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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]

Mmm, that was a nice evening, antidote to an obnoxious stressful day. Thanks, guys, for good mellow cheerful company, for tolerating my rushed cooking (and, in most cases, helping), for sparkling to the music when you thought I wasn't looking.
plantae and I are both attempting to transmit our memes: I gave digitalis, who would consume words alone were it only possible, brush and ink and rice paper, and Verdant is teaching k_crow to tat.
Autumn has gotten into my bones somehow, snuck in with the leaves caught in my hair, the midnight walks to scuffle though dried leaves under Friday's tiny orange crescent moon, the dancing with fall winds. I'm eating Autumn, acorn squash and yellow corn, eeyorerin's roasted rosemary potatoes, roasted chestnuts, pomegranates, Granny Smith and Gala apples. Tonight, gingerbread and cranberry bread, both of which, with help from any guests unfortunate enough to wander too close to the kitchen, turned out well. (Next week, something with apples, I think, a pie or a spiced cake)

Who asked me for the gingerbread recipe? They actually came out, so here it is.

There's a lot of spice in these cookies, so unless one's goal is snapshots of one's guests making Calvin's gargoyle face at a mouthful of cloves, one probably wants them to be spread pretty evenly. Wet and dry ingredients seperately, each well mixed. Combine, mix more, let sit plastic-wrapped on the counter to blend flavors and commune with the Great Ginger Spirit. That sort of thing. And I still had problems getting the mint to blend in properly.

Dry ingredients:
3 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
.75 teaspoon baking soda
.25 teaspon salt
1.75 teaspoons ground cinnamon
.5 teaspons ground cloves

    1 tablespoon spice to rule them all
    One spice to grind them
    One spice to blend them all
    And in the dough combine them

Er, uh, I mean, one tablespoon ground ginger. (Ginger, cinnamon, cloves- those are classic gingerbread spices; you could throw in something else if you wanted, between a quarter of a teaspoon and a teaspoon, depending on strength, though I don't recommend parsley, garlic, or chili powder. Not even "special" parsley. Trust me on that.) Dump it all in a bowl and stir a lot, until it looks pretty uniform - make sure you don't leave extra pockets of unmixed flour on sides or bottom of the bowl, again, unless you're president of the gargoyle-Calvin fan club.

Wet ingredients
6 tablespoons butter
.75 cup packed brown sugar
A medium or large egg

Moosh or beat until it looks pretty smooth. (If randomdreams has given you a mixer recently to protect himself from being co-opted to hand-whisk meringue, thank him silently --- it's a lot of mooshing by hand.) Next thing to add is molasses, which has very high viscosity. Besides making it awfully useful to explode tanks and drown Bostonites with, this makes it rather hard to mix things. Another cool thing about molasses, aside from, you know, exploding and destroying inch-thick steel, which is by far the coolest thing about molasses, is that it provides a lot of moisture to the cookies, and you need a lot less butter/oil.

.5 cup molasses
2 teaspons vanilla extract
1.25 teaspoons lemon zest, grated finely.
1 teaspoon mint extract

Lemon and mint are optional; they're there because I can't leave well enough alone. Lemon because I wanted to do a simple lemon-juice-and-confectioner's-sugar icing, and preferred the cookies to be in the same key. I think I'm the only one who noticed the lemon in the cookies, and I already knew it was there and am notorious for an overactive imagination. Add more if you want to be able to actually taste it. Mint because, well, I like mint. And I thought it provided an interesting chord - if ginger's tonic, cloves are a third and cinnamon a fifth, and mint a seventh - gives it color, makes it jazzy. If you don't grok music, ignore that metaphor. Mix those in really well. Do it better than I did - the cookies came out unevenly minty.

Mix the wet and dry halves. You might want to add them to eachother slowly, whatever works to get them evenly blended. It's easy to tell when you're done, though - the wet stuff is very dark and the flour mixture is nearly white, but the combination is a rich middling brown - little bits of either leftover are really easy to see.

Let them sit someplace at about room temperature. This slurs together flavors. Do at least an hour; I did about five, divided into managable pieces and plastic-wrapped. I wouldn't go more than six or so - it is unbaked cookie dough. Either refridgerate or roll thin and cut it after that. It's quite sticky and not very elastic; you'll want to sprinkle flour or confectioner's sugar on your workspace, the dough, rolling pin, cookie cutter, etc. You'll want to use a spatula to move cookies onto a greased cookie sheet. You'll want to swear a lot, and threaten to hit innocent passerby with the now-sticky spatula. You'll want to claim the gingerbread men are all mutated and warped as an anti-war protest, just like Goya, and who're you to argue with Goya, punk? Or maybe those last couple bits are just me.

Either way, bake at 375 for somewhere between 5 and twelve minutes, depending on size/thickness and how crisp you want them. Check them often. You probably want to bake them around nine minutes, until the edges are crisp and the insides are still chewy.

Then round up an appreciative audience. Good conversation skills and all-around coolness help. I recommend digitalis, plantae, runnerwolf, k_crow, sar_anon, vixyish, and gfish. But that might be just me.

(I'm an utter freak, but it occurs to me suddenly that vixyfish oughta be sugar - sweet (ew! kissing!), essential, and ever-present (well, at least one of 'em) at Compline/in dessert. Verdant to be vanilla extract - certainly improves things immensely, but it isn't immediately obvious how. The Unholy Trinity would have to be the ginger/cinnamon/cloves chord, of course (cinnamon to J, cloves to K, ginger to B), Jitta the offbeat mint, which is fitting - delightfully bizarre in all the right ways. Why do I think of these things? I blame how early in the morning it is. Thanks again for showing up, guys, it was really wonderful)

Note to nonlocals other than cow who requested cookies and gave me their addresses: I will send you cookies, but not from this batch, the rest of which will probably go to locals and locals-to-be (read: cow) who haven't had any yet. I'll let you know. And thanks for volunteering to give me excuses to bake more!

Also, special thanks to redfusion and eeyorerin for infecting me with the excessively-informal-recipe meme. Though I'm still giving measurements, unlike either of those most accomplished freaks.

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Current Music: nickelback - this is how you remind me