When I first started thinking about this blog, I really only knew one thing. I didn’t want it to be a cooking blog.
There are a number of reasons I was firm about this decision. First, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of a kajillion cooking blogs. Second, I have lots of interests and didn’t want to limit myself to only one. Finally — and most importantly — I am only an average cook. Somehow I didn’t see a committed audience for a blog entitled Pretty Average Recipes from a Mediocre Cook.
Having said this, I feel I need to add that I really do like to cook and bake. I particularly love to prepare food for big gatherings of family and friends. And I love, love, love to cook with my grandkids. And I do so very often. In fact, my grandkids — mostly Addie — sporadically contribute to this blog in posts called Kids’ Whimsical Cooking. (As an aside, I considered calling those posts Cooking Kids until my grandson Alastair pointed out the macabre potential of that particular name. Being 9, he reminds me of it often.)
Anyway, I must confess to something that happened to me last week that reminded me that it’s a good thing I don’t have to make my living from a cooking blog.
Mylee was visiting, but was preoccupied with some sort of game that involved Legos and Play Doh. I decided to make a batch of shortbread cookies. They are easy to make and delicious. How can you go wrong with a cookie made of simply flour, sugar, butter, and vanilla?
So, as Mylee played with her Legos, I happily placed the ingredients in the bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer and turned it on. It generally takes between 30 seconds and a minute for the ingredients to come together in the bowl. This time, however, I mixed and mixed and the dough simply wouldn’t come together. I added a bit of water, but that didn’t work. After listening to her Nana mutter and complain for a bit, Mylee, who is 4, finally came over and said, “What are you doing, Nana? Can I help?”
I told her I was making cookies, but that it wasn’t working. “Why not, Nana?”
I told her I didn’t know what was wrong because I had made these cookies many times and they had always worked.
By this time she had pulled up a chair and was standing on it and peering into the bowl, studying it intently.
“Maybe you need to add more butter,” she said.
“No, I added enough butter,” I assured her.
Still, the dough simply wouldn’t gather. But I dumped the crumbs onto a sheet of waxed paper and put it into the fridge. I don’t know what magical thing I thought would happen.
About an hour later, I was sitting with Mylee in the family room as she watched a Christmas movie. Suddenly out of nowhere, the answer as to why my dough wouldn’t come together sprang into my head like the clown jumping out of the Jack in the Box.
And do you know what the answer was? I didn’t add enough butter.
Instead of adding 3/4 POUND of butter (three sticks) as the recipe calls for, I added 3/4 CUP of butter (a stick and a half).
It turns out Mylee was exactly right. I added the necessary amount of butter, and like magic, my dough came together. I’m convinced it was a lucky guess on her part.
Here is the delicious recipe for Shortbread Cookies.
Nana’s Notes: Remember, it’s 3/4 LB. and not 3/4 CUP. Also, don’t leave the dough in the fridge more than 30 minutes or it will be difficult to work. Finally, it’s the one recipe where I will tell you that it really is beneficial to have a Kitchen Aid mixer. If not, you will just have to press the dough into the pan.