Friday, March 13, 2020

A Note About Baking with Friends

I am a perfectionist.  I have spent the better part of the past 15 years trying (and mostly failing) to internalize my mentor's favorite saying: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."  Hey, at least knowing is half the battle, right?

The Cookie Party is very important to me.  Not only do I enjoy the baking and the hosting, but the pure joy on the faces of my guests makes the whole week of hard work completely worth it.  However, it also makes me extremely cautious about anything that might threaten the future of the party.  For example, I am absolutely fanatical about hand-washing and sterilization of all surfaces that might, even indirectly, touch my cookies.  I'm equally strict about allergens (see previous post about nut cookies).  Anyone who can't be equally strict about these things is not permitted in my kitchen during Cookie Party Week.  So I have always been wary of accepting any help - both because it felt like cheating and because I was concerned that they wouldn't live up to my standards in the kitchen (I think several friendships have been dampened by my repeated instructions to wash their hands again!).  However, I'm also a very social person, and a full week of baking alone is actually a little sad for me - while I love dancing around the kitchen singing at the top of my lungs as I pour the next cup of sugar into the bowl, I also get pretty lonely by about Day Three.

So last summer, when my friend Caitlin asked if she could help me run experiments for a new cookie I wanted to create, I agreed.  To my great joy, Caitlin was every bit as precise and careful as I hoped, the experiments proceeded quickly and efficiently, and it was actually a heck of a lot more fun!  I even offered for her to come back and join me during Cookie Party Week.  This invitation was a first.  I was nervous.  I was worried I might lose a day of productivity.  Luke was worried that I might lose a friend.

As it turned out, I had a blast!  We made hundreds of cookies together and I even trusted her to help me with decorating some of them, too.  And although I did get distracted at a few points because I was chatting and nearly ruined a batch, she was there to catch me and, together, we stayed on track.  The day was both productive and genuinely fun, and I'm excited knowing that she'll also get that feeling of pride when people compliment our cookies.  And it didn't feel like cheating at all - it was still my recipe, still under my supervision, and still definitely up to my standards.  Besides, this party is really something I do as much for myself as for my friends and family, so I ought to have plenty of fun along the way!

So, on the whole, I would deem this a great success.  Caitlin, thank you for bringing the party to my cookies, and for giving me some much-needed company in this crazy process!  And who knows, maybe this will become a trend in future years...

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