By Chef Joey!
Here we are in the throes of January and school gets cancelled not for snow but for cold weather! Canadians must have better coats! My friend Giselle said when she was a little kid and lived in Canada, they went to school in Caplan, Quebec, up near the Gaspésie Peninsula, no matter what! Even if Bigfoot was outside!
But like the articles about keeping your pets warm during winter, so goes the same for children …
So what can you do when school’s been called off and the kids have a snow day? How about some good, old fashioned cooking lessons?
This does not have to involve heavy thinking. Looking ahead to summer, how about some homemade lemonade or orangeade? It’s so easy you will never buy a mix again!
Homemade Lemonade or Orangeade
This recipe makes about 10 cups.
Take 2 cups of water and 1 ½ cups sugar.
Bring the water to a boil.
Stir in the sugar to make a simple syrup.
Cook for about 3 minutes.
In the meantime, squeeze oranges (3 to 4) to get 1 ½ cups of juice and 2 or 3 lemons to get 1/3 cup of lemon juice.
Pour 6 more cups of water into a large pitcher.
Add the juice and then the simple syrup and mix.
Refrigerate until chilled and serve!
The good news is you can adjust the sugar and add less, if you like. You can also use bottled juice, but the squeezing part makes it fun! And, Mom, it takes up more time!
Being a chef, I never know when people are going to drop by my house. I will admit that I have high-quality lemon juice in my refrigerator so I can make lemonade in a snap.
I usually use 1 cup of lemon juice, ¼ cup simple syrup and 6 cups of water.
If I make the simple syrup on the spot, I will substitute 2 cups of water for 3 cups of ice to speed it up.
The joy of this simple beverage is you can add other juices or flavors. Ideal flavors to mix are strawberry and raspberry, for example.
Another way to spend time together is baking everyone’s favorite … COOKIES! They take 15-20 minutes to make and are instant gratification. They linger on through the afternoon, and you are not eating hydrogenated oils, and can control the sugar level as well.
This is one of my favorite recipes for soft oatmeal cookies.
Soft Oatmeal Cookies
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
You will need 1 cup of butter, softened (cheat sheet – I melt it in the microwave 45 seconds … Shhhhhh)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder (if you don’t have baking powder use 1 tsp baking soda)
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
In a medium bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then stir in vanilla.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture and add the oats. It will look dry but don’t worry.
Roll into balls the size of a walnut or use a small ice cream scoop and place the dough on a cookie sheet that has a piece of parchment paper on it, or just grease a cookie sheet . I’ll tell you more about parchment in a minute.
Don’t overload the sheet – place cookies so there is room for them to expand – usually 4 across and 6 down per pan.
Take a fork and gently press the cookies down in two directions for the “Martha” effect!
You can chill dough for at least one hour if you want to make “logs” of dough similar to tube cookies. Once the dough is chilled, shape the dough into a log and slice off cookies. The joy of this is you can make big batches of dough – create cookie dough logs – wrap them and freeze them. So if you need cookies in a snap – pull out a tube – heat the oven – slice and bake.
This is how you get “Parent of the Year” awards!
On parchment paper:
Parchment paper is a gift from heaven. It eliminates cleaning time and greasing pans – and it is not limited to cookies. Use it under roasts, chicken wings or whatever. Your pan is already half clean, and when making cookies you can use it over and over.
Keep warm, have fun and enjoy these recipes!