Monday, December 5, 2016


(Note: This is reprinted from my book, Happy Holidays! Now Hand me my Tranquilizers!, which was published back in 2013).

I was watching a cooking show on TV the other night, and the woman, wearing a crisp, white apron and a pearl necklace, was giving pointers on how to efficiently manage baking time and minimize stress during the holiday season. She recommended getting the time-consuming chore of baking out of the way at least two weeks prior to Christmas, then freezing everything.  She even suggested setting up and adhering to a strict baking schedule to make the chore go more smoothly.

The truth is, “baking” is a 4-letter word to me. After seeing the creations that have emerged from my oven over the years, I truly believe my stove might benefit from a visit from an exorcist. Still, glutton for torture that I am, I find myself baking – or at least attempting to – every holiday season.

If, as the cooking expert suggested, I were to write out a holiday baking schedule and a step-by-step “how-to” guide, it would look something like this:

Dec. 10:  Head to the supermarket and buy enough flour, sugar (granulated, powdered, and brown), butter, food coloring, decorative candies, and cookie cutters to open your own Sarah Lee outlet.

Dec. 11 -9:15 a.m. – Put on a sweatshirt and sweatpants, tie your hair back in a pony tail and slip into your favorite apron – even the one that has so many stains on it (some of which date back to Thanksgiving of 1982), it looks as if it’s been decorated with a map of a Brazilian rain forest.

9:30 a.m. - Clean out any petrified food remnants from the oven.  Just to be safe, cover all smoke detectors with thick towels or plastic wrap before turning on the oven. Preheat to 350 degrees. When the oven stops smoking, start baking.

10:00 a.m. – Quadruple the ingredients in your cookie recipe. Can’t figure out how to multiply 1/8 teaspoon by four? Then just make an educated guess. It shouldn’t matter…much. Mix all cookie ingredients together in a bowl about the size of a washtub.  Use your hands to form the dough into a ball that's about the size of a basketball and weighs approximately 15 pounds.

10:18 a.m. - Tear the dough apart as you frantically search for one of your artificial fingernails, which you just noticed is missing.

10:20 a.m. - Sprinkle a sheet of waxed paper with flour, then heave the ball of dough onto it.  With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch.

10:30 a.m. - With a butter knife, pry the ball of dough from the rolling pin, to which it is now clinging as if it were made of quick-drying cement.  Completely cover the dough with flour and once again attempt to roll it out.

10:45 a.m. - Select festive Santa, reindeer, Christmas tree and star-shaped cookie cutters, and begin to cut out cookies from the dough.

10:55 a.m. - Dig Santa’s decapitated head out of the cookie cutter and stick it onto his body, reshaping it with your fingers.  Don’t worry if he looks as if he’s been in some tragic, disfiguring accident or if Rudolph has only three legs.  You can cover any imperfections with frosting later on.

11:10 a.m. - Pop the cookies into the oven.

11:18 a.m. - Check the cookies.  If they’re nearly black on the bottoms and still pale and raw on the tops, then they’re baking normally for most ovens.

11:25 a.m. - Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool. As they do, they should become as hard as Pinocchio’s head.

11:35 a.m. - With a spatula, gently lift the cookies from the cookie sheets, making sure to collect any pieces that break off so you can be reattach them with frosting.

11:45 a.m. - Mix powdered sugar, water, milk and butter together to make the frosting. When the spoon stands up straight in the bowl, the frosting is about the right consistency.  Divide the frosting into four small bowls and add drops of different food colorings to each.  Fill a cake-decorating tube with frosting.

12:00 p.m. - Slowly squeeze the tube, applying even pressure. Continue to squeeze until the veins pop out on your forehead and your hand goes numb.  Only then will the first signs of frosting actually appear at the tip of the tube.

12:10 p.m. - Clean up the huge blob of frosting that shoots like a cannonball out of the tube and hits the refrigerator door.  Lose your temper and viciously attack the decorating tube, stabbing it with a knife and ripping it open.  With your fingers, smear frosting all over the cookies.  Use colored sprinkles and those little silver candy balls that look like BB-gun ammunition to strategically conceal any flaws.

12:30 p.m. - Stand back and admire your handiwork.  Watch the red frosting seep into the green frosting and turn it to a yucky shade of brown.  Watch Santa’s beard absorb the red frosting and turn pink.  Reject and eat any cookies that don’t meet your high standards. 

12:45 p.m. - Vow that if your stomach cramps ever subside, you’ll never again eat 23 broken cookies in 15 minutes.

1:00 p.m. - Carefully wrap the remaining cookies and gently place them in the freezer.

Dec. 24:  9:00 a.m. - Open the freezer and discover that you accidentally set a 22-pound turkey on top of the cookies and pulverized them.

9:30 a.m. - Head to the nearest bakery, buy a few dozen festively decorated cookies and pass them off as your own homemade ones.

Then pray no one asks you for the recipe.

                                                               #   #   # 

CLICK HERE ------->

No comments:

Post a Comment