Start Time: 10 am
Stop Time: 11:32 pm
Goal: 22 types of cookies, packaged, wrapped & ready to deliver on Tuesday 12/18
Completed: Vanilla Sugar (7x), Chocolate Feathers (4x), Coconut Cutouts (4x), Red/Yellow Swirl (4x)
Mixed: Mint Chip (4x), Cinnamon Imperial Cutouts (4x), Coffee Sugar (4x)
What a great day 1!
Man, getting a jump start on the chocolate sugar last night paid off. Despite having to run to the post office this morning and feeling a bit unprepared and disorganized, I got a record 7 cookies mixed and 4 of them already baked. This big kitchen is the freaking bomb. I have no idea how I did cookie madness all those years in Pacifica. It’s just unbelievable. That little kitchen (which could fit inside my new kitchen 2x) with it’s oven that baked so inconsistently…How the hell did I manage all this before now?
Let’s play a little game of “I Never”, since I’m feeling a little giddy. I’ve NEVER had this much counter space before. I’ve NEVER had a dishwasher to handle the end of the night clean up before. I’ve NEVER had a full dining room table and a kitchen table (our old dining table from Pacifica is now our kitchen table) at my disposal for rolling, cooling and working. I’ve NEVER had 2 refrigerators, one with french doors that opens wide enough for me to cram 9 pans in it so the cutouts could chill while I wait for the TWO OVENS to free up. Did I mention the NINE pans and silpat? This is a true embarrassment of riches.
In all seriousness, I just don’t know what to do with myself right now. This is…not cookie madness as I remember it. There’s no…madness. It’s feeling manageable for the first time ever. Famous last words, right? Let’s see how I’ve just cursed myself tomorrow. But, man. Just take a moment with me for a sec. How thankful am I right now. Dude.
I’m a little out of practice, admittedly. And the quickness of 2 ovens, even alternating, was (eep) too fast for me. It’s going to be AMAZING for drop cookie day, but shaped/rolled cutout cookies take too long to prep to maximize both ovens. I burnt 12 cookies. 12. Dammit. My garbage can is a colorful sugartopia of sadness and failed attempts.
By the end of the night, I did get the method down– fill up ALL the pans, put them in the fridge and continue to cut out, wrapping & chilling as you go. Bake. Repeat. I knocked out 106 coconut cutouts this way with only 1 casualty. It was waaaay too thin and I didn’t notice… I’m out of practice, OK?!
It didn’t matter though– the pile of red/yellow swirl cookies is baked, bagged and sealed. And, look at this swirl: Daaaaam Gina, my little pink-haired OCD anime character inside is like, squeeing so hard right now. So despite the burnt batches, I’m pleased.
Right now, there is a fat pile of dough chilling in my fridge and I’m about half-way through the hardest part of the baking. My hands are aching and my arms are tired because man, I’m out of practice. I had a funny thought that I needed to start lifting weights and exercising hard about 2 months before cookie time just so that I’d be physically prepared, and I’m starting to think that’s not such a mental idea. I’m achy tonight.
Tomorrow will be a really heavy day — more cut outs to cut and bake, I’ve gotta mix another 6-7 dough types, and I’ve got to start flooding by 8 pm tomorrow night. That’s the goal. Let’s see if I make it. It’s a lot. And I’m determined to get as much sleep as I can.
I’m excited to try a couple of new techniques this year. I’m going to marble-dip the vanilla sugar cookies before doing the rest of the design, and of course, there’s the airbrush coming into the game. I made the same mint-chip cookies this year, but I modified the recipe to be a chocolate mint chip, kinda like a thin mint with mini chocolate chips in it. I’m hand-painting that one. Ok, so maybe there is a little madness here.
I’m super pleased with where I ended up tonight, and at a record 12:30 am, I’m winding down for bed. I’ve got a little freshly-bathed tri-colored corgi sleeping at my aching feet (thanks to The Husband being tired of her stink) and life is good. Despite feeling old in my bones, I’m powering through. What a day.
It always surprises me, how much quality head space I get while I’m working like this. My brain is so taxed at work, and this is so mechanical, I can just think. Visited with grandma, in grandma’s kitchen today as I washed my knife for the umpteenth time. When I was a little girl, mom taught me to handle knives safely. Embarrassingly enough, the one time I stupidly cut myself was while washing dishes with grandma while she was watching me, warning me not to hurt myself. That runs through my mind kind of regularly when I wash knives and I’m not preoccupied with other crap.
Strangely enough, the other memory that came back was this one snippet of a moment in mom’s kitchen back in Haiku. It wasn’t a special occasion or remarkable day or anything, but for some reason I can remember coming out into the kitchen after my bath (I was probably like 6 or 7?) and mom was making lentil soup. The kitchen was warm, and it was early evening, and there was a yellow/gold glow about the room due to the skylight in the middle of the ceiling. It smelled like onions, carrots and celery and mom was working at the counter with her back to me. It’s clearly a memory of “home” in one of it’s many iterations. I’m lucky I have lots of those snippets lodged underneath all the rubbish in my brain. I hope I never lose those.
It’s been a remarkable day. I’d almost forgotten why I do this, year after year. It brings my family closer to me near the holidays and sort of allows me to bring those feelings of “home” here, in this magnificent new kitchen that smells nothing like onions at this moment. Ok, enough sticky sugar sweet. Gag me with a fork. I told you, nowhere near as dark as 2016.
Time to grab Momiji and head upstarts to snuggle with the dogs.