Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Midnight shortbread

I love to cook. It's a throwback from my grad school days, when I would spend my daytime hours slaving over piles of books to be cataloged (ah, that new book smell!) and my evenings wriggling about in uncomfortable chairs, surreptitiously nibbling on popcorn from the library school's basement vending machine and wondering how Seven of Nine could manage to save the day (night? how could you tell?) on Voyager each week in that darn silver cat suit and those precipitous stiletto heels. Despite the yummy homemade soup I'd bring for my dinner in the fancy-schmacy Thermos my mom gave me when I quit my teaching job to go back to school, I was always ravenous when I got home from class at, like, 10:30 PM, and I needed to cook because peanut butter and jelly wasn't going to cut it.

I had a book I loved -- I won't call it a cook book, it was more of a food book -- that my sister gave me a hundred years ago. I still love it. It's called Home Cooking: A Writer In the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin. It reads (to me, anyway) like a novel, as does her other food book, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen. I would turn to these books, not so much for recipes as for inspiration -- for such wonderful end-of-the-day dishes as rösti (like hash browns only better) and welsh rarebit -- and for astonishing projects like homemade dill pickles and yogurt. They kept me going during the grind of graduate school -- I would fix myself some amazing comfort food and eat it while I watched The Food Network or Nick at Nite on TV, then work on some hippy-dippy crochet project before I started my homework.

All this is to say that, since grad school and marriage and the arrival of Miss K and the advent of the quilting bug, my cooking obsession has fallen by the wayside. But for the last few nights I have not wanted, I have needed cookies. And I am simply too busy to make them. I have to clean up cat puke off the sofa. I have to launder 1,171 socks (becasue 1,172 would be one too many.) The bed has to be made so we can muss it up again. (Yes, it does. It really is better that way, D. One day you'll understand why.) The answer? Midnight shortbread.

Why shortbread?
  1. Three ingredients. Always on hand. Butter. Flour. Sugar.
  2. Very little cleanup (assuming that, unlike me, you do not fling the flour about as you measure it.)
  3. Hands-on time is minimal. (No, don't use two knives to cut in the butter, that's ridiculous. Use a pastry cutter, you'll be done in no time.)
  4. Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake. No cookie cutters, no messy drop cookies.
  5. Make a fluted edge. Or don't. Cut into wedges.
  6. Flip on the tv or snuggle down with a book and let the oven do the work.
  7. Nibble daintily? Crunch and munch? You decide.
Why midnight?

So you get first dibs, of course. You can share the leftovers in the morning -- they're wonderful spread with a little butter (and, if you're feeling decadent, a sprinkle of sugar) and enjoyed with some tea or orange juice. What time do you get up? I'll be over.

1 comment:

  1. This is a post for the ages...I've already read it twice! (And give D a few years...Corey started making the bed ON HIS OWN a couple of years ago...he finally "gets it")