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Cookie Fails & Silver Linings

So it was bound to happen right? Cookie fails. Just as inevitable as my numerous parenting fails. Like that time I thought it was a good idea to spend 9,000 hours on a Halloween costume for a cranky 3-year-old. I’m not naming any names, but Jamison is not 3 yet.

And the other thing bound to happen? Falling behind on our Cookie Challenge. But I’m a silver lining kind of girl and even if I have to scrape my silver lining off the bottom of my sticky amaretti crisps with a butter knife, don’t you worry, I’ll be doing it.

Last weekend we attempted cookie #15 Amaretti Crisps. I was excited to use our new food processor and the almond abstract I bought months ago, both patiently waiting for me in the cabinet. With only four ingredients, I thought, what could go wrong?

Well for starters, the blade on the food processor came from the manufacturer backwards – kid you not, but it worked enough to blend the toasted almonds and powdered sugar into sort of a fine powder.

I still don’t own a pastry bag or the 1/2 inch plain round tip the book suggests, so I used a large ziplock with the corner cut off and it worked pretty well. Not a lot of control, but the boys man-handled (should I say boy-handled?) the bag fairly well attempting to get the desired wreath shape so elegantly pictured in the book.

I pulled the cookies out of the oven and the wreath shapes had completely closed in, looking more like misshapen amoebas than expertly executed donuts. And to top things off, the wax paper I always use in lieu of parchment paper stuck to the bottom of these cookies in a way that made me think long and hard about how badly I wanted to save them. I scraped most of them clean. The last 2 cookies hit the garbage can because really, come on already, I was losing patience.

So, this is the scene we started with-cue my favorite Pandora mix, fall flowers and prepping ingredients for the boys.

And, this is the scene we ended with-enter my frustration, the boys boredom and a newfound dislike of sticky eggs whites whipped into stiff peaks that love to stick, stick, stick to my cheap parchment paper substitute.

When Jason got home I had him try one. His thoughts? They’re okay. They’d be the kind of cookie sitting on a plate at Christmas time that you’d keep eating because they were just sitting there right in front of you. He must have had pity on me that day, walking into my hot cookie mess. The boys had long ago abandoned me to play fort in the other room and I was still scraping the fragments of wax paper glued on each cookie off.

The next day he must have felt safer to deliver the final verdict, “definitely not your best, honey.”
Sorry, team Martha.

If I really want to cut to the chase about how likely I am to make something again, here it is. Is it worth the calories? Seriously, who wants to waste their daily splurge on any food that is just, so-so? Not this girl.

So, if I ever made these again, I would make them bite size and I would butter the heck out of my pan and never, ever, ever, ever use wax paper with whipped egg whites and sugar again. How many times do I need to learn this lesson? Let’s just stop at 2 times and say my quota is met.

Why yes, that is flour all over the boys. When the directions say to add flour liberally, we take it to heart.
Why yes, that is flour all over the boys. When the directions say to add flour liberally, we take it to heart.

Now on to the silver lining. The cookies we made before these were delicious and among some of our old & new favorites.

More silver lining? I love that when I open our tall, creaky cabinet doors and slide these heavy greens bowls from their boring beige, contact paper covered home, the boys come running into the kitchen. They match my creaky cabinet squeaks with equally loud heavy kitchen chairs sliding across the wood floor on route to their familiar spots across from me at our small kitchen bar.

I love that baking brings out the more patient mama version of myself. These days, I feel like I lose it more often and over silly things, like not getting dressed or picking up toys, but when we’re baking, I’m a kinder version of myself. I yell less, I laugh more. I don’t rush through cookies, I slow down and teach.

If for some reason I do get impatient, it’s only because I’m scraping the wax paper off a dozen crumbling cookies with a spatula instead of pouring a glass of milk for the boys to accompany our newest creation.

I imagine we all have these zones where we are more patient with our kids. When we engage with them about the things that make us happy, it’s hard to rush through topics we’re passionate about. We’re naturally under-lining the silver-lining when we are in our zone.

My husband has many happy, patient zones with the boys. I see it come out when he’s lying on the floor playing tractors, showing them how to fix something or traipsing around the barn or shop doing, whatever it is they do, out there.

As I am often guilty of overreacting about some non-essential thing that is currently driving me nuts, it’s good for me to have a couple of go-to activities to remind myself I’m capable of much more patience than I give myself credit for.

My other go-to fallback is reading. It settles us all right down, snuggled in close, enjoying words and art together. Goodbye brotherly drama. Goodbye crazy mama. Hello Llama, Llama Red Pajama.

I’ll leave you with a few more recent cookie wins – Cookie #12 Snickerdoodles

Cookie #13 Old-fashioned Sugar Cookies

And, this one – Cookie #14 Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

The cookie I would choose for my desert island selection? The cookie that just happens to grace the cover of Martha’s Cookie book? The cookie that makes me drool a bit like Pavlov’s dog? Alex, can I have chocolate gingerbread cookies for $1000?

I’m convinced there was other worldly inspiration when these cookies were conceived. Immaculate Obsession. They’re like Christmas morning and warm fires and hot cocoa all rolled up into one heavenly bite. They are my very favorite cookie.

Here’s the recipe – you’re welcome. Side note, these do call for 1 tbsp. of fresh ginger. I have almost always baked these with 1 tsp ground ginger in its place and they turn out wonderful every time. If you use real ginger, just make sure it is shaved really, really fine, otherwise they can become one zinger of a cookie. 

It may be silly, this cookie baking challenge with my boys, but if it’s a quest to learn more patience, then I’m going to keep right on keeping on.

We all need a few go-to strategies when we feel like stomping our feet and having our very own adult tantrums. The plus side of this strategy is that I hope to my boys, home always smells like freshly baked cookies and their childhood kitchen is fondly remembered as a place of love, laughter and an extra side of butter.

Now if I could only figure out how to teach the boys fractions from our measuring cups, I’d be in really good shape.

Have a beautiful weekend all! I have some serious Halloween costume dreaming up to do.

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