Friday, December 10, 2010

Close Enough Cookies

Does everyone else have someone in their life like I do, someone who is such a paragon of every virtue, that she's impossible to match? Like Mary Poppins, she's practically perfect in every way.

One of the highlights of the Christmas season for my family is the arrival of the annual Christmas card/newsletter from Mary Poppins. There is, of course, the family portrait. All the children wear matching outfits, usually in velvet and lace. Nary a rip, hole, or stain in sight. And they're all smiling. And they don't look like they just got bribed to stop punching each other. Weird.

Then comes the best part - the newsletter highlights of the year. Each child is profiled, pointing out their excellence in all possible areas of achievement. The guest seat in the orchestra, the blue ribbon at the state-wide debate competition, the early admission to college, the full scholarship to Oxford, the governor's award for starting an outreach mission to homeless people, an orphanage in Africa, and bringing meals to shut-ins daily. And that's just the kids. The adults would be named saints, if they were Catholic.

I don't send out a newsletter. There's no way I can compete with that. I do, however, sometimes think it would be fun to send out an anti-newsletter. It would read something like this:

Seasons' greetings!

I hope this letter finds you all well. It's been such an exciting year for us, that I can't wait to share it all.

Garth, our oldest, is doing exceptionally well. He's gotten such high letters of commendation, that we're very hopeful that they'll knock some time off his sentence. He might be out as soon as spring. Not too, soon, though, as he still needs to complete his vocational training in the joint, learning to sew jumpsuits. No point in getting out if he still has to hold up gas stations to pay the rent! LOL

Cletus is loving his school classes. He's figured out the difference between airplanes and choo choo trains. What a smart cookie he is. Not everyone in his high school has got that yet.

Bambi had her third baby in November. He's cute as a button, but looks nothing like his siblings. We can't figure out why she keeps getting pregnant, but hopefully her junior high will cover that next year.

In August Rufus and I got a second honeymoon. His convenience store clerk convention was in Atlanta this year and we got to go! As a perk for being employee of the month, we got a private tour of the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Can you say goose bumps?

Anyway, you can see that life has been really rich and full for us this year. I hope that you are at least 1/5 as blessed as we have been! Merry Christmas!

Oh, yeah, why strive for excellence when sarcasm is so much easier?

I'm kind of the same about cookies. I always stop and oggle the gorgeously decorated cookies in bakeries, but do I take the time to make them? Nope. I'd much rather plop delicious dough onto baking sheets and eat the cookies while they're still warm and the chocolate is gooey. It's easier and tastes better. So what if they don't look fancy and perfect? If you care, I won't share.

Salted Butter Cookies
- adapted from David Lebovitz

4 ounces (115g) salted butter, at room temperature
⅔ cup packed (110g) dark or light brown sugar
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ⅓ cup (180g) flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
1 ⅓ cups (200g) coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 cup toasted nuts, coarsely chopped

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter and sugars just until smooth and creamy.

2. Beat in the egg and the vanilla.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. Stir the flour mixture into the beaten butter until combined, then mix in the chopped chocolate (including any chocolate dust) and the chopped nuts.

5. Cover and chill the batter until firm, preferably overnight.

6. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

7. Form the cookie dough into rounds about the size of a large unshelled walnut. Place the mounds evenly spaced apart on the baking sheets, and press down the tops to flatten them so they are no longer domed and the dough is even.

8. Bake the cookies for ten minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies look about set, but are not browned.

9. Remove from the oven and quickly tap the top of each with a spatula, then return to the oven for two to five more minutes, until the tops of the cookies are light golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cookies cool.

Storage: The cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to five days in an airtight container. The dough can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for one or two months.


cindy said...

Thanks for the morning laugh! And the cokies look great!
Have a Merry Christmas.

Fallon said...

Hmm yummy looking cookies!! I like the salty and chocolate combo!

Jennifer Jo said...

Oh Lynn! This is hilarious!

My mother once wrote an article that criticized form letters for our Mennonite church magazine. As part of the article, she wrote a sarcastic letter, along the same lines as yours. People were so upset that after four weeks of printing all their angry letters, the editors wrote a letter explaining that no more letters re her article would be published. It was a riot.

MommaMindy said...

Yea, those perfect families. I always laughed when my SIL's letter would come, because what she wrote and the family I knew, weren't the same.

I have learned with six kids to take at least 20 pics of the same pose to get one where everyone looks good. The kids fussed, until they realized, that it might be the year THEY look goofy in the family pic.

HAH said...

Thanks for a good hearty laugh! I gave up on christmas cards and newsletters years ago. Every now and then I receive one from a friend with "Are you still alive?" penned at the end. I guess I should reach out with my cell phone or email more often. :-)

Charlene said...

I used to have one family member and a sort of friend send those letters. I've not gotten them for several years. I think their getting divorced stopped it!

Mrsblocko said...

I remember getting those letters from people as a kid when things weren't going so hot for our family. I used to read them to my mom and "translate" what I thought they really meant. My mom and I would laugh so hard that it hurt.

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Tiffanee said...

Love the letter. Thanks for a good laugh. I think I might actually send one out just like it. The cookies look amazing. I really want one or maybe a dozen right now.

CaSaundraLeigh said...

I love your sense of humor! :-)

Deborah said...

You just made me laugh out loud - the perfect start to my morning!! And I'm the same as you - as good as the pretty cookies look, the gooey, warm ones from home are usually the best!!

bellini valli said...

Christmas has come down to sending cards on the Internet for me. If I don't have an e-mail they don't here from me.Sad isn't it:D As far as the cookies go I'd no problem devouring a few....

Adam said...

Fortunately for me I don't really have to deal with anyone like that, or at the very least, I haven't noticed :). However, I think sarcasm is becoming a lost art. It's frustrating when you weave a beautifully sarcastic comment and then feel compelled to follow with: "just kidding" in case the humour is lost. I'm thrilled that someone with such a great sarcastic wit is trying to promote sarcastic understanding and encourage its use :). Thanks :).
As for these cookies, is it wrong that I licked my screen? :).

grace said...

you crack me up--thanks for the chuckle, nay, guffaw. cletus is one of the best silly names ever. :)

Chris Simon said...

I started sending out a very short bullet list a few years back, and it was such a hit that I do it each year now. The only other thing I add is a couple of photos (non-professional, definitely not "Christmas card photo" quality). Here's one of the old ones.

"The world’s shortest holiday letter, a.k.a. What you need to know about our family this year:

-two members of our family now have ages divisible by 11
-D and C have been married for two decades
-the girls are in first and third grades this year
-all except one of us have pierced ears
-the Girl Scouts of America are getting a lot of money from us
-C spent far too much time visiting doctors this year
-J and K vacationed without parents this summer
-we love to get email from friends and family so you should save our addresses right away! (insert email addresses)
-we sometimes keep the photos on our web page up to date, so come and visit (insert URL)"

Danielle said...

Salt and chocolate is a good combo, almost like chocolate covered pretzels(: Thanks for the recipe!

The Blonde Duck said...

Love the cookies and the letter!

Elena said...

Your letter is great. I get one of those full-year run downs from a friend and it exhausts me when I read it! Those cookies look so good; if I weren't having birthday cake tonight, I'd be looking to make these. YUM!

LimeCake said...

I've tried this recipe and absolutely loved it! Happy holidays!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Hehehe. I'm totally the black sheep of a perfect [on the face of it] family, so I'd love to send out such a letter!! Those cookies look aweosme :) Love the 'if you care, I won't share'