Monday, March 23, 2009

Managing expectations

A while back, spurred on by Miss B, I bought an Australian cookbook filled with kid-friendly cooking ideas and photos (shown here being perused by our toothy friend). Well, either those people really know their market, or else the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; whichever, Miss B has spent a lot of time looking at this cookbook since we bought it. Not only that, she’s been suggesting things to cook from it.

One of the things she was most interested in, from Day One, was the recipe that featured on the book’s cover: giant alphabet cookies, thickly frosted and decorated. The kids in the picture are holding ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’, and I swear the cookies and the kids’ heads are comparable sizes. Plus frosting and sugar decorations. What four-year-old wouldn’t want a piece of that action?

Being a doting mother, I said yes, we would make alphabet cookies and frost them. How hard could it be?

::cue sinister foreshadowing music::

For starters, I was (perhaps not surprisingly) unable to locate any giant alphabet cookie cutters, and had to settle on a very average size letter instead. The set I bought claimed to include the whole alphabet, which, upon closer inspection at home following purchase, turned out to mean two letter ‘C’s and no letter ‘O’.

No matter. Four-year-olds haven’t fully absorbed the alphabet yet, anyway, right? Onward!

Well, things went downhill from there. The dough, when mixed, was seriously crumbly, and even after its obligatory rest in the fridge, practically impossible to roll out. The alphabet cutters, narrow and deep, refused to release the dough, requiring that it be poked out gingerly with a knife, resulting in a ruinously high level of breakage between cutter and baking sheet.

It took me five attempts to get one intact letter ‘B’. (For obvious reasons, the one letter that it was crucial to produce.)

The time stipulated in the recipe overbaked the cookies; and, when cooked, they remained so skinny that I feared frosting them with a knife would snap them like twigs. The frosting, meanwhile, looked nothing like the cookbook’s glowing primary colors; we had, instead, pale pink and pale blue to choose from. We were also short on sugar flowers and hearts, and there was no way our scrawny specimens could support more than one m&m apiece. Thus, our adapted decorating method was: Mum dips one side of the cookies in frosting and lays them on a plate; Miss B sprinkles them lavishly with hundreds and thousands.

By the time we were done, I was feeling a little frazzled: stressed by all the things that had gone wrong, and downcast by all the ways that our cookies deviated from the Standard of Perfection set by the cookbook photos. And Miss B?

Miss B was thrilled to pieces by our alphabet cookies. She thought they were the best things ever. She showed them to everyone she could think of, either in person or on Skype. She didn’t care that most of the hundreds and thousands were piled on the plate instead of stuck to the cookies. She didn’t care what letters they were, or even if they were broken fragments. She loved them.

She wants to make them again. So we will. And this time I’ll try to let go of my expectations and have as much fun as Miss B is having. But if anyone has a tried-and-tested, favorite, basic, cookie-cutter cookie recipe….I’m all ears.


C. said... Best Blogger Tips

Whaddaya mean, no 'C's?

:: pouts ::

Next time, you'll have more fun.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

No, no, we had TWO C's. I'm going to have the only kid around who thinks the alphabet has a repeating letter in it.

Dr. Nic said... Best Blogger Tips

This is impressive work. Really. I'm thinking the letter 'O' would be all that I could manage !

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

If I had to do this again, using this recipe, I think all I would be making would be 'O's, too!

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