Monthly Archives: February 2013

Dexter Morgan Method of Baking Cookies

Stained Glass Sugar Cookie

Stained Glass Sugar Cookie

Thing 2 needed to bring food to accompany her school Joan of Arc project.  We wanted to do a burned at the stake cupcake but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get 45+ Tootsie rolls in the bigger size.  We decided to go with a stained glass cookie.   As we were rolling out the sugar cookie dough, I started thinking about how Dexter Morgan would approve.  I’ve been asked several times how I make my cookies so perfect.  Anyone who’s attempted to make sugar cookies knows what I’m talking about.  Sugar cookie dough is fraught with challenges.  The dough sticks, its hard to roll out, it cooks uneven – misshaping the cut out design.  A friend of mine recently asked me how my cookies come out so perfect.  So I thought I would readdress the what now shall be referred to as The Dexter Morgan Method of Baking Cookies.

Just like Dexter – I use lots of plastic wrap.  Flour makes the dough tough (and messy but I don’t think Dexter cares about that).  With this method you never have to use bench flour.

Just like Dexter – I have rules that I follow.  And here they are.

Rule #1 – Don’t follow the recipe
This is where every recipe written for rolled out cookies and I deviate.  Ready any recipe – the FIRST thing the recipe instructs you to do, after you’ve made though dough, is to chill it.  This supposedly makes it easier to roll out.  Forget that step.  They’re wrong.  You’ve been lied to.  This just makes it HARDER to roll out.  Yeah, I supposed if you left the cookie dough in for exactly 15 minutes it would roll out nice but if you’ve kids (or a life) it’s going to be too stiff to roll out.  The chilling is supposed to stop it from sticking.  Guess what?  It still sticks – to the rolling pin and counter top or fancy pastry matt gizmo…   The recipe is WRONG.    Rule #1 is ROLL OUT your dough right after you’ve made it.  It’s the perfect consistency.

Rule #2 – Wrap it in plastic
Use two sheets of plastic wrap.  This is the part Dexter and I both love.  First knead the dough lightly on a silpat.  Then place a layer of plastic wrap down, the cookie dough on top, then add a top layer of plastic.  NOW you can roll it out to the perfect thickness.  Slide the plastic wrapped dough onto a thin plastic cutting board or cookie sheet.

Rule #3 – Refrigerate
Stick the cutting board or cookie sheet into the refrigerator.   Don’t worry about how long it’s in there for.  Just leave it covered with the plastic wrap, and when you’re good and ready you can take it out.  If you notice, Dexter doesn’t like to be rushed.  He likes to be able to concentrate his full attention.  I don’t like to be rushed either.

Rule #4 – Cut
Peel off the top layer of plastic and set aside (I’ll re-use it to roll out the scraps – I’m more eco friendly than Dexter).  Then put the right side of the silpat on top of the dough and flip both over.  This puts the silpat on the bottom with the dough on top.  Remove the 2nd piece of plastic wrap.  You may want to lightly roll out any wrinkles (again use the plastic) but if you’re going to frost the cookies – it’s not necessary.  Now cut out your shapes and remove the negative pieces.   The idea is to cut the shape directly on the baking surface – never move the dough.  It’s vital if you are making large shapes that aren’t easily transferable or if the design has intricate shapes.

The Dexter Morgan Method of Baking Cookies

The Dexter Morgan Method

Depending on how long your dough has been out – you may want to refrigerate your dough.  You always want to bake cold dough.  If you’ve just taken it out of the fridge and cut your pieces, you’re good to go.  But if you’ve rolled out your scraps (negative pieces) into a new sheet, get them cold before you bake.  This ensures the shape of the cookie remains just the way you cut it out. Something about warm cookie dough distorts the final shape of the cookie.

For stained glass cookies – bake the cookies for half the time that the recipe calls for.  Then fill with hard candies like Jolly Ranchers.  The complete baking for the remaining time called for.

Stained Glass Cookies

Stained Glass Cookies using Jolly Ranchers

After explaining my method (which is a little fussy) to the interested friend, she remarked that she probably wouldn’t make rolled out cookies.  That’s okay – not everyone is cut out to be a serial baker…..


 photo wiltern_zps8d00bc69.jpg

Wiltern Theater Soundgarden by @drmalibu

I’ve seen Soundgarden twice –both from the same perspective.

The first time was at the Forum – wayyyyy up high at the top.  The cool thing about the Forum is that even though you feel like you’re gonna hit your head on the ceiling,–  you’re  still oddly close to the stage. You have a way better view than you would at someplace like the Hollywood Bowl or the late Universal Amphitheater.  Of course, the sound is amazing!

My GF was at the same concert so Dr. Malibu and I went over to her side of the venue to say hello. There was some guy sitting in front of her who clearly had had a few cocktails. Or something.  Every few minutes he would bellow “FUCK YEAH CHRIS!” in the way only a crazy person off their meds could!  It was so funny we started joining in.  Every time one of us screamed “FUCK YEAH CHRIS!” he screamed “FUCK YEAH CHRIS!”.    This amused us for months afterwards.

 photo wiltherceiling_zpse5465695.jpg

Wiltern Theater Ceiling

Dr. Malibu and I went to Soundgarden again last night. It was total deja vu at the Wiltern Theater.  Again we had the birds eye view – we were super close to the ceiling with its amazing art deco design that adorns it and the theater walls.  The sound was great and we had a great view of the stage.

One thing we couldn’t help but notice – the audience was old. When did old people start going to concerts? Were these really the people I used to go to clubs with? The band started and everyone stood up with excitement and started dancing… which lasted one song.  Then everybody sat down.  It was clearly past bed time on a school night.  Then, typical of old people, everyone got up to pee.  It seemed like every five minutes we were letting people by.   The concert just started people!  You couldn’t go before it started?

The girl next to me was doing a weird dance with her arms. It looked like she was trying to land a plane – guiding it to her seat and then back to the stage.  At some point it was clear that she too, had had a few cocktails, and the pilot left to use the ladies.  We noticed when she came back, she stood for some time, trying to remember where she was supposed to be.   Dr. Malibu suggested that if she didn’t leave, she wouldn’t have trouble finding her seat.  “I haven’t had that much to drink” she responded “I have to drive”, holding up two hands as if gripping a steering wheel.   Back in her captains chair, she resumed the  navigation dance and screamed “I LOVE YOU CHRIS!”  Dr. Malibu and I immediately looked at each other and yelled “FUCK YEAH CHRIS!”
 photo Nicole_zpsa0ac100f.jpg
Awesome – now we have dance moves to go along with our favorite cheer!

Daffodils up! Big Tree down!

 photo daffodillmerge_zps941c9fa7.jpg

Miniature Daffodils

LOOK at what’s coming up in Lake Balboa Bungalow yard!

I’ve been waiting and waiting to see what these where going to be.  I asked the gardener that tended my house before I bought it.  He told me they were daffodils and I don’t know why, but I didn’t believe him.  I knew they were going to be tiny but I didn’t know there was a variety of daffodils this small!

 photo Magnolias_zpsd0de57e9.jpg

Blooming Asian Magnolias

Look what else is blooming!  The Asian Magnolia!  Asian Magnolias are one of my favorite trees and I was thrilled to find it hiding in the corner of my yard.

 photo Tree_zps40da12de.jpg

Bulls Eye

It was almost hidden by that ugly tree I wanted to take down.

It took another weekend of Thing 1 avoiding the dreaded raking of leaves that led to its demise.   He would rather cut down a tree than rake.   The bullseye tree was pretty big.  Thing 1 cut off two large branches and I told him to stop there so we could fit it all in the green bin that recycles lawn material.  Two rounds of garbage pick up came before it was all gone.

The rest of the limbs and trunk remained a problem as they leaned slightly over the garage.  How do I get this tree to come down without damaging the roof?

Get on the roof and cut them down?
Get on a ladder and saw them down?  Perhaps.

Thing 1 axed the trunk about three quarters through then we used a saw to cut the remaining connection.  The tree held firm.  The weight of the upper branches preventing it from falling.  I got up on the roof and trimmed away smaller branches so I could safely access the trunk of the tree.  I carefully shoved the upper trunk away from the garage and down it fell.

You can see the video here.  Well kind of.
 photo house_zpsc43835b1.jpg