It takes a lot to motivate me to bake or cook, and unless I’ve been tricked into having people over for dinner, I’d rather not, especially if the prep and cooking time involves over forty-five minutes, the meal has more than 3 ingredients, or requires an extra trip to the supermarket.
Yet, I often thought it would be nice to surprise friends and family by presenting them with a tray of festive cookies I’d proudly baked myself. An old TV commercial jingle, “Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven,” comes to mind. Several years ago, the women in my neighborhood invited me to an annual Christmas Cookie Exchange. All I had to do was make 6 dozen of any one kind of cookie, and in exchange, I’d get 6 dozen assorted cookies. Hurrah! I could do this! I poured my heart and soul into making chocolate covered cherry cordial delight cookies. There were many steps and much cursing involved, and even a batch that had to be tossed, but I intended to impress by sharing something worthy. I couldn’t wait to see what delights I’d get in exchange.
What I saw spread on a table before me was an unappetizing selection that included no-bake peanut butter blobs, green Rice Krispie treats, chocolate chip bar cookies (the ultimate in laziness), brownies (so pedestrian), those so-called “magic” bar cookies, and something I can’t even describe. Evidently I wasn’t the only one who didn’t enjoy baking, but I felt seriously shortchanged. I was tempted to leave with my own cookies.
I admire people who go all out for Christmas. Some dedicated bakers start in November, freezing batches as they go. Their creations are decorative, complicated and varied. It’s obvious they enjoy standing in the kitchen, measuring, sifting, cracking and separating eggs, creaming, stirring, beating, melting, chilling, dipping, sprinkling, frosting, and then later wiping down countertops, floors and cupboards (and in my case, most likely the ceiling and dog, too), and washing bowls and cookie trays. On their feet. For hours. I’m sure it’s a labor of love to some people. I know their families appreciate them. More power to them.
I go to the local Home Bakery if I need cookies for the holidays. No sense wasting time when the dog’s nails need trimming again.
Or when I could be writing.