I’m so ready to get this blog up and running! I’ve been using Facebook for all my cooking escapades, and it’s time to move to a dedicated spot.
Let me tell you a little bit about me. My name is Ramona. I am a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years and we have a blended family – his, mine, and ours – of 8 children. Yep, eight. We have three children in college, three teenagers, and two little guys. My youngest gets to stay home with me for another year before she flies the coop. I’m an 18-time (soon to be 19-time) marathoner. I love to travel and will be adding a 4th continent next year when I go to China.
I have always loved baking, and I quickly became the dessert maker for all our family events. My style has always been to have a variety of treats, so your guests can sample a little bit of everything. When I married my husband, I was able to take a break away from the daily grind (read: job) and focus my efforts at to home. Because I was no longer contributing to the bank account, it became my job to maximize our pantry for minimal impact on our budget. I soon found out that I could do more than I thought. I learned how to make bread, which felt like reaching the Holy Grail, and also improved my cooking skills. Life and necessity have been my classroom, and I think I’ve been a pretty good student.
in this blog, I want to share mostly sweet recipes and tutorials. I will also throw in the occasional holiday decoration, or even a savory dish or two. I welcome your comments, critiques and requests. I hope you’ll stick with me!
I guess if you disagree this blog post title, we should agree now to an amicable break up and just be friends. If you do agree, then let’s embrace the soulmates that we are and embark on this journey together!
I loved watching my mom in the kitchen. She was a natural. She grew up on a farm, and as the oldest girl with seven siblings, she had a significant amount of responsibility. She helped her mom cook for the family, as well as the farmhands. I don’t remember ever seeing her follow a recipe. She’d throw in a little of this, and a little of that, and it was always delicious. When I decided I wanted to learn to bake, I was frustrated because I couldn’t cook or bake like that. What I didn’t know then was that it was a learned skill, not something you just know. My mom supported my need for recipes, though, and guided me in the right direction.
One of the first things I learned how to make well was oatmeal cookies (yum) from a book series called “Make A Mix”. The idea is that you make up a large batch of mix, i.e., brownie mix, biscuit mix, etc., and keep it in the pantry to speed up your baking. Another method employed by the author was making cookie dough and rolling it into a log, then wrapping it in plastic wrap to be put in the freezer. Whenever you want cookie, voila!, they are ready to “slice and bake”, straight from the freezer. I gotta say, I wasn’t always a fan of this because it cut right through the ingredients. I mean, who wants half a chocolate chip? My solution was always to make up a batch, skip the log and freezer and bake them, then eat almost all of them myself. I can still remember the taste of the butter flavored shortening…
Now, I still bake oatmeal cookies, but I usually add chocolate chunks and coconut, thanks to my friend Emily (whose great aunt used to add chocolate chips) and my husband (whose cub scout leader used to add coconut). All of our cookie memories meshed together to make a really perfect treat.
Oh, and I use real butter these days. No walnuts, though. Eww. If we have made it this far together but you are a strong believer in walnuts, we can agree that it was fun while it lasted, and I’ll call you.
Here’s how I make my chewy and delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies.
First, we start with the good stuff: butter and two kinds of sugar. Beat together until creamy.
Add vanilla and eggs. See that cute little hand? That’s my best baking assistant.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. If you’re smart, you’ll make sure to put your pouring shield on your mixer. Mine unfortunately met its demise several months ago in a mixer-meets-floor accident while kneading pizza dough. Note to self: buy new pouring shield. It’ll save money on cleaning wipes.
And these are my not-so-secret ingredients. I love using chocolate chunks in this recipe. They give it a nice burst of chocolate. You can use regular chips, if that’s what you have on hand.
I use a cookie scoop to portion out my cookies; about 12 per tray. Can I put in a plug for silicone baking sheets? Super easy cleanup and I use way less parchment paper these days. (Sorry parchment paper manufacturers.)
Bake at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes for that perfectly baked crispy outside and chewy inside. Definitely eat some warm, then have some after they have cooled. Then eat several more. Then go for a run.