There are so many titles for today's blog -- Try! Try! Try Again! -- Sometimes the Oldest One Wins! -- The Third Time is the Charm -- Are You Truly a Southerner? Any of those would have worked but I decided to go with "The Right Tool for the Job!" My mother-in-law and her mother before her were known for making cheese straws. My mother-in-law has made thousands upon thousands of cheese straws. This is where the title "Are You Truly a Southerner?" comes in -- if you aren't, you might not know of what I speak!! A few years ago, we found a local baker at a church kitchen who was also known for his cheese straw baking skills. He would sell a GIANT bag of cheese straws for $25-30 (price went up over the years). One of our part-time staff members would take orders at least twice a year and I would buy several bags to put in our freezer because you NEVER know when you might need to serve cheese straws. Cheese straws are served at bridal teas and showers; receptions of all kinds; birthday parties - you name it and cheese straws can be served. I've given baggies of cheese straws as Christmas gifts to neighbors. I've given cheese straws as thank you gifts!! I also always bought a bag to take to the beach for our family vacation. So what happened? The cheese straw man retired. What? We all cried -- what? He can't retire. Yes, I know -- it sounds like we are all selfish . . .and we are . . .sort of! I decided since he was retiring, I would learn to make cheese straws. I had a cookie press from Pampered Chef so I tried it. To make cheese straws, you need a tiny star. Well, this press didn't have a tiny star so I tried the tip circled below.
Monday, September 6, 2021
The Right Tool for the Job!
That tip made giant ugly cheese straws. I ordered a second press from another manufacturer. Once again, there was not a small tip amongst all of the tips.
The cheese straws tasted ok - I was using my mother-in-law's mother's recipe given to me by my sister-in-law. The problem is . . .you can't serve ugly giant cheese straws at a fancy function.
So I tried again and when I made this batch, as soon as the cheese straws came out of the oven, I sliced them in half and cut them into pieces.
I took the above two containers to the beach. They tasted ok but they DID NOT in any way, shape, form or fashion look like my mother-in-law's dainty cheese straws.
I'm off for a few days and decided to try again. This would be my third try. What is the difference you might ask. I asked my mother-in-law if I could borrow her cookie press. I mixed up the ingredients (lots of butter, lots of cheese, some flour, some red pepper) and stuffed the mixture into the press.
Look at this press. It is a true antique. It belonged to my mother-in-law's mother. My mother-in-law is 96 y'all . . .this cookies press is old. This press is operated by a hand crank plus IT HAS A TINY STAR TIP.
The minute the dough started extruding from the press, I knew that I had hit the jackpot! I actually got a little emotional thinking about the press. For a few moments, I felt like a part of history -- I am the third generation of women (though I'm in the family by marriage) to use this press.
I've been baking for several hours and my kitchen is a TOTAL DISASTER. Seriously! There is flour everywhere and the food processor is caked with cheese dough and the press will have to be scrubbed with a toothbrush.
The important thing is I had the right tool and it worked. I had the right tool for the job - an antique cookie press with a tiny star tip. It worked! I'm making these as thank you gifts for some folks who helped me a whole lot last week. Mark loves cheese straws, too, so at some point, I will need to make another recipe for him. In order to make these, you need a block of 3 hours or so. I had pre-grated my cheese early yesterday and bagged it and wrote the ounces on the outside of the baggie. That helped a lot! I'm not sure that store bought pre-grated cheese would work -- I don't think it is "wet" enough. Cheese straws are worth the labor, time, and expense. If you've never had cheese straws, I wish you lived nearby so I could share with you! They are yummy!!