Diary of a cookie exchange
December 7, 2004
Last month, I came up with the clever concept of organizing an office holiday cookie exchange. The objective? Have a variety of homemade cookies by the time my daughter comes home for Christmas without having to spend too many frustrating hours in the kitchen.
The following is my secret diary of the experience.
Nov. 18: A cookie exchange! I turned to my life coach, Linda Hiller. She is Martha to anyone else’s Stewart. Linda couldn’t be more like the fallen domestic goddess if she had her own mug shot and cellblock number.
Her first suggestion, “Make sure you get Barbara Gerber to make cookies.”
Linda had a few more ideas to make things move smoothly.
“One time, I had seven other people and we each made eight dozen cookies so we could have a dozen of each.”
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I can’t even count that high. I arbitrarily choose four dozen.
Nov. 20: I cleared the cookie exchange with publisher Janet Geary and with the help of Brandi Gibson, posted a sign-up sheet in the office.
That way, we could make sure everyone didn’t bring chocolate chip cookies.
Looking through my kitchen shelves, I notice an over abundance of oatmeal, so I thought I would contribute oatmeal cookies.
But, the first person to sign up was Janet who offered to make “oatmeal, chocolate chip and peanut butter,” successfully eliminating three of the most popular ingredients.
I found a recipe for “Neiman Marcus brownies” that are mostly cream cheese and butter. I could handle that. I cleverly added “bites” after the description, so I could make them as small as possible. “Awfully rich,” I volunteered.
Nov. 19: The idea is barely two days old and already I smell trouble. No. 7 on the sign-up sheet: “Chips and salsa. Joey Crandall.”
“I always bring chips and salsa,” Joey said.
That precipitated a brief debate whether store-bought cookies were eligible. My thinking was that unless the Keebler Elves or Little Debbie are now working for The Record-Courier, cookies, candy or cheeseballs needed to be homemade.
It’s like this. If Joey were having a contest to find out who knows the complete statistics of the 1974 Douglas Tigers football team, I wouldn’t play. Or, I would hire somebody to represent me. I offered that as a perfectly acceptable option for the cookie exchange. Buy the ingredients and sweet talk somebody into making them for you.
Dec. 1: The cookie exchange is just a week away. It looks like we’ll have about a dozen participants. Joey is mum on his plans. We’ve had a few people drop out, but I am optimistic.
Dec. 5: I bake Neiman Marcus brownies. They are unbelievably good and they are “awfully rich.” But that’s a good thing because I am unable to eat more than three or four.
Dec. 6: Emboldened by my success with the brownies, I make pumpkin bars. They’re good, too! And they are not so rich, so I am able to test quite a few. Between the two batches of cookies, I should have no trouble coming up with my 48.
Dec. 7: The cookie distribution is set for 10 a.m. tomorrow. I buy holiday plastic bags and double-check to see if anyone has questions.
Dec. 8: The day has arrived! I panicked a little at the end because I wasn’t sure how to distribute the goodies. Plus, the plastic bags smelled like cocaine or spoiled oranges, depending on whom you asked.
Joey came through with man-size chocolate chip cookies (one of six different varieties of the ubiquitous chip despite my best efforts for variety, but they were all good and they’re all gone.)
In addition to cookies, we had carmel corn and candied walnuts, assuring that all the food groups were represented.
For a photograph, we wrapped up 2-year-old Adriana Grant in a pretty ribbon and sat her down next to the cookies. She was having none of it until Adele Hoppe and I played peek-a-boo with her, coaxing a little smile just as her mother Belinda Grant snapped the picture.
As I write this, I am coming down from a sugar high and it’s only noon.
What did I learn, dear diary?
If you add enough sugar and butter, anything tastes good. And Joey Crandall makes a heckuva chocolate chip cookie.
— Sheila Gardner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 782-5121, ext. 214.