Look, I made cookies! It’s been a while since I’ve done that, which is historically an anomaly in my life. But lately, I haven’t been baking or cooking much in general. I’m not sure why. I dredged myself up from a cooking-free period to make these for my sister and her boyfriend, who are celebrating their two-year anniversary. When Tay came to visit earlier this week, she was juggling spending time with me, working on her novel, running a writer’s group, and present-making for Chris. So I decided to chip in and make something cinnamon-y that she could give to him, since he’s an ardent fan of the stuff.
I took a little time out of my evening to mix the dough, portion it, sugar-coat the portions and bake them off. I even went so far as to play with the recipe. I made half snickerdoodles, and the other half I rolled in lavender with colored sugared to make what I am coining “Provençal Party Doodles.” They’re kind of awesome. It was nice. They tasted yummy and Tay was grateful, so it was all for the good.
But I’m still over here in the corner shaking my head and saying, “I just don’t know what I think about this right now.” I used to see my life as a plated dessert or a three-course meal. I planned my days around where I wanted to go grocery shopping and all my meditations were infused with distracted thoughts about flavor combinations and cooking techniques. But then I lived that out, pretty thoroughly. I cooked for work; I cooked at home. I cooked with people, but I also spent a lot of time cooking for people. And it started to feel like a chore. And at times an excuse. Being in the kitchen came so naturally to me that it was easier to do that than approach many other parts of my life.
I guess I cooked myself into a stalemate. I’m not sure what I want from the culinary world. I’m not sure what I want from art or community or this city or the future, and I no longer have a cooking frenzy to turn to to avoid that. In the simplest terms, I’m not sure what I want from myself. Which is okay actually. Maybe I am shifting away from the desire to throw myself headlong into anything, cooking or otherwise. I have noticed that when I live that way, I end up with tunnel vision, and I miss things. What I would like right now is to see the world, and to see myself. To let myself look, to let every day be new– a fragment all its own. Some days it’s nice to bake cookies for my sister. And some days it’s nice to eat apples and peanut butter and never put a pan on the stove or turn on the oven.
But if you’re having a kitchen day, make these. They’re great.
Recipe after the jump…
Snickerdoodles and Provençal Party Doodles
Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats
Makes about 30 cookies
This a pretty traditional recipe for the old-time favorite cookie. Make sure the dough is mixed thoroughly or the bottom-of-the-bowl cookies will spread too much and crisp from an overdose of fat. Also, there’s shortening in this recipe. It’s not my favorite thing, but it has its purposes, and keeping doodles soft is one of them. I recommend non-hydrogenated shortening as it will kill you slightly later in life than the alternative. Also, until I made this recipe, I didn’t realize that the cinnamon in a snickerdoodle is only on the outside. This being true, the variations are endless. I offer you Provençal Party Doodles because I love lavender and all things resembling confetti, but you could roll this dough in anything (toasted almond meal, peppermint bits, potato chips…I’m just sayin’).
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), room temperature
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (for snickerdoodles)
1 teaspoon ground lavender flowers + 3 tablespoons rainbow sugar crystals/sprinkles (for Provençal Party Doodles)
Preheat oven to 400 ˚ F.
Line two cookie sheets with parchments or silicone mats.
In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl or a stand mixer, cream together the butter and shortening. You want to combine the two fats, but don’t beat for more than two minutes because incorporating lots of air in the dough will make the cookies spread too far and get crispy. 😦 Add the sugar, and continue mixing another minute until it is fully dissolved. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Dump in the flour and mix until just combined.
Refrigerate the dough for an hour. Working quickly to keep the dough cold, portion walnut-sized balls of dough, rolling in the doodle flavoring of your choice and placing onto a cookie sheet. Leave space for the cookies to spread to three or four inches across. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The cookies may seem under-baked; allow them to cool on the hot pans and they will be perfect!