Friday, 9 October 2009

Sweets For My Sweet

A question - why do otherwise outwardly sane, sensible, and almost-rational people willingly and consciously choose to be musicians? Perhaps they are overflowing with creativity, hearing soaring melodies that they feel an overwhelming compulsion to bring forth into the world? Maybe they are following in long-standing family traditions, carrying on the disciplines and culture of previous ages, that otherwise might be lost? Is it the desperate need to ease their adolescent emotional sufferings through cathartic screaming-angst and digitally-simulated-distortion driven ballads? Or are they simply rejecting the numbing strictures of conventional employment, seeking instead the bohemian existence of a modern-day wandering minstrel (albeit one who belts out dire cover versions to placate the scurrying high-street shopperati) ?

What, though, if the soiled and clammy truth is that for many who tread the noisy path, underlying their efforts is that great popular misconception - that all musicians regularly get to have a great deal of amazing sex with a large number of spectacularly beautiful people of their choosing? (All at the same time, if they should feel the urge).

Of course, there are plenty of autobiographies out there that would suggest that *if* you manage to become inordinately famous (fabulous wealth a handy extra), this can indeed be the case. If, on the other hand, you're chugging around the country in a clapped-out Mercedes van for years, prostituting your meagre talents to anyone that'll pay £40 a head as part of a ceilidh/function/pub/covers/"plastic paddy"/folk rock/whatever band....then not so much. Certainly not if you're me, anyway. But then, we were always above such base concerns, we were in it for the sake of...'artistry'. And, er, cultural heritage. The greater good. Peace, love and understanding. All that sort of thing, understand.

Particular genres of music don't lend themselves so readily to these carnal pursuits, either. In prog rock, for example, many bands have found their audiences primarily to consist of "earnest young men, often with spectacles and facial hair" (Robert Fripp), which is great if that's your personal fetish, but if not, well... "Free jazz" (and its environs) is another sub-culture where post-gig 'relaxation' with fans is probably more likely to take the form of being quizzed by slightly agitated, logorrheic and unusually determined middle-aged men about obscure chord voicings and the significance of a twice-repeated dis-harmonic interval that first occurred seventeen-minutes-and-twenty-three-seconds into the first set. Again, if that's what you're after, cool. For the rest of us, though...

It also doesn't help if, like me, you're not exactly a looker. (I'm pretty much the guy in Jethro Tull's "Seal Driver"..except I don't have a boat. But apart from that minor quibble, it's me). Also, my strongly held - and highly detailed - opinions on socio-economic and political matters have never sufficiently compensated for a personal lack of anything approaching 'small talk', you'll be astonished to hear.

Anyway, help is at hand, since - by a popular request (and I do mean "a", as in "just the one") - I'm going to offer up another route to possible (but still very, very unlikely - and yes, this *is* a disclaimer) dating success.


But not just any coookies.

Just over a year ago, I posted my recipe for "Satan's Own Cookies", a double-chocolate combination that melted in the mouth and left a bitter-sweet after taste of Type 2 Diabetes. Now, after months of painstaking cookie research (in collaboration with my lovely & wonderful Norwegian partner), what follows is a cunningly-remastered version, "Spelt-and-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies", which has so far proved irresistable to all who have been exposed to its sugary-yet-wholemeal power.

[Right about now I'd just like to point out that I'm not really trying to reduce all human behaviour to a long, drawn-out mating ritual. These cookies are also excellent for keeping the kids quiet while you desperately catch up with all those tedious-but-essential domestic tasks that are impossible while the delightful little munchkins are dashing about, engaging in entertaining new ways to inflict pain on each other.]


100g butter (trans-fats are *not* sexy, nor do they taste as good)
85g demerara sugar (as 'wholemeal' as possible, adds to the texture)
45ml (3 tbsp) maple syrup (the cheap "Clarks Original" maple & carob fruit stuff from Asda works well - higher viscosity than 'pure' maple syrup)
125g Wholemeal Spelt Flour (yeah, I know, expensive - it's the best, use it, ok?)
50g Oatmeal (porage oats are fine - again, texture)
100g Plain (dark) chocolate chips
45ml (3 tbsp) milk
15ml (1 tbsp) baking powder

Method: (copied from my old post, 'cos it's late & I'm knackered, with acknowledgements to the venerable 'Be-Ro Book')

1. Heat oven to 180C, 350F, 'Gas Mark 4' - in other words, keep the mini-primates out of the sodding way. Oh, and you're going to need an oven mitt, unless you're particularly partial to the smell of your own flesh charring. Grease 2 baking trays. Or just one, if that's all you have. (Don't worry, nobody round here's judging you. Well...maybe only a few of them. You know, the ones who host dinner parties for more than 6 people, and know how to make 3 different types of pastry...them.)

2. "Beat the butter until soft" (much easier if it's been sitting out a while beforehand - if you've only just hoiked it out of the fridge, then a brief low-power blast in the microwave (NB Kitchen numpties - not still in its wrapper) will work wonders. Add the sugar and "cream together until light and fluffy". I'm sorry, but I made these entirely by hand, and "light and fluffy" was never on the agenda. School Home Economics teachers must have had the power of cement mixers in their forearms, because there's no way me and a wooden spoon are going to achieve "fluffiness". I'd settle for what looks like "thoroughly mixed"...they still came out ok...

3. "Stir in the syrup, flour, chocolate chips and milk and mix well". Not forgetting the baking powder, of course. And as for the stirring and mixing, yeah, it's likely to induce hand pain & sweating (as per step 2). But don't give up now - you've almost made it to the eating stage, just a brief interlude of applied heat to go.

4. "Place spoonfuls of the mixture on the prepared trays and bake for 8-10 minutes". Hmmm. Originally I was using the wee fan-assisted top oven, and 8 minutes was absolutely all they needed. Any longer and they burn on t'bottom, which is never recommended. Erring on the side of caution, (and sensible usage of the appropriate protection), is always advisable...and also gives you a greater-than-98% chance of avoiding pregnancy - always a bonus. In the main oven, however, 10 minutes seems spot-on - golden-brown colour, with no burning. "Remove from the tray immediately and place on a wire rack to cool".

Oh, yeah, should have said - get one of those wire cooling rack things ready before you start, because if, (like me), you completely forget about it, you might end up scrabbling around in a cupboard for one, while trying to hold a (hot) tray of still-slightly-soft cookies perfectly flat in the other hand. Add to this state of unpreparedness and minor panic a very saggy, almost grip-free oven glove, and you just know there are going to be cookie casualties. Which is extremely vexatious after all the effort you went to in steps 1 to 3.

And that's it. Let them cool, solidify, and then you can impress people (even if it's only your children) with fantastic, home-made, so-wholemeal-they're-almost-healthy cookies. Oh, and you should get somewhere around twenty cookies out of that recipe. Depends how vast you want them to be.

If you want the 'double-chocolate' variation, just add 25g Green & Black's cocoa powder and only use 100g of the spelt flour. I must warn you, however, that extensive experimentation involving one of the toddler groups I'm part of suggests that a lot of people don't go for the 'double-chocolate' cookies, but will happily devour equally sugar-filled 'choc-chip' varieties. A sad indictment of our media-waif-obsessed, under-physical-exercised and over-fad-dieting times?

Perhaps. Further research is vital, so enjoy your cookies. You've earned them, especially if you're a musician who, like me, is down near the bottom end...


Curmudgeon68 said...

At last the cookie recipe cometh. I will try it as soon as I can get hold of the equipment. Some say Chocolate is a substitute for sex, if that's so then are chocolate recipes culinary STDs?

Andy Gilmour said...


reckon they're more like a kama sutra of cuisine

although possibly with a lot less risk of severe physical injury if you try them out


KJB said...

'100g butter (trans-fats are *not* sexy, nor do they taste as good)'