Saturday, December 18, 2010

an email to my sister

An email to my sister (annual sugar cookie decorating party)
Sunday, December 12

Morning. Seems like forever since I've written, but it's only been a day. I'm looking out the window at all the beautiful snow. We got about 5" yesterday, and with the Christmas lights twinkling in them is so gorgeous.

I'm pooped. Still have this darn cold. Thank you Hunter. I started feeling it Wednesday or Thursday, and now today it's in my chest and I can't cough the darn stuff up. Maybe after my shower. I woke up with my nose all crusted. Fun. But it sure has thrown me for a loop.

I had a full day planned Friday and it was all organized--doctor appt, grocery shopping, make cookies, bake quiche, make chicken salad, get everything ready for Saturday morning. What I failed to add onto the list was a 2 hour nap first thing in the morning. So from there, my day just went downhill.

I came home from my doctor's appt and just felt shitty so thought I'd take a little nap. Well, then grocery shopping ended up being a bigger deal than usual. My brain isn't working at even half capacity and I found myself going back and forth from one end of the store to the other, picking up items I forgot. Never mind I have the list, in order that I shop. It took me longer to shop than I had anticipated and we didn't get home until 1:00. I told Mike to just put the groceries on the table and I would put them away AFTER I got my dough made and chilling. Well, several items I needed were in the bags and I ended up having to scrounge through them. I had groceries out and laying all over the place.

Okay--Batch One. Went okay. It went into the fridge. I decided to make Batch Two and Three together, so I didn't have to waste time washing my bowls and blender, etc., after Batch Two. I have a Kitchen Aid and figured it could handle the load. So in went the 2 pounds of butter and six cups of sugar. Then the first six eggs. It was then that I noticed that oil was dripping out of my beater! Thankfully.... and don't tell anyone.... but I just wiped it down and hoped that none actually dripped into the batter. Hey, I wasn't in the mood. So I continue adding the "one egg at a time" and had added two more eggs when the third slipped from my hand and fell into the bowl. Within mano-seconds it had disappeared from sight, as I frantically tried to shut the damn machine off and salvage my dough! I kept pulling the lever closest to me, which turns out is not the on/off, but the lever to lift the blades up. By the time I reached to the other side of the machine and turned it off, there wasn't an egg shell to be seen....

So here's my dilemma.... Do I keep going or do I toss the batter out and start all over.....? Remember: This is 2 pounds of butter and 6 cups of sugar and 8 eggs.... That's a lot of $$$. And if I can't SEE the egg shells, what are the chances you'll be able to FEEL them as you bite into the cookie....? What would you have done?

Okay, so I tossed it all out and started over. This time, I still did the double batch, which was mistake number one to begin with. But instead of cracking the egg into the bowl, one at a time, which is a challenge in itself with a Kitchen Aid because you only have this little bit of room.... I cracked all the eggs into a bowl and let them slide in that way. Mission accomplished! Now the butter, sugar, and eggs are blended and I've started adding flour. It became clear that I was not going to get 14 cups of flour into this bowl. I don't know what I was thinking. So I poured the batter into a larger bowl and ended up mixing it by hand. Yea, you know how easy that was in my weakened state? Not fun.

So the dough is in the fridge, chilling. I'm putting groceries away and making quiches and doing all that other stuff. I'm so very tired. It's 5:00 by now. The dough has been chilling about 2.5 hours.... I'm looking at the clock asking myself how on earth I'm going to pull all this off with the few hours left. But I go for it. I flour the dining room table (it's granite) and start rolling. As soon as the dough hits the table, it melts on me. I scrape it off, add more flour, try again. It melts. I keep doing this, adding a little more flour to the table, to the rolling pin. To the cookie cutters.  Nothing. I can't get it to roll. It just turns to mush. So I gather it together and throw it in the fridge and grab another handful. Same thing. If I'm lucky, I can get one or two cookies cut out before it melts on me. I'm sick. I'm frustrated. I'm getting mad. I've never had this kind of problem before and I've never let the dough chill for 6 hours. I keep trying, with little success. I finally get two cookie trays filled and am feeling triumphant! Then Shodie and Josh arrive....

She starts helping me. By now, I think the table has become 'seasoned' enough. And the dough has chilled just a little more. And she's having a little more luck than me. But then, as the dough cooks, it melts out of shape. Georgia, it just kept going from bad to worse! I've never had this happen. My snowmen looked like a snowball. My stars looked like starfish. My Christmas trees looked like they were covered in so much heavy snow that all you could see was this rounded shape. Then Shodie asks, "did you use any different ingredients this time?" And I did! I've always used Tillamook butter. This time I used not only a Fred Meyer brand but butter from Costco (Lando Lakes maybe?). Plus I've always used nothing other than Pillsbury Flour and I've converted to generic brands. Same with sugar. So is this why I had so much trouble with my cookies this year?

Bottom line.... we eventually got done. Shodie took over rolling the cookies out and I was in charge of putting them in/taking them out of the oven. This was something I could manage at 8:00 at night! I think we finally finished around 8:15 or 8:30, but man what a ride it had been. The whole event was just disastrous from the beginning. I finished cleaning up and just went to bed. I was so sick and so weak and so tired and I hurt so badly, that I could barely stand. I think mostly my ego was hurt.... I've never struggled so much with a simple cookie recipe and then to have Shodie be able to pull it off....
This was last year's batch, but I was too tired to take pics this year.
Anyway, if you need to go to the bathroom or get another cup of coffee, now would be the time. Chapter One has been written.  N.

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