FAQ's - Answers
FAQ's - Frequently Asked Question
We hope these answer all of your questions about our gift mix, cookie mix in a jar, spoon mix, soup mix, cake in a jar, and other food gift recipes. Don't forget to shop our catalog of recipe books before you leave.
Answer: Cone bags used for these mixes are available at every Michael's Crafts Stores and most other major chain craft stores. They are: "12 inch Disposable Decorating Bags". The cost is approx. $6 for a box of 24 cone bags. They are sold in the cake decorating supply aisle.
The ingredients all fit in the far when you use your closed hand to push firmly after each addition. I am a very "pushy" person and it shows when I make a cookie mix - you have to push as hard as you can after each addition.
There is an important reason for the cookie mixes to be packed so tightly
- this allows them to be mailed, carried around in the trunk of your car,
taken on an airplane where the constant vibration mixes up a loosly layered
cookie mix so it is no longer recognizable as ever having been layered.
We talked to two people this year who gave us ideas that had not occurred to us sooner. One person said she bought another set of measuring cups and the problem went away. While it is unlikely that that your measuring cups are off - try other ones and see if you get different results.
The other person was mis-reading the instructions on pg. 5 and she was packing the ingredients into the measuring cups with all her strength and then putting more and more flour or brown sugar into the measuring cup before she even put it into the jar - so she had compressed the ingredients as much as they would compress before the ingredients were placed in the jar.
Answer: Five cups of pebbles or marbles, for example, won't fit into a 4 cup jar. But five cups of soft ingredients such as flour, brown sugar, raisins can be compressed enough to fit nicely. Even 6 cups of soft ingredients can be compressed to fit into a 4 cup jar.
If you follow this, pushing as hard as you can and still can't get the ingredients in here are some suggestions:
Answer: Place a baggie of the nuts or chocolate chips onto the top of the jar, under the fabric. This will add a "puffy" look to the jar mix. However, the ingredients in the jar will be likely to shift around and mix up if the jar is handled very much.
Leave a Tb. or so of each ingredient out of the instructions. Don't leave
out 1/4 to 1/3 cup of any single ingredient or the cookies won't cook
correctly, but leave out a bit of each ingredient.
There are some recipes in the book where I say "it will be a tight fit". If I think those recipes are a tight fit and you are having trouble with the other recipes fitting, then I recommend that you avoid the ones I say will be a tight fit.
Many people have come up with very ingenious tools for pushing the mixes into the jar. A "tart-tamper" works well, as well as cutting a circle the size of the jar opening from a piece of flexible rubber-like plastic and nailing it to a 6" long 1/2" wide dowel with a small nail.
Answer: We hear this only occasionally. I develop and test these
recipes in Austin, TX which is as humid as New Orleans or Houston. The
people saying how hard the brown sugar gets often live in Phoenix or other
dry areas. My guess would be that since the jar is not sealed perhaps
stays in my jars. I have tested cookie mixes up to a year later (which is not recommended) and the brown sugar has still been soft. Another cause may be that the brown sugar started with is somewhat dry. If you have this problem then test the cookies with all white sugar instead of white and brown sugar. I did not test them this way, but they will probably work. If they work when you test them, then make the mixes that way.
Answer: Several months is the best answer, These recipes ARE NOT MEANT IN ANY WAY FOR LONG TERM FOOD STORAGE. They are simply a means for you to make a homemade food gift ahead of the holiday or occasion. Cookies keep for 3 to 4 months. They don't ruin after that - the finished cookie is just a little drier than normal. Soup mixes also keep 3 to 4 months unless they are bean mixes. Bean mixes last 6 months or longer (longer and the seasoning packet is less flavorful).
Answer: This was corrected after the first printing of this book
- but the first
printing says to add "1 cup water and 1/3 cup water". That is supposed
to be "1 cup water and 1/3 cup oil".
Q: These cookies are the Worst/Best cookies I have ever tasted. Are these cookies supposed to stay in little round balls and be hard as a rock/are these cookies supposed to spread all over the cookie sheet and be like lace cookies?
Answer: Please re-read the question above slowly - you will see many contradictions. We actually got ALL FOUR of those comments in one week in December 2000 about the EXACT SAME COOKIE RECIPE.
We can't control the ingredients used by people or how long they mix the ingredients. (We try hard by writing EXACT instructions). You MUST use stick margarine or butter. Recipes WILL NOT WORK with tub margarine or diet margarine (which is clearly stated at each recipe.)
Where the recipe says "you might want to finish mixing with your hands" we mean it. Since a regular cookie recipe has you cream the butter and sugar, a cookie mix doesn't allow that. You have to cream the butter with all the dry ingredients at the same time. While this can be accomplished by stirring for a very long time, it is faster and more efficient to use your hands to thoroughly incorporate the butter and egg into the dry mix (after you have blended the mix with a spoon). If this still doesn't give the desired type of cookie then I suggest using 1/4 to 1/2 more of a stick of butter than the recipe calls for. If you do this, remember to change it in the instructions you give with your mixes.
Recipes were tested with all purpose flour - not special blends of healthier flours, not with sugar substitutes, not with any thing not listed in the recipe. If you substitute an ingredient you will have to test the cookies. We don't know how substitute ingredients work, because we only tested them with the ingredients listed.
An exception to this is that in most cases you can leave out nuts (for allergies) and increase the chocolate chips to make up for the left-out nuts. You will usually have good results with this kind of change. Also, you can substitute almonds or peanuts for pecans, etc. You can substitute vanilla or milk chocolate chips for chocolate chips with good results.
Answer: The glaze recipe makes only one glaze for one cake in a cup. It has only a bit of powdered sugar. When liquid is added to that, most of the powdered sugar melts and becomes just the right amount of glaze for one cake in a cup.
This is confusing to people because the mix for the actual cake is mixed up in a bowl- then divided into several mixes for cakes in a cup. The reason this is done this way is because you need to blend a box of pudding mix with a box of cake mix. It would be very hard for you to measure out some of the cake mix and then some of the pudding mix separately, so they are blended together for ease in measuring. It is not hard to measure out just the amount of powdered sugar you need - so that is done one at a time.
Answer: The way I write recipes is this:
If I call for flour, it means all-purpose flour. If the recipe needs self-rising flour, I write "self-rising flour" in the recipe.
If I call for chocolate chips, it means semi-sweet chocolate chips.
If I call for any other kind of chocolate chips other than semi-sweet, then
I write Milk Chocolate Chips, Vanilla Chips, etc.
If I call for cocoa powder, it means the unsweetened kind used for
baking. It will say "cocoa powder" on the box. Products like Nestles Quick®
do not say "cocoa powder" on their labels and so are not what is being
If I say "powdered chocolate flavored drink mix" then I mean something like Nestles Quick®.
If I say "powdered orange-flavored breakfast drink" I mean something
like Tang® - there are many brands.
Is this the same thing as Amish Friendship Starter?
Answer: Some people refer to the starter made from milk, sugar
and flour as Amish Friendship Starter. If the starter you are looking
for contains equal parts of milk, sugar and flour then this is it. If
your version of Amish Friendship Starter contains different ingredients
then this is probably not the one you are looking for. This starter makes
a sweet bread or cake.
Why does one starter call for yeast and the other starter doesn't
What is the difference in these two starters?
Answer: The answer to this is that some people don't want their starter to have any added yeast - they want it to ferment and bubble all on its own - so they use the recipe without the yeast. Other people want to see the fermenting and bubbling start a few days sooner so they use the recipe with the yeast. At the end of the initial 10 day period you won't be able to tell the starters apart. They will have both have fermented and have tiny bubbles over the surface.
Why does my starter turn green or black sometimes?
Answer: It has picked up mold spores from the air (has nothing to do with cleanliness - the weather reports often feature an allergy report on the number of molds in the air) or it has just turned on its own. At this point discard it. Keep starter in the refrigerator in hot summer weather. Starter can be frozen. There is a 50/50 chance it will come back to life when it thaws.
Answer: You can substitute celery flakes - use an equal amount.
Answer: Canning jars are available at grocery stores, hardware stores (like Ace and True Value), discount stores (like Wal-Mart, seasonally in summer) and Dollar stores (like Bill's Dollar, Dollar General). They are sold in cases of 12 with lids and seals. The simplest way to get canning jars is to check with your regular grocery store. If they don't have the size you need in stock, most of them are very happy to order them from the warehouse for you (2-3 days).
Answer: Buttermilk powder is sold in a small canister in either
the dry milk
section of the grocery store or in the baking section of the store. Don't substitute powdered milk. The taste of powdered milk is much stronger and won't taste good in the recipe.
Answer: Written permission must be secured from Cookbook Cupboard to use or reproduce any part of any book. For those of you who will sell these mixes at a fundraiser or as a personal business there are two important things to know. The first is that you probably will need a food license from the county health department in your county. The second thing relates to my copyright on my original recipes. You DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION to give or sell the recipes for what is put inside the jar, the can or the spoon. If a person needs my original recipes for those mixes, they need to buy a book (which is what my business is - selling books of my original recipes). What you CAN do is copy the instructions for what the person HAS TO ADD (eggs, oil, etc.) When you attach the instructions to the finished jar you can say 'Ingredients: flour, sugar, chocolate chips, pecans" . . . etc, WITHOUT STATING AMOUNTS. This allows a recipient of buyer of this mix to see if it contains anything they might be allergic to.
Anything else is a violation of federal copyright law.
Answer: We hope your question was addressed here and if not, please contact us.