Sunday, August 16, 2009

Collecting Recipes

Because I have always liked to cook and bake, over the years, I have collected a lot of recipes. No, I will never be Emeril or Paula Deen, but I have my own treasured collection of recipes, some of which I have tweaked to suit my taste buds and some are just classics that show up in cook book after cookbook. I have no desire to become a celebrity, but I do enjoy putting my cook books and stories together for my friends and family!

This weekend, I was looking for a cookie recipe that would suit a request for a friend's birthday. I found one that sounded perfect, but I was not happy with the results, even though I made them twice, tweaking here and there. They ended up in the garbage - literally! So I searched online again and found one that worked. Even though I have many recipes, this request was for oatmeal coconut raisin cookies and my favorite oatmeal raisin cookie recipe would not accomodate the addition of coconut very well. The flavors just wouldn't have blended properly. So I went on a quest. That is how many of my recipes have come into my collection - searching through old cook books, asking family and friends, and nowadays, searching online. Recipes are meant to be shared and enjoyed.

So, here is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that people ask me for every time I make them. I have the recipe memorized at this point in time! I searched high and low for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, finally got this recipe from a friend and then years later found I had it all along in an old 1971 Betty Crocker cookbook. Sometimes we search long and hard for things that are right under our noses. Hope you enjoy them!

These are what I call Heaven's Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup shortening (not butter-flavored)
2 tsp. vanilla (not artificially flavored vanillin)
2 eggs

Combine and cream well, but don't overmix.

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Add to the creamed mixture, blending well, but again, not overmixing.

Stir in 2 cups good quality chocolate chips. Or, if you prefer, 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

Drop 1/4 cup dough (I use an ice cream scoop, called a disher) onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 12-14 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

(This recipe will also be in the new "Cookies From The Almond Branch" which is almost ready to send to the printer.)

By the way, the recipe I found and liked that I was searching for this weekend is on and is called "Coconut Oatmeal Cookies I". I just added a cup of raisins to the recipe.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Introduction to The Almond Branch

The Almond Branch is a bed and breakfast that invites people in just because it is there waiting to be experienced. It has several guest rooms, each decorated with its own flair and flavor that speak of comfort and rest as soon as you walk through the door. The main living room is soft and friendly - just peeking into it makes you want to settle in for the evening, maybe with a good bood or good company, and perhaps in front of a warm fire if the season warrants it. One of the most wonderful places of refuge in The Almond Branch is the library which is stocked with classics and mysteries and many, many books to feed the soul and the spirit, as well as a large collection of music to soak in and find a moment of peace.

But, by far, the favorite room is the tea room. It is sunny and bright and is an indoor garden paradise. It is here in this garden that breakfast is served in the mornings and it is here that luncheons and tea parties are held in the afternoons. The food is prepared by hands that love the work and hearts that love the guests.

The Almond Branch lives in the dreams of my heart. Who knows if it will ever become a reality for me? But perhaps, if you enjoy these recipes, my dream will come true through you. So I give you these wonderful recipes, thoughts, and menus to start you on your own journey of dreaming with a wish that your dreams will carry you through life where disappointments come, dreams are broken, but the heart continues to heal and dream some more. And some of those dreams will come true.