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Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I spent the morning interviewing ex-cons.

For them, the employees of Homeboy Industries, it’s a second chance and fresh start. A non-profit that works with gang members, fresh out of jail, provides culinary training, GED prep, job placement, parenting skills and so much more. "It’s like a big family, but everyone believes in you." Said one guy, back for a second chance at his second chance.

But sitting at the front of the Homegirl Cafe, interviewing and photographing the employees, it felt like a second chance and fresh start for me too. I was hired to write an article about food. Paid to go there, talk to people and take photos. A rare opportunity it seems for me to bulldog my way into this food writing world that I’ve been fighting so hard to be  a part of. An article I hope to do justice to, undoubtably spending the better part of the next week working on.

So here we are. Me and them. My transformation so much less dramatic, so much less important to my survival. They inspire me. When I asked the man I met, the one who is back for his second time and only 3 days out of jail, how he is going to do things different this time around, he shrugs, "I’m just going to keep showing up. That’s all."

I think he’s on to something there.

 

Pumpkin Ale Cheesecake with Beer Pecan Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

    For The Cheesecake
  • 9 standard sized graham crackers
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 4 tbs melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 16 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup pumpkin ale
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs flour
  • For The Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin beer
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup pecans

Directions

  1. In a food processor add the graham crackers and brown sugar, process until only crumbs are left. While the food processor is still running, add the melted butter and process until it resembles wet sand. Dump into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Press into the bottom until well compacted.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the brown sugar, white sugar and cream cheese. Mix until well combined. One at a time, add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until well combined, scraping the bottom, before adding more.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon nutmeg and salt, mix until very well combined.
  4. Add the beer and stir until combined.
  5. Sprinkle the flour over the bowl, stir on medium speed until just combined.
  6. Pour over the crust.
  7. Bake at 350 for about one hour or until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the rack the cheesecake sits on, it will still look wet in the center. The secret to a great cheesecake is not to over bake it, it's better to slightly under bake it for a smooth mousse like texture.
  8. Chill until set, about 3 hours.
  9. To make the caramel sauce, add the sugar, beer and corn syrup to a pot and stir over medium high heat for about 1 minute. Stop stirring and allow to boil, untouched, until it turns an amber color, about 10 minutes (230 on a candy thermometer). Add the butter and cream, stir until combined. Add the pecans and stir. Allow to cool to approximately room temperature before serving over chilled cheesecake.
https://domesticfits.com/brown-butter-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

I’ve spent all day with an internal struggle about the limits of my acceptance of other people. Probably a much too serious intro for a post about pancakes, but bear with me, you might have some insight I could really use.

I’ve always prided myself on being a person who is able to see people for who they are, in the context of their own culture and life experiences and find beauty, talent and value without the qualification and framework of my own situation.

Whether it be a trailer park in South Central Los Angeles, a cave in Morocco, or a bus bench in Greece I’ve always been able to do that. Easily.

But today I was challenge with a though: what about hateful, small-minded, bigoted people?

What about racists?

The homophobic?

Are those people I should love and keep in my life?

I had an interaction with someone who left me wondering about my assertion that I have the anthropological capacity to care about other people regardless of who they are, what their beliefs or culture dictates, without judgement.

Can I judge someone merely for judging others? Isn’t that the epitome of hypocritical?

Isn’t the greater definition of open-minded and open-hearted to love those who are a challenge to love? I do believe that there is good in everyone. But is it worth it to try to dig past the hate and anger of a racist or homophobic friend or family member, or is that level of toxicity a fundamental deal breaker?

If you have some insight, let me know. For now I will proceed with caution, because the bottom line is I want to love everyone. I don’t want anyone, or any group of people, to be designated as a group I should hate. Because hate just breeds more hate.

Brown Butter Grilled Beer Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Pale Ale
  • 4 oz cheddar
  • 8 slices bread
  • 4 tbs butter

Directions

  1. In a blender or food processor add the cream cheese, mozzarella, cornstarch and beer. Blend until smooth, about 3 minutes. Spread the beer cheese generously onto 4 slices of bread. Top with about 2 tbs of cheddar and then top with a clean slice of bread.
  2. In a skillet with a lid melt the butter over medium heat (don't allow the butter to get too hot or it will burn) until just starting to turn a golden brown. Carefully add the sandwiches, and replace the lid allowing the sandwiches to steam in the pan until the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the sandwiches, replace the lid and allow to cook until the other side is a light golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 3 additional minutes.
https://domesticfits.com/oatmeal-cookie-pancakes/

Coconut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

For years I’ve been insisting that I hate coconut. Ever since those crappy Almond Joys and Mounds bars started taking up valuable real estate in my orange plastic pumpkin during childhood Halloweens, I convinced myself that coconut was to blame.  Assaulting me with it’s odd texture that wasn’t quite crunch and wasn’t quite chewy and it definitely was not caramel.  

And with the loathsome of all Trick or Treat offerings, the Neapolitan Sundaes as a side kicks in my Trow Away pile of post Halloween candy sorting, my distain was cemented. I hated coconut. 

Even when I discover Malibu Rum in college, and I would only buy coconut scented sunscreen because the smell made me blissfuly happy, I still wouldn’t release my grudge. 

And even, after years of growing up with the idea that International Cuisine was Costco Lasagna and Taco Bell, I figured out that I adored Chicken Panang so much I wanted to bathe in it, still my aversion persisted. 

And when I waitressed in dozens of mid-level family style restaurants, with shrimp shooters and extreme fajitas avoiding conversation about my Flare, and I was introduced to the white trash joy of Coconut Shrimp, it changed nothing.

I hate it, I’m serious. 

It wasn’t until I read a post from my friend Julia that It all clicked. I don’t hate it. I hate crappy candy. Huge difference. 

I went directly to my nearest store and bought some Bob’s Red Mill Coconut and set out to bake. 

I made these for some friends who came over for a poker night, one of whom said, "No thanks, I don’t like coconut."

After I begged and pleaded for him to just take one tiny taste, he ate five cookies. Afterwards, he said to me: "I totally thought I hated coconut until I ate these cookies."

I have no idea what you mean. 

Other than the fact that these cookies rule. And so does coconut. 

My husband and I at Poker Night, not exactly winning,but having a great time. 

Coconut Chocolate Chop Oatmeal Cookies

1 stick of butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup coconut milk fat (scraped off the top of a full fat can of coconut milk)

1 cup oats

3/4 cup bread flour

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp corn starch

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (Bob’s Red Mill strongly recommended) 

1/4 cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on high until well combined. Add the coconut milk and beat until well combined. 

In a separate bowl, add the remaining ingredients (other than the almonds and chocolate chips) and stir until well combined. 

Add the dry ingredients into the stand mixer and mix on low until just barely combined. Add the chocolate chips and the almonds and mix again until barely combined. 

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Using a cookie scoop or an ice cream scoop, scoop out balls approximately the six of a golf ball and place evenly on the baking sheet. 

Refrigerate for 2 hours, up to 24. 

Preheat oven to 350. 

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until lightly golden brown. You don’t want to over cook these, so start to check on them at about 12 minutes in case your oven cooks way faster than mine. Especially if you skip the refrigeration step, room temperature cookies will be done a lot sooner. Once you pull them out of the oven, slide the parchment paper onto the counter and allow to cool. 

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Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies & The State Of Food Writing

Fish Where There Are Fish: The State of Food Writing

Amanda Hesser wrote an article last week for FOOD52 that, in summation, stated that food writing is dead. This drew critiques, criticism, praise, and response articles all over the web. When posted by a mutual friend on Facebook, Babette Pepaj (of TechMUNCH and Bakespace) disagreed, "Fish where there are fish," she stated.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been on the fringes of an idustry in the midst of a tornado like change, all the "Old Schoolers" looking down with dismay as the ripples seems to be coming from a throng of new and unexperienced talent waiting to take a stab in a new and digital format. 

When I moved to Los Angeles in the late 90’s as a teenager, my husband, then boyfriend, joined a year later with a band that had just signed a major record deal. He worked his way around the scene, taking jobs at major recording studios, tour managing bands, production, A&R scouting, drum coaching, all while the music industry was still the giant beast of the 1980’s, the A&R guys holding the keys to the kingdom with that illusive Record Contract dangling from their fingers. It wasn’t long before the beast started to crumble and the curtain was pulled from the Great And Mighty Oz.

It all seemed to start with Napster. A brilliant idea, even if illegal and poorly thought out, that brought the Music Industry Beast to its knees. First, largely ignored. Then a few lawsuits, then a few more, then Metallica chimed in. No one, save for a few smart people over at Apple, stopped to hear the cry from the public of, "This Is What We Want." I asked my husbands boss (he was working for a Recording Company headed by a well known music producer) why they didn’t pick up where Napster left off, "Why don’t you sell the songs on your own website? let people download them?" The response was lots of legal jargon, with a dash of, "artist want to sell records, not singles."  iTunes disagreed and well know how that went.

Years later, sitting in a bar called The Short Stop, chatting with a small-band-trying-to-make-good in Silverlake, California I asked about that illusive record deal. "We don’t need one, " said the guitar player, "I can get my songs onto iTunes, I can book my own shows. I don’t need to give anyone 90% of my money." He was right. They went on to be the biggest band ever to come out of Silverlake, although I now only see them on Guitar Hero or the Grammys, they will always be the guys (and girl) I used to buy beers for and chat about literature & music with.

Fish where there are fish. Although the sad reality is that the music industry is a ghost town to us now, the mighty and wealthy clamoring to get jobs, moving out of town to find work or wallowing on unemployment, we have a few friends who are making money. For the most part, those are people who started businesses to help artist help themselves. À la carte services that help the musicians maintian control, while assisting them in doing things they don’t know how to do for themselves. PR people, managers, booking, pressing of collectable vinyl, merch, all overseen by the artist. Of course the days of multi-million dollar musicians are largely behind us, more people are making a decent, but modest living, fishing where there is fish.

How does this translate to food writing? We’ll see. Will the only people that make money those who assist blogger with tech help, running ads, photography tutorials and book deals? Amanda Hesser may be right about HER food writing world being dead, and those mighty giants have started to crumble, but what will rise up in its place? What will the dawning of the new food world look like? The truth is, people will always write about food. How and where the money will be made is a different issue.

I’m not going to pretend to link this to cookies, so here they are:

Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies For Two

(makes only 6, because the last thing I need is 48 cookies just sitting around my house)

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup oats

2/3 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup chopped strawberries (feel free to use those un-pretty ones on their last legs)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg, and beat on high. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and add the vanilla and beat again. Add the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and beat until combined. Stir in the strawberries.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray) and drop large spoonfuls of dough on to the sheet, leaving space between each cookie.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies turn a light golden brown and are cooked through. Slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet onto the counter and allow the cookies to cool. 

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