Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kitchen sink cookies

So I was just reading my friend Beth's food blog. As my mouth began watering -- reading about elk and pineapple kabobs will do that -- I started looking around and noticing the miscellaneous food items around Laith and Jenna's kitchen here in Austin. (They're out with 2-year-old Lucas and I'm left here at the house, ostensibly catching up on some research and writing, but nothing helps me focus better than when there's something simmering on the stove or baking in the oven. No, I'm serious.) I started rummaging around here for things that I can use to make a little baked something or other. I first came across a rather ripe banana. Then a handful of walnuts that escaped the fate of last night's arugula walnut pesto making extravaganza. A stick of butter. A bit of fair trade dark chocolate -- my emergency bar -- among the biking supplies piled up in the corner of the living room.

I got to thinking about the year I spent in Mexico experimenting with whatever the heck I had around to cook with. You may laugh, but while produce was abundant, it was hard sometimes to get good eggs or feta cheese. Go figure, I lived in a little mountain village about an hour east (by car) from Mexico City. God help anyone in search of indian curry spices or decent peanut butter. I did a lot of fiddling in the kitchen in those days. Tortilla pizzas. Chili de arbol and guava marinades. And lots and lots of baked goodies, some of which made their way to friends' houses. It was the point at which I think I began to cook primarily by touch and smell and taste, rather than by measurement, and improvising. Let's see, what's that in the back of the cupboard? That might be good in a pie.... More often than not, things worked out deliciously, and the results were never quite the same twice.

With a stick of butter, an egg, and a cup of flour, you've got the beginnings of many a tasty vittle. To help me focus on the research for tomorrow's East Austin Urban Farm Tour, I threw together a bowl of batter and warmed up the oven for a cookie concoction I first made back in my kitchen in the little village of San Nicolas Tlaminca:

Kitchen Sink Cookies
(as in "Everything but the...")

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter (or lightly brush with olive oil) a cookie sheet.

Combine in a medium bowl:
-1 stick room-temperature salted organic butter (not margarine or the kitchen gods will spit in your general direction, and don't even think about using Crisco...)
-2 TBSP local honey, maple syrup, or agave
-1 egg (preferably from pastured chickens: I'm telling you they taste better and the structural integrity is far superior to conventional chicken eggs. A subject deserving of its own blog post, to be sure.)
-1/2 tsp vanilla (er, this is kind of approximate...)
-1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed

Mix well with a fork, then add in:
-1 cup flour (I actually measured it this time)
-a handful of oats
-1/2 tsp (?) baking powder (sorry, not exactly measured)
-a large pinch of ground cinnamon

Stir in:
-a handful of chopped walnuts
-a bar of good dark chocolate, preferably fair trade, broken into pieces

Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes (maybe longer, depending on your oven). Makes about 2 dozen, assuming you don't gorge yourself on the batter.

They are simply delicious. Kind of like the cookie version of Chunky Monkey. I'll bet shredded coconut would be good in here, too. Now time to get back to the research proper....


  1. I'm always glad to jumpstart a baking adventure! Nothing like a sparse pantry to get the creativity flowing - I actually love digging in the back of the fridge and making dinner out of it. I love the cookies and I love Austin! Have fun.

  2. BTW, I just made a version of these with grated zucchini and chocolate-covered espresso beans for the Slow Food DC board meeting the other evening and I must say they were quite a hit. No banana, pecans instead of walnuts, and no oats. Thought oats would've been good if I had them on hand....


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