By Kim Lemmon
Several years ago, a very well meaning individual gave me a recipe for sugar cookies along with cookie cutouts of Christmas characters. Recently, I’ve been cleaning out my kitchen so I just rediscovered this never used recipe and the brand new cookie cutouts.
I’m not really a baker or even a very good cook. In the past, I haven’t often had the time or energy to practice baking or cooking because most of my time has been spent pounding in T-posts or cleaning stalls. But we have lived in our home for about 7 years now, so most of the major projects that I can handle on my own are coming to an end and I have a little more free time.
I haven’t really been using my free time very wisely. It gets cold and dark so early that most evenings I search craigslist for good deals or watch movies.
Lately a lot of Sylvester Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme action movies have been on television. I have been really enjoying them, but I think they get me a little too wound up and ready to do something daring myself.
After the latest Stallone movie, I decided I needed a challenge a little less intense than those described in the movie but I needed a challenge none-the-less. I decided to make Christmas sugar cookies with my newly found recipe and cutouts. The movie ended at 10 p.m., and it was too late to bake but I was too wound up to sleep so I headed to Kroger to pick up the supplies I would need to make cookies the next day.
This was my first mistake. The store was empty and easy to navigate, but there wasn’t much left on the shelves because the good folks at Kroger were busy re-stocking them. I bought the last bag of powdered sugar and had to look long and hard for food coloring. I was too cheap to invest in sprinkles or other candy to decorate the cookies more precisely.
I headed home with my stash feeling excited that I had a challenge to look forward to the next day when it suddenly occurred to me I didn’t have a rolling pin. Oh well. I was sure I could make something work. My sense of adventure was not unchecked.
As I unpacked my newly purchased supplies, I double checked the recipe to make sure I would have everything I needed and I noticed there were just two lists of ingredients (one for the cookies and one for the icing) but no directions. Wow.
I found the lack of instructions a little disturbing (I’m one of those people who read directions on everything before I start a project), but I was a straight A student in high school and I had just watched Stallone and Van Damme take on all the evil forces in the universe, so I was pretty sure I could figure it out the next day.
The next morning I assembled all the ingredients plus a make shift rolling pin (an OSU ceramic cup) and everything else I thought I would need. I was doing a little guesswork plus trying to recall what I had witnessed when I had watched others bake in the past.
I was feeling pretty cocky because I even remembered to pre-heat the oven. I guessed at a temperature of 350 degrees because as I mentioned before I didn’t have any directions. While the oven was preheating, I dumped all the ingredients for the cookies in a bowl and started mixing. This is where the trouble started.
Maybe it should be common sense to let sticks of butter soften before you try to combine them with the other ingredients but I didn’t think of that. It certainly was a little challenging and more time consuming than necessary to mix the batter but I stayed with the project and finished the mixing process with a well-blended batter.
I decided the next logical step was probably to dump the batter out on the counter and start rolling. The cup I was using wasn’t perfect but it did the job.
Without instructions, I did the best I could but I really wasn’t sure how thick to make the dough. I rolled it all out to what I thought was right and started using my cookie cutouts to make shapes.
I imagine I was probably supposed to put some flour down on the counter before I rolled out the dough or perhaps put some wax paper down but again, this didn’t occur to me until the cut out dough shapes started sticking to the counter and gingerbread men started missing arms and legs and trees were missing branches. At this point, I nearly dumped everything in the trash and quit.
Eventually I worked out a system that had all my cookies relatively intact and ready to bake. Next problem: I didn’t know how long to bake them.
I kept watching the oven but I was getting hungry and bored so I decided to make some macaroni and cheese for lunch. Just as the cooked macaroni was ready to be drained to remove it from the boiling water I had cooked it in, the timer on the oven started dinging again and distracted me. Of course I dumped the boiling water on my hand. My ring finger on my right hand got the worst of it.
First aide was applied and by then the cookies were finally finished baking and more or less in one piece. I decided to eat my mac and cheese while I let the cookies cool.
I had planned ahead and made a lot of star and tree shaped cookies as I thought they would be the easiest to ice. When I made my icing, I did figure out that I probably needed to split it up into different bowls before adding food coloring. I made bowls of red, gold and green icing. I knew I would need white icing to complete the snowmen, Santas and candy canes but it didn’t look like nearly enough icing for all the cookies so I figured I would just mix up some more and leave it white. Wrong again.
I had more than enough icing. The stars and trees turned out kind of OK. If you don’t look too closely they are mostly the correct shape and the correct color.
At this point, I had run out of patience and precision skills. Also, my hand was starting to hurt from the burn I had received from the boiling water, and at the same time, I realized I was going to have way too much red icing and no need to make more icing so that I could have white icing. I gave up and the final candy canes and all the snowmen and Santas became red blobs.
Nearly two hours of my life are gone and I can’t say that I really enjoyed or learned much from the task. The cookies are kind of good but a little crunchier than the way I remember others tasting and the red blobs of armless and legless gingerbread men, candy canes, Santas and snowmen are less than appetizing.
Maybe next time the action movies get me in the mood to try something new I’ll just take a late night trip to Kroger and dodge the folks re-stalking the shelves and buy finished Christmas cookies from their bakery. It would certainly be safer and cheaper than making my own misshapen Christmas sugar cookies.