not kosher cookies

When Saucy was growing up her Granny would make a specific kind of gingersnap. She kept them cold - they were as crispy and crispy could get. They were so spicy they were almost hot. This part might sound a little strange, but Granny served them buttered.

Um, yes. Cold butter spread on the underside. And sometimes, a little pinch of salt. Saucy remembers these cookies coming out of the fridge and being set out alongside the cold butter dish. The cookies were so hard and crispy, spreading the cool butter on their backsides wasn't even that difficult.

It was not, however, kosher. The Granny that served these cookies could have cared less. The other Granny in Saucy's life would have starved to death next to a tray of these cookies. These cookies are made with a very specific ingredient.

Bacon fat.

Yes. Ugh.

Okay, take a minute to get your head wrapped around it. Non-kosher Granny would fry up a pan of bacon and render the fat cleanly into a measuring cup. She did this not only by carefully cooking the bacon, she strained the drippings through paper towel-lined sieve. This removed all bacon bits and left her with a clean source of animal fat.

I know. Ugh.

The fat was kept in the fridge and Granny used it for frying onions and making gingersnaps. If you try these cookies, your bacon fat should be solid - not liquid and fresh from the bacon pan. Render it clean and cool it in the fridge. Set it out to room temperature so you can cream it easily with the butter.

Saucy made Veto some bacon, rendered the fat, and made the gingersnaps. She just needed to try it, once. She wanted to smell those cookies, cold in her fridge. They are quite like she remembered, but were she to do it again, she'd add more molasses. Granny didn't cook with recipes, you see. The instructions were pretty much "add enough until it looks right" or "when it's shiny, you have enough"... so here is the recipe Saucy came up with:

1 cup butter
1 cup rendered bacon fat
1 and 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1 tablespoons molasses (Saucy will use 2 tbsp next time)
1 to 2 tablespoons water
3 and 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves

In stand mixer, cream butter, bacon fat and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg, followed by corn syrup, molasses and water.

Sift together the dry ingredients and blend into the butter mixture in four parts, adding extra water if the mixture is dry. Your dough will be ready when you can roll a teaspoon of it between your hands in a soft, shiny ball that has no cracks in it.

Place the rolled balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet and press down (Granny used a fork) with the back of a spatula. Saucy rolled some of the balls in sanding sugar but truth be told, she's not a fan - they're a bit too sweet this way and the charm of these cookies is in their bite.

Bake at 375 degrees for 11-12 minutes. They will be firm after baking and easy to remove from the pan. As they cool, they will get very crispy. Very.

In working with this dough, Saucy realized that it would also make a nice rolled cookie - the dough did not spread much when cooking and they are as evenly flat as pancakes.

And get this: not a trace of bacon flavour. Just a really spicy, gingery cookie. But definitely not kosher.

goat cheese with mango salsa

While vacationing in Arizona last week, Veto and Saucy enjoyed a delicious appetizer at one of their favourite restaurants. Saucy also enjoyed a couple of margaritas - the shaken kind, not the slushy frozen kind. It. Was. Awesome.

When they got home, Saucy decided to give that appetizer a try again. She had most of the ingredients, she just had to get her hands on some macadamia nuts. They weren't hard to find, even in the baking section of her local grocer. 

They did however, look a little pale and sickly so she put them under the broiler for just a couple of minutes before they turned toasty and brown. She liberally sprinkled them with sea salt before toasting them, by the way. It was one of those fancy red salts... she can't tell the difference anyway.

Just beware... macadamia nuts toast up pretty quickly. They're oily little buggers.

She broke them down into crumbs using her trusty old food processor. It's so old... she won it at a staff party when she worked at the grocery store. She was a wide-eyed high school student who thought she had no need of this fancy new contraption, but she walked away with it.

She's used it well for over twenty five years. It just keeps going and going. It's not the fanciest piece of kitchen equipment but Saucy cares for it well, washing all of its pieces by hand. She loves that thing.

If anything ever happens to that old food processor, send help immediately. Saucy will be lost.

You can see here that the nuts aren't super-finely ground... they're sort of medium. Plus, being an oily type of nut and all, Saucy didn't want to make macadamia paste. This is the sum of one bag (250 g, about a half pound) of nuts having been salted, toasted and processed.

You could make this ahead and keep it on hand in your freezer for when the mood for an awesome appetizer strikes you.

It's not that hard to gently slice a log of goat cheese into pieces and then roll (sort of press, actually) them into the nut mixture. You can shape the slices into prettier rounds while you press the nuts into them. Place them in the fridge until you are almost ready to serve them.

Prepare a bed of mango salsa to serve them on: cubed mango, finely chopped red pepper and cilantro are all you need.

You need to make this sauce. It's one part sugar to two parts soy sauce (Saucy used a half cup sugar to one cup soy sauce and it still made too much) brought to a slow boil over medium heat and then reduced over low heat. You can make a vertical cut through a jalapeno pepper and drop it in the pan for extra zest. Remove the pepper before serving.

Before serving, lightly warm the cheese pieces in a pan with some clarified butter over medium heat. This is why you'll want to make sure the goat cheese is nice and cold - it gets soft quickly when you heat it and it can break apart easily. You'll have to use a gentle hand to flip over the cheese and then to place it on the bed of salsa.

Drizzle with the soy sauce reduction and serve with flatbread.

Oh, and margaritas. Or champagne. They both pair well. Saucy knows this for sure.

post feminist sandwiches

This weekend while some of Saucy's more thoughtful and intellectual peeps were busy protesting The Masters' golf tournament - due to the fact it is held at the Augusta National Golf Club which is a men's only club - Saucy was in the kitchen making her annual sandwich creation for Veto and his friends to enjoy while watching the play.

Saucy cranked the tunes while she worked and she pondered the idea of women not being able to tee off on the fabled links. She sort of has mixed feelings about the whole thing. Of course, she's all about equality and the idea of women not being allowed to play irked her... but that's just sort of the way it's always been. 

Saucy knows that the roots of feminism are deeply rooted in thousands of years of history and all sorts of twisted sociological ideals... but feminism is really, when you get right down to it... about choice

To put it simply, the fight for equal rights between men and women - as layered as it is - is not just about equal pay for equal work or shattering some invisible glass ceiling. It is about women having the same choices as men. To choose to work or to stay home. To choose to pursue the same career. To choose what you want on your sandwich.

Hold up.

Well, right there and then, Saucy decided not to give the men watching the Master's a choice in sandwiches like she's done in previous years. It was time to send them her choice. It was time to narrow their options a little.

Because if you're up and at it in the kitchen on a Sunday morning making twenty eight sandwiches for your husband's friends, you have some serious self-evaluating to do.

Besides, a delicious sandwich is a delicious sandwich. Some guys just have it too easy. Why throw a bunch of options at them?

Saucy turned to Mistress-of-the-Universe, Oprah Winfrey. She called up Oprah's Love Sandwich recipe that she makes herself for Steadman on the weekends. If Oprah, Queen of All Media and Influencer of Society can slip off her shoes and make a sandwich for her fella, purely out of love, then why can't Saucy?

Saucy basically followed the Love Sandwich recipe to a tee but she added an ingredient that most men can't resist. She's not talking about double the salary for the same job. She's talking about grilled red pepper.

By cutting and grilling the peppers the night before while making supper, Saucy ensured they were ready to go for Sunday sandwiching. After the peppers (doused in olive oil) are softened on the grill and the skin has slightly charred, remove from heat. While still warm, you can easily slip the skins away from the meat of the pepper.

Using a sharp, wide blade, angle cut the pepper pieces into thin slices - as thin as you can make. They will be soft, oily and squishy. Set aside for sandwich assembly.

On Sunday morning, Saucy prepared her own version of a Subway restaurant counter in her kitchen. Everything she needed for the gentlemen's snack was ready: basil leaves, sauteed scallions, the pepper, sliced avocado and tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, and three pounds of shaved smoked turkey.

It's my choice to make these sandwiches, Saucy thought as she laid out the sliced artisan breads. I love feeding Veto and his friends. Hell, even Oprah stands around and concocts a great sandwich for her man.

Twenty eight sandwiches might be an entirely different matter altogether. Sending them to a Man Shack to watch a male-dominated sport take place at a no-females-allowed club is probably even worse but Saucy just had to shake it off.

When she gets cooking, she just can't get too caught up in these things. It's just a damned sandwich, isn't it? It's not the be-all-and-end-all of modern feminism.

Every sandwich got some fresh basil, some scallions and avocado. She knew that might not sit well with all of the men... but too bad. It's time someone played with half the population and said, here's your sandwich, take it or leave it.

What's that, you say? You don't like avocado? Well, Saucy's peeps can't join the Freemasons and you don't hear them bitching about it! 

Saucy's hardly the Susan Faludi of the sandwich world. She's just a simple girl who decided to make sandwiches for her husband and his friends. 

But, just to prove her point, she sent them over to the Man Shack tied up and uncooked. The men would have to operate the panini machine all by themselves if they wanted to enjoy hot, fresh sandwiches.

That'll show them.

Every revolution continues with baby steps, right?

don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened

Yesterday was the annual team windup for The Cheerios. They celebrated a long and successful season together. 

Saucy likes to present each team member with a token to remember their experience with. In 2010, she made each girl a personalized charm bracelet. Last year, everyone got a hand stitched teddy bear.

This year... this year Saucy was a little short on time. It seemed like this year was more effort for her in every single way: more fundraising, there was an out of town trip, there were more competitions than before. Saucy just plump and plain found herself a little short on the time required to execute some of the cute ideas she had... so she's saving them for next year. 

Saucy made up cute cards and wrote each girl a personal note inside. She presented each athlete with a pair of cupcake earrings nestled in a tiny tin of yellow cupcake sprinkles. 

It was sweet. Just a small token, but very sweet all the same.

The entire windup went as it usually does. The team meets at a local photo studio for team and individual pictures. If you live in Saskatoon, Picture Perfect is a great spot to take a team or group for shots. They have a brand new white studio and it looked great with the girls' bright new uniforms.

Yes, these are the proofs. Don't judge. Saucy just got these today and she's only started going through them to place the order. They're all so darn cute, it's impossible to decide.

Don't you agree?

Anyway, Saucy has this team windup thing down to a science. The kids all want to show up for pictures and nobody wants to miss the party - and Saucy needs the uniforms back - so she plans it all for the same day. You show up, get your picture taken, hand your uniform back and then the party starts. This year we ended up at a local ice cream parlour enjoying a specially blended green and yellow ice cream... it was delicious.  Saucy made a little speech and handed out the treats, and that was that.

And just like that, it was over. Yes, there are loose ends to tie up for Saucy. She has to do the bookkeeping, fill out school paperwork, hand in her keys, order the pictures, get the jackets, give some awards in June, and of course, plan for next year. The last year. 

The last year... it's going to be huge. It's going to be epic. It's going to have her so busy, Saucy's going to get blog posts ready during the off season!

To everyone who supported The Cheerios this season, thank you! Now let's have a little break and do something completely different, shall we?