It was 1992 when I first stepped foot into that wonderfully fragrant, deliciously decadent parallel universe that is the Coffee Shop. It was either in Boston or in New York City, I can’t remember exactly. I do recall blissfully sipping a latte and biting into a fabulously fluffy blueberry muffin. Those were good times :-).
In those days, we didn’t really have coffee shops like that here in Germany. There were old-fashioned pastry shops where the ladies behind the counter wore frilly aprons and a stern expression, and there were shabby chic cafés that served German Frühstück and homemade cakes – nothing to sneeze at, to be sure – but there was no place where you could get a bagel, a sandwich, panini or brownie with your foamy, milky, tall hot drink.
That changed when the new millenium came around, which incidentally also was when I moved to this amazing city. There was one coffee shop on Hackescher Markt that was my go-to place whenever I needed a cup of Celestial Seasonings tea, shot of espresso, or, which brings us to the point of this blog post, an oatmeal cookie, to brighten my shitty day. I was stuck in the most horrible working environment I ever encountered, due to a narcissistic lunatic of a boss with exceptionally bad manners who would terrorize the whole staff. Hence, the need for sweets.
When I quit that job and became a mom a few months after, my everyday radius shrank considerably. Life began to revolve around places you could easily reach with a stroller – playground, sandbox in the back yard, the park, playgroup. As there was little sleep to be had in those days, treats became very important once more. And since there was no coffee shop like that in walking distance, I began to experiment with cookie dough, muffin batter, yeast dough and the likes.
Fast-forward another 10 years. I now have two post-millenials living with me, one of whom is a virtual cookie monster, and I have several decent recipes for baked goods under my belt, one of which I’d like to share with you today.
Yesterday afternoon, I was hit by a sudden craving, got out my good old American cookbook, and based on this recipe, I did the following:
Creamed 125 g soft butter with 80 g brown and white sugar each (total 160 g), 1 sachet vanilla sugar and pinch of salt. Added 2 eggs, 5 TBSP cocoa powder, dash of milk and the zest of 1 large orange, 150 g flour sifted with 1 sachet of baking soda. And because I was experiencing one of my trans-generational post-war trauma flashbacks, I also threw in the leftover rice pudding my daughter hadn’t finished the night before, maybe 4 TBSP all in all. It could have been a few spoonfuls of thoroughly soggy cereal from a breakfast she didn’t finish, or some bread crumbs. I do like to use up stuff sometimes. Then, I stirred in 75 g chopped pecans, tried the batter, and was pretty certain I had myself a bomb-ass cookie dough.
You know the drill with the baking: widely set apart smaller than you’d think dollops of batter, preheated oven, roughly 10 minutes at 180 °C. Do _not_, I repeat, _not_ leave the darn kitchen. Had to throw out a whole baking sheet of charcoal yesterday, because my sous-chef had vanished into cyberspace for those crucial 2 minutes too long…
But the ones that didn’t burn came out really yummy – at least my crafts club thought so. Chocolatey, slightly moist and not too sweet, with some crunchy pecan chewability.
On the crafts front, I’ve been shying away from starting my red (cable?) sweater. I haven’t really been feeling it. Maybe my creative mind is a bit tired, or I need a break from knitting, or I haven’t come across the right pattern yet after all. Here’s what I’ve been doing instead:
All done with my son’s birthday socks (14 next week, yikes!)…
… and got started on a new pair of stripies for my daughter whose feet have, oddly, also grown over the last few months.
It occurred to me that I hadn’t made any socks from anything but pattern-dyed or plain-colored yarn in ages, and that it does make a difference if you as a knitter decide for yourself when you want the color to change and in what way. We get so used to convenience even when doing crafts, these instant gratification days, don’t we? And although that’s great sometimes, it actually takes away some of the creative process and ultimately renders even the handcrafted things we make more uniform. Gotta watch that! And not to worry, I’m not all about joining the conspiracy theories brigade. Just thinking about this.
How about you? Any thoughts, recipes, or projects you’d like to share? Let’s hear about them.