Yesterday, on my lunch break, I stopped at the post office to mail a package to Amie, my solider for this month’s Operation Baking Gals project. (My host is Lan, who has posted about the project and our servicewoman here.) Normally, I might save this post for another day, maybe when the election and our country’s future isn’t on your mind.

But then, on second thought, this is precisely the day to talk about Amie, wouldn’t you say? What better day than Election Day—the day we Americans take part in something generations of military fought to protect?

In my package, which contained two kinds of cookies, checkerboard and lemon cornmeal, I told Amie she’s a hero, one of the men and women who risks her life and sacrifices for our freedoms.

I told her that today, when I get up earlier than I normally do, driving to the polling place down my street and touching buttons on a screen, it will be with a grateful heart. I am very aware of how our nation has been blessed, of the right we’ve had to choose our government, of the opportunities we’ve had to get an education, of the mercies we’ve been shown. And this morning, when I vote, I am hoping. Hoping for us as a country, for our election, for our children, for our future. And, partly, I have people like Amie to thank for that privilege.

The cookies I sent were simple, just a few dozen bites of sweetness, baked fresh Sunday and lined up in tupperware, surrounded by stuffed bubble wrap and tissue paper.

Checkerboard cookies are not a recipe I would normally try, not because they don’t look great but because they are the very definition of intimidating. A lot of steps—requiring a diagram, no less—and involving technique. But my blogging friend Lan, a lovely baker/cook/knitter/crafter whose site you need to see, she’s the kind of person who gets you to believe you really can make something difficult. So I tried.

I won’t reproduce the recipe here, only because it’s been done as well as it could be over at Baking Obsession, complete with step-by-step instructions and tips and, also, that very handy diagram you’ll want to print out. Oh and, while I’m talking about the original recipe, I should add Vera’s execution was well-near perfection. To see how beautiful these cookies CAN look (i.e., without a few gaps or misshapen checkerboards), you need to visit her site.

The lemon cornmeal cookies (Thanks again, Martha Stewart!) were a big hit with more than one taste tester, and they’re drop cookies—the easiest, fastest type. If you’re like me, you’ll already have all the ingredients in your cupboards, so these are must-tries. Sweet, sugary, crunchy but almost moist in the center, they’re deliciously lemony and filled with that citrus smell.

Lemon Cornmeal Cookies
Adapted from


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, very soft
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, lemon zest and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar and egg until fully mixed. Gradually add dry ingredients until moistened.

Pinch off and roll dough into balls, each equal to 1 1/2 tablespoons; place on baking sheets lined with parchment or Silpat, spacing them about 2 inches apart. With fingers, flatten balls to 3/4-inch thickness.

Bake until very lightly browned around edges, 20 to 25 minutes; transfer to racks to cool completely. Cookies keep 3 to 5 days in an airtight container.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Lan

    thank you so much for participating in the Baking Gals Round 4! Amie will love them, i know it. your checkerboard cookies look phenomenal, so glad you attempted them too! they LOOK intimidating but they’re not! you did a great job, but the question is, would you make them again? :)

  2. My First Kitchen

    That’s a really cool program! Thanks for telling us about Amie. And you send me checkerboard cookies anytime!

  3. Shannalee

    Lan: Thank YOU for hosting and for the cookie tip! :) I think I might try these again, but I really want to figure out an easy way to make sure they’re perfect in size. (I have some perfection issues I should probably let go of.) You would, right? Let me know if you had any tips for the slicing/forming.

    My First Kitchen: It is a cool program and I’m honored to help with it! LOL about the cookies. You’re adorable!

  4. Rachel

    mmmmmmmmm…. i havent made cookies in a while! perhaps i will after shopping tomorrow!

    I though you might be interested in my international spice and recipe swap! Check it out on my blog.

  5. Chessa

    these look and sound delish! what a wonderful thing that you gals are doing…

  6. Shannalee

    Rachel: Did you go shopping? Are you making cookies tonight? I kind of love having them around. :) Thanks for the invite to your spice swap–it sounds so fun! I’m not sure if I have the time this round, but I hope you’ll post some of the recipes you share or discover!

    Chessa: Thanks! Yeah, I really admire the people who started this whole project!

  7. Vera

    I’m glad you found my post helpful. Thanks for giving these cookies a try!

  8. Pingback: For All Its Faults | food loves writing

  9. Nealy

    Yay! I finally tried the cornmeal cookies tonight with one of my friends. They’re good. If only we’d waited to drink coffee with them. Yum. Still trying to be brave and make the doughnuts.

  10. Shannalee

    Awesome, Nealy! And do the doughnuts! I believe in you! :)

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