|Wendy redid her kitchen this year -- this is an old picture of our preparations for Christmas dinner.|
This was never more evident in Houston this Christmas when my sister (in-law), Wendy, needed to bake some cookies to take to a church event. She's one of the two smartest women I know (the other is you, Debby) and she can work a process until it is perfect. She pre-plans the plan. With her cookies we started with a trip to the grocery because one NEVER starts a recipe without all the proper ingredients. Me, I have the site for substitute ingredients bookmarked on my PC when you find you don't have what you need right in the middle of cooking (this is a good one but there are several others I also use).
Next we found all the cooking utensils we would need and set them out. Me, I saying, "Let's preheat the oven." Finally, we set out the butter and eggs to get to room temp. Now we sit down and study the recipe. Me, I'd be warming things up in the microwave and would have the eggs and butter beaten already. I read the recipe as I make the dish.
Several hours later, recipe thoroughly reviewed, we again venture to the kitchen to measure out all the ingredients into small containers. "This way we can just dump them when we make the cookies," Wendy explains to me. By now, I'm cross-eyed with anticipation. I'd have already had the cookies baked, cooled, and in the tins -- probably a little seared around the edges, missing key ingredients, and rather unsightly.
My job is to read the recipe while Wendy measures. A lot of containers begin to cover her counters. It's amazing how many little dishes she actually has in her cabinets.
Finally we are ready to begin assembling the ingredients for the carrot cake cookies. Again I read out ingredients as Wendy pours and dumps and stirs and mixes. The batter looks tasty, the cookie sheets are ready, the oven is heated.
"Let's take a little rest," Wendy advises. "We've made good process."
My insides are screaming, "Are you kidding me? We've done nothing. We have no cookies. We've been at this four hours already!"
"Um, how about I put the dough on the cookie sheets and bake them?" I suggest.
"Well, the cookies are not supposed to spread out so you have to sort of squash them into the shape you want before baking. Since these are going to the church I'd like them to look really uniform and nice," answers Wendy.
"Yeah, sure," I answer with a sweet smile.
Now, here's where family love takes over. Wendy knows I've reached my limit on patience. She also knows that I'm going to plop those cookies on the sheet and shove them in the oven as quickly as I can.
"Go for it," she replies, with a smile in her eyes, if not on her mouth. I cover two cookies sheets with oddly shaped bits of dough as quickly as my arthritic hands can move. Stupid dough is sticky and hard to manage and I've totally run out of the little patience I actually do possess.
"They look great," Wendy assures me as I stuff them in her oven. "They will be perfect!"
We were to make two batches of cookies: carrot cake cookies and lemon bars. After the carrot cake cookies came from the oven and were cooling on racks, Wendy performed the taste test. They were okay, if not exactly awe inspiring. The thing was, they weren't very pretty. They had spread, regardless of what the recipe said, and they weren't uniform in anything other than ingredients.
"They'll be fine," Wendy assured me. Then we decided that buying cookies the next morning was going to be a really good solution for the second selection of goodies to take to the church.
Now that's family love.
|Wendy in front, me in back opening presents.|