This was supposed to be a recipe for an easy version of apple pie, or at least that was my intent when I started peeling and coring four Granny Smith apples at the counter last Wednesday night.
As part of my mission to avoid yet another kitchen disaster, I had been taking every possible easy route: choosing a simple recipe, peeling all the required apples in one step, doing that peeling while I was sitting down so as not to exert any unnecessary effort for something that might not turn out and not even using a printed recipe because I had memorized the basic steps from looking at them for so long, really analyzing whether or not I could trust this new combination of ingredients and steps and would it be worth the trouble? In most of life, this fragile attitude would be something to work through, but in this case, it really worked to my advantage.
Each time I’d finish peeling one of the apples, its curly green skins spread out on the cutting board in front of me, I’d plop its little body into the adjacent round casserole dish, keeping it from rolling away while also leaving the counter clean. And thing is, once I set that final apple into the dish, the four of them lined up next to each other like they were meant to stay that way, ready to be poached or roasted or something, it became crystal clear to me that these apples weren’t for a pie, but instead they had a different fate. I should bake them, bake them whole, stuffed with some sort of sugar and oats mixture that could get all hot and gooey inside and bubble on top and down the sides. It was so obvious.
Listen, I know I’ve already posted 25 other cookie recipes here.
So if you’re thinking, another one? This girl is out of control! I can’t argue.
But hear me out: no matter how many other types of recipes I try—from cakes to soup to meat to vegetables—it’s still cookies that I love the most. So did my grandma.
I wish I could remember the first time I had a cookie—do you? The earliest I knew, I was stirring batter in Grandma’s kitchen, anticipating the trays we would pull out of the oven, so it’s as if I’ve always liked cookies and they’ve always been there, unlike kale or cheese or spinach or fish or something else I had to grow to enjoy.
And it just makes me think that while there is certainly value in changing perceptions, there is also value in keeping some, in having a few things, such as my parents or my brother or the way it feels to laugh out loud at someone’s story, that I have always loved.
Cookies are like that for me.
I have been trying to write this post for the better part of two hours. I keep writing something and deleting it, writing something and deleting it.
To be honest with you, I guess that is because I don’t know what to say. A dear friend of mine got some very bad news this last week, the kind you never think you or someone you love will get, and she has been on my mind ever since.
I wish you could meet her. I wish you could know the kind of friend who extends grace when you don’t, who challenges you by example, who makes you laugh out loud with her stories. The kind of friend who, when you show up unannounced at her doorstep Wednesday night, welcomes you inside, no questions asked, comforting you more than you are comforting her, demonstrating faith in the One Who Made Her as you recount specific Providences together.
I’ve been having a lot of bad luck in the kitchen lately.
I mean, not that anyone’s keeping track, but, in the last few weeks, the handful of times I’ve found to try a new recipe or carve out an hour to cook, the results were unimpressive (OK, with at least one exception). I made a squash and apple soup that had little flavor. I pureed pumpkin from a little $1.50 pie pumpkin at Meijer, and the three loaves of bread I made with it were barely edible—the one with pecans on top was the best, but even it found an eventual demise in the trash can. My version of candied sweet potatoes wasn’t awful, but that’s really the best endorsement of it I can give and, since when did making something not awful inspire anyone toward the stove?
I decided, sometime this past weekend, that there were a few different conclusions I could draw from this: 1) I’ve been picking bad recipes (over and over again); 2) I’ve been eating so well everywhere else that my standards have risen and maybe these OK things are what I would have once thought good? or 3), most troubling, I cannot cook.
Now, if the problem lies in either the first or second reasons, I can wait this out. But if it’s the third? What do I do—give up? It was starting to feel hypocritical even posting here—who am I to be telling you about recipes to try? I should be begging you for help.
But then I saw some peanut butter sandwich cookies and was inspired to give this kitchen thing one last chance. I can’t say if it’s because I was hungry when I saw them or because they are cookies, the first type of recipe I ever made and the kind that has yet to fail me, but I lost sight of every culinary disappointment and knew only one thing: I was making these cookies, and I was making them that night. Read more…