How To Torture An Oreo

A couple weeks ago I sponsored a contest at work, with the prize being a voucher good for one batch of baked goods of the bearer’s choice, made by me. I bake for the office once a week anyway, but I almost always bake what I feel like baking rather than taking specific requests. The voucher for baked goods seemed like a fun way to make something I was going to do anyway seem a little more special. I even made up a fancy-looking certificate for the occasion.

The contest came and went, the votes were tallied and the winner happened to be the person who is often most enthusiastic about the baked goods I bring to work. She didn’t know ahead of time that the prize was going to be MORE baked goods, so when I presented her with the certificate she was very excited indeed. Suggestions of key lime pie, peanut butter brownies and several other possibilities were bandied about, but in the end she decided she needed a few days to think about what she wanted.

A couple days later she sent me a link to a Pinterest page full of recipes of her prize choice: Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. I’m not a big Pinterest fan anyway (because gods know I don’t need yet another internet-based time suck in my life), and it seems like the number of cutesy Pinterest recipes that fail horrendously far outnumbers the ones that actually work. BUT…I said that I’d do the thing, so I was bound and determined to Do The Thing.

Several minutes of perusing the internet turned up quite a few non-Pinterest recipes, some of which weren’t even trying to be super cutesy, so I started to feel a little better about things. There were a couple that got all fancy with shit like browned butter and bourbon and whatever in the cookie dough…but fuck that. There’s no point in getting all artisanal when you’re taking the dough and mashing it around a mass-produced Oreo, in my opinion. Once I had that straight, things got a hell of a lot easier because it was a small logic hop from “I ain’t makin’ no fancy-ass cookie dough” to “hey, the grocery store has logs of pre-made cookie dough! I don’t have to make ANY dough at ALL!”

One quick trip to the grocery store later, I had procured a 2-lb log of chocolate chip cookie dough and a package of Double-Stuff Oreos. I preheated the oven, got my baking sheet lined with parchment, and commenced with what seemed like a quick and easy baking project.

And, to be fair, if it hadn’t been like 80 degrees in my kitchen before I even turned the oven on, things might have gone a little smoother.

The first couple were fine – I took  nice neat slices of cookie dough, flattened them out a little with my fingers and mushed them around the Oreos to cover them. There wasn’t much finesse required.  As the dough lost its chill things started to get messy, though. The chocolate chip cookie dough went from kind of Play-Doh consistency to…I don’t even know. Some kind of sticky, slimy, slippery goop. I had a total of four Oreos done at this point, by the way. It was like the light at the end of the cookie-making tunnel started speeding in the opposite direction. Feelings of desperation started to creep in.

Then, inspiration! I dug one of my flexible gel ice packs out of the freezer and put the log of dough on it for a few minutes. Things firmed up nicely and I was able to get on with the task at hand, though it was still slow going (that’s what she said? HAH). It ended up taking me almost forty minutes to wrap 15 Oreos in cookie dough.

Also, remember the part where I said I had bought TWO POUNDS of cookie dough? Yeah. I got 15 cookies out of that. I will admit that I probably ate two cookies’ worth while I was working (judge me all you want), but still, god damn. The label reckoned 1oz of dough per cookie, so I was using just over two cookies’ worth of dough to cover each Oreo. That means each one of these suckers is the caloric and sugar equivalent of THREE cookies. They should be called Diabetes Bombs.

All the recipes I looked at said to bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Maybe they like their cookies raw and impossible to move from the pan? I don’t know. Mine took like 20 minutes and they weren’t over-done by any means. Maybe my oven had just had enough at that point. Maybe it was like “this is ridiculous on SEVERAL LEVELS and I’m registering my disapproval by not coming up to the temperature you want. SO THERE.”

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Finished product. Note: this picture ticks almost every box on the “Things Not To Do In Your Food Blog Pictures” list. About the only thing it’s missing is a cockroach, or maybe a dildo sitting in the background. PS:If you’ve got a dildo hanging out in your kitchen, I kind of want to hang out with you. But I’ve also got questions. A LOT of questions.

People at work lost their minds over them, declared them amazing, and wanted the “recipe”. I found them to be just ok, even when I tried one warm right from the oven. At first I thought maybe it was because I had eaten too much cookie dough while I was making them and therefore I wasn’t finding them appealing (which was true), but I tried part of one later on and then part of another one this morning and…nope. Still not super into them. They’re cloyingly sweet, which I’ve never been a fan of, even in desserts. Manipulating the cookie dough a bunch doesn’t do it any favors texture-wise, either. It all just seemed like a whole lot of unnecessary torturing of some perfectly good Oreos.

In the end, the person I was making the cookies for was very happy with them though, and that’s what counts.

Supposedly.

The ADHD Baker

You know on all those cooking shows and food blogs where they’re like “MAKE SURE YOU READ THE ENTIRE RECIPE BEFORE STARTING”?

That’s because of people like me – people who find a recipe next to a picture of something they like the looks of and immediately run to the kitchen to start throwing things in a bowl, only to realize halfway through that the recipe says some bullshit like “now let this sit overnight”, or “cook on low heat for at least four hours” and it’s already like 8pm.

Or, halfway through throwing things in the bowl they realize, “fuck, this calls for a whole bunch of turmeric. I don’t have any frigging turmeric. What do I have that tastes LIKE turmeric? Nothing, basically, because turmeric tastes like dirt”.

That’s right, TURMERIC TASTES LIKE DIRT. I’m not saying I don’t like it or that you shouldn’t use it. I’m just saying it tastes like dirt and you know I’m right so cool your fucking jets and keep your pants on or whatever. Jeezis.

turmeric

Also, it kind of looks like cat turds. Who saw turmeric root and was like, “yes, good idea, let’s eat these bright orange dirt-tasting cat turds”?

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yes, recipes being a challenge.

So, with my brand of ADHD, I can have a recipe right in front of me, I can read through it 14 times, I can fully understand the gist of what I’m making and how to make it, I can look at where it says, “1 teaspoon of dirt-tasting turmeric”…and by the time I reach up into the cupboard for the turmeric, I’ve forgotten what the measurement was. Turmeric in hand, I’ll look again but the recipe will now say “3 teaspoons of dirt-tasting turmeric”, because my eyes are reading half of one line and half of another. I’ll think to myself “that seems like a lot, especially since turmeric basically just tastes like dirt”, look at the recipe again, and it will be back to 1 teaspoon and I’ll wonder if I’m hallucinating a tiny bit (possibly due to high turmeric intake).

I usually manage to side-step my brain’s attention shortcomings while cooking by having a strong culinary instinct to begin with (I come from a long line of good cooks), being creative, and keeping my sense of humor about sometimes-ugly-but-usually-still-tasty food.

That’s not really helpful with baking, though. With baking, measuring is important. Paying attention to how your dough acts is important. Not changing 14 things in the recipe on the fly IS IMPORTANT. You can be the second god damned coming of Picasso and have the best sense of humor on Earth but your cake is still going to come out like chocolate-colored sawdust if you don’t measure your flour properly.

I decided I wanted to start baking bread after watching a cooking documentary about fermentation and the history of fermented foods back in the late winter. I’ve long been a fan of fermented foods and I’m a keen believer that the bacteria living in our guts are probably one of the most crucial (and most overlooked) contributors to our overall health. Fermented bread, aka: sourdough, has a much lower glycemic impact than commercial yeast bread, it has more bio-available minerals and vitamins, the gluten proteins have been chemically altered by the bacteria in such a way that they become less inflammatory to the gut and more easy for the body to break down, plus probably a whole load of other happy horse shit.

Point being, I was sold on sourdough. I wanted to make some and it didn’t seem that hard. All you need, after all, is flour, water, salt and patience. Or, if not patience, at least a will to succeed. At least, that’s what a whole bunch of websites told me.

And they weren’t ENTIRELY wrong…but they left out a motherfucking TRUCKLOAD of details, it turns out. Like, temperature is almost as important as measuring your ingredients…and I’m not talking oven temperature, I’m talking ambient temperature in your kitchen from the time you start mixing your dough until the time you put it into the oven. Also, bread dough acts differently depending on the humidity level in your kitchen. Different types of flour (just wheat flour, mind you…I’m not subbing like, crystalized unicorn tears or anything) absorb different amounts of water depending on not only whether they’re whole grain or not, but also whether they’re winter wheat, spring wheat, red wheat, and apparently what fucking PHASE OF THE MOON THEY GERMINATED IN. I swear to god it’s like the most ridiculously convoluted thing ever. There’s actual note taking involved, people. COME ON. “It’s just flour, water and salt”, my ass.

But somehow, it works (usually). And I love it. And not just because I get to have delicious toast in the mornings or give away pretty loaves of bread to appreciative friends. I’ve found working with bread dough to be so…I don’t know, meditative, I guess. It has its own rhythm and once you start a batch, you’re just sort of along for the ride. Except you can’t just be the co-pilot who sleeps the whole ride because you have to be aware of what the dough is doing, how it’s progressing. You have to be ready to move it from one phase to the next, but not until the dough itself is ready. It’s kind of like a pet that is independent and likes to do its own thing but that is also a little bit derpy and needs you to keep an eye on them so they don’t like, chew on wires and stuff. That got weird, but I think you get my drift.

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It totally looks like a brain when you cut it in half. Complete with nuts even!

 

 

 

never again, grapes.

I bought some grapes while grocery shopping on Sunday.

It was a mistake.

The grapes themselves are fine – it’s me that’s the problem.

You know those awful memes you see on Facebook where someone buys a bag of grapes and then notices there’s a GIANT FUCKING SPIDER in the bag?

Yeah.

Those things haunt my dreams. I’ve always been vehemently anti-spider (or, anti-spiders-in-my-space, I should say. I have no problem with spiders who respect my personal boundaries), but those spider-in-the-grape-bag memes have fucking scarred me for life.

Except, I forget things a lot (due in large part to the inside of my head constantly being like a freshly shaken snow globe. The snow being thoughts, not cocaine. Just so we’re clear…ish…), so sometimes the things that have scarred me for life kind of take a little while to bubble back to the surface and become Big Fucking Issues…

…which is how I ended up with a 3-pound bag of grapes on my kitchen counter that I subsequently spent quite a lot of time eyeing suspiciously, examining for signs of movement and/or arachnid legs.

THEN I started thinking about how the grapes had been in the house long enough that any spider living in them had probably crawled out by now and made a home behind my fridge or something. MOTHER. FUCKERS. At that point I began contemplating the feasibility of nuking the entire site from orbit. But, nuking would have meant having to move in with my parents until we found a new place which, at 36 years old and newly bankrupt from having bought a nuclear weapon, seemed…less than ideal.

My husband finally saved the day (albeit unwittingly) by breaking into the bag of grapes and eating like half of them yesterday while I was at work. When I noticed he’d been eating them, I told him how I bought them and then couldn’t make myself put my hand in the bag because of the spiders and how the grapes were all too close to each other in the bag so I couldn’t see, like, AROUND the grapes enough to be sure that there wasn’t actually some kind of lethal (or at least super hairy) spider in there, and how I was relieved that he had finally eaten some so now I could see they were safe and eat some too, but also that I felt kind of guilty for thinking that because I didn’t purposefully WANT him to eat unsafe grapes but I appreciated that he (again, unwittingly) took one for the team. So to speak.

I think he probably stopped listening somewhere around “internet memes of spiders”, because he’s known me a really long time and that’s usually where things start going downhill quickly for me.

ANYWAY.

I managed to nut up and take some of the grapes to work with me for lunch today. They were OK, but they weren’t really worth all the mental turmoil they caused. I think I’ll stick with apples. Or pears. Fruit that I can see completely around and inspect thoroughly before consumption. And if any of you assholes send me memes about spider-infected apples, we’re done. DONE, you hear me?!

Also, side note to any Federal agents who may have been led to this site by Internet bot scanners (don’t lie, it’s a thing. I’m not paranoid, you’re paranoid) picking up the phrase “bought a nuclear weapon” , chillax. If I had that kind of money, I’d be in a secret bunker, covered in puppies, drinking high-end merlot through the longest twisty-straw I could find, and paying a group of scientists to come up with a coating for Cheetos that doesn’t stain your fingers. PRIORITIES, YO.

Mexican candy

The other day one of my co-workers sent an email out to the office saying that there was a bunch of Mexican candy in the kitchen if anyone wanted to try some.

My first thought was, “I wonder if that’s a euphemism for heroin”.

My second thought was, “That’s probably insensitive. Good thing I didn’t say it out loud”.

My third thought was, “Why am I still sitting here talking to myself when there’s free candy?”  And with that, I was off down the stairs like a shot.

Turns out co-worker was being extremely literal – it was actual candy from Mexico that a family member had sent him for Christmas. There were little chocolate chew things, some rolls of fruity gummy stuff, and these quite lovely caramel disc things that were sandwiched between Communion-esque wafers.

There were also some crazy peanut butter marzipan things that looked for all the world like peanut butter fudge, except that really they were just compressed powdered peanut butter and marzipan, so when you’d go to break a piece off it would crumble into a pile of delicious dust in your hand. I completely do not understand the logic.  If you want to sell tons of candy, shouldn’t you make it easy to consume, especially on the fly? There’s no way you could eat one of these peanut butter things on the go. You’d get covered with sugary peanut marzipan dust and everyone would look at you super weirdly when you sat there at a red light trying to lick all the delicious candy dust off you arms on the way home from work. And don’t even get me started on kids trying to eat a candy like this. No sane parent would ever let their kid into the house with loosely compressed clods of sugary peanut butter dust that disintegrate with merely a stern look. You’d be finding thin films of peanut butter dust on every surface for weeks. Which, I guess if no one is around to see you lick it up then you have nothing to worry about, but still.

Anyway. Back on track.

There was one other kind of candy in the pile. These things:

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Mmm, hot and salted. Two qualities I always look for in a candy. And life, really.

The description on the wrapper was so weird that I couldn’t resist it. Like a moth to a flame, I grabbed one and peeled back the wrapper. The texture was something like a less chewy version of fruit leather. I broke a little piece off the corner and sniffed it. Hmmm, raisin-y! I was super skeptical of the whole “hot and salted” thing advertised on the label, but in true How Bad Can It Go spirit, I popped it into my mouth anyway.

At first taste, I was screwing my face up and saying I didn’t like it. It was sour and weirdly salty and sweet all at the same time (though I didn’t get any heat from the chile in it at all, and usually I’m overly sensitive to chiles). I totally wasn’t into it. I didn’t spit it out, but I set the candy aside and kept kind of side-eyeing it suspiciously for a while.

However, not one to be bested by a confection, Mexican or otherwise, I eventually broke off another little piece and tried it again.

And now, I might be addicted. These things are bizarrely delicious. There’s something about the sweet-salty-sour combination that ends up giving the impression of savoriness. I mean, it’s not like eating a piece of steak type savory, but all the flavors end up balancing each other out and it’s just…good.

Weird.

But good.

(Like me! Heh.)