November 12, 2007

TREAT!

So we have this traditional "one-bite" rule in our house; no one gets up from the table without tasting at least one bite of everything available for dinner. (For some reason, the issue doesn't come up at lunch (and breakfast is the same everyday; fortunately, we got the girls hooked on oatmeal very early on.)) Trouble is, we have smart children. Although we try to have something we know they'll eat (veggies and bread are generally safe), sometimes, one--mostly Laura--will compliantly have her one-bites and then get down. And then ask for food just before bed, being (unsurprisingly) hungry.

This drove us a little nuts, especially because it's hard to eat cooked veggies on your way down a set of stairs. So, inevitably, her request would be for something starchy like bread or bagel or crackers....all of which are okay, but not as your only diet for dinner.

Clever Matt borrowed an idea he's seen in action at some of our friends: the after-dinner treat, a.k.a.....dessert.

So, the new rule has become: little girls who aren't hungry enough to eat a reasonably good dinner, aren't hungry enough to have a treat afterwards (I like that sell better than "no eat, no treat"...it's just a little less like making food a "reward"...or so I tell myself.). And we make sure that the treats are *awesome* (at least to inexperienced little girls.) It's working out pretty well, at least from the perspective of getting those veggies down the hatch and not having to have either midnight snacks or insanely hungry mornings.

However.

Emily is allergic to eggs, and at least sensitive to corn. So treats can't just be bought off the shelf. Hence, I now know how to make eggless (and baking-powder-less, since baking powder has corn starch!) cookies, cakes, and even pumpkin pie. I have enjoyed the unexpected fun of having little interested people follow me into the kitchen to see what I'm up to, and help a little in the filling, measuring, and dumping departments.

Also, anything in the cake or shortbreads family lends itself to pre-measuring the dry ingredients and throwing then into a freezer bag (and then into the freezer). Saves a bit of time later.

Here's the peanut-butter cookie recipe, tonight's treat:

1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/3 t baking soda*
2/3 t cream of tartar*
1/2 c shortening **
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c brown sugar (packed)
1/2 t vanilla
1 T soy flour***
1 T water***

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sift together dry ingredients (including soy flour). Cream together shortening, p. butter, and sugars. Add vanilla and water; mix. Add wet to dry and stir up 'til combined well. Smoosh together dough into 3/4 inch balls; put on greased cookie sheet. Make famous crosshatch symbol with fork tines.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.


* these two ingredients are the active parts of baking powder (the cornstarch usually added slows down the reaction time a bit for the rising action). You can make this substitution in anything that's going to be cooked (uncooked cream of tartar leaves a bit of a bitter taste--not surprising when you consider that it is the acidic after-product of wine making--but in baking it works great), at a ratio of two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda.

**I loathe shortening, and always use butter instead. The amounts are the same; fat is pretty much fat, here.

***These replace one egg. Again, you'll see this substitution a lot in eggless baking (For some things, you can just leave out the egg entirely and not make a substitution, perhaps throwing in a little extra liquid. But cookies need something to bind 'em together a little!)

Ah, the power of the internet. But you know, I can't quite convey the yumminess to you...since I'm eating one now!

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