THIS IS DEDICATED TO JENNIFER AND CHELSI
I will be the first to admit to you, despite my cooking and baking for over sixty years–more like sixty-five years now that I think about it – I am not without mishaps; for a good example read my post “JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING” that I posted a few days ago. Granted, most of the time (not always) I can go to Plan B or think of a way to salvage something that isn’t coming out the way it should–and it helps to have a large, well stocked pantry and two refrigerators so that there isn’t much that I don’t already have on hand; about the only thing I have trouble keeping well stocked are the semi sweet chocolate chips morsels…then again, I make chocolate chip cookies about once a week.
Most go to the ladies on my Wednesday bowling league (one of those ladies gifted me with four bags of chocolate chips recently–bless her heart!) And another woman on my league brought me three pounds of large shelled walnuts last week! I can’t wait to start going through my recipes for walnut cookies–and I have a great recipe for candied walnuts.
whoohoo! I haven’t made a lot of walnut-type cookies for years because Bob and my girlfriend Mary Jaynne were two people on my gift list who couldn’t eat walnuts without getting something like blisters inside their mouths–consequently, I have made mostly pecan based cookies for at least ten years.
COOKIE MISHAPS –but getting on to Cookie Mishaps–Much as we love to make cookies around here—and there is hardly a time when there are not several kinds of cookies available in those plastic take-along containers*—we have had our share of mishaps. (Although I collect cookie jars, I don’t keep cookies in them. Just wanted to share that. I keep each kind of cookie in its own individual container, those rubber maid take-along containers).
Years ago, one of the first major mishaps had to do with gingerbread boys. We—the boys and I—had painstakingly cut out and then decorated many small gingerbread boy cookies. I had used a straw to cut a hole in the top of the gingerbread boys’ heads and we just used large ornament hooks to put them all over our Christmas tree.
Well! Christmas morning it was raining – and like so many storms in California, when it rains, it really pours. As I recall the house we were renting at the time had a step-down den that tended to flood and we might have been putting towels down to keep the floor dry. Midday I began hearing plop – plop – plop and began looking around to see what it was. Well! The cookies had softened and worked their way right through the ornament hooks. (I imagine we went ahead and ate the cookies, since with four sons, cookies seldom went to waste).
Then one year when we were living in Florida, I thought it would be a good idea to make those stained glass cookies; you use a sugar cookie dough and cut out designs inside the cookie, then put crushed hard candies, like life savers, into the cut out spaces. When the cookies baked, the hard candy melted making a pretty design. I made a foil-covered cone-shaped tree and we hung the baked cookies on it. Well, that was my first experience with the humidity in Florida – the candies melted and oozed down the side of the cone shaped tree. I also discovered you can’t make cookies like meringues in Florida because of the humidity. I had to give up making a lot of favorite cookies until we moved back to California a couple of years later.
One really memorable experience was my bright idea to give some baking lessons to the daughters of a couple of my girlfriends. We invited the girls over and were making Betsy Mc Call cookies from a special cookie cutter that came from the now defunct McCall’s magazine. Well, first the girls fought over who got to use the mixer, then they fought over who was using the cookie cutter (ok, back then we only had one mixer and there was just the one Betsy McCall cookie cutter)—and whose turn was it to use the rolling pin? – so instead of showing the girls how to do things (as I imagined), I spent the entire time settling disputes. That may have been when I realized I was more content raising all boys. I seldom had more than one son in the kitchen baking cookies at a time—boys have other fish to fry.
I ALMOST forgot my most memorable Christmas cookie mishap of all; it was going on Christmas in 1965 and I had decorated all the butter cut-out cookies with royal frosting and had laid everything out on every surface in the house, to dry out. In the morning when I got up, I discovered that 5-year old Michael had licked the frosting off of every single cookie. My memory comes to a screeching halt at this point. I can tell you that he didn’t get sick. I doubt that he even admitted that he had licked all the cookies–he may have blamed his 2 year old baby brother Steve.
What did I do with all those cookies? I have no idea. we couldn’t eat them! I couldn’t give any of them away!
Some times, some things are best forgotten. and yes, I have continued baking cut out butter cookies year after year….after year. Maybe keeping the decorated cookies out of reach. And now there are no young children in my house getting into the homemade cookies. Ah, but the memories are a blessing. And I have to smile remembering Christmas 1965.
Another mishap didn’t involve cookies – it DID involve graham cracker Christmas villages that were made with melted sugar, I think, to get the parts to stick together. The sugar wouldn’t “set up” so I put them into my electric oven thinking they would dry (in my defense I always had a gas stove in California) – anyway, needless to say I set the oven on fire. I didn’t attempt those villages again until we were back in California and I knew how to use royal icing to put parts together when making gingerbread houses or anything like that. and may I add, Bob & I made some gorgeous gingerbread houses years later when we got together.