Alton Brown is one smart cookie

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Alton Brown. If the Food Network isn’t your go-to channel, there’s no reason you would be. But you should be. The man is cook, genius, TV personality, and genuinely entertaining, all in one. He reminds me of my brother. Only Hawk is more knowledgeable about programming environments, and less about the chemical ramifications of substituting baking soda for baking powder.

Anyway, late last night, Hubs left for work, I’m jacked up on Diet Coke and too much RockBand, and missing human interaction. There are generally three things human beings tend to do in these situations: 1) curl up in a ball, cry hysterically, and then fall asleep suddenly; 2) drink heavily; or 3) eat (heavily). The sleeping/crying thing wasn’t happening, due to too much caffeine. No booze in the place meant no drinking (I’m so crafty, I actually plan ahead for this kind of situation). So eating was going to have to be it. Unfortunately, my options were pretty limited. First glance in the fridge revealed a leftover steak from dinner (eaten only hours before), in a sandwich baggie. There was a half of an avocado (I ate that), celery stalks (“lunch,” smothered in peanut butter), a “family sized” bag of dark chocolate M&Ms (boring by that point, I’d been hitting it up all day), a two-gallon bottle of grape juice (two words: purple puke), and 10 boxes of Girl Scout Thin Mints in the freezer.

The Thin Mints were appealing, but I’ve trained myself to eat them in small doses (this is survival training. Ma Hubs and Njsil each sent out a case. Death by Thin Mint was a good possibility there, for a while.), so I couldn’t really utilize them for binge eating.

Make some cookies!” my smart little brain said. “It’ll kill time and make you supremely happy!”I wanted to challenge myself, though. Cookies from scratch are heavily utilized as a coping-mechanism in this apartment. I’ve been watching a lot of Top Chef, and I felt the need to mix it up a bit, really get my creative kitchen juices flowing. (Yeah, ok, I watch cooking shows like Grandpa watches John Wayne. Don’t judge me.) Lately I’ve been wowing the crowd with the mint chocolate chip cookies, but they were too akin to the Thin Mints that I was trying to avoid. (I just met someone, two people actually, who had no idea what I meant when I said “akin.” Does that seem right?)

And then, like a thunderclap, it hit me. Hadn’t I just been watching a Good Eats episode where Alton Brown taught me all about different chocolate-chip-cookie-making techniques?! Not only had he instructed me as to what to use, and where, but he included the why, which is very important to a detail-oriented, slightly neurotic home-cooker like me, who is already very attached to her chocolate-chip-cookie recipe. By the time I’d looked up all his tips and tricks online, I was this close to running out to the local WalMart (literally running, Hubs had the Jeep) to buy a bag of bread flour (it yields a chewier cookie), but I refrained. Alton had given me enough alterations to try the first time around, without buying special flour.

End result, really good cookies. They’ve been in the fridge for over a day and they’re still chewy. I’m delighted. And tonight I’m going to bed much earlier, due to the sugar high and resulting crash of the last 24 hours. (And next time I’m trying it with the special flour, too.)

In other news, I’ve been receiving picture texts, emails, and phone calls from NJ about the flurry of activity. Cayber is looking for her first car, Prose is dominating high-school, Hawk is winning band awards, Mom has a new table saw, and Dad is in the midst of some fun cases that he’s not allowed to talk about. The picture above features Mom and Hawk on a new step, freshly cut with the new saw, and that’s a pneumatic nail gun that Hawk is holding (and shoes I gifted him, because I’m awesome).

I’m driving to San Antonio tomorrow to pick up Hubs’ birthday present. Hopefully it will be ready, and fabulous, and presentable. I’m excited about it. I’ve come to the conclusion that no good birthday or Christmas present for your spouse doesn’t have a little bit of a Homer element about it. This one has some, but I think Hubs will love it much more than I could or will ever. And that’s always nice.

Per Hubs’ suggestion, we are heading up to San Antonio again, next week, for a brief R&R break slash birthday weekend. I steered away from Hotwire for this trip, since the last two bookings through them delivered us to hotels under construction. I’m talking jack-hammer at 7 am construction. We’re going upscale next week: nice hotel, booked through the hotel website, as close to the Riverwalk as we could wish. AND Hubs surprised me with the suggestion of a swanky dinner. Yeay! Dress up!

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