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Messing our way through the holidays

Submitted by on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 2 Comments

It’s another lesson in “everything old is new again.”

Or maybe it’s another reminder that I have way too much old junk gunking up the house. Cooking junk in particular, an area where my obsessive-compulsive disorder knows no limits. That’s why cake pans and cookie cutters are cozy in the garage while the car shivers on the driveway.

When Big Guy started clamoring for a gingerbread Christmas tree kit Saturday at Michaels, though, I had his answer. “Why spend $11 for bad cookies when we have everything we need at home to make our own?” I asked.

“How do you know they’re bad?”

“Because they were made months ago. And besides, wouldn’t you rather bake green cookies?”

I had him at “green,” which is his favorite color. We left the store without the prefab cookies.

Thus started another road trip down the path of messy food art, a medium where the advantages (you can eat your mistakes) far outweigh the disadvantages of days of resurfacing goo you thought cleaned up long ago.

I found the ancient do-it-yourself kit in the second box of “someday when I have kids” stuff I opened, which was borderline miraculous. The price sticker cracked me up: $1.99. It now goes for $7.99.

As we made the cookie dough Monday night, Big Guy was determined to mix it by hand. He acquiesced to the mixer only after I convinced him the KitchenAid would do a much better job of turning it green.

Tuesday, it was time to bake. Finally, after 20 years, the unopened box of star cutters met the kids I was dreaming of when I bought it a lifetime and 3,000 miles ago.

Big Guy, of course, was immediately skeptical. “That’s not a tree. That’s stars!”

“Oh, just wait! It will be a tree!” I assured him.

Turned out my assurance was a bit brash. In trying to trim the size of the tree — and the heights of the sugar buzz — I shorted them on cookies. By the time I finished, the stack was on the scraggly side.

“It looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree,” I said.

“Whose Christmas tree?” Big Guy asked.

All right, culturally deprived children. I’m checking the local listings to see when that one airs next.

When the icing and candy came out, though, it didn’t matter. Buttercream, sprinkles and gum drops will cure a multitude of cookie-tree shortcomings. Especially when applied in the massive amounts the guys used.

Some of it even wound up on the trees. The rest was all over the table, the floor, their clothes, in hair and in mouths. Maybe I should have increased the guys’ pacifier time when they were babies so they wouldn’t have to suck frosting bags now.

Regardless of the scraggly stacks and heaps of lopsided frosting, Boots proclaimed the projects “perfecto.” They spent roughly 3.6 seconds more admiring their artwork before plunging in face first.

Roughly 3.6 seconds after that, they asked when they could make another.

Uh, let me shoo all of Tuesday’s sprinkles out of hiding first. That shouldn’t take more than a week.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Genevieve said:

    This had to be MUCH more fun than the pre-made cookies. These photos are great — it’s almost … inspiring. However, I can only imagine finding sprinkles until Easter lol!

  • Debra said:

    It was a BLAST! Also kind of neat in a poignant “my babies are growing up” sort of way, because once the Charlie Brown trees were stacked, I did nothing other than sit back and watch. And they actually produced quite respectable little trees. I’ll turn these boys into cake decorators yet!

    Oh, yes, there will be sprinkles until Easter. They went through two-thirds of a tall bottle. Even as big as Big Guy’s icing mountain was, that’s still a ton of sprinkles unaccounted for.

    The best part, by the way, was waiting for Boots to work up the nerve to try the cookie dough — the one advantage of egg-free baking is they can eat the stuff without risking salmonella. He hadn’t helped mix it, and I’m sure he thought I was trying to trick him with play dough.