It’s on. I flipped the switch at lunchtime on Friday. Time for some holiday parenting. A little less stern Dad and more friendly Uncle. A little more relaxed. A little less math review, a little less structure.
We won’t be abandoning all structure. Things tend to go smoother when Dad has at least a pencil sketch of a plan. So, they’ll still need to sleep occasionally and brush their teeth after their 37th cookie. There will be some organization and expectations. I won’t be throwing out the rules completely, but…it’s supposed to be happy holidays and I can’t drink wine and scotch from sunrise to sunset without at least a three hour nap in the middle of the day and that’s not really fair to Michelle.
Hopefully this will all lead to a little less stress and a little more happiness.
Worst case, it leads to Michelle and I eating more Christmas cookies with red wine at lunch.
At the end of the year Spotify compiles a personalized Top Songs playlist. We are regular Spotify users, but we don’t use Spotify’s family plan. All of our annual listening is mashed together in one giant jukebox and it’s a wonderful mess. Neutered KidzBop pop songs sit knee to elbow with (so many) Broadway showtunes and they in turn jostle for space with The National and Lorde.
This music milkshake did annoy me for a while, but I’ve come to like it. Getting older means increasingly getting caught in your own tastes and feeding a constant echo chamber. Seeking out, finding, and giving yourself the time and space to experience new things is hard. Escaping the algorithms and getting a cold recommendation takes effort.
Or, you could just let a bunch of kids freeload on your music subscription. I would have never learned the strangely hypnotic power of Tobu’s Candyland after 567th playing without them.
Alas, last week’s banana bread didn’t quite use up all the dark, dark bananas haunting my fruit basket. In a quest to clear the counter and avoid an impending fruit fly convention, I tried the banana coconut cookie recipe from the Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. to use up the remaining fruit.
I’ve made many recipes at this point from both Run Fast cookbooks and while they all haven’t come out perfectly they all were pretty tasty and worth making again. This one, however, was the first dud for me, even with chocolate chips thrown in. I’m going to have to make it again if only to see if it’s really the recipe or if it’s me.
Let’s be honest, making cookies from scratch really isn’t that hard, but sometimes the lure of convenience or just the jam-packed schedule of life gets in the way. But you still want (or need!) those cookies. You reach for a box mix. It happens. I’ve done it. There’s no shame.
Okay, a little shame, but box mixes have come a long way since the additive and preservative fueled eighties. You can make a passable batch of cookies to quiet the monster from a box mix. You can also use a few tips and tricks to doctor the mix and bend the box to your will.
On the cookie spectrum, I am firmly in the chewy camp. I don’t mind a little crispness on the edge, but give me 85% soft, gooey and chewy and I am a happy man. My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, maybe just plain my favorite cookie recipe, is Alton Brown’s The Chewy. But I don’t let those personal preferences limit my baking.
I aim to please the people, so when Michelle needed something to bring to a neighborhood ornament swap, I went for this simple cookie brittle. It’s completely on the opposite site of the cookie spectrum from my taste, but it’s simple to make, a little different than the norm and tastes really good, even to a chewy guy. I support that!
This Saturday we were going over to a friends’ house for dinner and we were bringing dessert. With a frightfully light agenda (nothing after morning soccer and art), I thought baking some cookies would be a good (time consuming) activity for the girls.
It’s not hard to spot the personality differences between Michelle and I, but if you need a telling example watch us in the kitchen with the kids. Michelle is the more intuitive cook. She gets the general shape of the recipe and then goes about making it in her way. I have more the baker mindset. I like precision, measuring and following directions.
The end result is usually very tasty no matter who is at the controls, but the process and the state of the kitchen before, during and after are a different story. Throw some child-sized helpers into the mix and it’s a multiplier effect. I need to physically leave the room when the all the girls are in the kitchen. For her part, Michelle can’t understand why it takes me so long to bake a dozen cookies.
We made it to February this year, but finally succumbed to the dreaded mid-week, no-school, snow day.
How did it go? I’ll show you.