Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This is why I bake cookies.

I love bread. I love all forms of it; all types and shapes and flavors. I love to make bread, or I should say, I love to TRY to make bread. I've got the quick breads down: pumpkin bread, applesauce bread, zucchini bread, cinnamon bread, etc. Those are no problem at all. But when yeast is involved, that's another story. Yeast, why do you toy with me so? It is an unrequited love, the yeast and me. I finally had some spare time last week to do one of my favorite activities: baking homemade yeast bread. I love purusing through my collection of recipes, searching for the perfect one to make. I decided on a whole wheat bread that called for bran, flax, and wheat germ. Sounded good to me. Here's the loaf before the first rise. Doesn't look too bad....

Still looking good just before the second rise....

Looking pretty good after the second rise....

...and then they look like total crap after baking. They sunk and got too brown. Yeast bread gods, have you any mercy?

I'd say that this is the typical outcome of my breads. Pseudo ok, but mostly blah. It makes decent toast. I'll be having this toast for breakfast for the next three months. Almond butter, anyone?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jagerdoodles! (Pronounced Yay-ger-doodles)

I had a cookie brain-child recently. I christened it the Jagerdoodle. "What the devil is a Jagerdoodle?!" I hear you say. Well dear, when a snickerdoodle and a shot of Jagermeister fall in love..........nevermind, I'll tell you when you're older.

Let me introduce you to my giant bottle of Jagermeister. When I told my mom that I made a Jager-y cookie, she asked me twice if I REALLY put Jager in the cookies. The answer was yes both times. Hence the name, ma. (Don't hate me for teasing you. Remember, you love me very much.)

I'm really getting the hang of proper dough consistency. I do love a successful batch o' cookies.

Into the fridge you go, baby doodle.

The doodles are all dressed up in sugar and anise. "Anise?!" Yes, anise. It enhances the Jageriness. Brace yourselves...bold flavor straight ahead.

These babies can trick the eye, but definitely not the nose. You can smell that licorice-y goodness a mile away. It was torture for Karli. She's no fan of black licorice. That's Jagermeister blasphemy!
I'm sending out the entire batch to 3 groups of people for their feedback. I have a hunch that I need to cut back on the anise and up the Jager. You can never have enough Jager!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The INDIEana Handicraft Exchange!

The format for this blog is all kinds of funky. I apologize ahead of time.

Karli and I participated in the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange on Saturday, and we had BLAST! It was stressful at times, but sooo much fun. This is our kind of gig!

Our booth was so fancy, if I do say so myself. Loaded with many, many cookies. We met lots of friendly, cookie lovers.

Rar Rar Press had so many hilarious postcards. All typeset by hand.

I fell in love with these five legged plush cats. Cordial Kitten calls them Cat-erpillers.

Fancy wallets by Alison Rose. The fabric was very cool, and on the inside was a place just the right size for your name or a fortune from a fortune cookie. Clever!
I haven't seen shadow puppets since I was in seventh grade when we made them in art class. These puppets, made by Owly Shadow Puppets, are uber cool. I wish I had a place to stowe one.

Book journals! A thrifty couple turns old library books into usable notebooks. The even leave some of the origional pages in just for fun. Great idea, My Favorite Mirror!

This kid from Goat Milk Stuff could have sold me my own shirt. He was like a 30 year old in a 10 year old's body. He's showing me his favorite scent. How can you say no to such an intelligent, sweet kid? You can't.

Brother Aaron snagged an awesome voodoo doll tie made by Sandy Baker of Mythdemeanor. She was very sweet and traded with Karli; cookies in exchange for a Strawberry Fields T-shirt. Score!

This is Aubrey and Bobbi of b.makemake. Bobbi is a fancy plush doll maker. They were across the hallway from our table and made the day extra fun for us.

All of Bobbi's babies. So colorful, so unique, so full of personality.

Postcards for friends hand printed by Rar Rar Press. She had so many cool things.

Aaron helped me pick this notebook out. I was having a hard time choosing which one to buy. The dormant hippie in me leaned more towards Encycolpedia Brown. Oh, bell bottoms. You do it to me everytime!

I had to have some of b.makemake's items. I bought one poppy pin for my mom, then decided that I needed one. Then I saw the green bird eye, so I had to get it too. The same went with my little doll. She saw me and I saw her, and it was love at first glance.

Here is a mishmash of items I picked up. The little Indiana buttons are from Coffee Break Design. I'm going to send them to my German friends. The pendant and shrink-a-dink earrings were scored in a cookie trade. I suck for not remembering the vendors' names.

I have yet to try this fantastic smelling soap. I'm looking forward to a nice mango-y shower. Thanks for the suggestion, kid.

It is known that I LOVE tea. I bought one tin and then came back for a trade at the end of the day. This tea is very tasty. It's made locally in Indy by Herb and Ginger.

These little adorables are decorative headbands made by Cutie Cooties.

As soon as I saw this on someone, I had to have one...or three...and one for a friend.

An oh-so-great trade! Cookies for an apron. Hells yes! The lady from Rustbelt Fiberworks could not have been nicer. If only you didn't live so far away! We could totally hang out.

Article for Indy Magazine

All natural cookies – less guilt, more flavor, better for you.

We’ve all grown up with the Keebler Elves and the pink and white frosted animal crackers. Bags of Chips Ahoy cookies and those tricolored packs of wafers were always in our kitchen pantry. These treats were OK for go-to snacking as a kid, but when Mom or Grandma baked up some homemade cookies from scratch, those lifeless, flavorless cupboard cookies were temporarily forgotten.

What we never took into account is that Grandma’s cookies were all natural. She was not throwing in any artificial preservatives. She did not have butter made from cows subjected to growth hormones. She had simple, good ingredients. Ingredients that when combined could melt away all traces of sorrow with one single bite.

With fewer and fewer people baking their own treats today, we have somewhat forgotten the grandeur of the homemade cookie. It is just so easy to go to the store and pick up tube of cookie dough and even easier to grab a cellophane-wrapped, behemoth along with your morning coffee. These cookies are just a shadow compared to the rich flavors and decadent textures of a made-from-scratch, all natural cookie.

My story begins in college, where a longing for home was eased with freshly baked goods. After I left the nest, I had to learn how to cook for myself. I was not about to pack on the “freshman fifteen” with excess alcohol and dorm food, so I collected cook books, ripped out recipes in magazines, and watched the Food Network like it was my job. After many years of experimenting, I got the hang of it. I learned that I preferred baking to cooking, and my friends preferred my baked goods over my cooked concoctions anyway. I was lucky to have grown up in a household that cooked dinner six nights out of the week. I learned the importance of a balanced diet early on. I knew it was better to eat as many whole foods as possible and to minimize the intake of processed foods. This way of life snuck into my baking, and my baking was all the better for it.

After college and with no clear path ahead of me, I had an epiphany. I was going to bake delicious, all natural, made-from-scratch cookies for the masses. I knew that this was not a novel idea, but I also knew that if I did not do it, I would regret it later in life. So I called upon my friend, graphic designer, and now co-founder of our business, Karli, for help. Her enthusiasm for the idea was supreme as she also shared my passion for homey, all natural treats.

And so the business of making these tasty, yet all natural cookies went under way. You might be thinking, “I am all for the home-made cookie idea, but what’s so special about all natural cookies.” Firstly, all natural cookies do not have any artificial preservatives like those stale remnants on the shelves. Studies are being conducted on the effects of preservatives in the body. Our bodies have no use for such foreign substances. Artificial preservatives have no nutritional benefits; some researchers say that preservatives have the capability to cause various types of cancer. Yes, it is nice to be able to store your food for longer periods of time, but why not just get cookies without them. Are you really going to save a cookie for later, really? I think not. Just take advantage of a freshly baked cookie, and enjoy it at its peak.

Another factor that makes all natural cookies better is that they do not have any ingredients containing growth hormones or antibiotics. Cookies made with dairy products free of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) are better for you. RBGH has been said to increase chances of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. (http://www.environmentalhealththreats.com/environmental-health-hormones.shtml)

Eggs are another main ingredient in most cookies. Free range chickens do not eat antibiotic filled chicken feed. These lucky chickens eat whatever bugs and grubs they can find. Eggs from free range chickens are more nutritious than your basic white carton eggs. They contain “1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat, 2⁄3 more vitamin A, two times more omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, and seven times more beta carotene” than eggs from caged chickens. Not to mention, free range eggs taste SO much better. (http://www.motherearthnews.com/eggs.aspx)

All natural cookies may or may not (but should) contain organic ingredients. Most packaging will advertise if the food contains any organic ingredients. The more organic ingredients, the better these cookies will be for your health. Organic food products have not been exposed to chemical pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics, or synthetic hormones among other things. Organic foods are minimally processed, therefore easy for the body to digest and convert to nutrients.
Unfortunately, the government has not regulated the use of the term “all natural”, so be sure to read the food labels carefully and ask questions when you can. That is why there is a phone number listed on most packaging. One tip to eating all naturally is just to simplify. Eat foods with simple ingredients. Simple food = good food.

I hope you will turn your back on the cookie blasphemies found in the snack food isle. Pick up some all natural cookies or bake some yourself. Return to the feeling of bliss that was once given to you by Grandma. Keep it simple. Your body will thank you for it.

-Sarah Richcreek of The Hot Cookie, LLC.

PS - I am not a researcher, nor professional in the field of food science. I just believe wholeheartedly about the benefits of natural and organic foods. Thanks!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Food Porn

Just thought I would post some of the preparations for the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange tomorrow. We are making classic whoopie pies especially for the event and they look tasty! Come by tomorrow and say "Hi". We would love to see you there.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New cookies and an awesome craft fair.

Karli and I have been brainstorming about a lot of things lately: packaging, gift boxes/sets, displays, getting our own kitchen space, buying our own freezer - (which we did today - woo hoo!), but most importantly, we brainstormed about cookie flavors. I've been working on new vegan-friendly cookies and continuing the gluten free cookie challenge. We thought a macaroon would be a nice addition to our arsenal - delicious and gluten free to boot.
Everyone knows that the best recipes always start with chocolate. How can you go wrong with that?!

Macaroons are made with egg whites, so I had to seperate the yolks. You have to be very careful not to get any yolk in the whites. Also, make sure that your bowl and wisk are very clean and oil/grease free. Otherwise, the egg whites won't fluff up.

No flour here. This recipe called for almond meal. I love nuts. They are just so versatile!

Cute little plops of macaroon.

So this is the finished product. I don't even know what a proper macaroon should look like...or even taste like. The taste is reminiscent to Nutella, though almondy instead of hazelnuty. They are chewy and slightly tough. I think I was a bit rough with those egg whites. Need to do some more research.

On another note:

The Hot Cookie will be rockin' out at the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange this Saturday from 10am to 11pm at the Harrison Center in Indy. Check out all of the other awesome vendors here. I, personally, am TOTALLY excited.

PS - If you are on Facebook and are not currently in our The Hot Cookie fan group, you can be. Join us here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

More Etsy Love!

I received a tweet from Etsy about items "Just in Time for June" and I thought "Ohhh, I want to read that." So I click on the link and am scrolling through when all of a sudden I see our Double Fudge Drops as one of the items listed! It was very exciting and we have been getting orders all afternoon! Click here to see all the amazing items listed in the article. Thanks to Mary and Etsy!