From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...It has been a day. It began when eggs rolled off the counter and hit the floor in scrambled dumpty fashion. While cleaning up the mess, I left oatmeal on the back burner and managed to scorch it beyond recognition. Lest I be allowed to forget a day that got off to a bad start, the acrid odor permeated the house and refused to dissipate. Things didn't improve as the day wore on. I was late for a meeting and in my hurry to make up for lost time, I left the spigot on the coffee urn open, and didn't notice it until the coffee swirled around my no-longer white sneakers. That wasn't the impression I was trying to make, but at least they'll remember my name. Once home, I managed to fall up the stairs, dropping the sack of groceries I was carrying. I decided to take a breather and rev up my chi before I killed myself. I headed to the deck, plunked down in my favorite chair and took a deep breath. That's when I saw the arborvitae and the vine that was climbing around it. In a progression that is natural only in a brain like mine, the story of Jack and the Beanstalk entered my frontal lobes and would not go away.
I know you have heard at least one version of this fairy tale. All tell the story of a boy who was charged with selling the family cow. Jack meets a con artist who convinces him to trade the cow for magic beans. Is Jack a dullard or a genius? Is he a lazy or clever boy? His mother thinks him a lazy fool and tosses the beans into the garden where they grow until they reach the sky. Jack decides to climb the stalk. Is he careless or adventurous? Jack climbs the stalk three times. He steals from the giant each time, but on his last assent the giant discovers his presence. Outraged, he follows Jack back down the stalk. Fearing for his life, Jack chops down the vine causing the giant to fall and die. Now all kinds of questions come to mind. Is Jack a thief or opportunist? Is he a murderer? Do his treasures represent ill-gotten gains or are they a reward for uncommon valor? The answers to the questions depend on the mindset of the reader, as does the moral taken from the story. Interpretations vary from religious to Freudian. We'll stick with the homespun one for the time being.
Now, I know you are wondering how a fairy tale made its way into a post on a food blog. As my day wore on, I took some shortcuts that I hoped would make my day go better, faster and easier - a bit like Jack. I've been dieting for a while now, and I had an irresistible urge for some gingerbread. I wanted to try a new recipe I tucked into my files some time ago. It was easy, straight forward and I suspected would produce a richly flavored ginger bread. It would have been delicious, if I had followed the directions which warned against using self-rising flour. Like Jack, I took a shortcut and alligators started nipping at my heels as soon as that flour hit the bowl. My cake was a hot mess and inedible. I blame it on the beanstalk that's smothering my arborvitae.
Old-Fashioned Gingerbread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Betty Crocker
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1) Heat oven to 325ºF. Grease and flour bottom and sides of square pan, 9x9x2 inches.
2) Beat all ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.
3) Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or cool. Yield: 9 servings.
To ensure recipe success, do not use self-rising flour in this recipe.
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