So the Unofficial Family Reunion week came and went, all to soon in my opinion. Both sisters are back at school, and while I'll be seeing them both infrequently, I should be able to talk to my first sister more often, which is nice.
Sister Appreciation Day Gift 1: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies were a mild success. I may not be the best chef in the house, but I can follow a simple cookie recipe. And they came out pretty good: they were moist, and soft (the way cookies should be- none of that crunchy stuff here), and the recipe pumped out about twice as many cookies as it said it would. But the problem was the flavor, while not bad, wasn't really special at all. The peanut butter flavor was, for my taste, much more subdued than it should have been with most of the flavor coming from the chocolate chips.
I also tried modifying the recipe for the last batch to go in the oven. Before I actually tried one of the cookies I was worried that the peanut butter taste would be overwhelming, so I attempted to add a little cocoa powder to the dough to try and make it more chocolaty. Of course, me being me, I accidentally dumped in nearly half the container of cocoa in a container of that held six cookies worth of dough. Oops. I salvaged the dough as much as I could and baked them anyway. To my surprise they didn't actually come out bad at all. You could definitely taste the abundance of cocoa powder, but they didn't taste bitter like I expected them to. If I had drizzled melted peanut butter over those six cookies they probably would have tasted more flavorful than all the rest, but that will be an experiment for another day.
The important part is how my sister responded to the gift. She's fairly stoic so her lack of a response wasn't too surprising, but I do think she legitimacy appreciated being handed a giant plate of cookies (who wouldn't?), and she even shared some with the rest of the family. And if I managed to make her happy then I guess I did it right, and that's what matters to me. But how did she thank me? By making herself dinner the next night and leaving the dishes for me to clean up when I got home from work at 9 PM. Love you too, sis!
Sister Appreciation Day Gift Number 2: Garlic Parmesan Pasta Sauce went much better than expected. There were many changes made from my previous attempts. The superficial changes where the addition of vegetables and the substitution of minced garlic for garlic sauce. The vegetables (cooked broccoli, carrots, peas, squash) did a good job of adding flavor, and color, to the recipe, and if I make this again I will definitely include them. I don't think changing the garlic made any difference, though I would have preferred to use a minced clove.
The big difference is that this time the milk I used was 2% instead of fat free. Some of you out there are probably thinking the same thing my sister said: "DUH, V1P2 of course you shouldn't use fat free milk when making a roux!" I know that now. (Baby steps.) While previous attempts have left me stirring for 45 minutes without any thickening, the sauce was ready for eating after about a half hour. The other mistake I may have been making is cooking it on too high a heat- probably another rookie mistake. The other difference is that I added an extra unit of butter and flour which I imagine aided success as well.
The bottom line is that I finally figured out how to make this after several failed attempts, and I know I could repeat that success if I wanted to. Most importantly, though, my sister enjoyed it (though she suggested more salt and pepper for flavor) and my Mom thought it was delicious, so I'm pleased. And now that I have one recipe under my belt I need to try my hand at something else. My sister suggested something chicken based so I'll look through my cookbooks and see if I can find something that looks good.
There were definitely other things that happened that week (medicating animals, playing Catan, making pie), but baking and cooking were the highlights for me. Like I said in the last entry, I love my sisters, and I like to make them happy. This time I happened to do it with good food (because who doesn't like good food), but who knows what I'll do next time?