Monday, December 20, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies (no molasses!)

I dunno about you, but I love gingerbread at this time of year. It's a time honored tradition, a classic that must be honored. Admittedly, when I say 'honored' it should be literally translated as 'bought'. As in, I don't make it; I just eat it. But not this year.*

Ya wanna know what holds me back (aside from general apathy and all around laziness)? It's the lack of molasses. Yup, you heard me. One ingredient. Is it hard to find? Expensive? Short shelf life? No, nope and uhn-uh. I just have no desire to traipse in the snow to the local Wal-marts (the added 's' is in honor of my dear departed Grandma) for the one ingredient I know I won't use again until a full year later. Oh, and that's traipsing in the snow, 5 miles, uphill both ways (this one courtesy of my Dad.)

So, I've officially declared this a molasses-free zone. Unless, some stray friend or loved one happens to accidentally abandon theirs.

Anyhoo, I finally did it. I hunted down a recipe that's gingerbread with no obvious use of molasses (I say obvious cuz it does call for brown sugar which is widely known to contain, yep you know it, molasses.)- and by obvious, I mean 'mentioned as an ingredient by name'. So, this is a shout out and a rescue mission to all those, molasses-impaired peeps.

1 small (3.5 ounce) package cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 cup butter (softened is always the recommendation unless otherwise noted)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (we used dark brown)
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream together dry butterscotch pudding mix, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon; stir into the pudding mixture. Cover, and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease baking sheets. On a floured board, roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness, and cut into man shapes using a cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. For glittery goodness, sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake for 10-12 min(large cookies), 5-8 min (small) in preheated oven, until cookies are golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks.

Don't get overexcited tho folks, this makes a family-sized portion only (read: small-ish). You may want to double it if you intend to share. Me, not so much.

* Full confession? Maybe still this year since technically I may not have made them, yet again. Technically, maybe Gigs mixed, rolled and baked. But, perhaps I can take credit since I did rescue them from the oven. O, and I did eat of them and love them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daring in Dallas

Has it really been a near year since my last post?? What can I say? I'm slacktastic, and I'm not apologizing. (Miracles do happen.) I spose'd I should break the compositional drought, mostly so I can take another sabbatical immediately following this one. Kind of like working between vacations. And, since we are on a type of vacation (which sadly seems to include work) the indexing of it seemed necessary and appropriate. You know as proof. And for the Alzheimer YeaRs tO coMe (it seems irreverent, I know, but it runs in the family).

We are in Dallas.*

We're trying to make the most of it, since it'll be a 3 month+ stint. If we gotta be here, might as well be happy about it. So, I've been doing my research- you can always graduate the student, but ... o, what am I saying? I was always this way. Thanks, mom.

So far, we've seen the:
Dallas aquarium (small, pricey, but interesting- they had live mayan dancers. I know- the live part is what got us too.)
Architectural tour of Dallas (I.M. Pei made a lot of moolah designing buildings here.)
Dallas Art museum (Way more fun if you do the cassette tour and recreate in living color- human still life. Some of you may need a stiff drink to relax enough for this kind of fun. That's a byo whiskey alert; the museum does not provide. You're welcome.)
Farmers market (Don't eat before you go- they'll see your pinched face staring wistfully at the fruit, and, voilá! You are full.)
City Hall (I.M. Pei. Enough said.)
Dallas City Library (But only the outside, apparently librarians get Monday off too. Dang government jobs. Or, er, state job? Should I cuss city jobs?? Anyway...)
Fort Worth Stockyards (Sadly, we missed the actual cattle drive due to an incessant chatterbox who couldn't bear to part with the phone. No, not me. Surprisingly, no, not Gigs either. Ding, ding,ding. Yep, it was Leroy, Dang it! Was sooo bummed- missed it by an inch- the dust was still settling and the herdsmen yet lingered. But, was there a sign of prime rib? Well yes, actually, there was one a little up the road- the faux wood kind, a lá Wild West, swinging in the wind. I digress...)
Downtown Fort Worth (It counts. I'm counting it- it was a separate trip from the first!)
San Antonio Riverwalk (Ok. no joke. Listen up: i. Love. the. riverwalk. Take the boat ride- it's way less than a stupid venetian gondola (still bitter about not taming one. At least we have the water taxi's.), and there's still singing. Well, it does fade in and out- we pass by an amphitheater with paid professionals of the singing sort. Of course, Gigs and Bubs both did the Simon Cowell. It takes a lot more to impress them than some silly singing yokels.)
Austin (unimpressed. Nothing more to say. Well, it could be becuase the Goveror's mansion, the one we kept circling like vultures around long dead prey, was entirely covered in scaffolding. so much so, that we couldn't see it from across the street. O, and everything noteworthy was closed. It was New Years Day. We did some perfunctory outlet haunting on the way back- there were several large villages of them.We had to stop; they were uselessly irresistible- useless in that we got not one thing. >sigh< We had just had Christmas.)
Well. That's all she wrote, folks. Oh, unless you want to number the countless and enormous malls they have here. All but one of which we've visited. Purely in a sightseeing, cover all the jots and tittles way, if you wanna know.

We have plans for the Fort Worth zoo (reportedly superior to Dallas') and the Log Cabin Village and mini railroad, Nature/ScienceChildren's museum (it's an all for one, since they reside together in the same building), and the Fossil Rim Conservation Center, a petting zoo on steroids since you can feed the deer, rhinos and giraffes, etc. that live there.

Speaking of feed, we have found a human feed store of note (we've now 'fed' there 3x's): Eatzi's Market and Bakery. Oh, the yeasty aroma of the fresh baked artisan bread! Gourmet sandwiches made to order! Mile high lasagna! Big as your fist Shrimp! The fresh imaginings of the on-site chef! Tantalizing sweet treats- morsels of Olympian delight. A taste symphony! Meanwhile, a joyous Marriage of Figaro cavorts about in the background coercing the customer into triple the consumption intended; we left heavier of stomach, lighter of purse, but giddier of manner, and completely satiated. But, I digest. I mean... uh, I need to run a quick errand.

*Pictures to follow.