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Future Chefs’ mission is to prepare motivated youth for high quality early employment and post secondary educational opportunities in the culinary field.
Future Chefs™ uses a youth development model in which youth participate in planning, leading and evaluating their program. Students earn scholarships and apprenticeships for post-secondary training. Young participants develop a career plan and receive coaching through caring and supportive relationships with educators, staff and industry mentors.
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No, I haven’t lost my marbles. And yes, I realize that the chocolate chip cookie dough balls are rather close together. But I’m not baking them now. I’m making my own “IQF” cookies. I put the cookie sheet in the freezer. When the dough balls are frozen, I’ll transfer them to a Ziploc bag.
Then, whenever I want cookies, I can pop just two in the oven. Fresh baked cookies on a whim… limit temptation by only baking a few at a time. What could be better??
This recipe, when normally prepared, bakes for 10 minutes at 375F. When the cookie dough balls are frozen, I bake them for 12-14 minutes at 350F instead.
As the sun begins to peer through the trees, Chris is out in his yard tending to his animals – two horses, 4 cows, 2 pigs and a dozen chickens. With the exception of two cows (who were born on his farm), they were all rescued from neglectful owners.
I visited the farm early last Sunday hoping for a chance to milk Melissa, the 6 year-old Jersey cow. Chris made no promises:
You're welcome to visit the animals any time. They do love visitors, and I like showing them off. Getting the opportunity to milk my cow is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
Melissa allows me to milk her because she knows and trusts me. We've developed a routine, and she knows that I'm going to look out for her well being, and am going to be kind and gentle with her. If a strange person attempts to handle her udder, she's probably going to be upset. She's going to walk away, and might even kick. It's likely that she won't "let down her milk" as well, and will be disturbed for the rest of the morning. Let me put it this way: how comfortable would you be allowing a stranger to put his hands on your body? Jersey cows have personalities and feelings. They really are unique creatures. They aren't milk machines that plod through life (although the food industry typically assumes such a thing).
On the other hand, Melissa is an amazing cow. While most cows would not allow themselves to be milked by anyone if a stranger walked into the barn, Melissa tolerates visits from the oil truck, the propane guy, and various and sundry visitors. She will tolerate noises, distractions and changes to the routine better than most. She just might get fussy about touches from strangers.
If you'd like to visit, and watch, you're more than welcome. You might get lucky, and she'll allow you to milk her. Just don't set your heart on it.
When I arrived, the animals were roaming around the yard, with minimal fencing to keep them at bay. They had barns where they could retreat from rain, snow and wind. Otherwise they walk around, unfazed by the sub-freezing temperatures.
Chris finished his chores, and led Melissa to the front driveway where she’s fed and milked. First he brushed her coat. This helps rid her of loose hair that might otherwise fall into the milk. Then he sanitizes her udders with a vinegar and water solution. Finally, he rinses the “line” by pulling a few ounces of milk out of each udder.
He milks by hand: pinching the top of the udder with the base of his thumb and first finger, and then squeezing out the milk with a firm tug. The milk flows out in a steady, rhythmic stream.
After the first two udders are drained, he lets me take a turn. I pet Melissa, showering her with affection in hopes that she will let me also milk her.
Indeed, I’m able to milk her. I have a few false starts with handling the udders, trying to squeeze the milk. I’m timid -- fearful that I will hurt her, I don’t tug hard enough. I get the hang of it and the milk starts to flow, though not as vigorously as when Chris did.
In the end we Chris got about ½ gallon of fresh milk. The milk is poured through a coffee filter to strain out any hair which may have fallen in.
In its natural state, the milk is about 5% fat. Since it is not homogenized, the cream rises to the top, and after 24 hours, I can separate low-fat milk from the cream. I poked a whole in the bottom of the milk jug and let the lighter milk, which had settled on the bottom strain out.
Raw milk is not readily available. State health boards fear that the naturally occurring bacteria are harmful. In Massachusetts, dairy farms need a special license to sell raw milk and are inspected monthly. Nonetheless, farmers often choose this option because tends to be a economically more viable option for them than selling to dairy conglomerates like Gaerelick. Consumers prefer it because the enzymes and probotics in raw milk have been shown to have many health benefits and actually tend to be safer than pasteurized milk. And folks that have lactose intolerance fair better with raw milk because of the increased lactase.
For more details about raw milk, you can read here.
And what better way to enjoy the sweet, creamy, fresh taste of raw milk than with a plate of cookies!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe is adapted from Bo Friberg, my pastry instructor in culinary school.
4 1/2 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature 3 oz. brown sugar 3 oz. white sugar 1 egg 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 6 1/2 oz. flour 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. salt 6 oz. chocolate chips
1. Using the paddle attachment of a mixer, cream the butter and the sugars at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. 2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the butter mixture and mix over low speed until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. 3. Using a spoon, measure out about 2 tbs. of dough. Use your hands to shape into a ball and place on a cookie sheet. Continue until all the dough is formed into cookie balls. At this point you can freeze the balls to bake later or bake all immediately. Make sure you properyly space them so there's about 2 inches between them. 4. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown and the middle still looks a bit sticky.
Molasses is the viscous byproduct of processing (refining) sugarcane into sugar. Its slightly bitter caramel taste gives gingerbread its unique flavor. It’s also the sugar source used in making rum.
The various phases of sugar refinement yield different colors of sugar – from dark brown to light brown and finally white sugar. Molasses can be added to white sugar to give the effect of brown sugar (1 tablespoon per cup of white sugar for light brown, 2 tablespoons per cup for dark brown). But when making gingersnap cookies, the extra kick of straight molasses is needed.
These spicy cookies are great on their own, as book-ends for ice-cream sandwiches or as a crunchy contrast to crème brulee.
The recipe comes from my pastry instructor Bo Friberg in cooking school, and now author of the authoritative book on professional baking. I usually make half the recipe at a time (which still yields quite a lot, maybe 5 dozen). I roll it into logs and freeze. Then, when I'm in the mood for cookies, I can slice off a few rounds to bake fresh.
Ginger Snap Cookies (yields 5 dozen)
4 oz. (1 stick) soft butter 1 1/3 cup sugar 1 ½ egg ½ cup molasses (to best measure molasses, oil the measuring cup first, then the molasses will come right out) 1 tbs. white vinegar 3 1/2 cups A/P flour (better yet, weigh out 14 oz.) 1 tbs. baking soda 2 tsp. ground ginger ½ tsp. ground cinnamon ½ tsp. ground cloves ½ tsp. ground cardamom
1. Beat butter and sugar until well combined. Incorporate eggs, molasses, and vinegar
2. Sift together flour, baking soda and spices. Add to butter mixture, and mix just until combined. Refrigerate.
3. Divide dough into 2 pieces. Roll each piece into ropes, and cut each rope into 30 pieces.
4. Form the pieces into round balls and place on a cookie sheet.
(Don’t forget about the chocolate giveaway. Leave a comment before midnight, Tuesday, November 17th)
It’s so easy to brighten someone’s day. A friendly smile. Stopping to give tourists directions, or take their picture for them. Donating ‘gently worn’ clothes to the Salvation Army. Or baking cookies.
Lydia Walshin founded Drop In & Decorate in 2002 to bring people together to bake, decorate and donate cookies to shelters, food pantries, and nonprofit agencies meeting the basic human needs of people in their own communities. And so far, with this simple gesture, she has brightened the lives of close to 10,000 people with her cookies.
The number 10,000 is how many cookies she’s baked and donated. But truthfully, she’s made the day of many others – each of us who have participated in the venture of decorating the cookies. Each year around the holidays and again at Mother’s day, Lydia rallies dozens of friends and neighbors to decorate cookies in log-cabin house in the back woods of Rhode Island. I’ve joined her for the last three years. And though I’m artistically challenged when it comes to icing, I always have fun at her party.
The idea has spun off, and now folks all around the country are hosting their own Drop In & Decorate parties… and donating them to organizations in their own community.
If you’d like to host your own Drop In & Decorate® event, Pillsbury and Wilton would like to help. And maybe you’ll be the one to give away the 10,000th cookie.
Pillsbury has donated 50 VIP coupons, worth $3.00 each, off any Pillsbury product -- including sugar cookie mix, icing and flour -- to be distributed, first come, first served, while supply lasts, to anyone who plans to host a Drop In & Decorate event (max. 5 coupons per person). And we'll include a Comfort Grip cookie cutter, donated by Wilton, while our supply lasts.
Write to lydia AT ninecooks DOT com for more info on how to get your free coupons and cookie cutters.
And if you plan to go to Lydia’s event this year, I look forward to seeing you there! ___________________
All this talk of cookies and chocolate got me into a baking mood.
Though they may not be the best choice for Drop In and Decorate, these chocolate brownie cookies are great for sharing and will definitely brighten someone’s day.
No adaptation... I made this recipe to the letter. I recommend you do the same.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 2/3 cup sugar 1/2 tablespoon brewed espresso or dark coffee 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, briefly whip the eggs to break them up. Add the sugar, espresso, and vanilla and beat on high speed for 15 minutes, until thick.
4. While the eggs are whipping, place the butter in the top of a double boiler, or in a small metal bowl suspended over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, and scatter the extra-bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate on top. Heat until the butter and chocolate melt. Remove the boiler top from over the water and stir the chocolate and butter until smooth.
5. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until partially combined (there should still be some streaks). Add the flour mixture to the batter and carefully fold it in. Fold in the chocolate chips. If the batter is very runny, let it rest until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
6. Drop the batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets and bake until puffed and cracked, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before removing from the baking sheets.