The Art of Baking Cookies


A Post by Beautiful -

Our boys are at an age where they are becoming exponentially more capable. They can make their own toast in the morning and bring a borrowed pan back to the neighbor’s house, they order their dinner at restaurants and can wink and say words like “dehydrated” or “dramatic” or “cattywompas” in a sentence correctly. I mostly feel like they could do anything and that James and I are merely observers to their ever-growing independence, occasionally reaching something out of their range or explaining the way something works, but mostly just supervising.

There are still a few things that my boys cannot do, though. Things that require patience and a certain art that comes from practice. This weekend I called my mom for her sugar cookie recipe and assembled the ingredients with the boys as my assistants. They added teaspoons of baking soda and vanilla and dumped cups full of flour into the bowl with careful precision. But then we rolled the cookies out on the dining room table and the boys pummeled their ball of dough, adding more and more flour until the cookie cutter-ed result on the baking sheet had the consistency of dried paper mache. I tried to guide the use of flour and explain that the cookies tasted better when the dough is soft. This had little effect.

I scooped a large hunk of dough out onto the floured table, rapidly rolled it out into a thick slab and cut cookies from the still soft dough.  I outpaced them with my cookies. As I did this, the memory of my mom doing this exact thing came to me. She would fill two pans with circle-shaped cookies cut with the rim of an inverted juice glass while we labored over a few intricate reindeer and angels. She let us participate and enjoy it while she knocked out the cookies we would eat later. We learned to make better, softer cookies as we grew up. I’m glad there are things that we learn this way. I’m glad everything doesn’t come from information or from ability. Some things come from a family recipe, and a feel for the dough and a mom who shows you the art of it until you know it yourself.

First planting of the year

As a novice gardener, and by novice I mean I have yet to successfully start or keep anything growing for any length of time, my excitement is tempered but still high. A couple of weeks ago we started some seeds inside as the never ending cold grey sky, and rains beat down on us. During that time I built a couple of raised beds in the back yard, added a mixture of reclaimed dirt from a neighbor’s patio project and our growing compost pile from behind the house. The beds look dark and rich and the worms are plentiful. Even with my limited knowledge of the whole process I think we are off to a good start. Enthusiasm is high, and willingness to learn will help us build on this start. I have been keeping a journal of what we have purchased and what we have done so I can see what we learn and if we saved anything with the garden. While saving is a big part of the garden, the whole process is bigger than just money. Growing our own food, working with the boys to accomplish building the beds and tending the garden, learning how food grows and having a tangible connection to what we eat play an even bigger part.

So today Segundo and I made little holes and planted the starts in the beds. We watered the fledgeling veggies and hoped for the best. We have Snap Peas, Beets, Carrots, Chard, Squash, Cucumber, Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and Zucchini going in the first bed and we will start the second bed a little later to stagger the harvest. I’m excited to see how the garden grows and to share in the tending with the boys through out the summer. There are lessons there worth learning for all of us, and I think we are all looking forward to learning them.