— 19 December 2004 —
I just finished making some Whole Wheat Honey Butter Cookies. The recipe is from the book Country Baking by Ken Haedrich. It’s the first recipe in the cookie section which is opened by a page of prose on making cookies. The first paragraph is of interest to me, especially at this time of year, and can be a simile for many of the things we buy in order to please others.
Cookie making is so simple, and the gulf of quality between packaged and homemade is so easily discerned: there’s no way a home-baked cookie, made with fresh butter, brown sugar, chopped nuts, and other fresh ingredients, tastes anything like one made by machine, with lesser ingredients, weeks or months ago at plant #7563, and embalmed with enough preservatives to last 100 years.
The biggest time taker in cookie making is waiting for the cookies to bake. You cannot cut that out of the process if you buy bake-at-home store cookies. Most cookie recipes I have made take less than 15 minutes to put together. And I was able to make the batch today while making some tomato-noodle soup. By the time we were done eating lunch, the first round of cookies were ready to eat.
Overall, we are taking time to do things ourselves. I make desserts much more often than I buy them, including my new fav of bread pudding which takes about 25 minutes to make including baking time. Claire is making as presents for our close friends and relatives this year. We made our tree. And all of this takes hardly any time at all. The tree probably took two hours at most, but that was spread out over a whole afternoon, and the time included getting the felt at the store.
While I love my gadgets, and wouldn’t mind getting some more ;), the best thing I can think of to give and receive at any time of the year is the gift of time and attention; paying attention to what someone wants or needs, then taking the time to do something about it. More time spent doing favors, less on “battling people at the mall.” No particular point beyond this. I am just enjoying more the response of, “You made this for me?” more than, “You bought me a nice gift.”