Thursday, December 20, 2007

Kitchen mishaps

While preparing the gingerbread cookie dough for one of our family's favorite holiday traditions, one child, who shall go unnamed, made an error. As we rolled out the dough and baked it, I kept trying to figure out what had happened. They were behaving so strangely--not rising much, falling apart after baking, and the texture was all wrong. Finally, we tracked down the error to double sugar in the recipe. It was not done on purpose. Does anyone remember the scene in Anne of Green Gables where both Anne and Marilla (at least) add sugar to the peas, thus rendering them too sweet to stomach?

It was rather like that--the right hand didn't know what the left was doing; the sugar was added twice, and I feared that if we also added frosting to the top (as tradition dictates we must), they would be positively fearsome. I was one of the sugarers, of course, but the party of the second part was feeling bad about the whole thing, so I felt compelled to share a story from the annals of kitchen history with her.

The year I was nineteen, I came home from college for Christmas break after being away for an entire year. My mother had to go to work, but she let my nine-year-old sister stay home from school to do some Christmas baking with me. We planned to make frosted sugar cookies (the same tradition I still carry on at my house, except I morphed it into gingerbread) and divinity candy--my personal specialty.

We got out recipes and ingredients and prepared to go to work. I read over both recipes to be sure we had everything we needed, and began to mix up the cookie dough. Almost immediately, I felt that something was wrong, and after carefully checking the recipe again, I discovered that I had added the amount of sugar required for the divinity to the sugar-cookie batter. That would be four times the amount of sugar the recipe called for. I really did not want to waste all the ingredients, so I decided the only thing to do was...quadruple the whole recipe. We baked and we baked and we baked. There were more sugar-cookies than our little family could eat in a month, and I'm pretty sure my mother gave away platefuls to anyone whose hands were empty for a moment.

After all that baking, we were not deterred. We were still going to make divinity! (I know this to be a fact, but my 40+ year old self thinks my 19-year-old self was insane.)

In spite of my heroic efforts, I believe we were simply destined to waste sugar that day. I burned the divinity syrup--burned it, and still tried to use it, and ended up with sticky fluff that could have competed with super-glue and won. I distinctly remember using the bathtub and lots of hot water to clean that pan.

And I still turned around and made another batch of divinity.

My 9-year-old sister was by my side the entire day, and I must ask her sometime if she remembers that day as well as do.

With this memory tucked away in my past, I really cannot be fazed by a little extra sugar in the gingerbread cookies. True to form, I mixed a up another batch, and we did it again. Maybe that 19-year-old is lurking inside of me yet.


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