Monday, February 28, 2005

Betty Crocker I am not

It’s been a bit since I’ve last posted about my adventures in the kitchen. Things are still going well and I’ve only carved up one more of my little fingers (which is healing nicely, thank you). And up until about 4:30 yesterday I could have stopped here.

But then I tried to bake.

One of our neighbors in Texas gave me one of the cookie mix jars for Christmas before we left. For those of you unfamiliar with the cookie mix jar, it’s essentially all of the dry ingredients in a jar, usually with a nice ribbon and piece of fabric adorning the top. Very country, very cute. All you have to do is add the “wet” ingredients (eggs, vanilla, etc.) and bake the suckers. Voila, you get homemade cookies in half the time with all the mess.

Well, last night I came downstairs after attempting to put Miss Grace to bed only to find all of my packaged cookie mixes sitting on the counter. A hint from Brandon that he was needing something sweet after our grilled dinner. Not a problem for an accomplished chef such as myself, I thought, I’ve made beef stew, chicken every which way you can think of and even lasagna from scratch, how hard can this be?

I read the directions and followed them to the letter. In went two eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla, ¾ of a cup of butter…mix well, add the dry ingredients. As I sent my little visions of sugar and M&Ms into the oven I had thoughts of how other mothers would be envious when I brought in Grace’s birthday cookies to her Kindergarten class. They would all ask for my recipes and cry when they couldn’t make them just like me.

The directions said to allow the cookies to bake for 10-12 minutes, but being the conservative I am I set the timer for 9 minutes just in case. I turned on the oven light to sneak a peek when I saw the most horrendous sight. My cookies looked our neighbor’s sad little snowman who was braving the 40 degree weather last week. This is not right, I thought. There was a sea of butter from the greased cookie sheet and the M&M colors were bleeding making the cookies look like something you might see after inhaling too much smoke at a Grateful Dead concert. I let them go another two minutes in hopes that they would miraculously firm up and look pretty. No such luck.

Carefully I removed my babies from the oven. Maybe I made them too big? I pulled a little dough off of each of cookie on the second batch’s tray. As Batch #2 was being baked to culinary perfection I scraped the scrambled cookie mess off of the first tray. They sadly sunk down through the slots of the cooling rack. Brandon entered the kitchen about this time to check on my progress.

“The cookies are supposed to sit on the top of the cooling rack, not ooze down and fall onto the counter.”

I kindly gestured with my hand that I was aware of the function of the cooling rack.

I’m sad to say that the next two batches weren’t much better. The first batch went into the trash as they were still raw (I think), but the rest of the cookies were totally flat and fragile. I have to say that pregnant or not I’ve never met something made with chocolate, sugar and eggs that I wouldn’t eat, so I knew despite their unattractive appearance and frail little existences, these cookies would not be unloved. I shall include photos below so that you might truly enjoy the humor that these cookies brought to our lives.

And, I think that I will stick with cooking. Who needs fresh baked cookies anyway? It looks like Grace’s classmates will celebrate her birthday not with the traditional sugar sweets, but with a chicken and rice casserole or perhaps a nice hot bowl of beef stew.