Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies You'll Ever Have



 Every time I make these cookies for people, they describe them as "melt-in-your-mouth", "surprisingly moist", and "creamy".
  What, you mean all other peanut butter cookies are terrible and dry? I guess I wouldn't know that, since I grew up making these with my mom and brother. But I had noticed that whenever I had store-bought or most other people's peanut butter cookies, they weren't as good, so maybe I did know but just didn't think I'd lived enough or something. But whatever; I don't really pay attention, I just eat anything sweet I can get my hands on.
  In any case, I can't have my favorite peanut butter cookies anymore due to peanut allergies, so here I'll share the recipe with you all so that you can enjoy it for me.

Note: The original recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens: Cookies and Candies by the Meredith Corporation [All right reserved, of course], 1966. I have the eighth printing (1971).
Second Note: There , which ask for you to roll them into a tube shape and cut them later. I don't do that, and nor do I stick the dough in the fridge for an eternity when I can just so easily use the freezer, but I'll post it below my version anyway for those who'd like to try it out.
Third Note: There is no third note. Three just makes it look pretty.

[I'll be posting pictures of the steps the next time I make the cookies]

...Ohh, well lookie cookie here! You can get the cookbook for cheap on Amazon.com! http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_37?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=better+homes+and+gardens+cookies+and+candies&sprefix=better+homes+and+gardens+cookies+and+%2Caps%2C203 
It looks like this: 

Anyway, back to the recipe:
On page 51, under the category, "Teen winners", it's called Double Peanut Butter Cookies.
My version, first (which I made wordier and more specific for the sake of preventing confusion or freak-outs [especially found among newbies and perfectionists or weird people like me):



*Edit on December 16th, 2016. I figured out and tested out a different way for flattening the dough. It's a lot easier with your gloved fingers than a glass cup. The glass cup method was frustrating and time-confuming because you had to get the bottom of the glass cup to keep the dough from sticking to it. I've modified this recipe with the better method. Note: The ingredients and measurements are still the same.

Makes 2 dozen

Tools needed:
1 cup
1/2 cup
1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon
1 Tablespoon
1 or 2 silicone spatulas (for peanut butter and for shortening/butter)
Mixing bowl (preferably metal, but glass works well, too)
Mixing spoon
2 ungreased cookie sheets
1 pair of disposable gloves (non-powdered)
1 small spoon for scooping out dough
1 small spoon (or 1/2 teaspoon) for peanut butter jar (after dough is made)
1 metal fork
1 small glass or cup of water for fork (optional)

Measurements and ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening or butter: http://tinyurl.com/kjz3qmq
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon milk

 Sift together dry ingredients.
 Cut in shortening and peanut butter till mixture resembles coarse meal.
 Blend in syrup and milk.
 Thoroughly mix. (Even if it seems like it's too dry, do NOT add more liquid. Your mixing arm may get sore, but in the end you will thank yourself for being patient).
 Stick the bowl in the freezer for at least 40 minutes (a metal bowl works faster, but glass is almost as fast) or until it's firm.
 After at least 40 minutes has passed (though it doesn't hurt to leave it in there overnight), preheat oven at 350 degrees.
 Put on the disposable gloves. This will keep your hands from getting greasy from the peanut butter and will help keep the dough from sticking to your skin (This especially happens when the dough thaws and because your skin is warm).
 Using a small spoon, scoop out some dough and place into the palm of your hand.
 Roll the dough around between your palms until it's a smooth ball, about the size of your palm (cherry or walnut-size range, if you like to imagine it that way like I do). Now, when the dough is cold just out of the freezer, it may clump and sort of crumble at first, but if it gives you much trouble, squeeze the crumbling parts together again between your fingers and add more pressure when rolling between your palms.
 You will at least want an inch or so space between each ball you place on an ungreased cookie sheet. You can fit twelve on a single cookie sheet.
 With your finger knuckles (Look at your palms, then close your fingers into fists. You'll be using the flat parts of your fingers between your center knuckles and tips-of-your-fingers knuckles.), flatten the cookies to about 1/4 inch thick. I like to turn my hand three times from left, to right, to left with the same pressure when I'm pressing on the dough. It makes all of them have the same thickness everytime. And don't worry too much about your finger indentations. The cookies expand quite a bit.
 After all are flattened, scoop out peanut butter with half of a small spoon (or 1/2 teaspoon peanut butter) and plop it in the center of each cookie. The amount doesn't have to be perfect, because chances are you'll have cookies of different sizes. It doesn't hurt to have a little too much on a small cookie, either. If you like, you can also place one small chocolate chip in with the dab of peanut butter for a chocolate peanut butter cup taste.
 On another cookie sheet, repeat the balling and flattening process EXCEPT for the dropping on peanut butter on top. Instead, carefully place these on top of the ones with peanut butter on them (like the top layer of bread on a sandwich). It's okay if they fall apart, rip, or twist shape as you pick them up and place them down on top.
 With a wet fork, gently press down all around the cookies along the edges to create that sort of flowery effect. (Not only for decoration, but also to seal the edges and keep the peanut butter from oozing out.) You might have to dip the fork in a cup of water for every completed cookie to prevent the dough from sticking to the fork, depending on how thawed your dough is.
 Once finished, bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
 Cool slightly after taking them out, then remove from the baking sheet. If they start breaking, wait a little longer before you remove them.

Warning: Don't be tempted to take a bite too soon after removing them from the oven. It doesn't matter how mouthwatering they look and smell. It kills me, too. The reason why is the peanut butter in the center will still be much hotter than the rest of the cookie, so wait a little while longer after the outside has cooled.

Enjoy!


The book version doesn't mention the materials needed, nor the alternative to shortening. It otherwise has the same measurements and ingredients as mine. The only real difference between my version and its own is that it's not as specific, that it involves shaping the dough into a 2-inch roll and cutting slices, and it asks to spread the peanut butter on the dough. I prefer the way I've always made it as a kid, but feel free to test out both methods and see which way you find easier.

Here's the book's version:

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and peanut butter till mixture resembles coarse meal. Blend in syrup and milk. Shape into 2-inch roll; chill. Slice 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Place half the slices in ungreased cookie sheet; spread each with 1/2 teaspoon peanut butter. Cover with remaining slices; seal edges with fork. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. Cool slightly; remove from sheet. Makes 2 dozen.

However you choose to make these, you'll love them more than any other peanut butter cookie.

Photo: December 15th, 2016
(I was in too much of a hurry to take pictures of each step, but I'll be making more very soon.)


Saturday, December 13, 2014

My Idea to Solve the Plastic-in-the-Sea Problem

Whenever I see any article about the plastic in the ocean, I say the same basic thing: Make a dozen giant blenders, dump it all in the blenders and make a powdery smoothie.

Well that's not good.
Plastic plastic everywhere. Over five trillion pieces floating in the ocean, to be exact. And together, they weigh over a quarter of a million tons. The findings were published in PLOS ONE this week.
IFLSCIENCE.COM
Like ·  ·  · 10,3388082,631

  • Jennifer Fulk  Things would break down much faster if there was a giant blending facility that would first turn all that into powder. Watch as the Blendtec Blender turns a Chrome Notebook into powder to see what I mean:http://youtu.be/gOO1Z4u2Aq4?list=UUnFP0IU4gpnmcLnVzDLUtfw . But with the powder, it shouldn't be dumped into the ocean. It should be thrown into an active, flowing volcano. All that would be melted down in seconds. That, or we try to recycle that powder, melting it down to be reborn as the things they used to be.
    Tom shows us how when you blend his new Chrome notebook, that the information is safely backed up in...
    YOUTUBE.COM
    Like · Reply · Remove Preview · 9 mins

  • Jennifer Fulk   Another example: http://youtu.be/MC8Zvl-8ziA?t=20s
    See what happens when golf balls are put into a Blendtec blender. Tell us what to blend next here: http:...
    YOUTUBE.COM

Friday, October 31, 2014

Cool Dragon Pumpkin!

  So, this year, I bought two pumpkins. I wasn't able to afford two last year, but since I have a job now I was able to get two (I could have bought more, but I didn't want to wear myself out). Since Christopher Paolini's twist on the Ice Bucket Challenge was so awesome (see http://youtu.be/XDS8Lqu8Me8 ), I decided to carve a scene from it (Of course, the fire scene). In addition, I didn't know what to make the second one, so I asked Christopher what the second pumpkin should be.
  His reply: "Surprise me with a cool dragon."
  So, I went to work:

I'm not good at drawing things up from my imagination. That part is hard for some reason. That's why I sketch instead, using some kind of model to help me (A picture, a drawing, a person or myself). But, this time, I had nothing to work with. He gave me no picture with work with, so this became a fun challenge. 
I did end up using a couple of dragon drawings by other artists just a little bit only to decide what shape of  muzzle, eyes, and nostrils I didn't want, but my main source of inspiration was just making scary faces in the mirror.
But first, I tried to draw the eyes:

You can see from the left sticky note that I tried several times to get it right. The right sticky note I drew by flipping it over on the other side of the left one, making a near perfect copy of the left side. I always have difficulty making eyes the same shape, but I realize that most people's eyes are almost never exactly perfect (Try taking a mirror to half of your face in a picture).

Next, to make parts of the face, I made a flip copy on another sticky note.

I used the lines of my nose (as I wrinkled it and glared in the mirror) to make the lines of the dragon's. 


Then, I copied it onto a regular sheet of paper, using pencil and pen after.


After several times to get the lips right, I finally realized that having closed lips wasn't cool enough. I wanted more teeth showing than just the fangs!


Rroarrrr!! Now it looks more like a dragon! The other one looked like a disgusted frog.
Getting the open mouth shape wasn't easy, either. I think the hardest part of drawing the dragon was definitely its mouth.


The drawing! Bonus: My coffee-black Siamese-mix cat, Sweetie, is in the background.


Next, the face outline! I was going to just sketch the drawing onto the pumpkin, but then I realized the drawing was the perfect size, so I placed the paper on the pumpkin, held it there nice and tight, and scratched my thumb nail over the lines. Thaaat left me sore. I should have made a copy of the drawing at the copy machine so I could tape it on there, but I forgot to that day I was at the library, and I didn't want to wait (A good thing, huh?).


I bought a cheap children's pumpkin carving kit mostly for the cowboy spur thingy. Last year, I poked a gazillion holes using a toothpick! This definitely saved a lot of time and prevented me from getting a cramped hand.


Ehh.... After digging my thumb nail into the lines, despair tore me down. The mouth was too close to the right and too close to the chin. It was also too detailed! The teeth I had to simplify during the carving process. Oh, and by the way, the molars were inspired by my own. When I was nine until age twelve, I ground my teeth together into sharp points. It wasn't a great idea, because to this day I still often bite my cheeks or my tongue and sometimes the inside of my lips, causing terrible damage. I have abnormally thick cheeks (according to two separate dentists), so I bit myself on accident even before I ground them into fine points. It's not fun drawing blood, mind you, so don't you start grinding your teeth just because it looks cool!
Ahem! Pardon. I got off-topic a little.


Yay! Red thumb and finger! Using the spur thingy, I still had to keep a firm hold on it to prevent mistakes. Still, it was much less pain than when I carved the first #paolinipumpkin, where I used a certain kitchen knife I don't have a name for made my middle finger swell. That was fun. Heheh But it was so worth it. Sometimes what gives you the most pain through effort gives you the most satisfaction in the long term.


Now for the nose picking! Making holes, that is.


Ha! Dragon boogers. Grossed out my mom. I couldn't stop laughing.


Completion! The right horn/ear is shaved off on the side because I was going to use this shaver-like pumpkin-carving tool, but then it took off waaaay more pumpkin skin than I expected. 


Darn it! My mom got a new camera (after she took the old one to the beach and fell in the water with it [And, yes. We did put it in rice, but it still doesn't work]), but now this one is super good with night pictures! I'll have to take a pic in the pitch black for the candle light to work. (I'm actually using an electric candle since I'm displaying it in the library).


Judging between the two, I like the drawing better. But I guess pumpkins are much harder to get to look great.


The tools I used! Minus the evil shaving thing that destroyed the horn/ear. The metal spike is actually the thing you pierce through a turkey's legs in the oven. I found it was a perfect tool. I'm totally using it next year.

When Halloween is over, and I come back to the library on Monday, I'm taking it back home. There, on the porch, I'm going to let it rot (I have a concrete porch, so staining isn't a worry for me). It's quite hilarious watching the transformation (especially when it's a carving of a person, as you may well know). ;-D

Oh, and one more thing: The other pumpkin I'll be carving as soon as I can. This pumpkin took me longer than I expected, so I apologize for my tardiness. Tonight's my sister's Halloween party, so I'm booked all day. I'm just using what little time I have to blog this because it's Halloween and because you deserve this much for the wait.


Be safe this Halloween! Friday nights can be a bit crazy, and beware of ferrets drunks on the roads!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You've Got Chain Mail!

 Awesome news! I'm making chain mail for the first time!
 I've loved all things medieval for years, especially knights, armor, weapons, and dragons. When I found out how one of my favorite authors, Christopher Paolini, makes his own chain mail, I thought that was pretty cool. I didn't think that I could actually buy the supplies online for making it myself and find it inexpensive. So... for a long while I just left the fun to him.
  But then it finally made me curious. I looked up how much the stuff was on Amazon.com, and I was surprised that it wasn't all that bad in price. So, excited, I bought a 1 pound bag of chain mail rings, a pair of bent-nosed pliers, and a closing and opening tool (it's basically a ring you put on your finger that has slits in it). 
  After it came in the mail, I went to work on it, thrilled.
  Unfortunately, I kept getting the pattern wrong. Four times.
  I told a librarian co-worker about it the next day (I work as a Children's Page), and she told me that we had books on making chain mail jewelry. I immediately found one and checked it out.
  That evening, I set to work, following by the most basic steps, and gladly found it to be quite easy.
  It took me two days to turn a 1/4 pound of rings into a hand/arm piece that extended from my knuckles to 2 inches from my elbow. Now you know I'm addicted to making chain mail. ;-D

My first attempt: A little, tangled mess!

 My second attempt: Ummm... that's pretty, but not actual chain mail. It's more like connecting one at a time like some bracelet!

 Not enough rings!

Well, what'dya know! Sweetie is here to join the photo shoot! Nice teeth! She likes to follow me everywhere (at home) and stay close to me, so I often capture pics like this.

I was excited in the picture, but the more I thought about it afterwards, the more I realized something was wrong with it.

My work space! It's also the desk where I do my writing. You can see my dinosaur I write on (2005 Sony VAIO). On the right is the book I checked out: Chain Mail Jewelry: Contemporary Designs from Classic Techniques by Terry Taylor (2006).

That's two rows of connected ringlets. Each ringlet contains one center ring surrounded by four rings, creating a four-leaf clover shape. I've attached paper clips to one end and squished them in between the dinosaur and some papers and the book. This helps me to keep the rows still when I'm carefully attaching the connecting rings in between each ringlet. It takes some level of patience and care. Haha! "Chain Mail Jew" (No joke. There's actually a chain mail Jew in the pic. Look at the book.) (...and no, I'm not making fun of Jews. I've had four or five good friends in my life who were Jewish.).

TO WARDROBE!

Er, I mean... TO WAR!!!

No! It's not long enough. Must make it longer!
My original plan was to make a chain mail bracelet, but as I attached the rings together, I put it on to make sure I had the rings in right and accidentally slipped my thumb through the hole. Right then, I had a better idea to make an arm glove thing instead.

And yes. I do have a sword. Three of them, in fact. One's a wooden katana I got at Akicon one year, and the other two are gifts from an awesome cousin. (I shall show more gratitude by making you something chain mail, Sara!)

Connecting more rows to it....


Hey! It's looking pretty nice, already!

Uh oh. What did I do? WHAT DID I DO??? *frustrated* It's not connecting together right. I needed to add more rings because my arm has more muscle near the elbow, but somewhere I goofed up the pattern. It's likely in several places. Ugh. I need to take a break.


It's been three days now since I got frustrated. I'll go back and continue once I simmer down. Normally it'd take me a week or more (or months... or years) to get back to what I was doing, but since this really is fun, I don't want to give up.

...To be continued.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Inspirational Quote - Everyone is a Star

  My sister was watching Breaking Dawn, but since we have a small place, I could hear everything in the movie, including the end credits. Now, the song that sings, "I've loved you for a thousand years" gets stuck in my head in a pleasant way, but my brain has this nasty habit of choosing certain parts of a song and playing it over and over in my head "for a thousand years", etc.
  Half the time, when I hear a song, the mood of it turns into a daydream. Just now I had a daydream of a little girl crying and a kind, soothing, wise person talking to her. It ended up to be just beautiful, so I decided to write it down and share it through Pixlr Editor (an app I have akin to Photoshop and Paint).





Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Headless Poptart

This morning, my mom brought me home a package of Poptarts. Now, I've noticed this has been around for a while, and I've also noticed something terribly wrong about this. So, using my terrible art skills using a computer (especially with a finicky touchpad: Ugh!), I've created something to open people's eyes with.



Message: Don't talk to headless corpses, unless they happen to be wearing the same outfit as you are. That's a cool way of making friends.

Kellogg's, your grim sense of humor is now out. Please continue to be awesome. XD


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Random -- I Made These





 Sherman Alexie once said that disco will live forever, so I made this. Tee hee!























Owl City