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No No November

This fall has been whizzing by us at a breakneck speed. As our kids get older, they are becoming more independent, but they are also becoming more and more busy. Gone are the days when everyone used to take an afternoon nap (not that that always happened, but we planned for it, haha). We have a mandated rest time every afternoon when we are home, but more often than not, the boys and I are using it to catch up on reading or homework or (for me) cooking.

Halloween almost went by unnoticed by us this year. On Friday afternoon, we found ourselves costumeless, bereft of candy, and no plans to carve pumpkins. Friends, this is the first time this has happened in the last ten years or so that we have been in this house. Luckily, we had been invited to a halloween party and our friends there had extra costumes, which thrilled the boys because it was either that or go home without any candy.

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The next day, I kept exclaiming how I could not believe it was November already. I am just not ready for all the the inevitable thoughts about Thanksgiving and that major holiday that comes next month. What’s a girl to do? Why, make some cookies, of course! Yes, it is time for our annual cookie fund raiser for Samaritan’s Purse. We are a few weeks later than usual and a little more pressed for time, so things have to be condensed this year. It was tempting to take a break from all of this, but there really is such a little amount that we do to help others that it seemed stingy for us to not do it.

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So, we will be making some Awesome Trail Mix Cookies

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and Nibby Toffee Butter Cookies, and many more to help us all remember to be thankful for all our blessings. What are you doing to help yourself get into the spirit of the month?

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A Reminder

Whew. The last few weeks have really been crazy busy around here. It all started with Halloween, which really caught us all by surprise. The night before, we had no pumpkin and no costumes, with very little time to do anything because we were busy with our cookie fund-raiser. Plus, the day after Halloween, our windows and doors were being replaced, which meant we were also running around the house cleaning, taking down curtains, and moving furniture.

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Well, with a little schedule tweaking and the boys agreeing to wear their costumes from last year (only switching to wear each other’s), we made it through Halloween. The boys even managed to get a sizable amount of candy before the rain drove us inside.

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This week, work for the cookie fund raiser has really taken over every second of our lives. Every year, this project has gotten bigger and bigger and we are raising more and more money for Samaritan’s Purse, which is really awesome. But, it is getting to be quite a big project to manage and it is clear that if we are to do this again, some things will need to change.

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The biggest thing to change, is that we need to continually remind ourselves why we are doing this. The husband said last night that he thought we should put up some posters from Samaritan’s Purse to remind us that we are helping real people. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that our cookie dough is actually helping someone in another country or maybe even in the next state over. We have so, so much in our lives and it’s not all monetary. We’ve been blessed with the gifts and abilities that make it possible for us to help in this way, even though at times, it seems so far removed.

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I’ll admit that I have been grumbling in my heart a bit about how much work this is and how much time it is taking up and how the boys should be helping more. It was beginning to feel like a chore. Then, yesterday, a friend of ours took the time to thank us for the sacrifice of time and energy and money that we were giving for this project and it was a wonderful reminder to me.

Yes, it is a lot of work and a sacrifice, but one with great rewards. And really, this sacrifice of ours is tiny compared to the one made by God for us. Our cups overflow with the wonderful things He has given us and this project is just one little way for us to share the extra that we have. It is actually very humbling to think that God would use us in this way to spread his love because we don’t deserve to, especially not me with my sad attitude this week.

So, to all of you who ordered cookies, Thank You for supporting us in the project. We are really learning so much about ourselves and about God’s goodness through you. And when you eat one of our cookies, think about those who are being helped by Samaritan’s Purse, and know that you are a part of that.

Back to School Cookies

We love cookies any time of the year, but when a new school year starts, cookies start to become more important than the lovely berry and fruit cakes of the summer. Cookies are nice and portable. You can eat them with one hand while doing homework with the other. They keep for several days either already baked in an airtight container or not yet baked in the freezer.

For us, when September rolls around, we begin planning and thinking about our upcoming cookie dough fund-raiser. We are always looking to change our list a little bit so that our friends have something new to try if they want to do so. What this means is that I usually scour all my cookbooks for cookie recipes I haven’t tried yet and then make lots of all kinds of cookies for a few days. Needless to say, not all of them make the cut.

A cookie that makes it onto our short list has to meet a myriad of requirements:

1. It must be tasty, even after a couple of days.

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I made these Anzac cookies on Friday and they were tasty. I loved them. But, on Saturday, they had dried out a bit and were too chewy. It was a workout to eat half a cookie. These won’t make the list, but I will make them again for myself, maybe.

2. It must taste just as good, if not better, after the dough has been frozen and then baked.

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Most cookies are like this, but I find that some doughs bake up a little brickish after being frozen. In other words, they don’t spread as much as I would like. Slice and bake cookies are always great, though.

3. The cookie has got to fit into our lineup in a unique way. We wouldn’t want three versions of a chocolate chip cookie, right? That would be boring.

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So, I tried out a couple of new chocolate chip recipes because, even though we have a giant version on the list, I thought a regular sized cookie might be a good seller. I made one with coconut and almonds and another with chocolate chunks (instead of chips) and walnuts. Neither one really wowed us, so I may just have to keep hunting there.

4. The cookie must have the kid seal of approval.

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I was sure these Trail Mix Cookies would be popular with the kids because of the m&ms, but they were not. I think they must have sniffed the whole wheat flour and stayed clear of anything that looked like it would be remotely healthy. Kids are funny. The 50 or so kids I tried this mix of cookies on over the weekend tended to prefer the plainer cookies.

5. They must be good looking. A cookie doesn’t have to look good to taste good, but if you were going to buy a cookie, wouldn’t you want it to look good?

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Here’s the only cookie out of the last half dozen or so recipes that I have tried that has met all of the above criteria. Meet Hazelnut Chewies. These are made with Nutella and chopped hazelnuts and have an appealing powdered sugar coating. They are tasty, they bake up well, they look great, kids love them, and they will be replacing our traditional peanut butter cookie.

Time is getting short. We will be launching our fund raiser in about a month, so my cookie try-outs are coming to an end. Does anyone have a cookie recipe that I Must Try?

Final Numbers

There is one last batch of cookie dough to make today and we will be all done. The husband is really looking forward to the end now. I think he might be tired of going out to eat because the kitchen and dining room and fridge are a mess from our cookie craze. The boys made up the last of the labels yesterday and declared that they were not bored of the project yet. The younger actually seemed disappointed that we would not be taking any more orders beginning today.

I can understand a little bit of that disappointment. They have watched our tally grow steadily from the first day until their goal was reached last week. Then, there was the mounting excitement every time a new order was taken and added to the tally. From a kid’s point of view, that’s the best part of the project, I think. When you look at what we accomplished in just three short weeks, it is rather astounding.

We used approximately:

35 pounds of flour.
30 pounds of butter.
25 pounds of sugar.
10 pounds chocolate chips.
5 pounds dried cranberries.
5 pounds oatmeal.
4-5 pounds nuts.

We took in 90 orders. That’s 1310 cookies or 109 dozen (plus a few) cookies and 4 orders of granola. The final breakdown of the orders was interesting to watch. Each year, we change our offerings, so it is always fascinating to see if the new ones get ordered and which ones get left behind. Our biggest seller this year was an old standby: snickerdoodles, with a whopping 11 orders. The next closest was a newcomer, the compost cookie, with 8 orders. At the bottom of the list was sugar cookies, bringing in only one order, even though, when I took them to a meeting, they were declared the best sugar cookies ever eaten by several people.

In all, we have raised close to one thousand dollars! Amazing! To all of you who placed orders. Thank you. Every time you bake or eat one of our cookies, I hope that you will think and pray about those who are less fortunate that you have helped a little by buying our cookies. We hope that each cookie is made sweeter with these thoughts. And when you run out, we hope that you will remember to get more next time!

If you missed ordering or just want some more, feel free to send me a message. We have a few batches leftover of various kinds. You might get lucky. Otherwise, the Cookie Dough Factory is officially closed until next year. Thank you everyone!

Cookies for Charity

Giant Chocolate Chip

This past week marked the beginning of our second annual fund-raiser.  We started this last year with the boys because we wanted them to do some sort of service project.  However, at their age, their service project options are rather limited.  So, we had the idea that they could raise money by selling cookie dough and then donate the money to charity.

Giant Ginger Chewies

We gave them a couple of charity “gift” catalogs–you know, the kind where you can buy a cow or pig for a person in a third world country and give them the opportunity to change their lives.  The idea was that they could choose something and we would try to raise money towards that goal.  It was the year of the earthquake in Haiti and my oldest was particularly drawn to the “emergency shelter” item because he had heard us talk so much about how many people were homeless because of the earthquake.

Giant Double Chocolate Chip

The boys and I started making dough and freezing it.  Then, we publicized it to all our friends.  The boys were overwhelmed and excited by all the orders that came in.  We exceeded our goal rather quickly and they were thrilled to be able to add an order of “bees” to their contribution.

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I love that they have become so excited about helping people they will never meet in a country they may never travel to.  In this season of thankfulness and giving, I think it is important for them to remember that those who are given much are also expected to give much.  A thankful heart is also a sharing heart.   Are we really thankful for what we have if we are not seeking to help those in need?

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This year, I encouraged them to raise their fund-raising goal and they did–they doubled it!  As a result, we have been busy making cookie dough for the past week.  The oldest keeps remarking how much fun it is to make cookie dough and, of course, we’ve baked a few of each kind — you know, for quality control.

Pecan Brown Sugar

We’ve added a few more options to our cookie line-up, including a whole new category of slice-and-bake cookie dough logs.  We also have a selection of gluten-free and nut-free options for those who have dietary constraints.  The only thing we can’t offer is a dairy free option because we use real butter in our cookies and we are not about to change that.

Peanut Butter

We have eight different kinds of dough balls.  The great thing about these is that you can bake one cookie or ten, depending on your mood and your needs.  Don’t tell the boys, but I’m kinda hoping we don’t sell all these because I love to be able to just bake four cookies for us and not have 3 dozen more sitting around the house getting stale.

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It is also really interesting to see what kinds of cookies are popular and which aren’t.  Last year, I think half of our orders were for chocolate chip.  This year, so far, out of 26 orders, we only have one chocolate chip order.  Funny, huh?

Snickerdoodle

And what’s up with oatmeal raisin?  Does no one like oatmeal raisin cookies?  Last year, we had just one order and this year, so far, none at all.  Is it too healthy?  I may have to do something to make these more interesting for next year.

Chocolate Crackle

The most interesting looking cookie is the chocolate crackle cookie.  You never know what it is going to look like after you bake it.  Sometimes the cracks are little and delicate, like a snowflake, and sometimes they look like some kind of prehistoric egg that’s broken open, revealing a dark, brownie-like middle.  We took an assortment of cookies to the park yesterday and shared them with some friends.  The chocolate crackle was the kids’ choice favorite.

World Peace

Our family’s surprise favorite are these World Peace Cookies.  I made these a few years ago at Christmastime and I remember being a little unimpressed by them.  However, for the fund-raiser, I used real bittersweet chocolate, chopped by the husband, instead of mini chocolate chips, and I bought special flaky sea salt from England to go in them.  They are Amazing – real proof that when you use quality ingredients, you get quality results.  And, at this time of the year, who wouldn’t like to have a little World Peace?

A picture from my younger son

And one from the older son

If you live near me and have not yet placed an order, or would like to add to your order, we will only be taking orders until November 22.  If you live far away, we are willing to ship cookies already baked via priority mail flat rate boxes.  Leave me a comment if you would like to place an order and I can send you a description of all the options.

A selection for the playground

And, as always, thank you for stopping by, looking at the pictures, and reading my blog.  I have really been enjoying this blog and I hope you have been enjoying it also.  I wish I could give each one of you a cookie.