Writing hard, cookies easy

I’m not getting any creative writing done because reasons, so to quiet the brain buzzards I figure I will share a baking adventure. WITH PICTURES!

(What are brain buzzards? YOU know. They’re the lurking voices inside that squawk, “quit whining and do the work, lazy woman, Real Professionals produce, you could do more if you tried harder, blah, blah, blah…I mean, they’re right, but I prefer to drown them out than listen.)

ANYway. Cookies.  Swedish butter cookies were a holiday tradition when I was growing up in the Morris household, (the M in K.M. stands for Morris) I recently found my mom’s mother’s recipe card for “Grandma Watson’s Swedish Butter Cookies”  complete with instructions for a “slow oven” and mentioning butter from the ice box. I haven’t scanned the cards yet, so no pic, sorry.

These cookies were a one batch once-a-year treat because, while they were delicious, making them was a demanding process requiring tons of work, complicated prep, and expensive ingredients. And drama. I remember much trauma with stickiness, wax paper, and fretting about wasted dough &  much worry over burning. And they never came out quite right despite always tasting fab.

Then I made them for myself the first time on my own, away from the traditions and procedures of my youth. And I learned a secret I’ll share today: THESE ARE THE SIMPLEST COOKIES EVER.

Unless you are a perfectionist. Then they are a hell recipe. I am not a perfectionist. My kitchen mantra is, “More flavor, less effort.”

I can whip together a batch of these cookies faster than the oven preheats–which is saying something because a “slow oven” is only 325 degrees F.

So. Let’s make Swedish Butter cookies together.

Start the oven preheating, make sure the rack is in the middle for best baking, and gather these ingredients: IMG_5238

Yeah, that’s all.

1 stick butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1-2 tbsp of syrupy goodness.  (I like half honey+half almond extract. Maple syrup is popular with others. The big thing is, some sugary syrup. Things don’t cook right without it.)

Here’s the one paragraph summary.

Cream the butter & sugar, add in the syrup & mix until creamy,  mix in the flour until it forms a lumpy dough, form up into a ball by hand, divide into four lumps and roll into sticks, dust with colored sugar if you want, and bake 20-25 min at 325 until golden. Cut while still warm. Done. SO. SIMPLE.

The devil is in the details. Pics are worth a thousand words, so here we go:

Cream butter & sugar, scrape down the bowl & add syrup, it looks like this:IMG_5239

Mix in the syrup until it’s all creamy like this:
IMG_5240

Then scrape down again (the red bit in the pics is my bowl scraper resting on the mixer stand) add the flour and mix until it comes together. Note that it isn’t all in a single ball, and it’s STICKY:IMG_5241

Don’t add extra flour or liquid or mix with the mixer until it’s a single lump, the cookies will get kinda tough (BUT NO BIGGIE IF YOU LOSE FAITH AND DO THOSE THINGS THE COOKIES WILL STILL BE DELICIOUS)

In any case, if the dough doesn’t come all the way together after a minute or two of blending, stop the mixer and push it together into a ball by hand with the scraper. Then divide the ball into 4 parts and shape into logs.

Did I mention it’s sticky? How gooey depends on too many factors to worry about. This is where I get mega-lazy. If the dough can’t be handled easily, I run water in the sink and wet my hands before dividing & shaping the dough, re-wetting whenever things get unwieldy. And don’t stress the logs being equal sizes or the same length or evenly rounded. Close enough is fine. Mine came out pretty well this time:

Sprinkling with colored sugar is totally optional. But yes, i flattened the tops to make it stick better

So, now all you have to do is bake them. 20-25 min at 325 degrees. When they’re going golden brown on top (or around the edges, if you sugared the tops) pull them and cut into slices. Cool and then try not to eat them all in one sitting.

So, there it is. A cookie post. Enjoy.

Hi, there.

Big, big gratitude to the good friends & other new readers who picked up my books recently and were kind enough to tell me about it. You’ve brought some highlights into a week of major emotional lows. Knowing you’ve read Rough Passages–and my other books–brings me a special kind of happiness.

Thank you for your support and excitement about my stories. It means the world to me.

Also–

If you ever feel moved to take a shelfie and send it my way, I promise to keep it and cherish it and comb its fur and call it George…or something like that. I would certainly share the picture on social media as proudly as any gleeful new parent shares baby pics. (but only with your permission, of course.)

What? What’s a shelfie?

It’s a picture of my books in your setting. In your hands, on a shelf or table, posed with a cute stuffed animal or family pet…wherever. So MANY possibilities. If you’re camera-shy like me, any old pic of my books living with the rest of your collection is lovely. (Plus that usually give me ideas for things to put on my TBR list.) Ebooks? Cover on kindle screen works. Or any page on screen. I’m easygoing about it.

In fact, if you don’t have my books, you can still make someone’s day/week/month/year. Take a shelfie of whatever you’ve read recently and liked, share it in a post or a tweet and mention that you liked it when you tag the author by name.

It creates instant joy, I swear.

ANYway.

Thank you all again. Happy reading.

Winter Checklist 7

Lessee, what did I do today? I’m sure I must’ve done something to get to 14,129 steps and 67 active minutes.

1.  GOT UP EARLY. My doctor’s appointment was at 07:30. Getting there counts as an accomplishment. I know many people are at work before that hour of the AM every day, but I am not one of them. So I drank lot of extra Scottish Breakfast tea, and took advantage of being out & about during hours I would be sleeping to get a lot of errands run.

2.  What kind of errands? I bought all the things in the world. (Not really, but it felt like that and filled up my wee tiny car.)  At one point I sent Spouseman a text  saying, “At Target, waiting for Costco to open so I can do the pantry-foods restock. Not impulse-shopping tho.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Big lie. Is it possible to visit Target without impulse shopping? Not for me. No guilt though,  since I only impulse-shop sale items that are either shelf-stable consumables or already on a needs list. Still, I had to smile when the cashier went all poker-faced looking at my cart. A snow shovel, a Christmas sweater with a llama on it, drain cleaner, a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats, a pack of metallic Sharpies, Tostitos, cat treats, and a leather belt. Among other things.

(I am not listing all the errands I ran or things bought because oy. It was just groceries and etc, but…So. Much Etc.)

3.  Getting stuff is only half the battle. By the time I got home and carried All The Things in, unboxed & put everything away, cleaned up the debris, and finished all re-organization that goes along with seasonal Big Purchases Day, I was exhausted & hungry.

4.   So I made myself a festive, celebratory lunch of New Snack Foods & Fresh Fruits.

4.5 And a fresh pot of tea. See: point #1.

5. Performed some overdue authoring maintenance and posted “I sell books” reminders to social media. And thing happened that’s never happened before: it resulted in a sale.  (I mean, I’m sure sales sometimes happen as a result, but immediately?  For the title I promoted? That’s unprecedented. And a happy thing.)

5. I also did make an itsy-bitsy bit of progress in Ghost Town between lunch and library time. And based on past performance, I’ll finish the short-story verbing project tonight before bed.

6. Oh, by the way, if anyone is wondering why I waste time blogging instead of getting more writing done, welllllll. It’s simple. I can blog while dead tired & distracted by other activities, so it’s easy to dash these off in the half-hour or so while supper is cooking.  Writing while supper is cooking is a Bad Idea. That way lies ruined food and charred pots at best. Creative immersion is…not compatible with worldly attention. So that’s a thing I don’t do.

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures later this week.
(I meant to be a hermit all month long, but life has decided otherwise. Good times.)