My granddaughters are staying with us for two weeks, and today was “baking day”, also known as “what the hell was I thinking” day.
Though gingersnaps and dog biscuits might sound like a rather strange combination, the cookie recipe offered lots of opportunities to measure and mix, along with the fun of forming the dough into little balls and rolling them in sugar. The dog biscuits provided the required rolling pin and cookie cutter action, and made my spoiled dogs very happy.
Here is a picture of my sweeties as we start to bake:
Hair back, aprons on, and hands washed, we started with the gingersnaps. One thing was critical…when it came to taking turns, the recipe was carefully scrutinized and everything had to be absolutely fair and equal. If Sophie added the sugar, Taunee got to add the flour. “HEY! Why did she get to put two spoons of ginger in and I only got to put one spoon of cinnamon?” Explaining that one tablespoon equals 3 teaspoons just muddied the waters. Thankfully, a distraction and a quick move to the next step was successful.
I’m going to give you my gingersnap recipe, with the proper instructions for mixing and baking them. Then I will tell you how we did it.
1 1/2 cup shortening
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 teaspoons ginger
3 teaspoons cinnamon
White sugar for rolling the balls of dough in
In large bowl mix shortening, sugar, eggs, and molasses together thoroughly.
Add dry ingredients and stir well.
Chill for at least an hour.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll dough into small balls (about a level tablespoon of cookie dough) and then roll them in white sugar.
Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving at least 1-1/2 inches of space between each cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a rack. The cookies will flatten when they come out of the oven, and should have little cracks on the surface.
Now…here’s how it actually went.
I took the first turn, because getting shortening in and out of a measuring cup is even difficult for me to do, and I didn’t think I could stand watching the struggle. Sophie went next, capably adding the brown sugar. Taunee got indignant because Sophie also got to add the eggs. NO FAIR! She was appeased with getting to pour in the sticky molasses. “Pour” is probably not entirely accurate. She slowly drizzled it over the ingredients in the bowl. I let her put the first cup of flour into a separate bowl, and then Sophie took over.
As Sophie measure the remaining four cups of flour into the bowl, Taunee entertained us, distracting Sophie, who lost count of how many cups she had put into the bowl. When I suggested we start over, she was sure she had only put three in, and added another cup. Both girls were amused by the way the ginger came out of the teaspoons, making “eyes” in the flour. Naturally, the tablespoon of cinnamon had to be added in a curved line to make a smiley face.
The girls did a waltz with a graceful dip in the kitchen. I called them back to attention.
We turned the stand mixer on and mixed the dough. I’ve made these cookies for decades, and knew that this batch didn’t look right. Oh-oh, we should have re-measured the flour.
So…these are not mathematically correct ratios, but we threw in two tablespoons of soft butter, half of an egg (yes, that was interesting), a drizzle of molasses, and a pinch of baking soda, and mixed it again. Much better.
Sophie loved the dough. It’s a good thing I know where our eggs come from, because she kept sneaking bites. Taunee tried it and decided it wasn’t bad, which is pretty good coming from a girl who will only eat “white cookies!” I must say that if I were to rate cookie dough, this would be in first place, with chocolate chip cookies in second and peanut butter cookies in third.
We didn’t have the patience to wait for the dough to chill, so we just baked it at room temperature. I scooped the dough out of the bowl and each girl formed some into a ball and rolled it in sugar before putting it on the cookie sheet. Taunee wanted to taste the sugar stuck to her hands. Mean Grandma made her wash her hands again. These girls had spent the previous afternoon playing in the mud and loving it, but Taunee was really bugged by the sugar on her hands, so we got an assembly line going, with Sophie wielding the cookie scoop and Taunee rolling the dough into a ball – or sometimes more like a football! I rolled them in sugar. Everyone was happy, and the cookies were a little crunchier than usual, but still very good. Whew.
Now, on to dog biscuits!
My dogs are spoiled; they will eat Milk Bones, but grudgingly. They appreciate yummy homemade dog biscuits far more. I don’t pretend to understand canine nutrient needs, and must stress that these are treats. They usually get one each morning, and sometimes one at night. At least they don’t have unpronounceable ingredients in them, and they’re fun to make. That absolutely makes it worth the effort. I do know that the chia seeds are very good for their skin.
The girls just like to make them because they can use the little dog bone cookie cutter. That works for me!
HOMEMADE DOG BISCUITS
6 pieces of bacon
½ cup milk
½ cup chicken (or beef) broth
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
3 tablespoons chia seeds (or you could use ground flax)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup white flour
½ cup wheat germ
2 cups wheat flour
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
Brown the bacon, saving the grease. Chop the bacon into small pieces and place it and the grease in a large bowl. A stand mixer works best for this because it will be a heavy dough.
Add the eggs, milk, broth, peanut butter, cheese, and chia seeds to the bowl and mix well.
Add the baking powder, white flour, and wheat flour to the bowl and mix until combined. The dough should hold together. If it is crumbly, add a little more broth. If it is too sticky, add a little more wheat flour.
Roll dough out to desired thickness and cut with a cookie cutter. Place on cookie sheet (you don’t need to leave space between biscuits – they won’t get larger) and bake for one hour. Reduce heat to 225 degrees F. Bake for another hour, or until the biscuits are very hard. Allow to cool completely before storing.
What’s a day in the kitchen without a flour fight? Then a dip in the kiddie pool while Grandma finished cutting out and baking dog biscuits, followed by a bath so the paste didn’t harden and turn their heads into pinatas, and of course…washing dishes.
I want these girls to love creating wonderful messes in the kitchen, but I’m not a very good mentor. I don’t have half the patience I did when my children were young, and have to really work at not taking over (“Here, let Grandma help you”) when I see a bit of egg shell falling in the bowl, or a wobbly hand measuring flour into a bowl. Cooking with the girls confirms the reason I always scoot people out of my kitchen – it’s nearly impossible for me to follow a recipe or plan my next move when anyone is talking to me,or singing or dancing or whining or giggling or fighting or…well, I’m sure you understand.