On Getting Back to Basics (or, don’t judge a book by its cover)

With all this talk of classics and whether or not food blogs are over, I’ve been very careful about what I’m cooking this week.  I want to make sure that what I’m making is worth the time it takes.  It doesn’t mean that I know ahead of time whether a new recipe will be a success.  But, based on where it comes from, I generally have a good idea.

I am a card-carrying member of the glossy-photo-filled-cookbook fan club.  I own stacks of them and display them proudly on my shelves, full of my recipe notes and tweaks.  And for each volume I own, there is a non-glamorous cookbook whose cover doesn’t get cracked nearly enough.  These are the cookbooks that are printed on *gasp* regular paper, and whose authors don’t have their own food network show or blog.

The saying goes that you eat with your eyes first, which may be why my lusty, food-porn- filled cookbooks are on heavy rotation, and the others get relegated to the bottom of the heap.  And yet, if I walked into any good housewife’s kitchen, I’d be shocked if I didn’t find staples like The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The New York Times Cookbook, and The Gourmet Cookbook.  Some of these kitchen staples have been around for at least 75 years.  There has to be a reason for that, and of course, said reason is that the recipes are tried and true.

All of this, dear readers, is to say I made cookies.

Good ones.

Lemon ones.

From The Gourmet Cookbook (with only one slight tweak).  It made me feel connected to so many home cooks before me.

Their lemon thins are crispy and golden along the edges, and soft and chewy inside.  The cookies are delicate, and have just enough lemon flavor to give your mouth a slight pucker.  They feel dainty, which is oh-so-dangerous, as eating one quickly leads to two or three more.

To make 3 dozen, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C vegetable shortening
  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 T lemon zest (1 large or 2 smaller lemons)
  • 1/4 C fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with one rack in the lower and one in the upper third of your oven.  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into bowl.  Beat shortening, butter, and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed for one minute.  Beat in vanilla, zest, and juice, and continue to beat until smooth.  Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture until well blended.

Scoop out tablespoon sized balls of dough onto cookie sheets, about two inches apart.  Flatten balls gently with the palm of your hand.  Bake cookies until edges are just golden, 8 – 10 minutes, starting on the bottom rack, and rotating to the top halfway through.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack.

2 thoughts on “On Getting Back to Basics (or, don’t judge a book by its cover)

  1. Pingback: Friday Favourites « A Family's Life

  2. Pingback: Holiday Baking | a glass of milk

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