Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

     The holidays came and went very fast and transitioning into a new job during the hullabaloo was a challenge in itself, never mind feeling lonely and wishing that I could be one of the guys sooner than later. But like everything, things take time and I would just have to be patient. Sometimes I want to bang my head against the counter, the statement "There is nothing common about common sense" has been my anthem these days.

     I ventured on my own very early in life, at 20 I was responsible for pretty much everything that a young adult should be responsible for. I was grateful that I could rely on myself to provide the things that I needed, not wanted , but needed. I ate a lot of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in those days.

    One of my bosses told me early in my career, that I would take a lot of lumps in life. This was in order to build character, humility and integrity. I never questioned that lesson, and it has taken me far in life. Yes it sucked, to clean kitchen hoods after a 10 hour shift, the greasy water running down my arm and soaking my uniform. Sure I wanted to complain, but I never wanted them to see that I could not handle the lessons they were dishing.

     2011 was a complicated and difficult year. We saw a flood and the garden that I was so proud of receded with the water. People that were special passed away and left a somber hole for those that were left behind. In spite of all that, I lost my job. Yes 2011 was quite a year. But like the seasons, things change.

     I have been settling into my job the last few months, with the dips and valleys along the way. But staying the course has been my number one motive. The kitchen is extremely small and you could feel claustrophobic all of the time. However as small as the kitchen is, the ingredients and the freedom to be creative is far more valuable than having someone step on my toes.

     What I have been learning lately is the fine art of removing all that is good (hey, I am a chef..I can't help it) and morphing it into tasty items for our customers with restrictions. This is has been a super pain in the arse challenging aspect of my job, because no butter is a foreign country to me. Once I got over my hissy fit, I am quite enjoying this adventure.

     Who knew that you could make a cookie taste good without butter, cream or eggs. Hell, I lived in Alaska by myself and that was easier than this task. I would like to introduce you to some great products that I have been working with the past few months. First, every gluten-free cookie needs Pamela's Gluten-Free Flour. I have worked with this product in every aspect possible and I have made some really awful interesting things. It is a very perplexing product. Thanks to Sarah A. I am still in the game.

     Then Alex brought up a box of Egg Replacer that had a lot of Chinese looking writing on it. I thought "Oh Boy, another baffling product to add to my already amassing list of baffling products. To tell you the truth, I placed it at the back of my supplies and hoped it would go away. Then like a crack of lightning Alex the Busy reappeared and the jig was up! "People need Dairy-Free, Gluten Free and what about the Vegans"? The law had been spoken it was time to unpack my surplus of free this and free that products and use them. God help me, or rather God help the customers.

     Butter oh my lovely butter had to move over for Earth Balance and Vegan Buttery Sticks , and milk and cream needed to make room for Soymilk Creamer and Coconut milk creamer. I had all the machinations for a good cookie.  Putting it together is an entirely different hustle. But I did it!

Vegan Gluten-Free Molasses Crinkles( pictures coming shortly)

2/3 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Crosby's Molasses
2 tsp Egg Replacer mixed with two tablespoons of water
3 cups Pamela's Gluten-Free Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 ground black pepper (for a kick)
1+cup of Demerara Sugar

In a small bowl combine the Egg Replacer with the water and set aside. In a medium bowl combine all the dry ingredients whisk and set aside. In a standing mixer cream the Earth Balance with the sugar until creamy. Add the molasses and mix well. Re-stir the Egg Replacer and add to the sugar mixture, mix well. Scrap down the bowl.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter constantly scraping down and pulling the batter from bottom of the bowl and recombining it with the top until all incorporated. With a # 12 ice cream scoop, scoop the batter and roll in the Demerara sugar place on a baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven until the tops crack. Cool and serve.

 The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

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