Thursday, December 10, 2009
This should probably be a goodbye message; I might not ever speak with any of you again. I could be suffering from a very rare and accute case of food poisoning, and I'm not sure I'll recover.
Did you know Crisco goes bad? If you only use it once a year, and keep the same industrial sized tub for nine years or more, it probably won't be good on the ninth year. And if you consume confections created by it in the ninth year, you just might feel inspired to bid everyone a fond adieu.
I should start by telling you all that I hate baking. Is there a more tedious chore than baking cookies? I loathe it. I'd rather scrub my toilets, scour my sinks, or rake up bag after bag of pokey-balls from my lawn. Ugh. Lest you be confused, I really like eating cookies. This bitterness only applies to the baking aspect. But, once a year, at Christmas-time, I get inspired to try to put Betty Crocker to shame by my world-class baking extravaganzza.
I went to Aldi last week and spent $45 on baking goods. If you shop at Aldi, you will recognize that is a LOT of flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. I was ready.
So I began my bake-a-thon. I've made ganache, oreo truffles, mint cookies, white chocolate coated gingersnaps. I'm not done.
Tonight it was time for the peanut butter blossoms. While I'm in the mood to rant and confess, lest I never have the opportunity again, I shall let you know that I think peanut butter and chocolate are rather foul bedfellows. Nevertheless, I have come to understand that I am in the minority on that opinion, and in the spirit of love and Christmas, am happy to oblige the less discriminating palates of my family. Which leads me to my point: my looming death.
As I creamed together the peanut butter and shortening, I noted that I was finally nearing the end of my Crisco. I bought it shortly after John and I were married. We didn't have much money, but I thought we should start food storage, so I stocked up on Crisco. From Costco. I figured, if nothing else, should an emergency arrive, we could trade: you might have rice and beans - but I would have the oil to make them nice and crispy. You'd want it, and be ready to swap, right?
So I creamed, and I added flour, vanilla, sugar, eggs... everything. The dough was ready to roll. I sampled it and noticed a rather peculiar flavor. As I mentioned, I'm not a real fan of peanut butter (with or without chocolate...) so I chalked it up to the fact that these were peanut butter cookies, and by nature, undesirable. But soon a bitter, metallic aftertaste crept in. That was some peanut butter!
And then it hit me: maybe it's not such a good idea to use decade-old shortening. You think? (Relax, nothing else has been made with said shortening in at least a year - if you've sampled my wares in the past, or have plans to in the near future, you are in no danger).
I tasted it again to be certain. Yep, it was nasty. But then I got to thinking - maybe no one would notice once they were baked? Maybe it was one of those things that would go away, kind of like a bad headache? They don't last forever; maybe the metalic, rotting flavor wouldn't either? I looked for an expiration date on the tub. None there. Now, everything has an expiration date. I think mine was so old it rubbed off. You'd think that would be a sign. Nope. I'm embarrassed to admit, in a moment of holiday induced fatigue and insanity, I did consider trying to salvage my cookies. All the while, I kept sampling it to be sure the taste was still there. Gradually, I felt my stomach bloat, my throat go raw, and the room began to spin.
That part's actually a lie, but I did start to feel rather ill.
So the dough went in the trash, and I began again, this time using butter (bought only this week, so it was plenty fresh). They tasted fine, and were baked, to perfection, I'm sure. My daughters said they were "the best cookies EVER!" They're sleeping peacefully. But not me. I keep thinking about the deserved doom that awaits me from my idiot-induced Crisco poisoning. I'm pretty sure it'll be bad.
So, dear friends, I'd like to thank you for your friendship; it has been treasured. I wish you the Merriest of Christmases. And a Happy New Year filled with rice and beans - without the shortening.