A Cookie Story ...
Or maybe it wasn't. But somewhere along the line, cookies became my thing.
One of my editors dubbed me The Cookie Queen. I liked it. CQ, for short. Which is also shorthand, in the world of newspaper editing, for "I checked this. It's correct." Familiarity breeds contentment.
So, I baked. Each year, the holidays would roll around and I'd plot my list of cookies, which grew to somewhat ridiculous proportions. No one needs a selection of 14 varieties, but, well, I may have a bit of a problem with shelving an idea once it worms its way into my brain. And each year, I would make a list of recipients, and that swelled, too.
And I would bake. And somehow, I would manage to stash them all in my freezer, Tetris style, and then I would package them and dole them out as the calendar wended its way toward Christmas, and people were happy.
Which is why I bake.
Baking means never having to say you're jaded.
There have been days over the years when I have been more than a little loathe to begin and there have been days over the years when I am more than happy to wash the last cookie sheet, tuck the KitchenAid back into the corner where it rests, and bid my equipment goodnight.
But the joy they bring, those humble offerings of butter and sugar and flour and love. Amazing. Every time.
And so, over the years, people have told me I should open a bakery, I should sell cookies online, I should do something more.
And I've thought about it. And that was it.
I am very good at talking myself out of many things.
A bakery wouldn't work, I decided, because:
a) I cannot make every cookie myself. There are only so many hours in a day.
b) What makes my cookies special is that I make them.
c) I do not want to hand over a recipe to a commercial baker and say, "I need 10,000 of these today, please."
d) I do not want to bake every day. Some days, I'm inspired. Other days, I'm not. I told myself I didn't want to lose my love for it.
e) (You get the idea.)
But for all the things I've decided not to do in life – become a doctor, persist with online dating, camp – the notion of baking for more than just family and friends hasn't gone away.
Always, there are little nudges, suggestions, hints.
Some, come to think of it, have not been so little. But they all add up.
The encouragement of family and friends is valuable and yet easy to discount. Of course they say those things, I tell myself. They're my family and friends.
But more and bigger pieces are starting to slot into place.
Last year, I started contributing to
And then a few months ago, a friend asked me to bake for him for his clients for the holidays.
And around that same time, someone who has enjoyed my baked goods in the past asked me if I would consider baking for her for events at her home.
And somewhere along the line, I became a more avid reader of
And for Christmas, my brother's family gave me a gift card to Williams-Sonoma (tucked inside a very awesome oven mitt) and I wandered around the store and while I found many things I would like, I settled on
And then, on Thursday, Leite's Culinaria featured
And this is where the story gets interesting. Or maybe more interesting. I hope it's been interesting all along.
I commented on the post: "I bought her book recently. I’m in love with it. Easily one of the best baking books I own. I’ve never attempted croissants, but this recipe (along with the scene playing in my head of Meryl Streep making chocolate croissants for Steve Martin in “It’s Complicated”) make me want to try!"
And the next comment to post was from Sarabeth: "I remember it like it was yesterday when Meryl Streeep learned from me to roll the croissant for the movie. She picked up the technique quickly… a natural at everthing. The scenes inside the bakery were shot at Sarabeth’s Bakery. There is a quick moment when you see someone sheeting the dough through our sheeting machine. It’s in slo-mo….that someone is me!"
I had no idea!
Meanwhile, I discovered (via Renee Schettler, if memory serves) that Sarabeth has an account on Twitter. So I followed her. (She's @goddessobakedom, FYI.) And she, much to my delight, followed me back. I tweeted Angelo into the mix, presuming that he would like to follow her, too. And she followed him back. So now we were all connected in a happy Twitter loop.
And then later that day, I saw this:
Um, wait. What?
Sarabeth just plugged my cookies?
Sarabeth, she of the jam-making, café-opening, pastry-empire-building, Meryl-Streep-croissant-tutoring, gorgeous-baking-book-authoring genius, just plugged my cookies?!
The next day, I relayed the story to some friends.
"You have to get on a plane to New York! You have to meet her!"
Well, yes, I do. Someday. That would be lovely.
In the meantime, I sent a note to her. Told her it would be my pleasure to bake for her. Asked if she had a favorite.
She replied with her favorite.
I asked where I might send them.
And she sent me an address.
So, I shall bake for Sarabeth. And I hope she enjoys what I send.
Food people seem to like when other people do the cooking. Or the baking. I know I do.
I love the path she's taken, from cooking jam – well, marmalade first – in her apartment to the success she enjoys today. I can relate to the early part of her story. Perhaps someday I will be able to relate to more.
Last week, I wrote
And I included a photo of a rock from
Recently, I asked Angelo about the best part of his day. "Hmmmmm," he mused. "I had a chocolate shortbread cookie from Sarabeth's at Lord & Taylor." He cited other things, too, but I love that he led with a chocolate shortbread cookie from Sarabeth's.
There is a lot of joy to be found in a chocolate shortbread cookie.
There is lot of love that goes into baking for others.
It is a simple act. But it is profound.
It is, most definitely not, frivolous.