I think I’m obligated to do something like this project because I have all the tools of the trade. Just over 20 years in this now 100-year-old home and the only renovation I’ve done has been the kitchen. Then there’s the years of Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart & Cooking Light magazines, and my jam packed cookbook-bookcase, plus I have great friends and family that were all too willing to get me the must have gadget on my wish list. So I’ve got the goods and I might as well put ‘em to good use.
So 1 week down, 51 to go. I’ll admit the actual baking/cookie part was less than perfect. Despite my claims of being so ‘expert’ at this and ensuring the folks at Gilda’s Club that I could do this in my sleep, and my reassurance that ‘oh no, of course I won’t be up all night baking.’ Thankfully, it wasn’t ALL night, just much later than I had planned, which meant no gym time for me this morning – but that’s ok, there were lessons well learned and I plan on doing better next time.
Despite my best planning I left work late yesterday, got home late and the roads didn’t help matters so then I got a late start. My oven tends to run a little low on temp so even though I did an initial ‘test’ pan with two cookies to make sure I was sizing them right, the first full pan still came out a little rough and misshapen. I realized that only had enough ingredients for the 2 1/2 batches I had planned (the honey & lemons were done)so I need those cookies. First lesson: make sure I have enough in the event of a major mistake and to also have a back up cookie. Anyway, I was hoping the frosting could camouflage the imperfections on that first pan. And when it comes to frosted cookies you’ve got to make sure you factor in enough time to not only bake, but also frost the cookies (especially when the frosting doesn’t have any fat or egg white powder in it to help it harden and needs longer to set). The only part that went as planned was the packaging – although as I dropped them off tonight I kept my fingers crossed that the frosting wouldn’t all be stuck in the bag when people went to eat them.
My trip to Gilda’s Club was pretty quick and easy – something I was glad for. The staff & volunteers there were super friendly and didn’t seem to think I was some kind of freak, so that was a relief. I did provide a copy of the cookie recipe and also included the actual nutritional infomation on the cookies. I typically make a smaller cookie that will match up the recipe "servings" but since I was individually packaging them I made them slightly larger - getting only 25 cookies (vs the 32 from the original recipe).
I'll likely meet with the volunteer coordinator within the next week or so and take a tour of their home and then I can talk a bit more about them as an organization. For now, if you've seen their website, then you know about as much as I do. Hopefully the cookies will pass the taste test and I’ll be able to continue to do this for them on a regular basis and become more familiar with their community, at least I hope so cause I’m already working on the ‘menu’ for next week!
(The pictures presented in this entry were taken during my 'baking' session - likely another reason it took me longer than expected, and I've got a bit of work to do on my 'food photography.')
Here goes, a very blatant rip off of the Julie/Julia project - but without the daily study and committment and hopefully far less butter and cream!
For the 52 weeks of 2010 I'm going to bake a batch (or two) of cookies each week and provide them to various local charities and residential non-profits. It's a bit self serving - I get to do what I love - baking - and then get to avoid what I love a bit too much - eating! It's a near ideal scenario for me. Hopefully along the way I'll get to meet some great people, test out some new recipes and broaden my baking and presentation techniques. I'll continue to tweak recipes to improve the nutritional value and then I'll give them away, to who, exactly, I'm not so sure just yet but I'm working on it.
Life gets busy, but to spend an hour or two week to throw together a batch of homemade cookies to give to folks that might be going through a hard time seems like a pretty small contribution to society but maybe, just maybe, it'll change the world, one batch at a time ... to be continued ...