About an hour ago I bounded into the house like an excitable puppy; my face flush with the joy of certain discovery. Totally oblivious to the "Poor Dumb Yankee" look Man and his mother were giving me, I announced that six-- possibly ten-- of the leaves on the big tree out front had begun to turn colors! This, without a doubt, marks the end of a long and torturous summer as well as the beginning of my favorite time of year: Fall. Tingling with anticipation of pumpkin spice everything, Haunted Hayrides and my impending birthday (A Holiday in itself if you ask me... And you didn't.) I began to feel the old Autumn nesting instinct that always seems to catch up with me this time of year.
Until, that is, Man went out and inspected the tree himself.
As it turns out, those leaves are suffering serious sun damage.
I've decided, however, that I'm not going to let this minor seasonal setback take away my Autumnal Equinox Spirit. For the last few years I've deprived myself of all my favorite Fall indulgences (Except, of course, the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Yum-ness!), and I'm not going to allow the fact that I'm 1300 miles removed from anything resembling the season of my youth stop me now! If my scarecrow has to be wet down every thirty minutes to insure he doesn't burst into flames in the front yard, so be it! If my jack-o-lanterns cook on the front porch I'll just make pie of them! If I can't find an actual haunted hayride, I'll just go on a regular hayride and shout "Boo!" at random passengers until I'm satisfied. (Seriously, what's up with the lack of haunted hayrides, Louisiana? Have you no Halloween spirit?)
And if I can't bake cookies.....
Well, that's the problem. I suck at baking cookies.
The last thing I attempted to bake that didn't come out of a box marked "Betty Crocker" was such a miserable disaster I never tried again. I was seventeen and Mom's impending bridal shower had inspired me. I set out to bake heart shaped sugar cookies iced with her and my now step-father's name; one for each guest. What I wound up with was 30 misshapen hearts (They looked more like rear-ends if you ask me.). They were simultaneously undercooked, rock solid, burnt at the bottom and tasted (Yes, I tasted one!) of baking soda and failure.
Failure, as it turns out, tastes a bit like oven cleaner.
These were the days before I understood the difference between a tablespoon of solid ingredients and a tablespoon of liquid. Also, I didn't see the point in steps back then. It's all going into the same bowl, why not just toss it all in at once and mix? My intentions were good, but you know what they say: The road to the local bakery is paved with failed cookies.
Fifteen years later I'm still no culinary wiz, but I can follow a recipie and I understand enough about what tastes right with what to tweak things a little. I can throw together a meal pretty well these days, though I still keep one hand poised and ready to dial 911 should the need to do so come wafting from inside the oven.
So far, so good.
Baking, however, is a totally different animal. It's exact and precise. It's mathmatical and formulaic. One miscalculation and you're on your way to ass-shaped cookie-ville and nobody wants that. It's the Moby Dick to the Captain Ahab of my culinary experience and I'll be damned if I'll allow the white whale of confections to elude me another day! Well, maybe one more day... Possibly two depending on how tired I am after work this weekend.
Okay, not another week! I swear!
I've chosen a recipe that seems easy enough. At least according to FoodNetwork.com they've been categorized as easy, and that's all I have to go on. Shortbread cookies with melted chocolate tips. Nothing even remotely ass-shaped there. I can handle that, right?
I'll let you know how it turns out. Also, I'll keep that hand poised on the 911 trigger just in case.