Imprecision Cooking: Cookies

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Imprecision Cooking: Cookies

When I first started blogging, there was just starting to be a blogging industry. Mostly, folks would post ads from different companies, or try a product sent to them for free. It was still, largely, just for hobbying folks who liked to write and share stuff. And then, everyone started specializing and monetizing: fan fiction sites (you can thank those for Fifty Shades of Grey), homesteading (you can learn about chicken inoculation, combating candida, AND aquaponics in one site!) and, most insidious of all, the lifestyle blog. Through good lighting, macro shots, and shabby chic-style props and templates, these lifestyle blogs made us alternately inspired and depressed by these women’s gluten-free, vegetarian, made-from-scratch lifestyles. Ugh. Like I don’t have enough inadequacy in my life.

Not to knock anybody, because I’ve definitely visited and deployed many a organizational strategy and recipe, but it’s definitely an industry now. Each of these women are selling their own brand of perfection, hoping to be the next Pioneer Woman or Oh, She Glows green monster movement founder (c’mon guys, it’s just a damn smoothie!). Each blog post is lovingly crafted to give you, J. Peterman-style, a narrative about why this smoothie/baked good/pasta sauce/craft came into being, often involving a cutesy story about their kid or significant other. Puke. Perhaps this critique says more about me than them. Hmm.

One day, after working myself into a lather visiting site after site researching the Perfect Cookie, what I realized is what those stories are actually telling me: cookies are comfort and love that you can give to people. When someone gives you a cookie, you say and think, “Thanks.” Precise measurements are not needed for this interaction, and neither are fancy ingredients. Plus, if you’ve been to my house, you know that we’re usually missing half the ingredients, making any attempt at precision moot.

So, I’m breaking down my favorite—shall we say “rustic”—cookie recipe, for when you have more love than raw ingredients.
-2 cups, chocolate. You can do chips (we buy in bulk), nibs, chopped up chunks. If you want, you can substitute with raisins or fruit. I hope you don’t want.
-3 cups, oatmeal. I use oatmeal because I like my cookies like I like my thighs: thick, but healthy. I don’t make a distinction of quick or steal cut. If you think they are too hard, you can always soften them up in a tiny (like ½ cup) bit of milk, simmered on the stove for a few minutes.
-1/2 to 1 cup, flour. I usually just grind up the oatmeal. It’s just easier, and then I can feel superior about gluten-free cookies. I like a chunky cookie, so to me the flour just helps things stick together, and smoothes out the rough edges—civilizes the cookie, so to speak.

-1/2 teaspoon, baking soda or baking powder. There’s some kind of science going on here. Just one of them is fine.

-Binder. This can be: 1 egg, 1 mashed banana, some soaked chia seeds. If you cooked your oatmeal on the stove, you don’t need a binder.
-1 ½ cups, nuts. I like walnuts or pecans. Peanuts are ok. Almonds can be hard to chew, unless they’re slivered or sliced. I like when there is more chocolate than nuts.
-1/2 cup, melted butter or coconut oil. Anything but sesame or olive oil. I don’t like them too wet, but if you do, you can add more.
-1/4 to ½ cup, sweetness. Sugar, honey, maple syrup. I don’t know about the fancy stuff: stevia, agave. If you are using fancy natural sweetener, then this recipe is too easy for you.
-1/2 to 1 teaspoon, niceties. These include: cinnamon, chili, vanilla extract, almond extract—those little, personal touches that your family friends note and remember, ala, “Oh, Clarissa—she used to make these great cookies, with just a hint of curry.” Or whatever.
-pinch of salt

Dry ingredients in a bowl and stir.

Wet ingredients and stir. Toppings and stir. Oven at 375F. Bake 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven’s temperament. You can make 36 small cookies, 20 decent cookies, or two pans that you can cut into bars. Or eat whole. I’m not here to judge.

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