Tasting the Past – Flora’s Chocolate Molasses Cookies

Voilà! Flora's molasses chocolate cookies.

Voilà! Flora’s molasses chocolate cookies.

Searching the battered blue notebook for a dessert last to bring over at friends proved to be quite intriguing. Flipping through the pages, I stumbled upon four variations of a molasses cookie. I opted for the one that contained chocolate.

This would prove to be quite the kitchen experiment: only the ingredients were listed. There was no method… none whatsoever. I would have to wing it, conduct a bit of research, tweak the recipe if need be. continue reading

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Tasting the Past: Ann’s Sour Cream Date Dreams Cookies

Ann's Sour Cream Date Dreams Cookies

Ann’s Sour Cream Date Dreams Cookies

So far, Tasting the Past has made me indulge in my sweet tooth quite a bit. Even Elda’s Rye Bread, was rather on the sweet side. This latest recipe out of the wooden box makes no exception to the rule. Behold Anns’s Sour Cream Date Dreams Cookies!

Ann clearly knew what she was doing. Her recipe had a star ingredient with which dreams are made of – at least of the baking kind: sour cream. I had forgotten how it could enhance so many recipes. The sour cream creates a certain moisture and tanginess. A recent blog post from The Kitchn sings the praises of this ingredient and reminds us of how this dairy product can make a difference in numerous recipes. continue reading

Tasting the Past : Product 19 Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies.

Ready to served Product 19Crispy  Peanut Butter Cookies.

Ready to served Product 19Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies.

This first recipe was one of the first I stumbled upon while scoping out the selection in the wooden box. The Product 19 Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies immediately intrigued me. I researched this mysterious “Product 19” online to find out it was Kellogg’s cereal that was had been launched back in 1967. A potential clue that can indicate the age of the Recipe Box.

This corn, oat and rice cereal has developed a cult following. Seems also that it’s difficult to come by. Some have even taken to social media to demand wider distribution of this Kellogg’s cereal. A Facebook page has been created where people share info on how to get their Product 19 fix.

Since I’ve never seen this product on the shelves of any Canadian grocery store, a substitute was needed for the recipe. Based on the ingredients, more specifically the grains, I opted to use Vector.

À la cuisine!

Product 19 Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of Kellogg’s Product 19 (in this case replaced by Vector)
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. of baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of butter or margarine softened
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • ¾ cup of granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla

Method

  • Preheat oven at 350°F.
  • In large bowl, crush cereal; add flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside
  • In another bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs to the butter. Beat until smooth.
  • Stir in dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  • Drop a teaspoon onto baking sheets. Using the back of fork press cookie dough flat making a cross.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
First recipe out of the box: Product 19 Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies.

First recipe out of the box: Product 19 Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies.

Cooking like it’s 1997

“Biscuits à l’avoine de ma grand-mère” (grandmother’s oatmeal cookies) – Photo Eric Rados.

Last weekend, while In Laval, my parents had asked me to empty up some drawers containing various items dating back to my years as a student. After reluctantly parting ways with DAT and Mini DV cassettes from my first ever reports and segments produced in university and scripts from acting classes, I stumbled upon something I had completely forgotten about: a series of recipes from my secondaire 2 (Quebec’s equivalent of grade 8) home ec class. It was then, during the 1996-1997 school year, that Danielle Langlois was teaching the basics of cooking to École d’éducation internationale de Laval alumni.

The class was divided in two groups. While half of the students were sewing buttons and toques with Anne-Louise Blain, the others were learning the ropes in the kitchen with Danielle Langlois. A couple of weeks later, the groups switched.

My memory was a little fuzzy as to how the class was structured so I asked my friend and fellow blogger Vanessa about it. She reminded me that the class was divided in teams of three to four students. Each class was organized around a theme. We had learned various things like how to bake cookies, prepare eggs benedict or serve up a “Mexican dip”. The recipes were obviously quite basic, but the class introduced us a bit more formally to certain techniques and ingredients.

Revisiting the list of ingredients of certain recipes was sort of like travelling back in time. For instance, trans fat wasn’t an issue on anyone’s radar back in 1997. My fellow classmate and friend Véronique remembers that the chocolate cookie recipe required a specific brand of vegetable shortening that clearly contained trans fat at the time; an ingredient that many of us would steer clear from today.

“Biscuits à l’avoine de ma grand-mère” (grandmother’s oatmeal cookies) – Photo Eric Rados.

Blast from the past: a recipe

For the purpose of this blog entry, I revisited the Biscuits à l’avoine de ma grand-mère (grandmother’s oatmeal cookies”) recipe.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of butter or margarine (it actually specified margarine)
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. of baking powder
  • ½ tsp. of vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of lukewarm water
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. of salt
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • ½ tsp. of baking soda

* I added about ½ tsp. of a blend of nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander
*I added a good heaping of raisins

Method

  • Preheat oven at 375 ° F.
  • Beat butter or margarine until creamy. Mix in sugar until blended.
  • In another bowl, mix in flour, baking powder, salt and oats.
  • Mix baking soda and vanilla extract into the water.
  • Combine dry and liquid ingredients to the butter and sugar.
  • Roll out the cookie dough until about 3 to 5 mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to make the cookies. (I felt as though this step was labour intensive so I simply scooped out cookies with a spoon.)
  • Bake in oven at 375 ° F for about 10-12 minutes.
  • Cool and serve.

Verdict
Without being exceptional, they were decent. I’m glad that I added the raisins and spices for extra flavour.

Some final thoughts

I can still remember my 14 year old self waking up before everyone else Sunday morning to prepare my first-ever batches of muffins or crêpes. I guess the home ec class served its purpose: easing us students into the kitchen and ridding ourselves of any apprehensions that we could have had. While the recipes weren’t particularly adventurous or too difficult, the experience was nonetheless an empowering one.

What were the first dishes you learned how to prepare? Got any home ec or cooking class stories to share? Don’t be shy!

A glimpse of some of the techniques learned in Home Ec.