2005 Cookie Bake-fest part 2

There is nothing like getting up at 7 am on a Sunday morning, driving 60 miles only to discover that you are lost, backtracking 30 miles, getting on the right road and still beating everyone else there. It was all Rick’s fault, by the way. Don’t take the bypass he said…well, look were I ended up. Poor Debbie really got lost - it took us 45 minutes to guide her in by phone. Rick met her at the end of the drive way with a mimosa - she announced that she hoped there was lots of champagne - it had been a four mimosa drive.

The reason for the trek into the wilderness? To break in Rick and Greg’s new kitchen - a whole week old!! I have serious kitchen envy. Granite countertops, state of the art appliances including a convention oven, lots of room and an open floor plan. The only drawback? They live almost 45 minutes from Columbus and have turkeys in their back yard.

This was the final round of baking prior to Christmas – so everyone was eager to finish up the baking. Greg stayed out of our way - he is one smart cookie! Also in attendance were Rick and Greg’s three babies beagles. Ummmmm, I forgot their names. Hey, I am just lucky the people at work wear nametags! I would hate to see how things would run if they didn’t. I would just call everyone Jim and Mary. "Hey, Jim, can you make me ten copies of this page?" "My name is not Jim - it's Bob." "That's nice Jim. Please make those copies will ya?"

Gail and I both brought our Kitchenaid mixers. Her mixer is a lowly 5qt while mine is a rocking 6 qt. I bought the Professional model so that I could quadruple batches of cheesecake filling, which this machine whips up with ease. However, Gail has the grinder attachment - which means I might borrow it to make up my own sausages. Gail uses her grinder to make nut meal for her Pecan Sandies. It is a great recipe. The texture is perfect.

Debbie picked up a fruitcake cookie recipe from a lady at her church. The colors looked great. It even tasted pretty good. The only thing to keep in mind is that cherries should not come in dayglow green. If you can get past the neon fruit, then this recipe is for you.

I had prepped gingersnap dough and brought it with me. I love gingersnaps - they improve with time and everyone loves dunking them in milk or coffee. I grabbed my recipe from the Penzeys’ website a couple years ago. It is the only recipe that I use that calls for shortening. I have been toying with the idea of substituting lard for the shortening. That is - if I find some gumption I plan on trying it. I am making the assumption that lard is 100% fat like shortening. Correct me if I am wrong.

I also tried one of the cookie swap winners from Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen. They turned out very crisp, but seemed to be weak on the almond flavor. I tried adding a little more almond flavoring in the second batch, which helped quite a bit. I think that I would like trying the soft version next time - to see if they cookies have a more pronounced nut flavor.

Now the whole time we are baking, we are swilling mimosas. Then Greg, who had been struggling to install a ceiling fan all morning, brought out a bottle of rye. I have never had rye whisky before. So I took a slug. Good to the last drop!

After we finished baking all the various goodies, we divided everything between the bakers plus one batch for our place of employment. The gang was very appreciative of the bounty. See Jeremy, our courier? His favorite pastime is biting the head off of gingerbread women - as long as he doesn’t bite the heads off anything else, I’m cool.

I came back the next morning to inspect the remains of the cookie trays to see what had been left uneaten. It was mostly the cookies that had been made with the “master dough” recipe. The flavors were just not enough to make people go crazy about them. One the other hand, there was not one stick of shortbread left. Note to self: anything with chocolate is a winner!

Boy, I am glad this is over for another year! I always swear I will never do it again - ever- the week after Christmas. Know what? When the leaves start falling in the autumn, I’ll start thinking about cookies, and you know that I am a glutton for punishment. Hmmm…maybe I’ll make the Ma’amouls from Indra’s blog next year…

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