On this episode of the Galley podcast, we’re continuing on in our Ella’s Grill – Prairie Life series where we’re going back in time to the 1880s and learning about cuisine found on the prairies as settlers moved west in their covered wagons. He hope to bring some history and some fundamental cuisine that settlers relied on for their survival.
Ella’s Grill Prairie Life
Welcome to our second Ella’s Grill Prairie Life segment. This is a Pa and daughter journey back to the frontier to make different foods of the time of the early American settlers. Our task is to learn from them and understand how different ingredients were used back in that time. But more than that this will be an opportunity to teach my young daughter cooking skills in the kitchen and essentially passing the baton down to the next generation.
We’re going to mainly rely on the Little House Cookbook inspired by the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books on Little House. I’m sure if you’re old enough to remember the TV series Little House on the Prairie, that show was also based on this series of books.
King Arthur’s Chocolate Crinkles Test Recipe
As Ella and I continue to do this segment, we’ll work together preparing and assembling the recipe that she wants to prepare and then we learn about it in its context from how it was made by the Ingall’s family. Since Ella is only nine, she’s already picked out most of the dessert items in the cookbook. I doubt it will be a while before we’ll be making any rutabaga or cabbage recipes anytime soon. But, since this program is about our Christmas tradition, Christmas cookies are always a good choice this time of year for many families.
For us we like to bake together. Ella has enjoyed helping out in the kitchen ever since she was old enough to stand on a chair and watch me make different things in the kitchen. For this segment I had her pick a test recipe we never made before from a selection of holiday cookies from King Arthur. The recipe can be found here.
This was actually a pretty easy recipe to prepare but needs to be done in two stages. The first stage is when you make the cookie dough. Then, there is a 2-3 hour rest period when the dough needs to chill and harden before you shape the cookies and coat with powdered sugar before they go into the oven.
For the recipe itself, I guided Ella along to where she is doing the measuring of the ingredients, the mice en place and the mixing. There are a couple things she isn’t totally comfortable with yet, like cracking eggs because she is always afraid of getting an eggshell in the batter. Or using the electric beater…those tasks usually fall to me, but Ella pretty much does the rest. There is a secret ingredient in the recipe that Ella raised an eyebrow at. The recipe calls for expresso powder that helps enhance the flavor of the chocolate. She was like “I’m not sure about this…” So before baking there was a little uncertainty in her mind if the cookies would be to her liking.
I told her it was going to make you into a coffee drinker yet. We put the dough into the refrigerator for a few hours. After we chilled it and took it out, we found the dough firms up nicely and you have to take a 1 ½” ice cream scoop or a teaspoon and scoop out the dough and form it into a ball. It’s pretty sticky, but you just roll it up plop it into a bowl of powdered sugar. You coat eight balls of dough at a time before you place them on a parchment lined sheet tray. We have silicone baking sheets that work just as well. We were using a slightly larger ice cream scoop and ended up filling up two half sheet trays, plus a few extra. The recipe calls for the cookie to bake for around 12-15 minutes. Ours were probably double the recommended size so they took about double the time to bake. You know they’re close to being done when the cookies have a cracked appearance on the surface and the cookie no longer looks doughy. You can test it with a toothpick as well.
All in all the entire family really liked the cookies. Ella for all her skepticism wanted to make another batch right away. It’s a recipe we’ll continue to make and would make a nice appearance on the cookie tray. So give these a try.
Additional Podcast Addendum
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We thank Sterling Berry who runs the website “Great Lakes Vessel History” for allowing us to quote factual content from his website. You can find him on the web at www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com to learn more.
References mentioned in the podcast:
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