Friday, November 17, 2006

The Way The Cookie Crumbles

Part One - 2:06 PM

Okay, I am resigned to the fact that I am going to spend the day indoors, awaiting the furnace guy and hoping that he can fix whatever has gone wonky with my furnace so that we can get warm again here at Chez Peddie. I’m not a fan of resigning myself to spending the day in the house when there are things that could be done outside, but hey - when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. Lynchburg Lemonade.

And it occurred to me that I could fire up the oven to get some heat going in the house - and then it also occurred to me that that would at least be a waste of resources (surely no one would have gone to the trouble of inventing a furnace if the oven were an effective home heating appliance), and possibly dangerous, too - although it is an electric oven.

The next thought was that I could use the oven to cook something - that would generate heat, not be dangerous, and not be a waste of resources, as I would have something to eat when it was done; but that idea came with a problem, too, and that problem was that cooking something in the oven - and, being a guy, my first thought, of course, was pizza - would be over too quickly, the oven would cool probably before I was done eating the pizza, and I’d be right back to square one.

And then, finally, I thought of baking cookies - something I have never thought of to do myself before. Cookies would take longer, would force me to make cookie dough, which would at least get me doing somehting, instead of standing in various rooms in the house muttering, “Fuck, it’s cold in here!”, and could be done over and over again, thereby generating heat for a good part of the afternoon - not, maybe, enough to keep the house comfortable for the rest of the day, but maybe enough to last until the chap from the furnace people shows up to fix the furnace.

Something else that just occurred to me: guys will unwrap a pizza, throw it in the oven - of course it’s the kind of pizza that doesn’t require you to preheat the oven - and it’s done just like that. Women will take the time to mix up the perfect cookie dough, pre-heat the oven until it’s exactly as hot as it needs to be for baking, then bake a batch of cookies and do it over and over and over again, sometimes all afternoon and into the evening. Huh. That thought is simultaneously funny and vaguely unsettling.

I zipped over to my parents’ house to get some cookie recipes from my mom, and then hit the grocery store and spent more time in the baking needs aisle than I have probably done cumulatively in all past trips to the grocery store since I was born. I got home at 1:30, the furnace people had not called (having said they could have someone here between 2 and 4 and promising to call thirty minutes ahead of time), and the house was at 57º.

I set out the baking igredients on the counter, put a twelve-pack of Stella Artois in the refrigerator to get cold - and yes, jokes about leaving them out in the living room to get cold had crossed my mind - and am getting ready to make my first batch of cookie dough. Today’s contestants are going to be Milk Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Scotchies, and Snickerdoodles.

I will post updates as the batches of cookies come out of the oven - this will be an interactive cookie-baking experience. If anyone wants to pop by for cookies, feel free.

Part Two - 2:14 PM

And we’re off to a rousing start. I have one stick of butter, two eggs, and no shortening. Crap. Also no cream of tartar, which apparently has few uses except for making Snickerdoodles. So it’s off to the grocery store again. I am so fucking useless.

Part Three - 4:00 PM

Oatmeal Scotchies call for something called “quick oats,” which I was unable to search long enough for on my second trip to the grocery store - a trip which almost did not happen because the furnace guy called me just as I was about to walk out the door, at about 2:15. He told me that he would have a chap out to look at my furnace in 25-30 minutes, which I thought would be just enough time to get to the grocery store and back.

It was just enough time - I was 25 minutes exactly to and from the grocery store, but, alas, did not come away with quick oats. Instead, I decided to use a recipe, on the back of the shortening can that I got on the second trip, to make Peanut Butter isntead of Oatmeal Scotchies. The only downside is that Amy will probably not have any peanut butter left when she gets back from her conference in Nashville.

So, I’m back home, 25 minutes later, but the furnace guy - a friendly fellow called Daniel - is later than the estimate in getting to my house. I, of course, think I have missed him, so delay on starting the cookies while I wait for him and then call the furnace people to see if I did, in fact, miss him.

And then he arrived, deduced the problem with the furnace in about three minutes, and waited on hold with the guy he gets his parts from for about fifteen minutes, then got the authorization to proceed and took off to get the part. He’ll be back in probably about an hour, with the part, and will have me up and running, I would guess, before time for Jeopardy! (although if it’s still Celebrity Jeopardy!, I won’t care much).

And I’ll be sitting here in my newly-warm house with about $45 worth of cookie ingredients and probably no more desire to bake cookies. Actually, if you take out the $14 for the Stella Artois, it’s only $32 for the cookie ingredients, but still. Of course, by the time the furnace is furnacing again, the Stella Artois will be cold - and I’ll have to start thinking about what to do for dinner.

See - a post like this is the danger of a blogger (who also happens to be a writer) who has a whole day on his hands and nothing much to do. I apologize profusely to anyone who pored through this remarkable assortment of words in the hopes that they would get to see me describe my utter failure at baking cookies. But have faith - who knows? There is still light left in the day. There may yet be cookies - and there may yet be utter cookie failure.

Part Four - 4:44 PM

First batch of Milk Chocolate Chip is in the oven. 8-10 minutes on 375º. The furnace guy has not yet returned, but the Stella Artois is nice and cold. Time to throw on the new Dixie Chicks record and see how good it is.

Part Five - 5:01 PM

It seems that when my oven reads 370º, it doesn’t precisely mean it. The recipe called for the cookies to bake at 375º for 8-10 minutes. So when the oven got to 370º and just decided to hover there, I moved it up a notch to 380º, at which point it then displayed 375º, but wasn’t actually even close. The first batch seem to be melting onto the tray - but what’s this??

I just heard my furnace kick on. It takes a few seconds between when it cycles on and when the blower starts to vent hot air into the room, and I shall await those few seconds right here at the—

And there it is. Sweet mother of pearl - there is hot air coming out of something in this house besides me. And the cookies are starting to smell like cookies, but they still look sort of odd. Stay tuned.

Part Six - 5:10 PM

The first batch of cookies is out of the oven, and they actually seem to be of uniform shape - wonder of wonders. They are cooling on a cooling rack that I have placed on the dining room table next to where I set up my computer so I could work on this post at the same time that I worked on the cookies. I might actually have done this right - which means that after all that effort to warm up the oven in order to warm up my house, the furnace is working again, and I have nine cookies to show for it.

The furnace guy is writing up a ticket for the job, and after that is settled, I shall taste one of my cookies and then put batch #2 in the oven. It’s way out ahead of Jeopardy! time, and though most of my day is shot I feel...well, not exactly like I have accomplished anything - but more like I managed to not exactly do nothing.

Part The Conclusion - 5:48 PM

The house is warm again - sitting currently at 64º, which is downright balmy compared to where I was three hours ago - the second batch of Milk Chocolate Chip is in the oven, and I have lost the desire to make any more cookies.

The second batch is now done, and they look better than the first batch did. The final tally is 25 cookies in just under four hours, including a second trip to the grocery store and a furnace repair visit.

For those of you who made it to the end, thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing a part of my day with me. Peace.

1 comment:

Hillary said...

your saga amuses me.
i hear that cookie dough, warmed in a microwave, is delicious.
also, whenever *I* make cookies, *I* take them to work. sheesh.

i'm just sayin'.