Day 101: Baking like it's the 1800's

When I started dating Mark, my list of people to buy presents more than doubled. See, I am the only child and only grandchild in my family, and when all of my immediate family, grandparents and all, is in one place, we total seven. Mark, on the other hand, is the youngest of three siblings, and the other two are married. Including his parents, that side totals eight.

Now, I am only 23 and make less than a manager at Wal-Mart despite my "professional" title, so this sudden rise in the number of gifts to give during the holiday season forces me to do the cop-out gift--cookies. I love baking cookies, and people generally like eating them, but I'm not unaware that they would rather have a cool new gadget or cute clothes or really, anything other than more food to put away.

This year, in thinking of making cookies, I realized that I didn't have a mixer and couldn't very well beat butter and sugar and eggs without it. I thought at first about going to my mother for making cookies, but after remembering that she established very clearly that she wouldn't allow me to get health insurance under her work policy ("You're a big girl now!") nor co-sign on my rent pending my potential entry to graduate school ("Time for baby bird to leave the nest!"), that I am totally on my own. Don't even think about asking to use a mixer there.

I was about ready to throw in the towel and buy the Break n' Bake cookies, until I saw the most recent episode of Top Chef: All Stars.

The chefs had to make a signature stuffing using zero kitchen equipment. There were images of the chefs mixing eggs together with their fingers, grating cheese on metal shelves and breaking down chickens with their bare hands.

If they can do that, I can make cookies with the stuff in my kitchen. So I bought the ingredients for Snickerdoodle cookies, a personal holiday favorite, and went to town.

Then I found myself, curled up in the fetal position on the couch with my arm in the cushion to stabilize the bowl, smashing and scraping and softening butter--thinking that my arm was about to fall off. Again, I almost threw in the towel, sure that if I did add all of the other ingredients that the cookies would turn out totally wrong. "Beat til light and fluffy?" Not possible. But I had already thrown all of my dry ingredients together and didn't think it prudent to throw out good ingredients and I had gone through all the trouble to turn the sticks of butter into mush, so I threw everything together anyway.

It was just like they did in the 1800's--putting love into the cookies with endless elbow grease.

So I cooked them, and although the cookies didn't turn out exactly how they have in the past, they're much higher, they turned out pretty good. Or at least Mark didn't die, so they're suitable.

Merry Christmas folks!

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