I am going to make an admission that will not come as a shock to anyone who knows me well; I am terrible at all things food. I don’t cook well, I don’t bake well, I don’t even grocery shop well. Look in my refrigerator and you may find food that’s been forgotten, for a long time. I find it when it begins to smell, then I throw it out, container and all. This is the preamble to my Christmas-cookie baking story.
It’s Saturday afternoon, a friend calls and asks if I will be home later, she wants to drop something off. I told her that I’d probably be baking cookies, so she can stop over any time. She said, “Great! I’ll bring my camera.” I’ve only made Christmas cookies a couple of times in my life, but really, it can’t be that hard. I took a ton of math courses in college and know all measurement systems well. I know how to halve or double a recipe, heck; I could probably multiply it by pi and take the square root. The rest is just following directions. So I began.
The recipe is one that my husband and son regularly do at Christmas time, so my husband is familiar with it. I started mixing the wet ingredients together by hand. My husband very gently suggested that I use the beaters, so I do. I was glad he suggested that, the shortening mixed easier with the beaters. Next I had to blend in the dry ingredients, so I started adding them as I continued beating the mixture. I could tell my husband was holding back from saying something, so I asked him if I was doing it right. He very diplomatically told me that he would have used a spoon for this part, so I switched back to the spoon. I had a little trouble rolling the dough out, but my son helped me out and told me to dust the dough with more flour. So, with just that little bit of help I was able to make a batch of cookies. Now that I knew how to do it, my son and I made plans to make more today.
I had the day off from work, but since there was a big problem brewing I made sure that everyone at work knew they could reach me at home, either at my home number, or my cell phone. My son woke up and was excited to start in on those cookies. I asked him how many he wanted to make and he said two double batches. So, two double batches it was. Only a couple little mishaps making the dough; I absent mindedly added two teaspoons of mint extract instead of two teaspoons of vanilla, no biggie, we like mint. My son, not me, added the baking soda to the wet ingredients, not the dry ingredients. He also added a little too much flour, but since a double batch calls for five cups of flour a quarter cup extra can’t hurt, so we didn’t bother to re-measure. That batch went into the refrigerator to chill, and then we made the second double batch of dough. The second batch went perfectly, thank you very much. Then work began to call me.
The big problem at work was becoming a gigantic problem, the VP wanted answers, now! I set my laptop up in the kitchen and started working away while we waited for the dough to chill. Since we had already done the hard part of mixing all the ingredients I decided to bake cookies and work on the problem at work at the same time. I couldn’t disappoint my son now, could I? The dough from the first batch was really hard to roll for some reason. My son was quality control and made sure that the thickness of the dough was kept to 1/8th inch. If I handed him a cookie that was too thick he tossed it right back into the bowl of dough. Dough pieces started to drop on the floor from the roller. Flour somehow made it’s way to my clothes. The kitchen was quickly becoming a mess. If only I had time to clean all the bowls and stuff while the dough was chilling, if I wasn’t working on the big problem at work I would have. Then things started getting even worse.
I learned that when you make two double batches of cookies, the cookies start piling up fast. Soon every piece of counter space in the kitchen had something on it, cooled cookies, warm cookies, mixing bowls, ingredients not put away yet, that kind of stuff. I was still having problems with the dough, so I decided to knead it with my hands, the old fashioned way. All of a sudden I felt like I was in an I Love Lucy episode, everything started to happen at once. I’m standing there with dough-covered hands when my son, standing by an open hot stove calls to me, “Mom, where should I put these cookies?” I picked up a cooling rack with one hand to make space for the hot cookies, and then my phone rang, because of the gigantic problem at work I had to answer it. So I take my free dough-covered hand and answer it. Before I can even hear who it is my boss calls me on my cell phone, so I place the cooled cookies on top of my work papers so I have an extra hand to answer my cell phone with. Now my cell phone and the house phone are covered with dough. Clearly something has to give, I decide to put a halt to the cookie baking.
The monstrously huge problem at work demanded my full attention all afternoon, so we didn’t get back to the baking or to the clean up of the kitchen. I think my son watched Sponge Bob and played Runescape all afternoon, I can’t be sure because I was preoccupied. My husband came home this evening to the glorious mess that was formerly our kitchen. I could tell what he was thinking as he looked about at the dried cookie dough on the floor, he knew he shouldn’t have left me alone to bake four batches of cookies.
Other posts you may enjoy:
Rockin Christmas eve
Ode to an Artificial Christmas Tree
Warning: Do Not Let Children Read This
Labels: Christmas, Memoirs