I’m not much of a writer, which will be self-evident if you spend much time reading this weblog. But I like reading and I like cooking, so I write.

I’ve always thought I was a bit weird as I like reading cookbooks like literature. I’ve got a few that I’ve never made a thing out of, but just enjoy the writing.

My current food book reads are The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen (already finished the first of two books) and Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise along with a new cookbook, The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

As somebody who loves to cook and who’s current job is as a cook in pizza restaurant, there’s always been a secret desire to *really* learn how to cook. At nearly the age of 60, books are probably as close as I’m going to get (and the fact that I don’t have 30-some thousand dollars to make it through the first year at the CIA). Making of a Chef is a good read. Michael Ruhlman provides a fascinating look at the work that goes into the training of a chef. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have the money. I don’t know if I could stand the heat,.

I came upon Garlic and Sapphires because of an NPR interview with the author. This one hasn’t been started yet, but what I heard during the interview intrigued me enough to buy the book and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

I’m reading Laurie Colwin’s books Home Cooking and More Home Cooking because of a search for Gingerbread. The restaurant was planning an employee Christmas party and we were asked to bring along something. For some reason I was convinced I needed to bring a nice Gingerbread. I hadn’t eaten any for years and the remembered taste was something I wanted to recapture.

A Google search turned up a couple of pages of Gingerbread recipes along with a link to a discussion of Ms. Colwin’s books and the fact that there were Gingerbread recipes in both. I asked around, including a discussion on the USENET group, rec.food.cooking, and the concensus was that she was a great writer and I should probably get both books. And I did.

Damp Gingerbread is a moist and flavorful treat that’s delicious with a bit of good vanilla ice cream. I’ve made this recipe a couple times more and it seldom survives more than a couple days. Original recipe is from an English cookbook, Delia Smith’s Book of Cakes.

Damp Gingerbread

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round tin (2 inches deep) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Melt 9 tablespoons butter with 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Lyle’s Golden Syrup.
3. Into a bowl sift 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
4. Pour the syrup and butter onto the dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Add 1 beaten egg and 1 cup milk. Beat well. The batter will be very liquid. Pour it into the tin and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 50 to 55 minutes. (The middle should be just set, with the edge pulling away from the pan, and a tester will bring out a few crumbs.) Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.

I actually forgot about the parchment paper and baked it in a 9-inch square pan.

As for The King Arthur Cookie Companion. Well, you can’t have too many cookbooks and you certainly can’t have too many cookie cookbooks.

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