COWBOY COOKIES

cowboy art

I saw this hanging on the wall at an estate sale, with a $5 sticker on it.  Can you imagine trying to sell your kids’ elementary school artwork — is nothing sacred?  Who knows, maybe there is a market for such stuff?  Let’s see, I’ve got some of my daughter’s artwork that might interest y’all.  Here’s a sample of her cowboy art:

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Perhaps something from her Degas period might appeal to you:

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This one is my personal favorite, which I could never part with at any price:

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Then there was the dark period — we’re still trying to figure this one out:

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In any event, I’d be willing to bet that the cowboy picture was drawn during that time of year in Houston when everyone’s a cowboy — the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is presently upon us.  Friday was Go Texan Day, the day the trailriders thunder into town, the barbecue cook-off starts (a full weekend of smoke and debauchery), and the rodeo season officially kicks off.  My newsfeed was filled with adorable pictures of my friends’ kids and grandkids in their cowboy couture.  I got kind of verklempt thinking back to the days when I used to dress my kids up for Go Texan Day.

Tomorrow, March 2, happens to be Texas Independence Day, commemorating the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, an event that marked Texas’s independence from Mexico.  9-1/2 years later, Congress admitted Texas as a state of the Union.

Inspired by the child’s cowboy drawing and all the Texas-ness going on around me, I set out to make a Texas cookie.  The one that kept popping up in my searches was Laura Bush’s Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies (rather pompous sounding, don’t you think?), her entry in the 2000 presidential cookie contest.  The inane contest began in 1992, when Hillary Clinton rattled a number of women with her comment that “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas.”  Family Circle magazine seized on this and came up with the contest, pitting HIllary’s chocolate chip recipe against a classic one from Barbara Bush, and asking readers to vote for the winner.  In 2000, Laura Bush’s cookie beat out Tipper Gore’s gingersnaps.

This recipe for Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies makes a huge batch of very stiff dough — you might wind up mixing in the chips and nuts with your hands, as if you were making meatballs.  You can follow the recipe and make Texas-sized cookies by scooping out the dough with a 1/4 cup measuring cup, but we preferred them regular size, using 2 tablespoons of dough.  There’s some debate about how long to bake them.  I baked them for about 16 minutes, and they came out golden around the edges and crisped up as they cooled, which we preferred over ones that cooked for a shorter time and were softer in the middle.

At first bite, we did not love these cookies.  But like soup, they vastly improved the next day, to the point where they were really good — crunchy and packed with goodies. Come and bake it!

COWBOY COOKIES
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Recipe type: Cookies
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups sweetened flake coconut
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl, and mix together.
  3. Place butter in a large bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy. Beat in sugars. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined. Mix in chips, oats, coconut, and pecans. (These steps will take some time and elbow grease.)
  5. For Texas-sized cookies, use ¼ cup of dough for each cookie, spacing cookies 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. For cookies the size of those eaten in the rest of the U.S., use 2 tablespoons dough for each cookie, spacing 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and centers are set. Remove to racks to cool.

 

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Stiff dough requires a lot of elbow grease

1/4-cup scoops for giant cookies, 2-tablespoon scoops for normal-sized cookies

Golden and crisp from the oven

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You can make them Texas-sized, or the size that the rest of the U.S. enjoys

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Bang bang eat ‘em up

BERNIE’S BURGER BUS “COOL KIDS TABLE” DINNER

Last night we went to a fun dinner at Bernie’s Burger Bus, located at 5407 Bellaire Blvd.  Bernie’s began as a popular food truck in 2010, and opened its brick-and-mortar establishment in 2014, featuring hand-ground burgers, homemade condiments, and breads baked by a local artisanal baker.

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Inside, the restaurant is schoolhouse themed, with menus that look like composition notebooks, school desks, and of course, a school bus:

But last night we weren’t there for burgers.  We were there for Bernie’s monthly After Dark “Cool Kids Table” dinner.  At the back of the restaurant, tables were set aside for 18 diners — the “cool kids.”

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This month’s theme was Mardi Gras Style, and was done in collaboration with Anthony Calleo of Pi Pizza Truck and Matt Toomey of Boomtown Coffee and The Honeymoon Café & Bar.  I liked the premise–a multi-course dinner in a casual setting, without the stuffiness that tends to accompany similar wine dinners.  Beer, wine, and soft drinks were available for purchase.

The first course, which might have been everyone’s favorite, was called “Remoulade,” and consisted of butter-poached lobster, romesco, and fractured remoulade:

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Next up was “PoBoy,” a crispy oyster panzanella with greens and warm andouille dressing.  These oysters were plump, spicy, and crunchy:

“Gumbo” was different than any gumbo I’ve ever had, and was served “Lyle” bento box style (a tongue-in-cheek reference to Underbelly sous chef Lyle Bento who is in the process of opening Southern Goods in the Heights):

The fourth course, “Quail,” was a tasty fried, lacquered quail atop duck-laced grits, with pickled greens and a creole vin:

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For dessert, we were treated to “Beignets,” which was made up of two sweet potato beignets with a really decadent creole cream cheese ice cream, accompanied by a New Orleans style café sua da, a strong rich coffee that went well with the dessert:

So did I feel cool, sitting back there at the Cool Kids Table?  Yeah, kinda.  We really enjoy these special dinners, and as a bonus, we usually meet like-minded foodie types at them, which makes them all the more interesting.  If you’re interested in dinners like these, you’re in luck, because there are scores of them going on all around the city, all the time these days.  To keep up, I follow Eater, Culture Map, Houston Press Eating Our Words, and My Table on Facebook, all of which do a great job of posting events.  Try one and see how much fun they are!