Bacon Fat Gingersnaps Recipe

Hey hey hey!  So I know that you all loved my recipe for vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream.  I took them to The Queens Kickshaw where I know they were appreciated, I ate a couple, and I know some of you went home and made this too.  This warms my heart to see such love being spread through baking, and gets me excited to, because I am working on Single Girl Cookies book!  Totally my own things, independent and not sold in any way, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now. I believe i mentioned it before, then got sidetracked with life.  A collection of anecdotes, things I’ve learned along the way, and of course – RECIPES!

Today I want to share with you a really unique recipe that a friend sent to me from the New York Times for gingersnaps, but gingersnaps that call for bacon fat instead of any other fat such as butter or shortening.  Based on a traditional Swedish recipe, these do remind me of Christmas, not only for the ginger part ala gingerbread men, but for the fact that the only time i eat bacon anymore is when I’m home with my family and we are all gathered for breakfast, like at Christmas.  In fact the bacon fat I used for this very batch came from the last time i was home and my mom cooked pounds and pounds of bacon for all of us.  The very first time I made these, I cooked pounds and pounds of bacon and probably ate a pound in the process.  Needless to say, I was a little sick and my apartment smelled like bacon for a week. That being said, these cookies were worth it.

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Bacon Fat Gingersnaps

3/4 cup bacon fat (It took me 2 lbs to get a full 3/4 cup)

1 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps baking soda (I might try less next time, like 1 1/2 tsps)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together, cover and put in fridge to chill for a few hours.  I left mine in all day while I was teaching voice lessons.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.  While that is preheating, take the dough and roll into tablespoon size chunks.  Put your extra sugar in a small bowl and roll your doughballs around in there until covered.  Put them on your cookies sheet approximately 2 inches apart.  The original recipe calls for parchment paper or a Silpat or something – I’ve never used anything and never had a problem. You can now choose to flatten them for a flatter, crispier cookie or leave them as balls (like I did this time) which resulted in a thicker, chewier cookie.  Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes.

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I like to dust mine with sugar (again) when I am finished, they just look so pretty that way.  Now share them with friends and neighbors and enjoy the love!

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Original recipe courtesy of the New York Times here.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

We are in the throes of lazy summer. You feel it, I know you do.  It’s that odd blend of New York feels at this point – it’s August and we’re all hot as hell, but starting to feel that bite in the air telling us that fall is right around the corner.  We say things like, “There’s still almost a month until Labor Day!” and rush around to try to cram as much summer in as we can.  But on those days off, I feel like just being lazy in my air conditioned apartment instead of being ambitious and going to the beach.  And because it’s August, most days I literally do not know what day it is.  Given a moment of thought, I can usually come up with the day, but date?  Forget about it.

What I can tell you is I’ve had a few really awesome days that my brain lumps together as one moment in time experience, starting with my cookie drop on Thursday.  I finally, FINALLY made it to Advanced Radiological Imaging on Astoria Blvd and 30th Street.  I thought they closed at 5, but when I got there at 4:55, there was a waiting room full of people, one person at the window, me, then another woman walked in with her (assumed) son right after me to check in.  So I’m waiting there for the person n front of me to finish up and just as she does and I get to the window, something inside me compels me to say “Uh, you know what?  I”m going to let this woman behind me go first.  She’s clearly a patient and I’m going to take a moment, so…” and let this other woman and her son (let’s just assume it’s her son and go with that) step up to the window.

Have you ever been in a situation where as it’s happening, you are a little incredulous and think, how this would’ve been different if I didn’t just make that choice?  Sure, we’ve all been there.  Well, i watched this and thought, “Good thing I let her go first.  This poor guy’s gonna need a cookie after she gets done.” This woman proceeded to step up to the window and give this guy the biggest Attitude, and I mean attitude with a capital ‘A’.  First off, she assumed the little information she gave him was enough to find her.  He asked for the proper paperwork and she balked.  He finally found her in their system and she said, “See, you had it there, you just had to look for it.”  Strike one.  Really strike two because she approached him with an attitude.

So the kind gentleman at the window proceeds to type at his keyboard and try to get her and her son registered when he asks, “Do you speak Spanish?”  Now, to be fair to him, this woman had an discernible accent and could have been from a number of backgrounds.  It was also in a part of the neighborhood that I know has a high Hispanic population, and maybe based on her name?  I don’t know, but given that there is a high percentage of New Yorkers that speak Spanish as their first language, or are fluent in both Spanish and English, I thought it was a fair question.  And having been on the customer service on of things before, I would bet my life his question was asked in an attempt to make her experience easier and more pleasant.  She clearly did not think so.

Upon hearing those ‘oh-so-foul’ words, she recoiled and said, “What is it your business is I speak Spanish??  I don’t speak Spanish!!  It’s none of your business!  What does it matter!  I don’t speak Spanish!!  That’s none of your business!”  As my eyes darted around the room, I could tell I was not the only one there that thought, 1. This reaction was a bit much, and 2. Whoa.  Crazy Lady.

Strike Three.

She and her son step away to fill out whatever paperwork in needed and I step up to the window, cookies in hand, big smile on my face, and eyes wide from what I’ve just seen.  “Hi!” I said, “I think I’ve come at just the right time.  I’m here to deliver these cookies to you!”  And so I began making a connection.

Being that it is a medical office afterall, I didn’t want to take too much of anyone’s time, but didn’t want to drop and dash.  I found out the kind man’s name is Eddie and we had a novel’s length conversation with just our eyes about what just went down.  I gave him my spiel, the other ladies behind the window seemed pretty excited about the cookies, and I left feeling like some actual good had been done.

As I made my way to the N train, the full weight of what just happened hit me.  I had just witnessed karma in all her glory work right in front of my eyes, and instantaneously.  What had prompted me to let that nasty woman go ahead of me?  And I’m pretty sure I truly made Eddie’s day because I was there with a plate of cookies after he was berated, restoring his faith in the kindness of fellow human beings.  He had done the right thing, was kind to her, and did his job well, and was, in a way, rewarded with cookies.  And as quickly as I had that previous thought, I thought, “Holy shit.  Karma can just as easily go the other way.”  I think I experience a lot of goodness in my life because I do good.  Not to say that bad things don’t still happen, and believe me, they do.  But I truly believe good things happen to good people.

I have to tell you, the rest of my interactions with people in the customer service side of things that day were stellar.  I mean, above and beyond amazing.  I think people can read and feel my positive energy and react positively to it.  You may think I’m nuts, but try it for a day.  i dare you.  You will be rewarded in ways you never imagined.

Does anybody really know what time it is?  Does it really matter?  As long as you are doing the right thing, making the good choices, and living your life as best you can, I don’t think it does.  For now, I’m continuing to move forward, taking it one day at a time, and in my immediate future, that means finding out where Advanced Radiological Imaging will send me.  Stay tuned…

The Hills Are Alive

….with the sound of cuuuuupcaaaaaaaakes!!!  (mmm,mm,mmmmm!)  I’m sitting here at work waiting for my next student, listening to the sounds of practicing through these old, thin walls, and wishing I had brought a cupcake with me – specifically one of the cupcakes I made on Sunday.  My beau, J, and I drove up to Westchester to visit some friends in their new home and celebrate with a ‘meat extravaganza’ that included ribeye, filet, short ribs, kielbasa, and sides of roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.  I had volunteered to provide dessert.

If you recall, this Sunday was truly beautiful.  The sun was shining, temperatures have started to creep up, giving us all hope that summer really is around the corner.  I had also come across the most perfect pint of strawberries atthe grocery store – you know the pint I’m walking about.  The one where all the berries are big, deep red in color, and their aroma is so strongly ‘strawberry’ that you know each bite is just as juicy as you hope it might be.  Maybe it was the berries, maybe it was the sun, but I set off home to whip up one of my favorites, Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

You might be wondering why I’m sharing all of this with you.  Well, as I thought about sharing those cupcakes with my friends, and watching them enjoy the fruits of my labors (hehe, get it?? I’m been super into bad puns and dad jokes lately. I blame J), I thought, “If only everybody could have one of these cupcakes!  I could do this for everyone!”  This is not dissimilar to the thoughts I had which led to my starting Single Girl Cookies.

I’ve decided it’s time for me to start sharing some recipes along the way with y’all!  Yes, I still have aspirations for a baking book, and yes, i am still ‘in process’ of getting Single Girl Cookies on a local shelf near you, but until that happens, why shouldn’t everybody share in the fun and deliciousness??

Now, I’m sorry to burst your bubbles folks, no, I will not be sharing my signature Single Girl Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (otherwise known as Heitmann Cookies to many of you), nor will I ever share that to anyone not blood related to me 🙂  Sorry, Future Husband!  Not even you.

This is my first time really writing out a recipe outside my own head, so forgive me if I skip a step or something doesn’t make sense.  Give me a shout and I’ll fix it right up.  Without further ado…..

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 3/4 tsp of baking powder
1/2 cup half and half
1 pint of strawberries

Frosting
2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
4 tbsp butter (half stick), softened
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 tsp lemon extract

First, take out the pans and dishes you store in the oven because, let’s face it, you live in NYC and have no space, then preheat to 350 degrees F.  Mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs.  Normally this is the part of the recipe that says mix together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, then mix that with the wet ingredients.  I have an aversion to doing the dishes, so I just dump the flour and baking power on top the wet ingredients in that bowl and mix it together that way.  Anything I can do to save myself from doing more dishes than I have to!

Chop all but 5 or 6 strawberries (you’ll use those later for a garnish) and add them to the batter.

Line your cupcake pan with papers, and fill each one about 3/4 of the way full.  It makes about 15, so you can put two pans in side by side, or just do a coupla rounds.  Leave them in for about 12-15 minutes, check the center for done-ness with a toothpick.  Every oven is different, yours may require the cupcakes to be in longer.

While they are baking, mix together all the ingredients for the frosting.  Please note, these measurements are all very approximate, haha.  Taste as you go along here, you may want to add a bit more lemon juice for tartness, or some more sugar to thicken up the texture.  Play around with it!

Frost your cupcakes, slice some strawberries for garnish on top, and voila!  Put your feet up, let someone else do the dishes for a change, and enjoy 🙂

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Come Together

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me give my roommate a shoutout or two.  She pretty great as a person, as a friend, and as a roommate.  With the exception of one, I’ve been extremely fortunate in the roommate department in my lifetime, and in NYC, that stuff matters.  Chances are, you share a smaller-than-the-average-American living space, kitchen, bathroom, and sometimes (thank GOD this is not me) even a bedroom.  You can escape the world (or your roommate) by closing your bedroom door, but who really wants to live within four walls?

I’m one of the lucky ones that doesn’t have to do that. My roommate and I talk, actually miss each other when one or the other goes out of town, and she has been an extraordinary supporter and helper of the Single Girl Cookies cause.  I love this girl!

We were talking the other day and as conversations do, one thing led to another, and she had the brilliant idea of doing a cookie  of the month club! (credit where credit is due)  The more we talked about it, the more excited I got at thinking of how awesome something like this could be.  It’d be a great way to further connect everyone in the community, we could all meet up once a month at a local coffee shop like Astoria Coffee, have some coffee, try something new and take home some cookies!  Wanna join the Single Girl Cookies Cookie of the Month Club?  Here’s how! (and some more details :))

Every first Sunday of the month, come and meet me (and my cookies) at the pre-designated coffee spot.  For $10 a month, you get a half dozen cookies on a real plate that you can add to your collection, or bring back next month for a refill.  Each month I’ll bake a different kind of cookie, and you only pay if you’re participating that month.  That way, if I announce I’ll be making oatmeal raisin next month and you hate that kind, come on down for the community, but pass on the cookies 🙂  Hopefully, I’ll be making something you like the next month, and you can come back and join us on the confectionery journey!

In order to have your plate ready for pick up that Sunday, I need an email request to singlegirlcookies@gmail.com by 9pm the Friday night before, and how many (half dozen/full dozen).  The first Sunday of the Single Girl Cookies Cookie of the Month Club will be this February 1st at 3pm.  I know what you must be thinking “That’s Superbowl Sunday!”, and indeed it is!  As a grand kick off, I will be holding a Superbowl/Single Girl Cookies Special of a dozen of my signature chocolate chip cookies for $15.  You can spend $15 on a crappy 6 pack and chips, or you can be the hero of your Superbowl party and bring delicious, homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Be the hero, spread the kindness of cookies 🙂

That’s about it!  I look forward to checking my inbox and I’m super excited to start meeting all of you face to face!