Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
That’s great, but we’re not going to talk about fish today. We’re going to talk about cookies.
One of the best things that happens when you learn how to cook is learning out how to get along without a recipe.
If you make something a couple of times, soon you begin to understand what ingredients and steps are most important. Make something a bunch of times and soon you begin to see the variety of ways you might be able change it up. Make something a couple of dozen times and soon you start see cooking from a whole new perspective.
Like maybe you’ll see that you can throw ingredients in your food processor and call that “cooking”. That’s what I see. And I’m the one making the cookies here after all – so nobody’s gonna argue with me. Especially not if they want me to share.
With an idea and a methodology, you can be on your way to making cookies without a recipe and sharing only if you want to.
Wikipedia defines methodology as
a guideline for solving a problem, with specific components such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools
So we are here today to solve a problem (a cookie problem, i.e., I have none and this is a problem)
with specific components (medjool dates, in particular)
phases (one, two and three)
tasks (fetch ingredients, combine ingredients)
methods (eyeballing ingredient quantity, the order and manor in which fetched and eyeballed ingredients are combined)
techniques (turning machines on, evaluating cookie dough consistency, stirring, rolling and probably drooling)
and tools (food processor or blender, wooden spoon, hands, and ultimately – teeth)
I haven’t had dates around in a while, but thanks to marathon training and making long run energy snacks – dates have been making their way into the shopping cart again. And that means all the fun no-bake cookie treats you can make with dates have been making their way into my brain again too.
So I could give you the recipe I used today to make some no bake cookies. OR, I could teach you how to fish.
Or something. Whatever. Let’s just get started.
Phase One: Add a few dates (pits removed) into the pureeing machine of your choice.
You can add coconut oil if you like, or just skip if you don’t. Dates are the cookie glue here. They are our cookie foundation; both sticky and sweet and therefore holding this fishy cookie show together.
Coconut oil helps too in this instance, especially if you store the completed product in the refrigerator as coconut oil solidifies under 76 degrees – but again, this ingredient is optional.
So if dates (and coconut oil) are the glue – oats (in today’s version) are the cookie paper.
(Mmmmmm. Cookie paper.)
You could swap oats for other flours (white, wheat, gluten-free) as desired. You could also skip a grain of any kind and choose instead to go with chopped nuts, cocoa powder, carrot pulp and/or ground flax.
Now remember that we’re eyeballing this today – so scoop in some oats and see where you wind up.
Still significantly sticky? Slowly add more of your dry ingredient and blend again.
Now not sticky enough? Yeah, that’s what happened to me today.
Oats overestimated, I went hunting for something to get things sticking together again. You could add more dates, or perhaps choose what’s behind Door AB:
Almond Butter to the rescue.
This is also your opportunity to add in other ingredients as desired and fire up the food processor once again. (Or not.)
Spices? How ’bout cinnamon? (A dash!) Nutmeg? (Not today.) Vanilla? (A dribble!)
Other sweeteners? Agave? (A squeeze.) Maple Syrup? (Maybe next time.) Stevia? (Not my thing.)
Phase Two begins when your dough is the right consistency. You want it to stick together but not too wet either.
The wetness can actually vary based on what you’ll be stirring in – and you’ll be stirring in any ingredients that you didn’t want processed into smithereens by the food processor or blender.
The more stir-ins you add, the more wet your cookie dough can be when you move from Phase One to Phase Two.
Stir-ins here today – a few more rolled oats, chia seeds, unsweetened shredded coconut, chocolate chips.
Also consider chops nuts, other dried fruits, sesame seeds, hemp seeds.
How much of each ingredient? Eyeballed! Stirred and folded until all ingredients were well combined.
If it’s too dry, you can adjust the consistency with agave, honey, maple syrup, etc. If it’s too wet, add more dry ingredients.
Hopefully you’ll get to the right place before you’ve filled your mixing bowl to the brim with all things sticky, wet, dry and sweet.
Worst case scenarios?
Too Wet: Throw them in the oven at 350 to dry’em out
Too Dry: Pour milk over it and call it cereal
Best case (and most likely) scenario? You’ll be moving on to Phase Three.
Form into your desired shape – perhaps eyeball shape since that seems to be the word of the day.
10 ingredients today, 15 eyeballs into the fridge, zero recipes used, zero fishing lessons given, endless possibilities in sight.