Christmas Cookies 2013 – Day 5

Start Time: 2:30 pm
Stop Time: 3:54 am

Complete: Cranberry Shortbread (2x), Salted Caramel Rounds (4x), Chocolate Chip (6x), Peanut Butter (4x), Oatmeal (4x), Chocolate Heath Bar (1)

Mixed: Chinese Almond (2x)

On the tail end of the baking binge!  All that’s left are the tray cookies and some experimental recipes.  Yay!  Almost done.  I need to work on my packaging tomorrow while I bake the last few recipes.  For the first time since Friday, my dining room table is clean and clear, ALL the sugar cookies are iced and drying, ready to be bagged in the morning, and the ingredients are taking up about 1/4 the space they were at the beginning of this project.  Looking forward to my shower in a few minutes here, lol.  I’m literally crusty with sugar and crumbs.

I’m not sure how many other people out there find this kind of thing therapeutic (I mean baking, not binge baking).  There is something about being alone with your thoughts, doing something manual and repetitive that really relaxes me.  It’s so different than what I normally do, and it’s something that I don’t have to think about too hard.  Sure there’s the math and the constant timers going off, but there is something about forming dough into 1-inch balls and rolling them in sugar and cinnamon that requires no thought.  I get lost in the task, and I forget I’m working sometimes.  It’s my thing I guess.

I’ve done a lot of quality thinking and mental relaxation.  A lot has come up this weekend, as I zone out.  It’s interesting what pops into mind.  For example, while I was baking chocolate chip cookies, I thought of my dad.  On some rare occasions, he would pick me up from grade school and we’d go to one of his coffee places to do my homework and wait for my mom to get off work.  The one I thought of was Zambala cafe in Makawao– I don’t even think it was there for very long, but they made the most amazing chocolate chip cookies– soft, yet they held their shape, and the chocolate was quality chocolate.  No toll house chips.

This is a pretty “vanilla” memory of my father, and admittedly, I can remember more about the cookies than spending time with dad, but it’s one of those things that gets released from the archives of my brain as I work.  For a brief moment, I wonder how he’s doing (we’re estranged) and then I realize I’m still better off on my own.  I move on.

My maternal grandma came up today, and unlike the vanilla memory of dad, this one kind of hurt.  I have so very few moments of pride in my work–I am my own worst critic– and for a brief moment I looked at the beautifully iced cookies spread out in front of me and I got really sad.  She never had a chance to see all the amazing things I can do.  So much of who I am comes from my mom and her mother.  Because of grandma, I can crochet, and I am the keeper of some of her recipes that I still use to this day.

My mom is always at the heart of everything I do– when I power through, when I make from scratch, when I use up every last ounce of something because anything else is wasteful– my need to clean up and tidy my work area between recipes– my very conscious is my mom.  For a brief moment, even though I am alone in the house with my dogs, I have both women with me (mom’s too far away to bake with me today), and I can feel all three generations of us, in my hands, at my back.  Admittedly, I felt sad, yet grateful.  Because of these two amazing ladies, I am able to do what I am doing right now.  Something that not many people undertake or can complete.

I didn’t mean for this entry to get so deep and emotional, but like I said, baking is true therapy for me.  Think about it– how many of your memories or family gatherings revolve around food?  Certain recipes make you think of loved ones, and there is comfort in that.  I hope that one day, I will have a daughter who thinks of me and my mom the way I think of my own mom and grandmother.  There’s something special in this, and it’s something that helps me create the “magic” of Christmas that I felt my whole life.  This is important stuff.  (Note to self– I need to call mom and thank her…)

Anyway, it’s been a day.  I’m in a good place, mentally, emotionally and recipe wise.  Only a little more to go.  I messed with my quantities this year, so we’ll see how much leftovers there are.  I forgot to add the extra flour to my chocolate chip recipe, and the first batch came out ginormous.  I think of them as “Randy cookies”, meaning large ones go to my step dad who I know will gorge on them.  I also broke out my stencil this year and the result is some really pretty quatre foil spice cookies.  I’m sold.  Stenciling is supper easy once you get the hang of it.  I watched a quick video on YouTube and that was all I needed to know.

I’m beat– looking forward to that shower.  The dog’s snoring is making me sleepier than I am.  Time to get some shut eye.


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