This time last year, I swore I would never again spend hours in the kitchen — time I will never get back — baking cookies. But I found myself doing it this week. Why? Because. Because I feel like if I don’t give I shouldn’t receive. I know. I‘ve been told I need to get over it.
I have spent the last three nights adorned in flour or batter, keeping the Christmas cookie mill moving like a well-oiled machine. Could my counter be any more full of stuff? Flour, three types of sugar, baking powder and baking soda (I still don’t know the difference), chips, dyes, extracts, pans, spoons, scrappers, a rolling pin and a bottle of red. Wine, that is. The only thing that helps me get through this.
The night before last, after my first batch of chocolate chip cookies, I thought I would double the next recipe, partly to keep up the cookie numbers. I have two kids and a husband who poach spoonfuls of batter every chance they get. They duck wooden spoons hurled with warnings and laugh off my threats to hurt someone. The hubby just thinks he’s adorable as he makes off with a hijacked handful of fresh baked cookies. Rather than pitch in, they add to my time here trying to get my cookie numbers up. More wine?
So I doubled the recipe thinking I’m being slick, until I added in all the dry ingredients. Because of the volume, flour powdered the counter and me. This only got worse when the mixer began to arbitrarily flick batter into the air. To where? I’ll find it. Eventually. When I go to use that coffee mug sitting in the corner, for example, now caked with dried cookie dough. I’ll wear some too. But surprisingly, no one in the house is trying to get at me with a spoon. I pour another glass.
Then I made the tragic error of leaving the kitchen for a bathroom break and to throw on a load of clothes. Of course, having left the place I feel enslaved in, I got distracted (the wine doesn’t help), and my cookie thieves took advantage of my absence. When it hit me that I hadn’t heard the timer, I sprinted through the house to the stove. With potholders in hand, I pled to the empty kitchen, please, please let them be spared! I couldn’t bear to be moving backward! I pulled open the oven door to assess the forgotten batch, with a glimpse over my shoulder at the time. Ten minutes late coming out, and yep, my two trays of cookies were toast. Forty-eight cookies, all charred, all inedible. I scraped off the cookie carcasses, took 10 minutes to clean the pans, and started over. With a fresh glass of vino.
Last night, my final night of this gig, I used cookie cutters to make Christmas-y sugar cookies. Whatever. This time, wine first, then batter. When it came time to press the cookies, I ditched the angel cutter. I thought the gingerbread men turned out great, until I realized I made another error. I was about to add a tray of newly baked Christmas trees and stockings to the cooling rack when I noticed that a all of my gingerbread dudes had taken the shape of the oven rack. As they cooled, draped over the rack, their body parts sunk into the spaces! I could have chucked it all at this point. But I didn’t. Instead I picked up a warped man and ate it. One less ugly cookie. Time for another do-over.
I have at least five neighbors who will stop by to drop off a bag of oranges or a tray of cookies with holiday wishes. I love them all. But can’t we sit this one out? Last year, I baked a variety of everyone’s favorites. For two weeks almost every night I beat dough, baked, cleaned up and then tried, unsuccessfully, to hide cookies from my family. And for what? To receive what I gave? (And here, I have to say it’s amazing how so many people can make ONE chocolate chip recipe so differently!) Next year will be different, I swear.
My good friend has the right idea. She feels no guilt accepting a cookie tin from a neighbor without giving one back in return. And when she bakes, it involves a cookie roll and a knife. Wine is always optional.
I didn’t give Ronna a chance to write her own bio…so I will tell you that she’s one of THE best co-spectators in the entire sport of softball. She also makes a mean sandwich (and chopped salad) that make all the other parents swoon. She is married, has two children…and I absolutely LOVE her AND her baking.