Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tropical Garden Cookies and Mary Kay

Today we had a guest baker with us. Eldest had a friend sleep over lastnight and they had a specific goal in mind. Her friend does not know how to cook, more then once she has been on the phone with Eldest at 8pm and later complaining she is starving and her parents wont be home for a few more hours. Eldest's initial responds was a disparaging, "Why don't you make something?" Then shock as her friend confessed she didn't know how. I thought she meant lack of confidence or familiarity with recipes.
The child is the youngest (and last one at home) and has never even turned ON the stove. Someone always cooked for her. Eldest decided we had to teach her or her friend would surely starve! Her friend in return was shocked that Eldest not only knew how to cook, but had also cooked a Thanksgiving diner herself and made the whole dinner for the family once a week. At first she thought is was "just weird" but soon she thought it was amazing.
After they agreed on Eldest teaching her she talked her mom into buying a box cake and attempted to make that. I don't know all the details, suffice it to say no one could eat the cake.

So here was the plan: she would sleepover Friday. They would make pizza for dinner. They would make the snacks for the Mary Kay Color Party we were having Saturday. They would make lunch.

Eldest was sure there would be no problem and it would be fun. But as we started the pizza dough the little girl was wide-eyed and so nervous...she only watched as Eldest measured out ingredients and mixed it. She had no idea what seasoning she like so had no impute on the spices we add to our dough. She became so confused by the fact that milk or water changes the texture of the crust that she wasn't sure if she liked her dough soft or crispy.
We must not be very good teachers. We just mixed and kneaded it and let her watch. We decided not to discuss sauce and toppings and did it simply: light on the sauce mixed with garlic and basil,lots of cheese, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and black olives. She seemed to like it once it was done. She didn't say much, just ate and ate and then said it wasn't like the pizza she's ever ordered.

Realizing that we might be taking for grated basic cooking skills we challenging the lunch menu to the very challenging meal of Top Ramon and Grilled Cheese & turkey sandwiches for lunch. Monster mastered the Grilled Cheese a few weeks ago, so she was in charge of that part. Thunderous is the Master Ramon Maker so he was in charge of that part...but before we could do that the girls had to mix the cookie dough.

We had originally intended to make 2 kinds of cookies and 1 brownie but were now worried we'd over load her and she'd never set foot in the kitchen again. So we decided on one cookie and a fruit plate with cream cheese dip.
Eldest started the dough and her friend was literally her shadow, she tripped over her a few times before they settled into a rhythm. We had a disagreement over whether the vanilla is added with the sugar and butter or if it should go in with the eggs. I relented and told her to do as the book said (with the sugar and butter) she met me half way and mixed it in after the butter and sugar but before the eggs. Her friend just looked onto that discussion with big eyes again.

We suddenly were running out of time!

Monster was buttering the bread and Thunderous was boiling the water. The friend was so proud to be able to say,"Hey! I've made that before (Ramon) and I've watched my mom make grilled cheese!" So we threw her in head first. Hey, we needed the extra hands.

She suddenly became everyone's helper. She put the top slice of bread on the sandwiches and flipped them (practically glowing with pride). She told Thunderous when the water was boiling and set the timer, then told him when the timer was almost done. She also held the bowl and scrapped the sides while Eldest added the dry ingredients and the chips.

OH! I missed the best part!

The recipe we decided on was Tropical Garden Cookies. It calls for both orange juice and orange zest. None of the kids had made zest before so they were all on even ground with that. All the kids ended up drifting into the kitchen and staying as we started the cookies (that's why they all ended up staying and making lunch together).
We started with an orange. You might be surprised how unfamiliar whole/raw foods are to some kids, sad isn't it? I showed them how you can let the orange sit in a bowl of warm water for awhile so you can get more juice out of it. Then we all looked at the box grater, Thunderous was the only one who knew that's what it was really called (he watches Alton Brown), my 2 girls had their own names for it, the friend was silent. I showed them the side you can zest on..."Oh that's what that sides for?! I used it for cheese once. It didn't work too well." Monster said.
Aagggh! *face table* you have no idea how much that explains.
Moving on from that I showed them how simple zesting is and about the pith or white-stuff as we called it. I let Eldest start and then she let her friend do the rest while she started mixing the dry ingredients.
The friend must have been feeling more confidant, or maybe adventurous, because after finishing zesting the orange she jumped in to help everyone else.
When it came time to juice the orange everyone stopped for a minute to watch Eldest do it. She cut the orange in half and used a hand juicer to juice it into a bowl first so we could measure it. Apparently it was fascinating.

We ate lunch and let the dough chill. The girls decided to use the 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop out the cookies, Eldest likes big cookies. The first pan looked good but the second I had to suddenly remind them the cookies need to be equal sizes and about 2 inches apart. I wish we had the camera so I could have taken pictures for you!(still haven't found where it was packed so safely) It was crazy!
They set the temp and the time.
When the timer went off they were under done so I put them back in for 3 more minutes. It apparently was too long.
I haven't figured out all the quirks of my new oven, but I am trying. It seems to cook too slow, then too fast, and the bottoms of everything gets over done. So unfortunately the cookies, while not burnt, were a bit too dark on the bottom for my tastes. But I didn't say a thing. I wonder too if the extra sugar in the OJ burns a bit easier, we had all kinds of issues when we tried to bast a turkey in OJ in the past.
The kids all say the dough tastes better then the cookies and we have plans to try and incorporate it into cookie dough ice-cream this summer, which the friend is invited to and very enthusiastic about...who knew you could make ice-cream at home! This she has to see! (me too. we've never done it.)
The other friends who came for the party loved the cookies!
So I think the whole experience was a success.
I'll ask Eldest.

Thought here are only 4 cookies left I am not sure about making this one again. I liked them alot and want to try them on a different shelf and see if that cures the toasty bottoms. My Love is not big on flavored chocolate. Okay he REALLY doesn't like flavored chocolate. He keeps saying they were okay. But I don't believe him.
Monster gives them a thumbs up and Thunderous says they were okay (mini dad), but not as good as the cookie dough.

Okay, I think that settles it. I will have to try them again and not over cook them, maybe that will really tell us if they are repeat worthy.