Saturday, December 6, 2008


Usually I'm not open to non-traditional ideas on Thanksgiving. I love to cook our dinner and eat in our own home. But this year circumstances were different - our usual Thanksgiving guest couldn't make it. Sweetie was running the half-marathon in the morning. The children's home, where we've delivered Thanksgiving dinner for the past 8 years, has relocated from 3 miles away to waaaaay out in the farmland - not exactly something we could squeeze in between turkey bastings.

So for as much as I love tradition, it's not worth it if it doesn't bring joy. And cooking two Thanksgiving dinners by myself, with a two-hour roundtrip drive somewhere in there, sounded like a very un-fun way to spend the holiday. As it turned out, Sweetie and I had one of the best Thanksgivings either of us has had in recent years.

1. Cutie's parents were looking for volunteer work and asked if they could all come help me cook for the babies & toddlers. In a spirit of giving-ness not only did I say yes, but I told them they could even bring a pie. In a spirit of giving-ness, they brought two. And better yet, they brought great conversation and a kid who can sort cranberries and snap green beans like nobody's business.

2. Sweetie was totally open to the idea of mixing things up a bit. I offered a nice Thanksgiving brunch or doing the turkey over the weekend instead of on the Big Day. He found an unbelievable deal at Ruth's Chris, and we agreed that was the way to go (it SO was).

3. The kids and staff had a great, healthful meal home-cooked with love by multiple people.

It really was a terrific day with a lot to be thankful for. I mean, we saw one of our little ones - whose prognosis was pretty grim last year - walking with her little lavender leg braces while holding onto her oxygen pole. SO very proud of herelf. Giving thanks becomes an everyday event in those circumstances, doesn't it?

Some of y'all know that I found an unbelievable Orange-Pecan French Toast Casserole recipe for our brunch on Thanksgiving morning. As soon as I can pull the how-to pics off the digital camera, I promise I'll post the recipe!

In the meantime.... ugh. As I've mentioned, being the daughter of the Master Cookie Baker means I got the recessive gene on that one. There isn't a cookie in the world that my Mom can't make perfectly. I, on the other hand, have sought safe harbor in about a half-dozen Stephanie-proof recipes. And for some reason I thought I'd venture out into that cold, harsh world again and try to add to my collection.

I've had 3 disasters in the past 2 weeks. The first was one from Oprah's website - an orange-cream cheese chocolate chip cookie (yeah, I know, I know...). It was pale and puffy and cakelike and weird. Next, like a leming to a cliff, was the Chewy Oatmeal Cookie from the usually-reliable Everyday Food magazine, which spread out all-damn-over the cookie sheet and maliciously smelled good and tasted like fried oats. Maybe Martha Stewart really is evil and not just annoying. Oh, and there was a chocolate cookie that went straight in the trash.

I'm too emotionally scarred to date another recipe right now. Instead, I'm seeking sanctuary in my tried & true's this year. I'm sure that in a few months I'll fall victim again and decide to risk a stick of butter and my fragile, duct-taped-together cookie self-esteem.

'Til then, Gingersnaps are the way to go. They're quintessentially Christmasy, they're terrific with a glass of milk and they ship very well.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening (butter or Crisco)
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, shortening, molasses, egg, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and about half the flour. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined. Beat or stir in remaining flour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls.

Roll balls in the granulated (white) sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 - 10 minutes or until edges are set and tops are crackled.

Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

No comments: