Sunday, September 21, 2014

When life gives you lemons -- you make cookies, obviously

I thought about blogging every day this week. Here's a microblog.

Monday: How good a dog owner am I? When Pippi and I went hiking in Caprock Canyons, I carried her after she got bitten by a couple of ants in the sensitive part of her paw. (She got bitten when I stopped us, on top of a large ant hill -- large is modifying the ant, not the anthill -- to figure out where the trail was.) This was the first time I regretted a big dog.

Tuesday: That dog is determined to eat all of my money. All of it, in the form of fence slats, my favorite pair of shoes -- that she pulled out from under my bed, I'm pretty sure to spite me -- and anything she can get her teeth on except for the minimum of 10 toys I've bought for her to chew.

Wednesday: First day at my new job! It went well, except I accidentally sort of dozed off in a meeting of all the communications people on campus. Fingers crossed nobody noticed. Then I went home at 5. I couldn't believe how much time being home by 5:15 gives me, even going to bed at 10 a.m.

Thursday: Ugh. 5 a.m. is early. Why am I getting up at 5 a.m.? Because if I don't work out in the morning, the odds are good I won't work out. And if I don't work out, the odds are really good that I will get fat, and the skin in the tricep area will get saggy and doughy and my vanity will literally never allow me to raise my arms again. (It's rough being maniacal about the shape of one particular body part. Sam knows what I'm talking about.)

Friday: OMG, it's raining again. I can't remember the last day it didn't rain. I love rain, and we're in a drought, and I'm not going to complain. So I'll just point out that it's raining again. Work was quietly productive. I have an office now, as does everybody else, and since every desk isn't in the common space it's really kind of quiet and stuff. I also mapped out my run for Saturday morning: 14.5 miles. I haven't got that far since that damn marathon two years ago that tried to kill me.

Saturday: Halfway through the run I made the *error* of realizing that I felt good and I could go a little extra. This seems like a good idea, except when you make that decision you're not tired, and when you pay for that decision at mile 15 you are very, very tired. Also, did I mention it was raining? For all 16 miles. Only 10 miles more and I have another damn marathon. (April. That gives me lots of time to panic and whine and eat cookies and run that damn 26.2 miles.)

Speaking of cookies ...

In what should come as a surprise to no one who's met me, I spend a lot of time on food blogs. I don't follow a lot of them, but at least twice a day I Google some recipe, so yeah, a lot of food blogs.

For the most part they're good, but for the love of sugar, why so many pictures? There are the bloggers who take pictures of every step -- butter and sugar uncreamed, butter and sugar creamed, eggs in, eggs mixed, half the flour in, etc, etc, etc. I really think I can successfully mix flour, baking powder and salt together without visual instructions.

But the other ones -- the ones who post 17 pictures of the finished cookies, all from minisculely different angles. Unless you're channeling Willy Wonka and I can lick my screen and taste the cookie, having to scroll through six pages of the same chocolate chip cookie does me no good.

Anyway, Sunday is cooking night at the Pipdi house. This recipe is a combination of my love of pretty food, the abundance of citrus in my fridge and the fact that, based on the price of milk and butter, dairy cows have become an endangered species. After Rachel made these delightful gingersnaps with oil instead of butter, I realized there is an exception to every rule, including the -always-use-butter-never-use-anything-else-in-cookies rule.*

Pretty food! Remember how I like pretty food? I do.
These cookies are citrusy, with just a little tang but still plenty sweet. They're rolled in granulated sugar; you could also try it with powdered sugar, like a chocolate crinkle, but granulated sugar is less messy and I think just works a little bit better. Plus, they're so pretty! 

So here you go: Chewy lemon-lime cookies, loosely adapted from this recipe.

Step 1: Have flour. It doesn't have to be Hungarian; I just found this in the store one day and since I can't be in Budapest, I will settle for Hungarian-style milled flour for now. I'm saving up for butter and my return trip to the fatherland.
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
Some salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Juice and zest from one lemon and one lime, separated
Green and yellow food coloring
Sugar for rolling out the dough

1. Mix the dry ingredients; set aside. Zest and juice the citrus. You can add a few drops of food coloring to each of the cups now, or wait and add it straight to the dough.
2. Whip oil and sugar. You're not going to get the creamy whippiness of butter. It's OK.
3. Add egg and vanilla and keep mixing.
4. Divide the dough in half. Add the lemon juice to one and the lime juice to the other. Add the food coloring if you haven't already.
5. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 350; line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease the pans.
7. To shape cookies, scoop up about a tablespoon of each dough and roll them into a ball, then roll in the sugar. 
8. Bake for about 10 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the pan for a minute or two, then put them on a cooling rack. These are going to be soft and look like they're not done. Roll with it.

These all look a little different. Some are yellow and green next to each other, some look kind of tie-dyed, on some one dough moved to the top. They're just really fun.

I wanted these to be a little more tangy -- a couple weeks ago I made lemon lime popcorn that tasted like sour Jolly Ranchers and it was delicious -- but you have to be careful with sour cookies, because cookies should not be sour. So I'm good with a nice tang but still lots of sugar.

Warning: Do not try this with sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies or basically any cookie where butter is a dominant flavor. Oil does not taste good. It works in gingersnaps because molasses overpowers everything. It works in these because the citrus is the major flavor -- although when I swap in my savings bond to buy butter, I might try these again. 

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