Monday, December 21, 2009

Longest hour of my life

Or 'Baking cookies with a short attention span'

Christmas! Cookies! Yay! Gonna make the cookies, gonna make the cookies. Cookies!

Dig recipe out of three ring binder stuffed with clippings from newspapers, handwritten index cards, and tons of recipes printed out from online. Finally find the one clipped from the back of the bag of chips. Nothing beats the original. How many times have I made this recipe? Can't even begin to count.

Check recipe for wet ingredients. Butter, eggs, equal amounts of each sugar, vanilla... cream butter and sugar, add eggs, then add vanilla. Got it. Done this a bazillion times.

Go to pantry, get white sugar. Walk back to kitchen. Get brown sugar from cupboard.

Retrieve two eggs from fridge. How much butter? Check recipe. Oh that's right, one cup. That's two sticks, right? Check butter wrapper. Yep, each stick is half a cup. OK. Grab two sticks. Damn, that's a lot of butter. But it makes sixty cookies, so that's like just over an eighth of an ounce per cookie. Not so bad.

Go to auxiliary appliance storage on sun porch, retrieve stand mixer, bowl, and paddle. Unplug coffee maker and plug in mixer.

Gotta cream butter and sugar, right? Check recipe. Shit, butter has to be room temp. Cut butter into small chunks into mixing bowl to increase surface area. Find something else to do while it warms up. Didn't someone have a trick for softening the butter? What was it? Crap, can't remember. Oh well.

Check recipe for dry ingredients. Two and a quarter cups of flour, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt. Got it.

Go back to the pantry, pull out the flour, carry it back to the kitchen. Get mixing bowl from cupboard. Dig out measuring cups and spoons.

OK, how much flour again? Check recipe. Two and a quarter cups, then one teaspoon each baking soda and salt. Right. No problem. Got it.

Pull baking soda from cupboard. Two and a quarter cups of flour, right? Check recipe. Right. Not supposed to fluff the flour before measuring. Well, maybe just a little fluff. Measure and dump.

How much baking soda again? Check recipe. One teaspoon. Measure and dump.

Salt... how much? I just had it. Check recipe. Oh yeah, one teaspoon, same as the soda. I should have remembered that. Measure and dump.

OK. Whisk dry stuff together because sifting is for pussies.

Check butter. Still really cold. Shit.

OK, white sugar. Check recipe. Measure three-fourths cup onto paper plate.

Brown sugar? Check recipe. Same as white sugar, should have remembered that. Add brown sugar to paper plate. Try to scoop it into a pile so it doesn't overflow.

Check butter. Still cold. hold hands against side of mixer bowl to help warm it up. This is going to take forever.

How about the oven? Need to get that started. Check recipe. 375 degrees, of course. Turn on oven. Oven runs hot, so dial it back to 350 degrees. Maybe that's too much? Move it up a little. Then back a little. There, that should do it.

Pull out cookie sheets. Walk back to sun porch and retrieve parchment sheet. Fold sheet in half and cut with a knife while holding in mid-air. Love that trick! Line pans with parchment.

Check butter. Shit. Maybe beating it would warm it up. Was that the trick? Turn on mixer, watch butter chunks get massacred. Mess around with mixer speed. Hey, it's working. I think that was the trick.

Dump sugars from paper plate into mixer bowl, scoop up the tablespoon or so that ended up on the counter. Examine for coffee grounds and toast crumbs. Clean enough; add to mixer bowl.

Let butter and sugar get busy. Didn't America's Test Kitchen say that you really had to beat the crap out of it for it to do any good? Somebody said that. Better let it go for awhile. Mess around with mixer speed. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Lick fingers. Start mixer again.

What's next? Check recipe. Vanilla. Pull vanilla from cupboard. Does vanilla go bad? I've had that huge bottle from Costco forever... did I move it from the old house? I think so. Was that really three years ago? Damn. No, it can't go bad. it's mostly alcohol. Smells OK.

Is it done creaming yet? Hmmm... better let it go a little longer. What does 'creamy' look like, anyway? Wish they would be more specific. I think someone said it had to be 'fluffy'. Is it fluffy?

Stare at mixer bowl for awhile. Mess with the mixing speed. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Lick fingers. Start mixer again. Just leave it alone, for chrissake!

Wander into living room to bother spouse who is busy killing aliens.

Wander back to kitchen. OK, that's close enough. Add one egg. Watch it incorporate. Mess with mixer speed. Add other egg. Mess with mixer speed some more. Stop and scrape sides of bowl. Lick fingers. Scoff at salmonella.

Beep! Oven's ready.

Sheesh, this is taking forever. Turn mixer on slow and add flour mixture. Pat self on back for not making a huge mess. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Lick fingers. Lick spatula.

Shit! Forgot vanilla. How much vanilla? Check recipe. One teaspoon. Add vanilla, turn mixer back on really high; really gotta get it mixed in well. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Lick fingers. Lick spatula.

OK, something's missing. Chips! How many? Check recipe. Two cups. OK.

Walk back to pantry for chips. Return to kitchen. How many chips? Check recipe. Two cups, stir in by hand... ummmm, no.

Add chips to mixer bowl, turn mixer back on really high but just for a few seconds. There. Close enough.

Turn off mixer, remove bowl. Scrape down bowl, stir by hand for a few seconds. Lick fingers. Lick spatula. Lick paddle.

How big should the scoops be? Check recipe. Heaping tablespoons. Oh that will never fly around here. Dig dishers out of gadget drawer. The yellow one is way too big. The purple (plum?) one or the black one? The purple one is probably a tablespoon. The black one is probably twice as big.

Return purple disher to gadget drawer.

How far apart? Check recipe. Doesn't specify. Portion cookie dough onto cookie sheet, fitting them in as close as possible while maintaining just enough distance to avoid threat of them melting into one giant cookie. Why is it that they never taste the same when you bake them in bar form? Doesn't make any sense, but it's true.

Lick fingers frequently, pick up and eat any stray bits that fall on the counter. Remove and eat build-up of dough around the end of the disher.

Slide first cookie sheet into oven. How long to cook? Nine to eleven minutes. Set timer for ten minutes.

Fill second cookie sheet, trying not to lick fingers quite so often. Try to ensure that there are no cookies with too many or too few chips.

Finish filling second sheet. Eight minutes left.

Tidy up counters, put away ingredients, throw out trash, rinse out mixing bowls.

Three minutes left.

Wander out to bother spouse again. Settle in on the couch.

Beep! First batch is done. Finally!

Open over door. Hmmm... are they brown enough? Maybe another minute? Set oven timer for two minutes to compensate for temperature drop caused by standing there with the door open.

Pull out cooling racks and arrange on dining room table. Return to kitchen and watch timer count down the last 0:43.


Open door. Close enough. Pull out hot cookies, slide in cold cookies. Carry hot cookie sheet to dining room table. Cookie sheet won't sit flat on one trivet. Try to snag another trivet without dropping the cookie sheet or burning self.

Slide parchment from sheet pan to cooling rack. Damn, those smell good!

Return to kitchen. Put sheet pan in sink. Run cold water on it and watch it steam. Check timer.

Shit, forgot to set timer. How long has it been? Five minutes? Three minutes? Hmmm.... ten minutes plus two minus one... oven is hotter now, second batch always cooks quicker....

Set timer for six minutes.

Wander out to dining room to poke at hot cookies. Still too hot to mess with. Wander into living room. Spouse is still killing aliens. Settle in to watch five minutes of something stupid on TV.

Beep! About friggin' time.

Open oven door. Cookies are a little on the brown side, but not burnt. Oh well. Carry hot sheet pan to dining room table. Slide parchment onto empty cooling rack.

Hey, first batch is cool enough to handle! Peel off two cookies. Stuff one in mouth. Cookie dough, hot cookies, and cooled cookies are three completely different sensory experiences. How awesome is that? Eye cookie in other hand. Walk into living room and hand other cookie to spouse. Feel virtuous.

Walk back to kitchen through dining room. Oops, that one's broken. Better put it out of its misery.

How many was this supposed to make? Check recipe. Sixty? Are you kidding me? I got what? Forty? Almost?

Grab glass of water and Tums for stomach ache.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a great exercise program right there!


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