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Cooking the Books — No-Bake Cookies: More Than 150 Fun, Easy, & Delicious Recipes For Cookies, Bars, and Other Cool Treats Made Without Baking by Camilla V. Saulsbury

With it being the end of the year, many people are pressed for time–me included. With activities nearly everyday outside of work, Camilla Saulsbury’s No-Bake Cookies: More Than 150 Fun, Easy, & Delicious Recipes For Cookies, Bars, and Other Cool Treats Made Without Baking came in handy for my Cooking the Books article this month. As the title suggests, Saulsbury includes more than 150 recipes for creating quick and easy snacks without the need for baking. Saulsbury includes notes on how to prepare for each type of treat including drop cookies, shaped cookies, cereal bars, cookie bars, and icebox bars.

As the holidays approach, I chose her “Gingerbread Chews” recipe. Preparation was fairly simple and I was able to complete the treats in less than 30 minutes! Be careful not to cook the brown sugar and peanut butter too long, as they may start to evaporate. You’ll need as much of this sticky liquid mixture as possible to coat the crisp rice cereal. It may even be worth adding a little extra of these two ingredients. There was no indication as to whether you should use your hands to ball up the chews before placing them in your wax paper lined container, but I found that this step was necessary in keeping all of the ingredients together. I’ll admit that I may have left a little too much time between taking the pan off the heat and adding the other ingredients which could have contributed to the evaporation. I suggest doing this and forming the balls as quickly as possible so that they don’t dry out too much.

My coworkers’ reactions:

Pros:

  • “I love the light and airy texture. The spice is flavorful without being overpowering. Very tasty and seasonal.”
  • “I could eat these all day!”
  • “Delicious! I would like a copy of the recipe.”
  • “I love rice crispy treats. I love gingerbread. So… obviously, I love these! They are great as is, but I would also like more chewiness. I guess that means add marshmallows?”

Mixed Reviews:

  • “It’s not exciting to me, but I like it. I like the texture and it tastes like a candle.”
  • “Perhaps a tad too much spice, but still delicious!”
  • “As a gingerbread hater, these are the perfect balance of sweet and ginger-y.”
  • “The scent of peanut butter threw me a loop–and eventually the spices became more pronounced on the tongue–the spicy ginger hit. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything quite like this before! Not bad, but ‘unusual.’”

Cons:

  • “I enjoyed the flavor and chewiness. Nice texture, but I think I would prefer it without the spices. Perhaps a simple peanut butter or chocolate flavor would be better.”
  • “It’s not my thing. I like the texture. It’s nice and crunchy, but the ginger is reminiscent of a curry and I don’t know why you would want that in a sweet treat.”
  • “Huh. I’m not sure what to make of the peanut butter with the spices. The ginger is a bit too much for me, I’d reduce it by ¼ teaspoon.”

Overall, I am pleased with this recipe in that it didn’t take much time to prepare. It seems that for the most part, people either loved the gingerbread chews or they didn’t. Personally, I was a fan of the flavor and texture, but the taste of ginger didn’t make sense to me with this particular style of cookie. I will definitely try other recipes from this cookbook, but I don’t think I’ll revisit the gingerbread chews again.

Recipe

Ingredients:

½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ teaspoons ground ginger
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
4 cups crisp rice cereal

Directions:

  • Line cookie sheets with wax paper.
  • In medium-sized saucepan combine the brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring mixture to a boil, cooking and stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until blended and smooth.
  • Add the cereal to the peanut butter mixture, stirring until well coated. Working quickly, drop the mixture by heaping teaspoons onto the wax paper. Let stand in cool place to harden. Store tightly covered between layers of wax paper.
  • Makes about 24 cookies.

Staff Picks — Kaitlin

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Tony Morrison is my favorite author and I would honestly recommend any one of her novels! Morrison is known for examining the complexity of the legacy of racism in America and Song of Solomon is no different. First published in 1977, this novel has won many awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 1978. The book details the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead III. In 1931, Milkman is the first Black baby to be born in Mercy Hospital in an unnamed suburb of Michigan. As a young man, Milkman travels to Virginia to search for his father’s gold where he discovers the truth about his family. Spanning four generations, starting with Solomon, Milkman’s great-grandfather who escaped slavery by flying to Africa, Morrison uses magical realism to examine the “flights” of her characters. Through his journey, Milkman reconnects with his family, community and cultural roots.

Stranger Things

I would watch Stranger Things over and over! It is by far one of the best series that I have watched in recent years. Combining science fiction, horror, and drama this show tells the story of a group of young friends in 1980s rural America. In fall of 1983, a scientist is attacked by an unknown creature at a U.S. government laboratory in Hawkins, Indiana. When 12-year-old Will Byers goes missing after an encounter with the creature, his friends Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson and Lucas Sinclair set out to find him. Along their journey they uncover a mystery involving secret government experiments, supernatural forces, and a peculiar young girl named Eleven.

The Buddha in Your Mirror by Greg Martin, Ted Morino, and Woody Hochswender

This is a book that I go back to again and again. You can literally open to any page and find practical encouragement for your life! The authors explain how to realize the ancient Buddhist teaching that true happiness comes from within, using real-life examples. Specifically, it gives a quick overview of the basic principles of Nichiren Buddhism and hits all the key points on how to make this practice a part of one’s daily life. This book also gives insights into international concerns of peace including environmental and social issues. The overarching message is that you yourself are a Buddha. You are in the driver’s seat of your life and you can absolutely tap into the infinite potential that already exists within you, while making a positive impact in your community and the world at large! If you want to learn how and why Buddhism might be useful to you, this is the book to start with.

Matilda 

Matilda is my favorite movie from childhood! This story is centered around a young girl who loves to read. Through books she can escape her difficult home life. Matilda soon discovers that she has magical powers and begins to use them to help not only herself, but also her school friends and beloved teacher, Miss Honey.

Sarah’s Scribbles: Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Anderson

I simply adore the Sarah’s Scribbles series of cute, yet relatable comics about young adult life! Sarah Anderson originally released her comics online, but has since had several books published featuring her webcomics and illustrated personal essays. Big Mushy Happy Lump is the second in her series of comics which depicts the ups and downs of becoming an adult. If you enjoy frank, self-deprecating humor with inspiring undertones, these are the comics for you!

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