Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Day 330

There is a variety of advice out in the universe about how to choose friends and build relationships. In the case of my friend Cari, we first met through our Great Books class during our first semester at Mercer University, and she joined Alpha Gamma Delta the following spring. In our sophomore year, we shared a suite in Shorter Hall, and we both lived in the Alpha Gam house for our senior year. I had approximately zero fashion sense in college and frequently raided her closet when I needed something stylish to wear. We also shared a particularly strong bond over weird things, especially weird sorority history.

When I got married, Cari bought me a copy of The College Woman's Cookbook, which was a cookbook that was published by Alpha Gamma Delta in 1934. The proceeds went to Alpha Gam's philanthropic focus at that time, which was a summer camp near Jackson, Michigan for underprivileged children. I thumbed through the cookbook when she sent it to me and chuckled at a few of the recipes, but the urge struck me today to cook something from the book.

Desserts are typically my go-to, simply because I enjoy a good treat. One recipe caught my eye because it was submitted by Estelle Shepard Beswick, who is one of Alpha Gam's founders. (Alpha Gam was founded in 1904, so I should not have been surprised that the founders would still be alive and cooking in 1934.) Whatever Estelle submitted either did not catch my interest or required too many ingredients that I didn't have on hand. However, I quickly found another recipe that was written by a different founder, called for ingredients that I had, and was called Hermit Cookies. What more could I ask for during this period of isolation? 

At first glance, Hermit Cookies are pretty basic. However, there were a few things I had to look up or completely wing.
  • I had to Google what "sweet milk" is. Turns out it's not sweetened condensed milk but just the regular cow milk many people already keep in their refrigerators (as opposed to buttermilk). 
  • "Soda" means baking soda, not Coca Cola.
  • I didn't have any allspice, but following this recommendation to mix cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg worked just fine.
  • "Enough flour to roll dough" is really freaking vague. I started out with heaping teaspoons, switched to heaping 1/4 cups, and ended up dumping entire cups of flour into the mixing bowl. I don't know how much flour I added. I will keep better records in the future, but I could have benefited from sort of range for how much flour I would need. Here's what my dough looked like pre- and post-roll. I have no aspirations to start a recipe blog or become a good photographer; I realize my photos are junky looking.

Cool. The dough was ready. The issues didn't stop there, though. 
  • A "moderate oven" should be between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The cookbook contained a handy reference to oven temperatures ranging from "slow" to "very hot." 
  • The recipe gives exactly zero instruction for how long to bake these cookies in the moderate oven. My first guess was 10 minutes, so I decided to start with 8 minutes to err on the side of caution. It worked in my favor, as 8 minutes seemed to be just right. Here's how my cookies looked.

They turned out to be quite yummy! I think Georgia Dickover would be proud of my finished product. The cookies are not overly sweet; Richard referred to them as "old lady" cookies. Our cousin Emily said they sounded like oatmeal raisin cookies without the oatmeal. The recipe yielded about 50 cookies (I didn't count), so I am sending some to work with Richard tomorrow.

Overall, making these cookies was a good adventure in trying something a little different. I connected with the past, and Cari's gift hasn't gone to waste! Who knows what I'll try next? 

Something that made today great: I submitted a paper for publication!
Time I woke up: 10:00 am (Stayed up late last night, though)

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