I bake, my partner cooks. If I cooked, we wouldn't
eat, but I can bake her under the table. It's a balance that works
quite well. I make the breads, the biscuits, the cookies, the
cakes, and basically anything and everything else that is in any
way a carbohydrate.
I'm incredibly popular come the holidays, and this month
will be no exception. I've got a handful of requests from family, a
few classics, and a series of new things I'd like to try, but what
will occupy our kitchen more than anything else is sugar cookies.
Every year it's the same recipe, and every year it's the same
reaction from everyone: "Mmmm," followed by indecipherable,
food-in-mouth mumbles of delight (or at least I assume it to be
The cookies are not gaudy or elaborate (though my mini
frosted houses could be framed), or available in three dozen
different shapes, but they're phenomenal. In fact, they're so good
and so simple that they're one of the few baked goods we
All in all, despite our different styles in the kitchen,
it works well. But of course if we're making cookies, our son wants
to make cookies, too.
There's the conflict. Yes, it's cute that he wants to
help, but it's less cute when he licks sprinkles off his fingers
and then uses those same fingers, unwashed, to roll his dough.
Something about that turns us off.
So how do we avoid his fingers while still enjoying his
help and company? We embrace our inner consumer and buy stuff! `Tis
the season, right? Child's rolling pin, tiny apron, and a set of
plastic cookie cutters. Check, check, and check.
The total investment was under $30 and it made all the
difference. Now we zone the counter by splitting it in two. He gets
his half, covered in bits of flour and other baking essentials, and
we get ours, clean and orderly. We make the dough, give him a
portion, and let him do his thing in his own area.
He rolls, cuts, decorates and places the dough on a tray.
Whether they're paper-thin or half-an-inch thick, we smile and
encourage and, by all means, bake them separately. I advocate
complete cookie segregation!
What we create is kitchen poetry with symmetrical cookies
and color-coordinated sprinkles; what he creates is loose free
verse with sprinkle mounds and glistening fingerprints.
But it's the holidays and we're making cookies as a
family. Despite the unwashed hands, I wouldn't have it any other
I still won't eat them.
John Bray is a St. Charles dad and freelance writer.
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