Things were not going as planned. Renee had been planning for this day her entire life and now- it was ruined. She looked at her teammates in frustration, her mom, Ruth, had ‘thrown in the towel’ and was munching on a sugar cookie with her feet propped up in a chair and her 20-year-old daughter, Rosalee, was talking to herself and sneaking raw cookie dough into her mouth. “What a disaster,” she said looking at the stations around her, each team working busily on their cookie creations.
When she had received the phone call informing her that she had been selected to bring her cookie-baking talents to L.A. to be a competitor on the hit show “Totally Baked” she couldn’t believe it. Renee knew her cookies were well-loved in her small town of Fredericksburg, TN but to be asked to share her cookies on live television, it was a like a dream come true. As she looked around her untidy station, she felt as if she were living in a nightmare, there was nothing dreamlike about it.
Things had started on the wrong foot almost immediately, and, well quite literally. Upon arriving at the studio to begin the show, Renee had everything planned out and she and her mom and daughter were pumped to get started. But then, Ruth had tripped going up onto the stage to their station and broke her toe, basically rendering her immobile for the competition. With Ruth out of the game, it would be up to Renee and Rosalee to pick up the slack, which they could have done with ease… had the fridge in their station not gone on the frizt the night before. Renee’s cookie dough for her super-secret “Renee’s Rustic Sugar Biscuits” had been hardening in the fridge and now, it was a gloppy mess. Practically unworkable, the dough which needed to stay refrigerated while portions of it were handled, rolled out and cut with Renee’s handmade cookie cutters was in danger of being completely ruined.
She had tried to make the best of it, enlisting Rosalee to help her roll the dough into balls which were then rolled in sugar and placed on a cookie sheet to be pressed, Renee hoped to retain a least a shred of her dignity. What they had ended up with were uneven round globs that looked more like uncooked ravioli than the picturesque cookies Renee usually whipped up. Trying to gussy them up in an attempt to cheer up her mom, Rosalee had taken several small cookie cutters and pressed them gently into the center of each uncooked cookie, leaving the outlines of gingerbread men, Christmas trees and angels on the cookies before they were placed in the oven. Now all they could do is wait. Finishing well ahead of schedule thanks to the mishaps of the day, Renee and her team sat back and watched as plate after plate of confectionary dreams were produced by the other teams. Renee’s Rustic Sugar Biscuits looked as if they had been made by a class of second graders by comparison.
“Don’t worry mom, it was fun and who cares if they didn’t come out perfect. I kind of like that they are a little messed up, I think it makes them even better,” Rosalee hugged her mom and handed her one of their ‘messed up’ cookies.
“I’ll take another one!” Ruth yelled from her chair across the room.
“Really?” Renee asked as she handed a cookie to her mom. “That’s like your tenth cookie, mom. You’re gonna make yourself sick,” she said, only half meaning it.
“Nah, I could never get sick off cookies!” Ruth retorted stoutly before taking a giant bite out of the sugar cookie.
“Um, ladies? The judges are ready, all the teams are to assemble on the main stage for the award ceremony,” a gangly P.A. almost whispered before disappearing again into the darkness behind the stage.
“Well, here goes nothing,” Renee sighed and the three made their way, slowly on account of Ruth’s broken toe, to the main stage to meet their fate. Several minutes later, they stood immobilized by anticipation as the host ran through the obligatory build up,
“…and now, what you all have been waiting for, the judges have made their decision for the top award- BEST BAKED 2011. While the panel of judges found all of the entries exemplary examples of what can be done with the ‘ordinary’ cookie, this year’s winner stood out from the pack. Sticking to basic, quality ingredients they decided to forgo glitzing up their cookie and kept the presentation simple, rustic and it allowed the flavor to really stand on its own. The unfinished look reminded all of us of the times we spent in our mother’s kitchen as children, rolling out dough and sneaking a finger-full of dough when no one was looking. This year’s’ Best Baked 2011 award goes to… Renee’s Rustic Sugar Biscuits!”
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Tonight was an adventure in baking with my mom and Mamaw. Sticking three generations of stubborn, opinionated women with perfectionist tendencies in one small kitchen is never a good idea, but somehow we managed to make it through the night, and gosh dern it, we had a great time… at least I did. Between Mamaw’s fridge going on last night, the dough softening too quickly and sticking to everything, we somehow were able to produce a good number of edible cookies.
TWO: So the goal was to make my mom’s infamous sugar cookies. We succeeded, kinda… since the dough couldn’t be refrigerated while we worked with small portions of it, rolling it out to use our cute cookie cutters wasn’t really going to be an option. So, we decided to roll them into balls, dust them in sugar and then stamp them flat. Problem was, they were so soft and sticky by the time we flattened them the stuck to everything we tried to use to flatten them with, including forks, spatulas, our hands and finally a water glass. The first few looked pretty pathetic (like ravioli), but I thought that made them even more fun… mom didn’t seem to agree.
Love & Squirrels.