Pineapple Oatmeal Cookies

A few weeks ago I wanted to make some cookies and was exploring different options to make.  I’m in the process of planning this year’s Rett syndrome fundraiser and was looking through some cookbooks.  I decided to explore the family cookbook and was different options for recipes and came across one from Sister Francois, my great-aunt.  I only remember meeting Sister Francois a couple of times.  However, her skills as a fantastic baker continue to live on in both family lore and reality.  In looking at the family tree in the beginning of the book, it appears she passed away when I was about 7 years old.  I remember when I was younger going to visit Sister Francois and everyone sharing stories about her baking skills.  There are several cookie, cake, and bar recipes in the cookbook which originate from her.  I also know that at one point when I went to see her I came home and decided I would become a nun, because at my young age, I believed that one had to be nun to bake like she did.  For several reasons, I have begun to know that this is not the case and decided not to become a nun.  However, this doesn’t stop me from trying her recipes every once in awhile.

On this occasion, I decided to go with Pineapple Oatmeal Cookies.  It sounded like a different kind of cookie recipe.  But as I’ve continued to look through old church cookbooks, I’ve found a lot of recipes for Pineapple Oatmeal cookies.  I’m still guessing that most people have not made them, or at least not made them recently.  Nonetheless, here’s the recipe:

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Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Also from the family cookbook, these cookies didn’t spread as much as I was expecting them to spread, so I think I added too much flour?  This recipe is from my Cousin Julie, who is a great cook and was my confirmation sponsor.  For now, here’s the recipe:

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1 ½ c sugar

1 c margarine or butter

1 egg

¼ c water

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ c flour

1/3 c cocoa

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

3 c quick cooking oatmeal

16 oz pkg chocolate chips

Mix sugar, butter, egg, water, and vanilla.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Drop dough by teaspoonsful on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake until no indentation remains when touched, 10-12 minutes.  Makes 5 ½ dozen.  Bake in 350 degree preheated oven.

Good Ketchup

Over the last several weeks, we kept getting tomatoes from our CSA.  I am not a big fan of tomatoes as they are, so instead, I have been freezing and saving for an ideal time to make ketchup.  And, one Sunday, while I was working on some other things around the house, I spent a few hours making ketchup.  It ended up tasting pretty decent.  I might make a few tweaks, and I think using yellow tomatoes made a big difference in making the tomatoes taste delicious.  I used the recipe from Canning for a New Generation, a great book for some inventive canning recipes.  The recipe is titled, “Good Ketchup” and I did not have any issues with this.  I’ve included my slight modifications in parantheses.

Good Ketchup

Makes about 4 Half-Pint Jars

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

7 pound tomatoes, chopped

½ c cider vinegar

½ c packed brown sugar or honey, or ½ c agave nectar (I used honey)

2 tsp pure kosher salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp ground cayenne

In a wide preserving pan (kettle), heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are very soft, about 30 minutes.  Pass the mixture through a strainer or a food mill fitted with the disk with the smallest holes to remove the seeds or puree the mixture in a blender in batches and then push it through a sieve (I used an immersion blender).

Rinse out the kettle and return the puree to the pan.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the solids from sticking at the bottom, until thick; this could take as long as 2 hours, depending on your patience and your need for thickness. (I used the full two hours.)  Taste, and add more vinegar or sugar as nece3ssary.

Ladle the hot ketchup into the jars, leaving ¼ inch head space at the top.  Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar.  Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, and boil for 20 minutes to process.  Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours.  After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately.  Label the sealed jars and store.

Italian Chocolate Almond Torte

Last week we had a dinner party for a speaker who came to campus.  There was a group of us who had gone through an intensive training with her previously, and so we decided to gather together for dinner the night before she spoke on campus.  I volunteered to bring dessert for the dinner party, as my supervisor was hosting the dinner and I was grateful to have such fantastic colleagues come together for the dinner.  Our speaker had a few dietary needs, being both gluten- and dairy-free.  This created some interesting challenges for me to consider in thinking about dessert.  I had started by looking online and while I quickly found lots of options using coconut flour or rice flour.  I decided to focus on something with all of the ingredients I had available or easily accessible in my small-town grocery store.  I came across this great recipe from the Pure Dessert cookbook by Alice Medrich.  I was anxious about using egg whites, but went to the small co-op we have in town and found some excellent chocolate bars and moved forward in making the Italian Chocolate-Almond Torte.  And it was delicious.  It will definitely go on my list of potential recipes for the future with the right group of individuals.

Italian Almond Chocolate Torte

Italian Chocolate-Almond Torte

1 cup (5 ounces) unblanched or blanched whole almonds
7 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 large egg whites (1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Powdered sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
Sweetened whipped cream for serving (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the sides of the springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the almonds. chocolate, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the salt in a food processor and pulse until the almonds and chocolate are very finely chopped but not completely pulverized. Set aside.

In the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand-held mixer and a large bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of tarter until soft, moist peaks are formed when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Add one-third of the nut mixture to the egg whites and fold in with a large rubber spatula until nearly incorporated. Fold in half of the remaining nuts, then fold in the rest of the nuts.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until the torte has risen and is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, or with a little melted chocolate, 25 to 30 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the bottom of the pan and then the parchment liner. Turn the cake right side up and cool completely. Cover or wrap tightly, and store for up to 3 days at room temperature.

To serve, transfer the cake to a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa, and serve slices with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.