I'm sitting on the floor next to my oven right now typing this because I am frozen. The pilot light has yet to be lit in the new place (and by pilot light I mean odd fuse-like device that needs to be installed in the electric heater; oh if only it were simply striking a match). The only source of heat right now is the layers of sweaters bulking up my wiry frame.
I mean, what else do you do when it is under 40 degrees Fahrenheit in your dwelling?
I am also somewhat relying on the ambient heat given off from my cantankerous oven. It's as senile as the average Floridian retiree and puts out heat based on similar whims. It's something that must definitely be looked at but right now it's at least reliably baking my cookies (double entendre that all you want).
I actually did buy a space heater, though. Some giant ceramic tower device that puts out more heat than an alley cat in August. Unfortunately, it's more intelligent than I am as programing it correctly is more difficult that setting the clock on the VCR my mom had in the 90's.
The whole situation has left me only the teeniest bit absolutely livid right now.
As I shivered in my new place the only thing that seemed to make any sense was to bake cookies. It would force the oven to (hopefully) grumble to life and heat the kitchen, which luckily has a door to it and therefore I can trap the heat and hotbox myself.
But cookies have another function - that of comfort. What other food turns a house into a home? Indeed, chocolate chip cookies are the first thing I ever learned to make. I have great memories of my mom teaching my brothers and I how to bake them. We'd always do it in fall and winter when turning on the oven and hot cookies was the only sane way to warm us up in our brisk 50 F Southern California winters. (It doesn't sound bad, but when that's what you grow up with that, well, 50F sets the standard of tolerable cold. Now that I live in Northern California where it hits an arctic death of 20F.) We would carefully crack eggs and beat butter, and my mom would pretend not to notice me and my siblings sneaking fingerfuls of cookie dough.
A more innocent time before salmonella scares and kids learned by making mistakes and hurting themselves and not being protected from every little thing, and parents were terrified that the entire would was out to destroy their young.
So, swaddled up in blankets, the house smells like cooked sugar, chocolate, and ginger. How warming is ginger? I find it to be more so than cinnamon, and less abrasive than peppers. It strikes a balance between heat and solace. Ginger is the spice of sympathy and repose. No wonder we use it in baking to fill the house with scents that calm spirits and fill stomachs. The physical response from ginger is good cheer. Added with the amiable ingestion of chocolate and, well, that's a cookie perfect for a new home.
I'm going to stop blogging for a bit now and read the instructions (ah-HA!) for the space heater and then call the landlord about getting the Infernal Contraption chugging along.
In ten more minutes, though, cookies. Chocolate cookies with a excessive amount of candied ginger and a handful of white chocolate chips for because-I-felt-like-it.
Served hot with a boiling cup of chai tea, a good book, and a blanket. Preferably at home.
Chocolate and Ginger Cookies
Makes 4 dozen cookies
1 cup of butter, softened
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 teaspoons of milk
1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced candied ginger
1 cup white chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugars together for about two minutes at medium speed or until well incorporated and light in color. Add the egg, cream, and vanilla extract until well incorporated, about a minute. Be sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl halfway through.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture slowly, and beating at medium speed, stopping once all of it is incorporated (do not overmix). Fold in the candied ginger and white chocolate chips.
3. Take small spoonfuls of the dough and drop them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.