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 MarthaStewart.com
- 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.