Monday, March 12, 2012

A Muse in the Kitchen, the Power of Music, and the Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever

A guest post by Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)

Some things that go on in this house are over-the-top silly, but now that I have an official title and a permanent place and in the kitchen, I'm not whining. Of course it's just a little rug and the title is questionable, but anything that brings me closer to the chef on a regular basis and gets me scraps destined for the compost heap has my vote.

"We'll have to think of a song for you," the Lady said one day, when I was digging a comfortable spot on my new memory foam rug. "Every kitchen muse has a song."

What's a muse? I'd wondered. I was tempted to lift my leg and start licking but I refrained. As for music, I was glad to hear the kitchen tunes return. It's a sign we're moving on. Seemed like everything shifted after Abe died. Then Badger passed away and it had been eons since we heard music around here. Abe had been the singer among us (and possibly the last muse in the kitchen as far as I know.) Abe's howl was smooth and beautiful like the Barry White of hounds. Who could match that? Not every hound is a born a singer and to make matters worse, the piped in music also came to a halt when Abe died. So when I heard some of the same songs Abe once sang along with, it was a hopeful sign.

Hopeful, because I'd wanted a permanent pass to the kitchen ever since I came to this house as a puppy. My sister Chloe has never been granted a kitchen pass either, but if being a muse was what I had to do, I was all for it to advance my case. Oh sure every once in awhile I'd grabbed apple slices, plums, carrots and celery stalks left loose, but that was petty stuff. And no one wants to feel like a petty thief in his own home. Mostly, I was shown the door with the excuse that it's too dangerous in the kitchen with sharp knives falling, heavy pots of steaming liquids tipping over and an overfilled refrigerator that tossed out food every time the door opened. I couldn't convince the Lady that I loved danger, but now that the kitchen music returned, the mood shifted.

From my new rug I can gaze up at the framed photos of hounds on the walls. Had they been muses, too? Clearly, they must have loved carrots and celery as much as I do, and when I saw this picture I realized collective wisdom can't be ignored.

Well, not every hound was as sharp as I am and not every photo shoot idea is worth repeating.

And I've already learned that not every source outside the pack could be trusted.

The important part was the hounds of the past lived like royalty, and that's exactly the life I wanted, so I figured it would be best to humor Management when it came to silly song ideas.

The Lady went through songs--classic and alternative. The Duke of Earl (Gene Chandler) was already taken by Abe. Also taken were: Just the Two of Us (Bill Withers), With or Without U (U2), and Don't Matter (Akon). The last of the old dogs, Badger got "Wonderful World" by Sam Cook. I couldn't bear to opt for the obvious--Hound Dog (Elvis Presley) or Birddog (Everly Brothers), besides they were a little degrading. The Lady sang a few songs to me. Let humans go on long enough with their quirky ideas and it soon gets over the top. I once saw a bulldog zipped into an enclosed stroller made for dogs. Now that topped ridiculous in my book, but I digress. The lyrics didn't capture my attention until I heard the word "apple" in You Are the Sunshine of My Life (Stevie Wonder). My ears perked-up, and I wagged my tail thinking we'd actually get to enjoy an apple. But it didn't happen.

"That's it," she'd said, "You picked your song."

I'm not sure Management and I are on the same wavelength about the deeper meaning of song lyrics or the job of a muse, but I did score one of these fabulous cookies, and that's what it's really all about. (to be continued)

A note from Management:

This recipe originated in The Joy of Cooking and I'm transitioning it to gluten-free buckwheat flour one baby step at a time. The tapioca or arrowroot helps hold non-gluten flours together. We used freshly ground flour from Nash's Organic Produce, and since these cookies are treats for humans and my muse in the kitchen needs to watch his weight, this stash is kept safely in the freezer.

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever
(Makes about 60 1 1/2-inch cookies)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten or 1/2 mashed ripe banana
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance Spread

1.Preheat oven to 325F. Place parchment paper on baking sheets.

2. Blend flours and baking powder together, mixing well.

3. Combine brown and white sugar, egg or banana, vanilla, peanut butter and butter or Earth Balance in a medium mixing bowl. Mix dry and liquid ingredients until a stiff batter is formed. Take a teaspoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Place on baking sheet. Fill baking sheet, placing cookies about 2-inches apart.

4. Dip a fork into water and press cookies flat making a cross pattern with the fork. Bake cookies for about 15 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to cooling rack, then stack on a plate.

What happens in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen.

1 comment:

Miz Helen said...

Hi Debra and Finn,
You know they really are the Sunshine of our life, the ones who are here and the ones in our heart whose photo's hang on the wall.
Jaque and I are going to love your Peanut Butter Cookies and agree that they may very well be the Best Ever!
Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Miz Helen