Wednesday, May 20, 2020

This Guy Is a Sharp Cookie

I’m pretty sure everyone on Planet Earth is sick of the protracted lockdown, quarantine, hide-under-your-bed lifestyle we’ve endured since early March, except maybe for the creator of the Zoom video conferencing software, who is now a gazillionaire. And yes, there are a few “Karens” in their glory right now, getting a thrill out of snitching on their neighbors who forgot to wear masks when checking the mailbox — and I include some state governors here. But other than that, I’m pretty sure most people are fed up with this situation.

Being unable to hug loved ones, travel, or eat inside a restaurant is extremely frustrating. And don’t even get me started on sports. I realize not everyone is a sports fan, but just think of how unprecedented it is that the following events were cancelled this spring: March Madness, baseball’s Opening Day, the Boston Marathon, the Masters golf tournament, the NBA & NHL playoffs, and the Kentucky Derby. And as everyone heard on various news reports, the world’s most prestigious international sports competition will not take place this summer. I am referring, of course, to the Eddie Bruciati Backyard Barbecue & Bocce Tournament in Madison, CT. (I won the coveted golden hotdog trophy two years ago.)
However, the news is not all bad. Something occurred recently that never would’ve happened without the COVID-19 pandemic: I actually baked cookies. That’s right, for the first time in my six-plus decades of being alive, I baked cookies. This is not to be confused with me eating cookies. From the time my mother added a crumbled Snickerdoodle into my formula when I was one month old, I’ve been a cookie connoisseur. During my lifetime, the number of cookies I’ve eaten has at least matched the number of lies uttered by members of Congress. (But not quite the number of times Sen. Blumenthal has knocked people down racing to get in front of a TV camera.)

Typically, we travel on the weekends visiting relatives and friends. Before the pandemic hit, the last time we stayed home for an entire weekend was during a blizzard a couple of years ago. But now that we’ve been home every weekend since early March, we have lots more free time. A couple of weeks ago, on yet another listless Saturday afternoon, my wife suggested we bake some cookies. I said, “By ‘we,’ do you mean our usual system: you bake ‘em, I eat ‘em? Or do you mean we both bake them?”

She smiled and said, “I’ll teach you.”
I understand in the culinary world there is a feisty debate about the terms “homemade” and “from scratch.” Some folks insist that many separate ingredients, including flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, butter, and a contraption called a sifter, are required for cookies to be truly homemade from scratch. However, in my view, if the cookies were not sitting on a store shelf with the word “Oreos” on the package, and if the oven in your kitchen was used, then the cookies definitely should be considered “homemade” and “from scratch.”

We used a Betty Crocker mix in a pouch. Since I had to crack an egg and measure some oil, and then do a fair amount of stirring with a wooden spoon, there’s no doubt in my mind the procedure was homemade, no matter what the purists say. By the way, the cookies came out perfect.
You may think that bragging about baking cookies for the first time in my life is quite ridiculous. Well, you’re right. But just remember, before we know it, the Christmas season will arrive. You won’t be saying it’s ridiculous when the newly crowned Kookie King delivers a few dozen Snickerdoodles to your house.

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