Worth its salt

I taste the cookie dough. Hmmm. Maybe potato flakes would help.

They started out as Joe Froggers - a molasses cookie that originated in Marblehead, Mass., where a fisherman named Uncle Joe lived by a large frog pond. I found the recipe in this newspaper quite a few years ago. My husband, Lou, made a batch that Christmas. They turned out to be his favorite cookies. This year, in remembrance of him, I got out the recipe, planning to bring a batch of the cookies to a local writers group - his favorite cookie to his favorite organization.

So there I was in the kitchen, checking the ingredients for the first time. I do wonder when the recipe calls for one tablespoon of salt, but I tend to follow directions, so that's what I put in. I give the raw dough a taste test. Well! Tastes more like spicy saltines than molasses cookies. Maybe I slipped and put in two tablespoons of salt. There I was with a huge bowl of batter. Do I throw it out?

I can't. I'm the one who rescues hairy carrots by scraping them and making carrot cake. I turn stale bread into bread pudding and make soup when the contents of the vegetable drawer threaten to start their own garden.

I try to think my way into the batter. Maybe some fruit would help. Half a box of raisins go in. I nibble it again. Still too salty. I know! Somewhere I read that if your soup is too salty, add potatoes to make it less so. I pour in a cup or so of instant potato flakes.

Oatmeal! That ought to help, too. Another taste. Hmmm. Still salty.

Now I'm thinking maybe something tangy. Like those powdered soft-drink packets stored on the top shelf. Three go in. The mixer groans. The stiff dough piles like molten lava around the edges of the bowl. Something liquid, quick! Aha! Key-lime juice. Three frozen cubes go in. Another taste. Wow! It's really tangy now.

Maybe a little too tangy? But how to tone it down, mellow it out? Maybe coconut. I squeeze in half a package. Then about a cup of pecans. Briefly, I eye a package of Rice Krispies, but the bowl is bulging with this mass of brownish goo. Enough is enough.

Do I bake it, or throw it out? (Refer to the problem of hairy carrots.) I spread the batter in a sheet pan and bake it. I taste a square, gingerly nibbling a corner. Not too bad! Still, it looks a little like solidified mud. I quickly stir up a powdered-sugar icing, spread it, and sprinkle chopped nuts on top. It looks great! Anything looks good with powdered-sugar icing on top.

I take the squares to the next writers-group meeting. We have a coffee break. People come back to the meeting room saying, "I don't know what these squares are, but they're great! Taste like plum pudding." Later, I take home an empty container.

So, Lou, here's to you and your cookies. The batter's in there someplace, however modified.

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