Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sixth Word: Dessert

dessert: c.1600, from M.Fr. dessert (mid-16c.) "last course," lit. "removal of what has been served," from desservir "clear the table," lit. "un-serve," from des- "remove, undo"

You will get the joke once I've told my stories. 

I grew up making Christmas cookies with my mom every December. There were at least five or six kinds. When you're a kid, you like the "cut-out cookies"; sugar cookies that you get to decorate with frostings of various colors and myriad kinds of sprinkles. You laugh when your sister shows you her one-eyed snowman or at the Santa who's only "wearing" undergarments. Snow-top cookies, Russian tea cakes, spritz, magic cookie bars, peanut-butter kisses. Cookies. 

Last year was my first year to attempt the Christmas cookie spree solo (Al and I had a place of our own then, remember?). All went well...I guess the snow-tops were a little hard...and I didn't add enough sugar. In my defense, the oven we had was a ruthless monster that gobbled up your fare as soon as you stopped paying attention. Running roughly 50 degrees hotter than the dial was set at, one had to keep a keen eye the little morsels lest they turn black. That doesn't explain the sugar though...

Something I can't blame on the oven, is something many of you have heard me tell of before. Alex's dad and I both love pie. So for one of our birthdays (can't remember), I decided to bake a cherry pie. My mom cans cherries every summer and I noticed that we had a jar of them in our pantry. I also had a few left over in the freezer. As I'm stirring the cherries on the stove, I add in the frozen ones and notice that they are a much brighter red than the ones that I was stirring. I figured it was either because they were frozen or that they were two different kinds of cherries. The mixture took a long time to thicken up and wasn't even that thick in the end. I poured them into my pie crust, made the top crust look all pretty, and carefully placed the pie into the oven. I watched that thing like a hawk. I was not going to bring a burnt pie to this party. Let me tell you, it looked beautiful. I carried it so carefully on my lap in the car and then into the Masons' house. 

I cut into the beauty after all the candles had been blown out and stuff oozed everywhere. Actually, "ooze" implies some form of coagulation. The thing was a mess. I cut Alex and me slices and we bit in. The flavor was pretty good. The crust was too, but...we kept crunching down on something every bite. Did the cherries still have their pits? It was so weird. I've never had a cherry pie crunch before. Realization dawned on Alex's face sure as the sun does each morning. The previous week he had gone to pick concord grapes at his friend's house and put a can of them in our pantry!

Well, to make a long year short, that was pretty much the end of my mess with baking. Then Edinburgh came. New country, new oven. Ok, nothing beats the grape pie story, but US-metric conversions aren't easy as pie (if you know what I mean). To sum up, milliliters and grams are NOT the same thing. Yes, you need to invest in a scale. No, you can't just eyeball it. I have ended up with several, paper-thin, mushy cookies (oh yea, add baking soda!).  So making cookies one day, the consistency of the dough was completely wrong because we didn't understand that 250g (1c) of butter and 300ml (probably less than 200g (2/3c)) of flour would make a soggy batch of cookies.  We had to add almost a half bag more of flour. But they turned out well. It was a big accomplishment figuring out that one :) 

So now, I'm sitting here smelling the wafting aroma of cinnamon and treacle (molasses, to you folk) as our cookies bake away in our perfectly-on-temperature-although-it's-in-Celsius oven. mmm...I can just taste them. 

Say What?

squidgy: squishy (although, to me it sounds a little denser than something squishy). Alex says, squidgy can also be "soft" as in a "squidgy neck pillow." See:

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