Margaret Button: Lost under a pile of recipe ideas


When I was on a recent vacation from work, I made a long list of things that needed to be done around the house: Weeding the front yard garden, transplanting some house plants, straightening out the linen closet, cleaning out my dresser and closet (and other catch-all drawers in the house), washing and detailing my car -- just to name a few.

Sad to say, I accomplished very few. While trying to fit all the books I had acquired this summer into the bookshelves in the living room, I started reading one -- and then another -- and then another.

I also took a day off to go to the Christmas Tree Shop in Holyoke (yes, as the jingle goes, I do "just love a bargain."). I did transplant four plants that were part of a dish garden, and now none of the plants look happy.

I spent too much time floating in the pool and not enough time cleaning out drawers, although I did manage to get rid of the cellphone graveyard that had taken over the buffet drawer in the dining room. Since his first cellphone nine years ago, my son has had at least 50. Few have died a natural death -- they've been dropped, drowned, cracked, stolen, vandalized or lost. The one he lost was shatter-proof, crack-proof, water-proof, you-name-it proof. Unfortunately, it didn't come with a homing device.

As I occasionally puttered around the house, I came to the conclusion I was a hoarder. Now before images of rooms impassable because of three feet of Lord only knows what on the floor cross your mind, let me clarify -- I apparently am a recipe hoarder. There wasn't a drawer or bookshelf that didn't have clipped-out recipes or cookbooks.

Even worse, as I looked around, I realized I had at least four years of Food Network and Good Housekeeping magazines stashed around waiting until I had time to clip out even more recipes.

To make matters worse, I have a large recipe collection on my home laptop, and I keep going on Pinterest and "pin" other people's recipes left and right. I think I may have pinned some more than once!

I am way, way out of control.

I decided the magazines had to go and I threw a stack into the trash bin -- only to fish them out 15 minutes later because I couldn't stand not cutting out interesting recipes.

Once started, it made sense to do it chronologically from the oldest one to the newest, which ironically arrived in the mail that day.

It took me two mornings to go through the 2010 magazines. When I was done, I had a stack of recipes about 2 inches high. This wasn't good. With 2011, 2012, 2013 and most of 2014 to go, by the time I finished, the stack would be 10 inches high!

I went through the pile again and tossed the ones I would never, ever use. Any with fennel, spinach or kale got tossed. The six recipes for macaroni and cheese also didn't make the cut -- I love Paula Deen's recipe and I will never change.

And honestly, how many recipes for chocolate chip cookies do I need? I've done all right with the Toll House recipe since I started baking cookies when I was a kid. And who was I kidding? There was no way I would ever try Scallops Cerviche because, although top chefs claim the acidity of the lime juice "cooks" the scallops, I would rather have mine really cooked, be it pan-seared or baked and stuffed.

So now the pile was only an inch high, but I couldn't just stuff them into a drawer. I needed a king-size recipe box; I needed an accordion file! The one I bought is OK for now, but eventually I need to expand into a larger one. There are only seven dividers and I want to subdivide "desserts" into cakes, cookies, bars and pies; "meat" into pork and beef, and add categories like "eggs," "cheese," "appetizers" and "tailgating."

I have no idea what will happen with all of these recipes down the road. I know I'll try some, but the majority will just gather dust in the file. I'll just have to be content knowing they are there if I want them.

Soft Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

The perfect sugar cookie for Fall! Sweet, spicy and soft!

Yield: 3-4 dozen

prep time: 20 minutes; cook time: 8 minutes;

total time: 28 minutes

1 2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

For the glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat and set aside. In a large bowl, stir butter, oil, pumpkin, sugars, vanilla and eggs together until incorporated and smooth. Slowly mix in all dry ingredients until completely incorporated. Scoop onto prepared baking sheet using 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop and flatten to 1/2 inch thick using the bottom of a glass. If the dough is sticking to the glass, press the bottom of the glass in granulated sugar before flattening. Bake 8-9 minutes.

While cookies bake, stir all ingredients together for glaze until smooth.

Once cookies are finished baking, cool 3 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons glaze over each warm cookie. Let glaze harden 2-3 hours before serving. Or eat them warm with lots of runny glaze.


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