I’ve been thinking a lot about cookies, in part because they always seem like a good idea, and also because sister Barbie made Mom’s candy cane cookies last Christmas. Mom won a prize for that recipe. Here’s the picture that was on the front page of a newspaper, back when Mom and newspapers were still alive. Barbie’s version was excellent, and she urged us to enjoy them because she would never ever make them again. The dough was no big deal, but dividing it and coloring half red and rolling them out and taking short pieces and twirling them to look like candy canes, that was a big deal. It made me appreciate just how much work it was for my mother to make cookies for us, even though we begged – begged! – to have store-bought cookies as our friends had, like Oreos and Chips Ahoy. That fell on deaf ears. Store-bought cookies, she believed, were for unindustrious mothers. They were also for mothers who were not working on budgets as thin as a cookie sheet.
Today I appreciate her efforts in ways that I never did in my youth. I’m embarrassed when I think of our behavior when she used to make Refrigerator Coolies. We’d innocently watch her as she’d mix her ingredients and roll out a big hoagie of dough. Then she’d wrap it in waxed paper and put it in the fridge for the requisite overnight rest before baking. On baking day, she could never understand why the yield didn’t meet her expectations. What she didn’t know was that we had become so cookie-dough addicted that we’d turn up our noses at the baked items, but had become experts at sneaking into the kitchen, pulling out the hoagie, cutting chunks of dough from the center, pushing it back together, and camouflaging the process. I’m amazed we got through our childhood without contracting Salmonella.