It's November! And you know what that means, right? Time to start cookie planning! Squeee! I get so excited. This is one of my most favourite times of the year.
And this (above) is where it starts. I haul out every single cookbook and collection of recipes that I own. And I peruse. Perusing is step one of inspiration. What I'm looking for here is not the old favourites that I will make every year. I'm looking for that little glint of an idea for something new. Something I've never made before. Sometimes it's even a cookie that, to my knowledge, nobody has ever made before! Sweet!
And I never know where the inspiration will come from either. For example, one of the biggest hits last year came from a conversation. I was talking with Child 3's wife and she was raving about a confetti cake that she tasted. I asked exactly what confetti cake was. She told me. And I said Hmmmm. She asked if I thought it could be made into a cookie. I said that I was certain that it could and Hmmmmmmed again. Voila. My confetti cookie was born and reports are that they were awesome (insert much patting of myself on the back)
But usually it starts in a cookie book, or recipe magazine or one of the hundreds of recipes I collected from other people over the years. I do, occasionally, follow a recipe exactly. If someone else has gone to the trouble of creating the most absolute perfect Molasses Cookie (thank you Nana) why would I bother to try to improve on perfection? But sometimes, someone else's recipe is just a jumping off point for me to get creative in a new way. And that is a whole other level of fun for me.
Although, truly, the entire process is a blast!
When I embark upon the cookie baking marathon I am in my happy place. I hum along like a well oiled machine. My sous chef (or would that be sous baker?) Tim and I chug out batch after batch of cookies while listening to Christmas music and/or having Christmas movies play in the background. We talk, we laugh, we might even break into a little happydance now and again. We make a huge mess, clean it up and then make another. And I love every moment of it.
But it starts here. Reading cookbooks like novels. Looking for that thing catches my eye, something that gets me thinking, the one that triggers the little bubble of creative excitement. So far, I've written three things down in my notebook: Triple Treasures, Angel Crisps and Red velvet thumbprints. Intrigued yet? I am.
I am not yet certain exactly where those ideas are going to land. They are just the inspiration recipes. But once I get it all sorted out and the new ideas finalized and written down, then we move on to step two. Making the shopping list of ingredients.
Doesn't sound as if it should be too difficult. Just read your recipes and add up how many eggs, how much butter, flour, sugar and etc are required, right? Well it's a wee bit more complicated in that I cannot buy everything I need in one place. Nope. It will require at least one trip to Publix, one to Walmart and one trip to Costco with a possible side trip to a specialty shop to find everything required. So that's at least 3 separate lists.
And of course some of it can be purchased early. Chocolate chips for example. They have a really long shelf life. Similar to that of gravel I believe. Oh okay. That's an exaggeration. But I honestly believe that I could buy chocolate chips today and use them several weeks from now with no problem. The same, however, is not true of, say, eggs. Molasses will last quite some time. But fresh spices, not so much. The Fresher the better. So now we've broken those lists down into even more lists. The long shelf life stuff, which I can start picking up now and the shorter shelf life stuff which I have to wait to buy until the last minute plus all the various stores necessary.
Luckily, I'm a crazy organized person and all this list making is like catnip to me. Oh yes, I do love me a good list or two or three. Once I have everything I need to do all the creating necessary, on the day after Thanksgiving it begins. And for the next three days, it's all about slinging flour around and making a big mess and the house will be filled with the most delicious scents while boxes and bags of many different sorts of cookies stack up around us. Until they are boxed and shipped off to the kiddos and the remainder dispersed amoungst friends and neighbors (and a few tucked into our freezer for us!)
Then once the house is all put back to rights (all that frenetic baking and sorting an packing is messy business!) that is the moment I know that the Christmas Season has truly begun. YAYAYAY!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.