Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cooky Primer Challenge

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a single female who lives in the magical part of the country known as Minnesota. At the moment, we're under a pending winter storm warning that is threatening to put a serious damper on Christmas travel plans for my family. Fortunately, my mother and I (mostly my mother) have already completed some of the holiday prerequisite cookie baking. In Christmases past, my grandmother bore the entirety of this responsibility, and in my opinion, no one has ever been able to do it quite as well as her. Sadly, fate did not allow her to remain with me until I reached the proper age of cookie-wisdom sharing, but she did leave us her 1963 copy of Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. It contains a large portion of her Christmas cookie repertoire, along with her own personal measurement alterations and suggestions pencilled within her favorite recipes.

Up until now, my own personal cookie repertoire consisted chiefly of the basic: chocolate chip. Sure, I've ventured out into the occasional biscotti or double chocolate brownie cookie from time to time, but I've never spent too much time looking over the full breadth of cookie offerings made by Ms. Betty Crocker. However, after pressuring my mother to make my favorite Christmas cookie (Spritz) and receiving a flat-out refusal, I borrowed the book and brought it home with me to attempt the process on my own. My experience was far from perfect, but the end product tastes (even if it doesn't look) like my grandmother's.

This experience left me with a strange feeling. It made me feel oddly domestic (very unusual for me) and gave me a strong desire to make more cookies. This is not an experiment in which I am seeking to prove anything to anyone else, although I expect that my experimentations will make their way to my family and coworkers as time goes on. This is my attempt to prove to myself that I can follow a recipe, even one that may not be popular or even known in this decade, and there is some strange satisfaction in that accomplishment for me.

At the very beginning of the Cooky Book, there is an introduction called the "Cooky Primer." Here is the challenge it issues:

This is a basic guide to baking perfect cookies. Follow these "hints and helps" to achieve professional, party-proud results with a variety of America's most-made cookies. Even experienced homemakers may welcome this little refresher course leading to the ever-full cooky jar which makes your kitchen the most popular room in your home. At the bottom of each page in this section you will find color photographs of the many different types of cookies featured in this book. How do yours compare with them?

To clarify, I am not an "experienced homemaker," and I am not going for "professional" results. But I certainly will use those color photographs to compare my results. Thank you, Betty.

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