[#AtoZChallenge] C is for Cookie!

I have a sweet tooth.   I like cakes and chocolate and pastries of all kinds.  There’s one type of sweet that will always be my favorite, though.   As anyone who knows me really well could tell you, I really love cookies.  I have a passion for cookies that is only slightly less frenetic than Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.

A few months ago, Amelie and I were near the University of Central Florida for a concert, and we stopped for dinner at a little sushi place, but  I got slightly turned around and we parked on the wrong side of the little complex of shops and restaurants.  Because of this slight unplanned detour, we walked past this little shop:  Insomnia Cookies.

I probably looked for all the world like a starving puppy with my nose pressed to the glass on that first night.   The sign on the door, if you can’t read it, says “warm cookies delivered until 3 am.”   This is true.  They even have an app to place your order.

Yes, you read that correctly.  You can get an app on your phone.  With that app, you can have warm cookies delivered to you, all the way until 3 am.  This is pure bliss for me.Here’s some of the varieties available.  I haven’t tasted all of them yet.  Yet.

There’s about a hundred locations now, in different states.  There are two in Orlando, and another one in Miami Beach.   If you buy a six-pack, it comes in a small box that looks for all the world like a tiny awesome pizza box.

For this particular visit, we got two chocolate chunk, two snickerdoodle, one oatmean raisin, and one white chocolate macadamia.   Their snickerdoodles are balls-out amazing.

The real danger of Insomnia Cookies, as I see it, is that while I always wind up with a box of six cookies, they sell a 12, an 18, a 24, and even 50, 100, 200, and 300 cookie packs.  When I have cookies in the house, I usually can’t stop myself from eating them.  Yesterday, I put the box on top of the fridge so that I wouldn’t keep eating them.   Fast forward to two hours later, while Amelie and I were cooking dinner-  she turned around to find me on my tip-toes, peering into the open box of cookies with an absolutely delighted expression, and pretending not to be eating one when she asked.

Yup, a box of six cookies is just too dangerous.  Better make it a twelve-pack, just to be safe.

What’s your favorite type of cookie?

Administrative note: This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Each Monday through Saturday in the month of April, I will write a new post- one for each letter of the alphabet. If you would like to participate, it’s never too late to start. Just look over the guidelines at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

Knaus Berry Farm (or we waited almost an hour to have a snack and it was totally worth it)

Look, I know it’s been two months since my last post and you’re probably wondering where I went and what the heck happened.  I’ll get to that, I promise.  That’s not what this post is about, though.

This post is about dessert.  Sort of.

Last weekend, Amelie and I took a drive down to Homestead, Florida, into the Redlands Agricultural District.  For those who’ve never been to South Florida, Homestead is one of the southernmost cities in the state, just north of where the Florida Turnpike and US-1 meet.  Redlands is about 20 miles south-west of downtown Miami.  If you keep going south from there, you pretty much wind up in either the Florida Keys or the Everglades.

Inside of Redlands is a place called Knaus Berry Farm.   They’re a seasonal bakery that has been run by the Knaus family since 1956.  They also have you-pick-em strawberry and tomato fields, depending on availability.  Amelie has been raving to me about this place for more than a year, but we missed their open season last year and I had to put a reminder on my calendar to check in when they opened again in November.

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Knaus Berry Farm has a dedicated following, and the line on a weekend to get to the bakery counter is often 45 minutes to an hour.   This wasn’t even all that busy, from what I understand.

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The bakery counter has various fresh basked goods, which I’ll get to.  If I had more stomachs, I would have wanted to try one of everything.

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The bakery counter is a cash-only operation, so the line actually moves reasonably quickly.

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There are separate lines for produce and for milkshakes.  The produce counter only had one person step up while we were inside.  The produce looked amazing, but we were there for the baked goods.

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This is what we went out for:  the cinnamon buns.  Fresh out of the oven, they were so, so good.  They’re also dense!  Just one of these is actually crazy filling.  Once we made it to the bakery line,  we just sat in the grass, in a patch of shade near the main building to eat one of these each.

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Since I had a family thing the next day, I also took one of their Black-Bottom Cakes.  I’d never had this type of cake before, and it was damn tasty.  I know it may be blasphemy for me to say this, but I liked this cake more than chocolate chip cookies.

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If you want to visit Knaus Berry Farm, I will offer some quick tips:

  1. Use the bathroom before you go.  There’s no restroom on site.   We were in line already, and had to duck out to go three miles away to a fast food restaurant on US-1.  Then we started the line over.
  2. Bring cash.  They don’t accept plastic here, and you’re gonna want to get more than one thing.  The prices are reasonable, but you don’t want to go all the way there and not be able to buy these delicious baked goods!
  3. Check the weather, and bring sunblock.  The line for the bakery is not covered.   The only time you’re really indoors here is at the bakery and produce counters-  the rest is basically outdoors.  Standing in the South Florida sun for even forty minutes will give most people a bit of a burn.  I’ve lived here almost all of my life, and I wore the same hat I wore to the Great Pyramid, and even I got a little pink in places.
  4. Come hungry.  Seriously, if you eat a big meal before you drive out, then you’re missing out on the joy that is these gooey wonderful cinnamon buns fresh out of the oven.

Knaus Berry Farm is open November through mid-April each year, at this location: 15980 SW 248 Street
Homestead, FL 33031
305.247.0668

You can see more reviews and photos here.

Have you ever been to Knaus Berry Farm?

With perfect clarity, I suddenly realize.

I have a memory of camping, when I was a pre-teen Boy Scout.

It was the summer of 1984, and I was eleven years old. I was exiled to a week at the Camp Tanah Keeta’s summer camp for Boy Scouts in Jupiter, Florida.  I say exiled because I really don’t think I wanted to go.  Both of my brothers were Boy Scouts as well.  They each attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and Jonathan also reached Order of the Arrow.   Where my brothers saw community and fun, I saw something that kept me from television.  I would much rather have been home watching new episodes of Automan than going to meetings.

ghostbusters-original-movie-soundtrack-cassette-tape-1984This particular run at summer camp was during the summer of 1984.  I know this because when we went to the mess hall to get dinner one night, someone was playing the brand new Ghostbusters soundtrack on a portable boom box near the dinner line. Music is always memorable to me, and to eleven-year-old me, the original red plastic cassette box of delight that Arista used for the Ghostbusters soundtrack was like catnip.

This is also the summer that I nearly got lost in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, but that’s a story for another time. Besides which, Jonathan Dickinson is only a few miles wide. No matter how immense it seemed at the time, I wouldn’t have been lost for very long.

Back to the camping.  A few lucky souls had cabins, and some of the cabins even had air conditioners.  I was not so lucky-  my camping area contained pre-set canvas tents set on wooden slabs.   There were cots.  On the bright side, I did not have to pitch my own tent or sleep on the ground.  I was still sleeping in a tent, though, and it was open to nature.

i-regret-nothing-your-garbage-was-deliciousA recent post by Controlled Chaos recounts a time that she was sleeping in a tent and was terrorized by a small (and probably adorable) wild animal getting into their stuff.  That post made me remember a similar experience from Tanah Keeta.   During that week of summer camp, I had a box of Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies zipped into my duffel bag.  One day I came back from the day’s activities to find the cookies gone.   A tiny rip in the side of the duffel bag suggested that a raccoon had gotten into my bag and had made off with my cookies clenched in tiny paws.

Except I’m no longer convinced that it really was a furry masked bandito.   The post by Controlled Chaos mentions “tiny little nibble holes,” but the rip in my bag didn’t have that shape.  It looked like two straight-line rips.   The box that had previously contained the cookies wasn’t nibbled through or torn either, and there was no cookie dust around the scene of the crime.

With perfect clarity, I realize now, more than thirty years later, that some kid ate my cookies and staged a crime scene to frame the local wildlife.  What a dick!

Have you ever realized after many years that your perception of a past event was incorrect?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

It’s a little bit corny.

Combat Babe mentioned a thing in a recent post about sodas and sugar free drinks,  and it reminded me that I’ve never posted about my new-ish intolerance for high fructose corn syrup here in the blog.   I grew up never noticing a problem with it, and I didn’t realize until after I returned from Germany just how much high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is used in food and drink here.

It’s sweeter than real sugar, and food manufacturers use it by the truckload because it’s also less expensive than real sugar.  It’s also linked by various studies to cause increased desire to keep eating, and it has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.   For me, the effect is much more immediate:  terrible, percolating heartburn so severe that it makes my eyes water.

This isn’t something I ever noticed before I lived in Germany.  While I lived in Regensburg,  I would routinely have Coca Cola and Oreo cookies at my desk while I was working.  When I came back to the US, I realized almost immediately that if I drank a regular bottle of Coke,  the burning would start almost immediately.     A few tests proved that Coke Life (in the green bottle) and Coke Zero were both fine, it’s the red bottles specifically.  Even more damning, I found out that if I have any cola at all made with real sugar, I don’t experience any burning.  This applies to both red-label Coke from Mexico and the kosher Coke they sell around the Jewish high holy days.

After I figured out that it was the high fructose corn syrup, I started to notice it in everything-  even Oreos, which are essentially vegan, still use the processed HFCS instead of real sugar.  For real sugar, I have to go to non-Oreo brands now.    (Or, you know, I could stop eating cookies.  NOT gonna happen.)

Even more frustrating is the fact that I can actually tell the difference in flavor-  HFCS might be sweeter than real sugar, but it doesn’t taste better.  At least, not to me.  The Coke in Germany tastes significantly better than the Coke here.  Oreo cookies in Germany are the same story- better there where real sugar is in play.  It turns out that HFCS isn’t used in the European Union all that much because it isn’t manufactured in significant quantity there.   In the US, we’ve got HFCS to spare because the government subsidizes farmers to produce more and more corn.

There is some good news on the horizon, though-  many major brands in the US are starting to pay more attention to what’s under the label and certain artificial sweeteners and chemicals are being tossed aside.   There are lots of food items now without HFCS.  Pillsbury has reworked most of their Ready-To-Bake cookie doughs to be free of high fructose corn syrup.

Sounds sweet to me.

Do you have any food allergies?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?