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9:52 a.m. - 2011-12-14
C is for Cookie!

It's Baking Day!

At the moment the oven is heating to bake brownies. If my new cooker has a fault (besides being dreadfully hard to keep the stovetop clean) it's that the oven is poky about heating up to temperature. Once it's there it's very accurate and doesn't have any hot spots. It roasts and bakes very nicely, it's just a slow starter. So I have time for a coffee and to start this entry.

On today's docket are the brownies (duh) and as many sheet pans of chocolate chip M&M bar cookies as I can stand to bake. I'm shooting for at least five sheets. Depending on how I cut them each sheet yields about 3 dozen cookies, plus the squidgy edges that get trimmed off. The edges are my favorite part anyhow so it's not a wrench to give away the bar cookies. I like the edge pieces of brownies and Sicilian pizza too. Yet when I eat a sandwich I eat all the crust off first and save the soft middle bites for last. Odd.

Okay, brownies are in the oven. I disremember who I was talking with but recall a convo I had once about baking and the horrified reaction of the woman when I said something about letting my family lick the bowls, spoons and beaters. "There's RAW EGGS in batter!" she screeched. "They'll get salmonella poisoning and DIE!"

I remember my response was a dumbfounded, "Are you fucking kidding me?" Truly I was staggered. Have the worrying safety creeps really gone this far? The hand-sanitizing Pied Pipers who've whisked our children out of their yards and into the safe, safe house, the paranoid stranger danger "A single Happy Meal will kill your kid" joy-suckers have even taken away THIS?

Raise your hand if you know anyone who died from licking the lees off a brownie spatula. For reals now, not some apocryphal "My sister-in-law's second cousin's neighbor said her grade school best friend's niece died from batter poisoning."

Yeah, I thought as much. Nobody, right? And tell me the memories of your grandmothers letting you 'help' make the strudel or the rugelach and red velvet cake and how they let you eat raw dough and lick spoons haven't been transmuted into horror shows of leering cackling hags jamming deadly food stuffs down the gullets of innocent children hoping to kill the little dears? Please tell me that someday I'll bake with my own grandkids and my paranoid daughters-in-law won't accuse me of child abuse when I offer a bowl to scrape or a beater to lick? Please?

Brrr. Anyhoodle, if brownies and chocolate chip bar cookies (even ones duded up with M&Ms) don't sound very Christmassy, you're right. They aren't. But they DO get eaten. Gladly. I adore fancy holiday cookies. One of my favorite things about Christmas is stopping at DiNuzzio's for a couple pounds of outrageously decadent Italian butter cookies. And Carmine's goodies are precisely why I stick with sturdier treats. My feeble efforts at sugar cookies and lacy crispy things and tender buttery yummy stuff have been laughable. I'm a great cook, but only a so-so baker. If the words 'parchment paper' come up in any recipe I run screaming from the room. I'm dead grateful Mick likes his key lime pie straight up and I can throw away the damn egg whites. Just the idea of trying to make meringue makes me break a flop sweat.

Don't. Please don't, my nice talented friends. Don't offer up recipes and tips with encouraging words and kind intentions. I'm happy enough to hand my money over to DiNuzzio's. I'm fine with my peasant-y savory fare and my warhorse cookies. Occasionally I can whomp up 'elegant' with my appearance, but what comes out of my kitchen is strictly down home chunky rib-sticking goodness. And I like it that way.

So far no one's ever handed back one of my homely cookie offerings with a sneer and a snarky comment about the lack of pfeffernusse and lace cookies. Simple favorites are good anytime. This is why I always bring deviled eggs to picnics and barbeques too. I certainly appreciate the bacon-wrapped teriyaki chicken skewers and the baby vegetable medley salads, but I also know I've never gone home with leftover deviled eggs. Doesn't happen. They always, always get eaten.

The other day I found a very cool thing at Big Lots. It's a cookie tray kit. A not un-generously sized cardboard tray with a matching cellophane bag and a tag with a ribbon tie. This was always the hard part for me, coming up with decent looking wrappings. To find it all in a tidy cut-to-fit kit is wonderful. They came three sets to a package and I bought four packages. Perfect for handing out to the neighbors and a few of Mick's co-workers who've been deemed cookie-worthy. By him. Me? I'm a cookie handing-out fool. My philosophy is, "Cookies for everybody!" Pity the poor UPS guy or the stranger with a flat needing to use the phone. Come near me around Christmas and you will get cookied.

Speaking of which, it's time for the next round. The brownies are cooling and the chocolate chip dough should be soft enough to spread evenly by now. If you need me I'll be in the kitchen.

Much love, ~LA the Cookie Monster

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