012 and I have been positively itching to make it ever since. The problem is that in order to make lovely, lovely liqueurs, you need grain alcohol. And there are very few provinces in Canada where you can legally purchase such things. Fortunately one of my lovely friends picked some Everclear up for me when he was in Michigan and brought it across the border for me for my birthday.  And this lovely warming sipper will make a fantastic gift. Did I mention it makes your house smell lovely as you’re making it, and also that it’s ridiculously easy? LOVELY.

Krupnikas 51

First, though, you have to do your due diligence regarding what you’re going to put your finished concoction in. I searched high and low, in second-hand stores and restaurant supply stores, to find appropriate bottles for a reasonable price. Finally I found these 200mL flasks at Terra20 (sorry non-Ottawans, it’s a local store, but they do have online shopping). Now, you can put your bottles through a run in the dishwasher if you like, but I don’t trust my dishwasher fully because I have never cleaned it. I am my father’s daughter and as such he has taught me to properly sterilize things you’re going to put booze in. So first you wash them thoroughly in detergent and hot water.

Krupnikas 1

Let them drip dry.

Krupnikas 2

Then grab some Star-San if you can get it from a local home-brew place.

Krupnikas 3

Follow the instructions carefully, and wear gloves! Let your bottles air dry while you prepare your ingredients.

Krupnikas 4

I love that this recipe uses whole spices.

Krupnikas 19

In fact, it uses WHOLE turmeric, which was tricky for me to find after trolling through several health food stores. But it was super cheap. When the cashier asked me how much I wanted to order, I said, “Oh, 200g or so,” not knowing how much that would be. It was a lot. And it cost me about $4. I only need one of those weird little ginger-like knobs.

Krupnikas 6

You’ll need about 1 1/2lbs of honey (organic and local if possible, naturally). This works out to about 550mL liquid honey.

Krupnikas 10

Peel 1 orange.

Krupnikas 11

Krupnikas 29

And peel half a lemon.

Krupnikas 12

Grab 3 or 4 cinnamon sticks.

Krupnikas 9

And 5 allspice berries.

Krupnikas 13

And a nutmeg. (A nutmeg? A meg nut? I dunno.)

Krupnikas 14

And 8 cloves.

Krupnikas 15

And 10 cardamom pods.

Krupnikas 16

And 1 teaspoon fennel seeds.

Krupnikas 17

And 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper.

Krupnikas 18

You will also need 1 vanilla bean, sliced and scraped. Except for some reason I totally forgot to include that in the recipe. It’s still amazing, but I bet a vanilla bean would make it even more amazing.

Grab yourself a 3″ knob of ginger, and slice that into four pieces.

Krupnikas 7

And grab a 2-3″ knob of turmeric, and slice THAT into four pieces.

Krupnikas 8

Look at that gorgeous orange. The turmeric will give a nice sort of earthy base to the booze, while at the same time keeping that lovely yellow tint you expect of something made with honey.

Krupnikas 27

Crack all the spices to let the flavour out. I used a nutcracker on the nutmeg.

Krupnikas 22

And my pestle for the rest.

Krupnikas 23

Gather your spices and plop them in a cup for now. Not shown of course is the vanilla bean I forgot.

Krupnikas 32

In a large saucepan, dump in your honey and 1L water and bring that to a simmer.

Krupnikas 30

Skim any foam off the top with a slotted spoon.

Krupnikas 38

Dump all your spices in and let that become an amazing concoction.

Krupnikas 39

Simmer that sucker, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes. At this point the young man who was fixing my ceiling crept up behind me and asked me what I was making that smelled so good. As he was about 16 years old I did not offer him any of it. I’m not sure if he was sad or not. But I’m sure the craftsmanship on my ceiling would have suffered.

Krupnikas 41

Remove the pot from the heat and pour in 750mL grain alcohol. Watch out, as it will fizz up and the fumes will likely make you cough a bit. While it still smells good I don’t recommend you go around huffing grain alcohol fumes. That might be bad.

Krupnikas 42

Strain out the spices and use them for something else, like a syrup or ice cream base.

Krupnikas 43

I plopped them into some applesauce I was making. It made the applesauce taste like CANDY.

Krupnikas 46

Line up your bottles ready for filling. I put them all in a dish and wedged them with a dish towel to keep them steady while I filled them.

Krupnikas 40

I filled all 8 200mL bottles exactly, just like I’d planned.

Krupnikas 47

Seal the bottles and let them cool. The mixture will be cloudy at first.

Krupnikas 52

But still gloriously cheerfully yellow.

Krupnikas 49

The cloudiness is a sediment that will settle over the next couple of days. You can drink this stuff right away and it will be unbelievably good, but the longer you let it sit the mellower and more amazing it will get. Try to wait at least two weeks.

Krupnikas 53

Even after just 24 hours most of the sediment has settled. You can stir the sediment back in if you like, or filter it out and serve it on cake or whatever.

Krupnikas 55

My true sadness is that I was hoping for a little extra krupnikas to try myself, but I didn’t get any. I am going to give all of this away. So I hope that my friends share.

The From-Scratch-iest Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 5

Some day I’m gonna be super hardcore, growing my own pumpkins in my magic pumpkin patch and harvesting my own gluten-free flour from the enormous gluten-free flour tree on my massive acreage. Until then, however, I will acquire all my ingredients from fairies, just like everyone else. Or the grocery store. Whichever is more convenient.

Still, there’s a certain satisfaction to be garnered from taking a thing from the absolute start to its completion. For me, for now, that means making things as from scratch as I possibly can. And for this particular recipe, that means pie crust from scratch and pumpkin that I slaughtered and roasted myself. Don’t question my wording on that. Have you ever cut up a pumpkin? Yes, “slaughter” is appropriate.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 3

Let’s start with that, shall we? Look at these beautiful pumpkins. These are NOT carving pumpkins. They are sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins, specifically grown for their tender sweetness and exactly the sort of thing you want to dismember and roast for this pie.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 2

Give them a good washing to remove any dirt.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 6

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 8

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grab yourself a nice big rimmed cookie sheet or baking dish.

Decapitate your pumpkin by gently sawing off its stem.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 9

Cleave the pumpkin in two vertically.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 10

Eviscerate your pumpkin by scooping out the seeds and guts. You can wash and dry the seeds for roasting later on. They’re very good for you but may make you a little gassy. Just sayin’.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 12

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 16

Brush the fleshy surfaces of the pumpkin with vegetable oil. If you’re roasting this pumpkin for savoury purposes, then you would probably dust it with salt and pepper as well, but we’re using it for un-savoury purposes (as in, sweet, not nefarious), so you probably shouldn’t do that.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 13

Place the pumpkin halves face-down on the baking sheet and let that roast for about 45-60 minutes (depending on your pumpkin size). If you want this whole thing to go faster, then cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 15

When the pumpkin is done the whole thing can be stabbed easily with a sharp knife.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 19

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 20

While that is baking, try to figure out how to scrub the residue off your hands. It’s harder than you think.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 18

Let the pumpkins cool a little bit so you don’t burn yourself, then scoop out the flesh and discard the skins.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 22

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 24

I ate some toasted pumpkin seeds while I waited for the pumpkin to cool a little bit more.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 26

I puréed the pumpkin flesh in a food processor to make it extra smooth.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 27

Because fresh pumpkin is more watery than canned pumpkin, you might want to drain it a bit. These mesh bags are actually for picking produce at the farmer’s market, but they’re also perfect strainers for thick substances like mashed pumpkin.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 28

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 30

I ended up with about 4 cups pumpkin goo, which is pretty much exactly what I needed for two pies. I shoved it in the fridge for a couple of days before I made the pie.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 31

Now for the crust, which I prepped the night before I made the pie. Gluten-free pie dough still needs to rest, just the same as regular pie dough, so that the flour can absorb all the liquid properly. This recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart, makes one pie shell bottom, so I did it twice.

As with regular pie crust, you still want all your ingredients to be ice cold when you work with them, and you want to handle them as little as possible.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 32

Start by whisking together 1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup white rice flour, 1 teaspoon xanthan gum, and 2 teaspoons castor/superfine sugar in a small bowl.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 33

As well, assemble a small pitcher of ice water. Cube 1/2 cup cold butter and put that in a bowl as well. Finally, crack 1 large egg into another bowl and scramble it a little. Shove the water and the egg into the fridge and the butter and flour into the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 34

When you’re ready to go, dump your flour and your butter into the bowl of your food processor.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 35

Pulse the dough until the butter forms little pea-sized crumbs.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 36

Tip in the egg, as well as 1-2 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough clumps together.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 37

I would err on the side of less water as opposed to more. In this batch I think I added 2 tablespoons water and you can see it’s very sticky (gluten-free dough will be stickier by nature, but not this sticky).

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 38

So the next time round I used less water and got this more crumbly dough.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 40

Squish your dough into a patty and wrap it in plastic. Let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably three hours, at best, overnight.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 39

When you’re ready to roll (literally), place a piece of waxed paper on your work surface and lightly dust it with gluten-free flour. Plop your dough patty down and dust that with flour as well.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 41

Place another sheet of waxed paper over top and carefully use a rolling pin to spread out your dough. Work from the inside out, and flip it over and lift up the waxed paper as often as possible so it doesn’t stick in weird wrinkles.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 42

When you’re ready to plop the dough into your 12″ pie pan, remember that the dough will stick more to the waxed paper than regular dough, so you might want to chill it a bit beforehand.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 43

Trim and crimp the edges as usual and chuck it back in the fridge.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 44

If you’re only making one pie, then halve the ingredients for the filling, but if you’re making two (because really, why not make two?), then here’s how you do it. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups pumpkin purée, 3 300mL cans sweetened condensed milk (900mL total), 4 large eggs, and 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 45

Nice and smooth and sweet!

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 46

Pour the filling into your two shells and carefully shove them into the oven (preheated to 425°F) on the same rack, if possible. Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 35-45 minutes.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 47

They will be done when the middle is almost set and you can jab a knife into the filling about an inch from the crust and it comes out clean.

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 48

Set those on a rack to cool completely, then EAT!

From Scratchiest GF Pumpkin Pie 49

Apple and Spice Porridge: In the Woods

 

DSCN3460
This wolf spider and I had a disagreement about where I should tie my laundry line.

There’s nothing like a hot breakfast after crawling out of your warm sleeping bag on a crisp morning at the crack of dawn. While we abandoned our rainy campsite with dampened spirits and dampened everything else, I wanted to continue on with the camp menu, seeing as I had everything ready in any case.

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 2

This creamy version of our traditional porridge is adapted from The Camping Cookbook and adds a nice bit of luxury to a morning spent in the woods. Even a super rainy one.

DSCN3458

Dump 1 1/4 cup milk into a saucepan and bring it to a low boil.

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 3

Add in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2/3 cup oats and cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to thicken.

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 4

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 6

Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and reduce the heat a little bit.

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 7

Grate up 1 large apple. I’ve never grated an apple before. It’s oddly satisfying.

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 5

Tip that into the mix and stir until it’s heated through.

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 8

Serve with honey drizzled over top. Perfect.

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 9

Apple Spice Porridge in the woods 10

Coffee Raisin-Nut Bars

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 20

We’re at that stage in the fall where we’re starting to get sick of pumpkin things, but the chocolate and peppermint of winter is still too far away.  At this point I like to rely on coffee and spice to bolster me through.  This quick plate of squares is adapted from The 250 Best Brownies, Bars & Squares, because Esther Brody has not disappointed me yet (well, except for that one time).

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 1

Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.  Make yourself a cup of coffee.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 3

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 2

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1/4 cup room temperature butter with 1 cup packed brown sugar until it’s all turned into one big bowl.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 4

Add in 1 egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat until combined.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 5

Pour in 1/2 cup hot coffee and mix (drink the rest of it — I know *I* need the caffeine).

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 6

Blend in your flour mixture, a bit at a time.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 7

Then tip in 3/4 cup raisins and 3/4 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans) and give that a stir.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 9

Spread that into your prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until you can stick a wooden skewer in it and it comes out clean.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 10

Set that on a wire rack to cool.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 16

While that’s on the go, make yourself up some frosting.

With an electric mixer, beat up 1 cup icing sugar with 1/2 cup softened butter until it’s all fluffy and frosty.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 12

In a measuring cup, mix together 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur, like Kahlua, with 2 tablespoons whipping cream (or milk) and 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 11

Pour that into the frosting mixture, alternating with a further 1 cup icing sugar, and beat until fully combined.

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 13

Spread the frosting on your cooled squares and cut them up.  Yum!

Coffee Raisin Nut Bars 18