Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Grandpas are Nice*: Toasted Walnut Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

*Or what happens when you Google "oatmeal, butterscotch, walnut"

I have a thing for old men: grumpy, dirty, or otherwise. Butterscotch reminds me of them and, more specifically, grandfathers. I've been lucky enough to have 4, though I've only known 3 (my paternal grandfather died when Dad was 17, but that's a story for another time).

My maternal grandfather was a barrel-chested, tall, jolly sort. When not in the yard making slip-and-slides out of tarp and cinder blocks for his older grandchildren, he was in the woodshop making toys for the younger ones. Though he bore no physical resemblance to one, I will always associate him with the Muppets; he often fell asleep on the living room floor--feet up on the davenport--while watching Sesame Street. I used to do my homework in the kitchen; his snoring adding a little something to the sing-a-longs. I think he smelled like butterscotch.

Grandpa Bob, my stepmom's dad, was similarly jovial and kind. And better still, generous with the butterscotch candies he kept in his pants-pocket.

Dick married my paternal grandmother before I was born. He had a tough act to follow and though we always knew he was not our "real" grandfather, he surely acted the part: silly jokes, awkward tickles, stories about nothing. A kindly chap who liked a bit of cribbage and a bit of booze. Nothing wrong with that.

Toasted Walnut Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
*1 c all purp flour
*1 teas baking powder
*3/8 teas baking soda
*1/2 teas salt
*3/8 teas grated nutmeg
*Tiny pinch teaspoon allspice
*8 T butter, room temperature
*1/2 c brown sugar, packed
*1/4 c gran sugar
*1 egg
*1 1/4 teas vanilla
*3/4 c rolled oats
*1 c butterscotch chips
*1/3 c chopped walnuts, toasted and cooled
*1/2 c coconut

*I doubled the recipe and added toasted coconut. To toast the walnuts and coconut, set oven to 400F. Spread walnuts and coconut on pan with 1+" sides. Bake for 5 minutes, check, stir, etc. You want the coconut brown, but not too dark. Let cool before adding to cookie dough.

-Preheat oven to 375F.
-In small-medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and allspice.
-In mixing bowl, beat butter on HIGH 'til smooth. Add brown sugar, beat until incorporated before adding granulated sugar. Beat 'til combined. Add egg, then vanilla.
-Add the flour in two additions, beating on LOW-MED each time, until combined. Scrape the bowl with spatula.
-Add oats, then butterscotch chips, and toasted walnuts and coconut.

-Drop on cookie sheet, 3" apart.
-Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until brown on the edges.

The finished cookie, both salty and sweet, was washed down with a glass of milk. It was almost as good as the best awkward tickle/hug my grandpas ever gave me. Definitely as good as, or better than, a Werther's.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Drool Variations: Lemon Sandwich Cookies, Version 1

Lemon Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

To celebrate all things summer, including my homecoming, my family decided to get together and gluttonously gorge on all things Wisco: brats, pasta salad, corn on the cob, fresh blackcaps atop ice cream, milk, beer, cheese, etc. This was to make sure I gained my winter weight, to show what NY lacks, and to remind me that home is only a short plane, train, or tractor ride away. It was a delicious and successful feast! My contribution is below.

I like lemon. A lot. Because I hadn't *yet* posted my Lemon Sandwich Cookie recipe (sorry Caroline!), I had to scrounge the internet for one to make for the family. Lo and behold, I found Martha Stewart's. It's a good thing.

Martha Stewart's Lemon Sandwich Cookie
*2 sticks butter, softened
*1 c powdered sugar
*1 T grated lemon zest (approx 1 lemon)
*1/2 teas salt
*2 c all purp flour (plus more for rolling)
*2 T gran sugar, for sprinkling
*Creamy Lemon Filling

--Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat on HIGH, in large bowl, butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest and salt 'til combined. On LOW, add flour. Finish with wooden spoon; dough will be stiff.
--Place dough on piece of plastic wrap. Shape into disk about 1/2" thick. Wrap, chill for 1 hour, 'til firm.
--Unwrap dough. Place on lightly floured surface. With lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to 1/8" thick.
--Cut cookies with 1 1/2" round cutter. I used a shot class). Reroll scraps, chilling if necessary. Place 1" apart on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake 'til beginning to brown; 12-15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack.
--Using CREAMY LEMON FILLING (see below) make sandwiches, sugared sides facing out. Gently squeeze.

Creamy Lemon Filling

* 1-4oz pkg cream cheese, room temperature
* 1 T finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
* 1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

--Mix cream cheese and zest until smooth, in small bowl. Slowly add 1 c powdered sugar, mixing 'til smooth. Desired texture: firm, yet spreadable. I also added a little big of lemon juice.

Though my family liked them, I thought the texture was too delicate (because of the powdered sugar and lack of eggs in the dough) and the flavor too cream cheesy. I like more lemony snisket.

Shout Out: New Glarus Brewing Company's Dancing Man Wheat beer: yum! Though I don't think the cinnamon would pair well with the eating of the cookie, the beer was nice accompaniment to the baking of the cookie.

Home Fries: Foods Most Missed

Here's the first of many posts about my favorite midwestern flavors. Woot!

Culver's ButterBurger
It has butter in the name. What's not to like?

Root Beer or Orange Cream Soda: so good!

Pearson's Nut Rolls
I like these as much for the memories--finding them between the dusty, concrete-caked seats of Dad's ginormous pick-up, like buried treasure, when he'd take me on jobs--as the flavor. The peanuts are usually made stale by the cream in the middle, but I still love 'em.

Babcock Ice Cream
Memories and flavor. In addition to being a campus that serves beer at its student union, UW has its own dairy lab that makes ice cream and cheese. It's delicious: creamy, not cloyingly sweet. Union Utopia is vanilla ice cream with swirls of peanut butter, caramel and chocolate. It's my favorite!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Last Supper Festival: Call to Creators

Greetings Creators,

It's officially Last Supper season! Incubate, Roast, and Ready your creative juices for 5th annual Last Supper Festival. This year's salon of ideas will bigger and better than ever, with an excellent cast of projects/planners/curators, pre-Season events (upcoming fundraiser, symposium), and more community interaction. Spark conversation, engage in critical analysis, gain exposure to a diverse audience, and enjoy your work in the context of other media by submitting your emerging projects to the 2009 call.
Submission Deadline: August 21, 2009
Submission forms available for download at:
For more information:

The Last Supper is a multimedia, project-based collaborative festival that addresses the act of consumption. Viewing the creative process as a cyclical, communally interactive conversation between media, it is a non-profit benefit event for the Food Bank of New York City. The Last Supper is an indoor-outdoor salon of ideas occurring in NYC during the crux of seasonal change at the end of September. As a feast for the senses and a symposium of genres, the gathering kindles the creative miasma infused by the city’s autumnal shift, harvesting the cornucopia of media in our own backyard and sparking an atmosphere for open dialog and collaboration. Short films and works from emerging directors and artists, edible installations from creative culinarians, performance, design projects, writing and music from several local bands and DJ’s will grace the dinner table. Each year, the show sparks dialog about consumption by curating projects based on a theme of global and local import. This year, more than 50 creators and volunteers will discuss ideas about “Means” with an audience of peers to evaluate our state of consumption. The decay of Summer and the emergence of Winter will be celebrated at the Fifth annual Last Supper.

Curatorial Theme: Means

In an atmosphere of political and economic crisis, along with dwindling resources, our precarious societal climate demands a review of the way we consume locally and globally. An artist’s resource, whether medium, message, or muse, is the voice of its cultural language. Creating is making something from nothing. Consuming, like all laws of matter, transforms the states of products. As creators, we must cherish this cyclical process and consider its affect. Repurposing traditional practice to our contemporary needs and desires has become vital to both aesthetic and functional life. Whether in the form of urban victory gardens, reclaimed handmade objects as art and design, DIY techniques, prevailing independent films and bands, the self-sustaining artist is a simultaneously complex, imperfect, and idyllic model for contemporary life. The Last Supper’s 2009 salon is the creative dialog about consumption where Means as motive, economy of Means, ways and Means, and Means of production are all tools for storytelling.

What began four years ago as an intimate word-of-mouth dinner party in a small backyard has evolved organically into what is known today as The Last Supper Festival. The event, which falls in late September--thus symbolically marking a change of seasons--is a multimedia experience that challenges the traditional methods of exhibiting and viewing artwork. Instead of singular artistic moments, the festival presents, in concert--just as it unknowingly did at the original backyard dinner party--a range of artistic mediums from local emerging talent including visual art, culinary art, film, performance and music--ie: a stimulation of all five senses. This unique approach to curation blurs the defined creative boundaries, thereby facilitating an exchange and connection between various artists, communities and audiences.

"..a feast for all five senses that will likely leave you with an unbuttoned fly." -Village Voice
"Will edible art give ‘artsy fartsy’ a new meaning?" -NY Magazine

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wisco Disco: Farmer Tan and Farmers' Markets

My hometown has 1000 people in it and looks something like this:

As the crow flies, it's an hour or two from where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average." In Spring Valley, all the women are unassuming, the men soft-spoken, and the children blond.

Farmstock on both sides, Sara, Brent and I spent our childhoods with skinned knees, scarred chins, and dirty fingers. Going home now is no different. After gamboling through the Minneapolis Farmers' Market, Sara and I planted apple trees, laughing at the idea of bagged manure, in her backyard.

Cultivation--whether trees or souls--is a magical process. Much like baking, it requires care, a few simple ingredients, wonder, a little bit of luck, calloused hands...and time. At home, time passes differently; life is measured in seasons not seconds and the adventure is more important than the destination. Every so often, I need to be reminded of that.

These lessons are best learned over a rustic feast: fried red potatoes with fresh sage, mixed green salad with strawberries and balsamic vinegar dressing, tender cherries, turgid plums, and leftover Thai. We followed it with a variation of my favorite dessert: vanilla ice cream with fresh berries and Grape Nuts sprinkled on top. (Mom is a hippy-sort who didn't let us eat store-bought sweets. Grape Nuts were our Magic Shell). It's also good with pure maple syrup in place of the berries.

Below, please find a photo essay of our adventures.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ButterSuite Delivers: Coming Soon to a Kitchen Near You!*

*If your kitchen is in the 5 boroughs: WOOT!

Hello Friends!
For as long as I can remember (Madison peeps can attest to this), I've been giving away baked goods. While collaborating on SweetTooth it was clear that my heart was in the sharing and caring as much as the baking and making. So, it is joyfully that I announce my plans for belligerent kindness: Watch out world! Here I come with sweet treats and hugs!

For a small fee, you can enjoy some of my tasty morsels. In exchange, I get the pleasure of making strangers smile (one of my very favorite things ever)!

Click to enlarge the menu below. Details, logo, and photos forthcoming.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sticky Fingers: Upside Down Apple Cinnamon Muffins

What started as an attempt to use up yogurt, honey, and apples before a trip home ended up as it so often does in my kitchen: a delightfully sticky-fingered mess.

It began with the honey.

I have the worst/best luck with sticky things. Once I knocked over a jar of molasses, with the lid unscrewed, in the cupboard above my sink. I didn't notice until doing the dishes, when the brown plop-plop-plop of molasses slowly drip-dropping into the dish water made me think I was in a Korean horror movie: EEK! This time, the plastic honey-bear had cracked, oozing its contents all over my baking cupboard. Hence the plastic (sleeping?) bag this bear finds itself wrapped up in.

Upside Down Apple Cinnamon Muffins
4 Tables sugar
1 teas gr cinnamon
2 apples, chopped (peels optional)
2 Tables honey
1 1/2 c all purp flour
1/2 c sugar
2 1/2 teas baking powder
1/4 teas salt
2/3 c lowfat yogurt
1/4 c butter, melted
3 Tables skim milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

*Mix the 4 Tables sugar with the cinnamon. Set aside.
*Grease/spray 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle less than 1 teas cinnamon-sugar into each cup (I used about 1/2-2/3 teas in each). There will be some left over.

*Mix chopped apple with honey. Divide equally among muffin cups.

*Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium-sized bowl. Put well in center.
*In another bowl, mix wet ingredients.
*Add wet into dry, mixing only until combined. It will be very thick.
*Spoon muffin batter into each muffin cup, about 1 Tables per cup. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Put another layer of batter on top. Then finish with the remaining cinnamon-sugar. I added a pecan for good measure.

*Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
*Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning upside down on a wire rack.

The apples are tart, the honey doesn't oversweeten them, and the muffin texture is not too dense nor too cakey: damn fine muffin!

Now I need to figure out how to unload 12 muffins in 24 hours...Woot!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Last Supper / Call for Lady Bakers and Domestic Damsels

Last fall, Tracy and I (as Sweet Tooth of the Tiger) participated in The Last Supper as food artists. It was pretty neat to take part in a gustatory gesamtkuntswerk: a feast for the eyes, ears, tastebuds, and more!

Coralina and I are collaborating in two ways in 2009: Wahoo! First, I'll be working as Community Development Planner/Liaison, enhancing the educational (for all ages) components of the festival, while reaching out to emerging artists. Look forward to updates about upcoming events and fundraisers! Yay!

Second, and equally exciting, I'm working on a piece for the show/catalog/website that combines my intellectual and baking pursuits, while simultaneously telling stories, probably in video/essay format. Because much of my academic work has focused on performance (cabaret/burlesque and pornography in undergrad, disabled dance performance in grad) and has been heavily informed by Judith Butler's notions of gender performance (and the resistance possible in each performative iteration), I've wondered about the cultural meaning in the resurgence of lady bakers and lady crafters (quilters, knitters, etc): Are these activities simultaneously feminine and feminist? How can this re-domestication be theorized as feminist art and labor practice? Are these practices always already gendered?

I look forward to finding out :)