About Lynn

Lynn Craig is a mother of four (two out of the nest, two to go) who homeschools, bakes obsessively, quilts sporadically, and occasionally finds time to clean the house. She and her husband live in Bellevue, Washington where she chronicles her kitchen triumphs and disasters on her blog Cookie Baker Lynn.

Simple Tips for Baking with Kids (Recipe: Giant Oatmeal Cookies)

Written by Lynn of Cookie Baker Lynn.

As a parent, one of my goals for my children is that they should be able to take care of themselves after they’ve left the nest. I know a young woman who called home from her first month away at college, asking how to boil water. She had never had any kind of experience in the kitchen and was starting at ground level as an 18 year old.

How much better it is if we can start our kids at an early age, letting them get comfortable in the kitchen. I have two kids out of the nest and I love them telling me that they can still hear my voice in their heads teaching them how to hold the knife when cutting vegetables. We practiced cooking and baking together and today they are able to thrive in the kitchen.

I also have two children still at home, so there are many more teaching and baking opportunities ahead for us.

Switching Gears for Baking with Kids

For me, baking with kids requires a different mindset than my everyday baking. When I’m on my own I like to put on my headphones and listen to a book or dance to tunes while I create, my hands working almost independently, they’ve had so much practice. But when my children want to help, I need to take a breath and shift gears, going from fast, efficient mode to slower, teaching mode.

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Beautiful Cookies for the Artistically Inept (Brown Sugar Molded Cookies)

Written by Lynn Craig of Cookie Baker Lynn.
This is undeniably the season for making cookies. Cookie swaps, cookie plates for the neighbors, gifts of cookies for teachers, and nostalgia all demand that we spend some time in the kitchen. Even people who rarely bake the rest of the year will dust off their old, faithful cookie book and bake up a batch or two of the family favorites.

Because I bake cookies all the time, I like to create something different, really beautiful and special for gifting. Unfortunately I have the decorating skills of a four-year-old on a sugar high. Lots of enthusiasm, not so much art.

I don’t have the patience or steady hands to intricately frost a cookie, let alone a dozen cookies! Fortunately there is a way to make gorgeous cookies for the artistically handicapped, like myself, that doesn’t take days and days of work.

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Roasting Pumpkin 101: How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Purée

Written by Lynn Craig.

When fall crisps the air and chills the nights, my thoughts invariably turn to pumpkins. For some reason I start craving pumpkin dishes. Pumpkin pie is a natural, yes, but I start dreaming of ways I can put pumpkin in all baked goods.

Muffins, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls are just the beginning for me. I’ve been known to wake from a sound sleep and scribble something on my bedside notepad that in the morning looks like it may or may not say pumpkin pudding.

To fuel this hectic pumpkin mania in my kitchen, I need a lot of pumpkin. Of course, it is easy to just pick up a can of pumpkin at the grocery store. I frequently go this route and won’t think less of you if you choose to do so.

It is fun, however, to take a pumpkin you’ve picked, bake it, purée it, and then turn it into your own dream pumpkin creation.

Baking pumpkins is super simple. You only need a pumpkin, a rimmed baking sheet, a sheet of aluminum foil, and an oven.

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Going Nuts: How to Make Nut Butters (recipe: Cinnamon Walnut Butter)

Written by Lynn of Cookie Baker Lynn

The schools that I attended had the option of a hot lunch you could purchase or you could bring your own lunch. I was a brown bagger. Not only was it cheaper to BYOL, but the food was generally less nasty. As a small child my mother would pack my lunch, but as I got older and her life got busier, I got the memo to make my own lunch.

Because I’m a last minute kind of person (don’t believe me? Ask my editor!), invariably my lunch would consist of a peanut butter and jam sandwich and a piece of fruit. PB &J was the quickest, easiest sandwich to make, so that’s what I lived on during the school year.

Oddly, this unadulterated peanut-butter-based diet didn’t make me loathe peanut butter. I went through collage eating PB &J’s, sent my husband off to work with PB&J’s, and proceeded to raise a new generation on peanut butter.

Today’s kids bagging their own lunches, or their moms doing it for them, face a new challenge. Because of the increasing number and severity of peanut allergies, many schools are banning peanut butter. For the peanut-challenged, this can be a literal life-saver, but for the harried moms trying to throw together a quick, nutritious lunch, it presents an early morning crisis.

But a crisis can just be an opportunity in disguise. In this case it’s the opportunity to explore the world of other nuts available out there. All nutritious, in their own ways delicious, and each with their own characteristics. Once you start making your own nut butters, you’ll find it’s fun and addictive. [Read more...]

Pursuing Your Passion For Pickles (Recipe: Garlic-Dill Pickles)

Written by Lynn Craig of Cookie Baker Lynn.

Pickles seem like a funny thing to get excited about. They’re just cucumbers in jars with liquid and seasonings, right? Right, but some people are quite passionate about their pickles.

A dear friend of mine who is a US transplant living in the UK says one of the things she misses the most is dill pickles. The shops there just don’t carry them. On a trip to visit family in the US she returned home with jars of pickles in her carry-on luggage (not something you can do these days). She got strange looks, but it was worth it to savor just-right dill pickles.

There is a deli in the Pike Place Market in Seattle that flies in their pickles every week from New York so they’ll be “right.”

And then there’s my son. Pickles are his favorite food group. He’ll beg me for a pickle to snack on while I’m slicing some and when he’s eating a sandwich or a hamburger, it’s got to have pickles or it’s not right.

The beauty of canning your own pickles is that you can make them to suit your own personal tastes and needs. Pints or quarts, dill or sweet, garlic or jalapeno, you can choose. And if you grow your own pickling cucumbers (I don’t – I am known as She-Who-Kills-Plants), you can even get just the right variety for the size and type you prefer. [Read more...]