Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 20, 2008

Foodie with Family: On their scale, awesome

BY REBECCA LINDAMOOD

The boys recently cornered me in the kitchen and explained to me very seriously that they have decided to start rating the quality of a day according to a system they created.

"There are criteria that are incredibly important," I was told by my eldest, the Rules Guy. The second-in-line, the Explainer, expounded, "The worst is Supreme Bad, then Just Bad, then Okay, then Just Good, then Supreme Good and finally, Awesome!"

At this point there was much nodding of little heads. I realized my maternal duty was to ask intelligent questions about their system.

Mom: "What inspired your system?"

The Explainer: "We wanted a way to compare days."

Mom: "What about adjectives?"

The Rules Guy: "Adjectives are not enough. We need standards."

Mom: "Fair enough. What constitutes a Just Bad day?"

The Explainer: "That would be a day with lots of sweaty chores."

Mom: "What is today on your scale?"

The Explainer: "Today is Okay. We only had a couple sweaty chores and our breakfast was good."

The Rules Guy: "Good breakfasts happen on Okay days. If it's something like oatmeal that might put us in Supreme Bad territory."

I saw more nodding from the jury.

Mom: "What makes a Supreme Good or Awesome day?"

And in stepped son number three, or as I like to call him, The Operator.

The Operator: "You know, Mom, you could take today, which is so far Okay and make it Supreme Good or possibly Awesome by making us peanut butter cookies and ice cream. I like Supreme Good days, Mom."

That is when I knew I was stuck. It was five million degrees outside and I was going to fire up the oven to bake cookies because I was incapable of coming up with a diplomatic way of telling my kids I didn't want them to have a "Supreme Good or possibly Awesome day." The Operator had better grow up to be a multi-million dollar sales representative or prosecuting attorney.

I made a double batch of peanut butter cookies and crowned each with a Hershey's Kiss -- unwrapped, of course. As the cookies were cooling on the counter, I saw baby number four, Mr. Innocent, drawing perilously close to the cooling racks.

"Don't touch those," said I. Mr. Innocent stopped, clasped his hands like a choirboy and made wide, innocent eyes. "Is it good I'm don't touching these, Mom?" He said. I told him it was very good and turned around to wash up the mixing bowl. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him bent near the counter with his hands tucked behind his back. When I faced him fully, I saw that his tongue was resting right on top of one cookie.

Mom: "Hey! Don't eat those!"

Mr. Innocent: "I'm not eating them. I'm smelling them with my tongue."

Here's the irresistible peanut butter cookie recipe that made my kids manipulate and lie to me. If you have someone around like my baby number five, The Stealthy One, you may find yourself with an entire plate of cookies stripped of their chocolate kisses. If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend crumbling the leftover cookies onto a bowl of ice cream. Better yet, crumble them into almost-finished homemade homemade chocolate malt ice cream with a splash of Frangelico and a drizzle of rich hot fudge sauce. For the ice cream recipe, visit www.foodiewithfamily.com/blog

Manipulation Worthy Peanut Butter Malt Cookies

1 c. shortening

1 c. granulated sugar (or demerara sugar)

1 c. brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 t. vanilla extract

1 T. malted milk powder (like Ovaltine)

1 c. crunchy natural peanut butter

3 c. all-purpose flour

2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

Additional sugar for sprinkling on top of the cookies

48 Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, sugar, eggs, vanilla, malt powder and peanut butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together or sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, stirring to combine thoroughly.

Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Drop rounded teaspoons of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet. Sprinkle the cookie dough with additional sugar and press each round lightly with the bottom of a drinking glass.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and set up. Remove from oven and immediately press the wide end of a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Allow the cookies to cool on the pans for 2 minutes and transfer carefully to a wire rack. If these are not eaten entirely by bedtime you can place them on a plate, cover lightly and store at room temperature. Just keep them out of reach of The Stealthy One.

You can read more of Rebecca's recipes, kitchen tips and parenting adventures at www.foodiewithfamily.com.