Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Cookies for the Homeless

Holiday Cookies for the Homeless 

 Can you imagine someone who is homeless, sleeping in the cold, not knowing when their next meal is? Every day there are people, including kids, that are experiencing this in our community. 

Last year, we learned about a program called Holiday Cookies for the Homeless from a friend of our grandmother, Lisa Jablonover, who was collecting cookies for the Day Resource Center. The program gives people, who don't have ovens to bake in, an opportunity to enjoy home baked holiday specialities

According to Lisa, "Howard County has at least 230 homeless people living in shelters, cars or in the woods".  We baked a few dozen cookies to contribute to the effort. It was fun and really easy to help. 

We even made a "how to bake holiday cookies" video last year to share with other students and show how easy it is to make a few dozen cookies. 

Here's our blog post about the program.

This year, we decided to participate in the cookie program again - but with a twist. Instead of just us 2 Dudes baking, we decided to enlist the help of more students. 

Charles is the founder and president of the Italian Club at his high school.  So, we decided to get the Italian club members involved as a community service project.  They were so excited about it that we decided to go one step further - challenging all the other student clubs and organizations to a "Bake Off".  It worked like this - school club/organization that donated the most amount of cookies would win a pizza party - served and paid for by the Italian club members. 

The Italian Club members plastered the high school with flyers about the Holiday Cookies for the Homeless program.  The club even had the front office make morning public announcements on the loud speaker about the contest.  And Charles called a number of club presidents to personally make a plea to be part of the contest.  

Meanwhile, we got ready at home. We chose a cookie recipe from Food Network star Giada De Laurentiss, her Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze.  Then we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. 

Ingredients for Lemon Ricotta cookies!

First step: combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Flour, baking soda, and salt all in one
bowl. Step one completed.

Step two: "In a large bowl combine the butter and the sugar."

Then, beat the butter and sugar until "light and fluffy." We later added the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest into the bowl to be beaten as well.
making the lemon juice.
Zesting the lemons.

Once you have beaten those ingredients, now add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) and stir until combined with wet ingredients ( the butter, sugar, lemon ricotta, lemon juice, and lemon zest).
Before the cookies can go in the oven, you have to scoop them out of the bowl and place them down on the tray lined with parchment paper. We found that using a ice cream scooper worked the best because you can control the amount cookie dough, making each one the same size. Remember, always give each cookie a decent amount of space for it to grow in the oven.
Now the cookies are ready to be put in the oven.
                                                Out of the oven and ready for the final step, frosting. 
After drizzling the cookies with lemon icing and adding a lite sprinkle of red sugar, our finished product yielded 8 1/2 dozen Lemon Ricotta cookies for the homeless.

Overall, with the help of many generous students, we were able to donate over 768 cookies.  The Italian Club baked 51 dozen, while other clubs like the Horizon Foundation, Best Buddies and the Muslim Student Association contributed 13 dozen more.  In total, we were able to donate a whooping  64 dozen homemade treats. 
Here's one of the boxes full of cookies we loaded into a car to bring to Lisa Jablonover's home. There, she collected more cookies and delivered them - over 2000 in total - to the Day Resource Center.Lisa wrote in an email to us that there were so many homemade treats donated this year "that they were able to share them with residents at Grassroots and people sleeping at the Cold Weather Shelter" as well as the Day Resource Center.

We hope you consider doing something special for those in need this holiday season.  Sharing our blessings, no matter how small, is the true meaning of the holiday season.

Here's Giada's recipe for Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze listed on the website. Btw, they are REALLY good!

- Charles and Thomas