Friday, November 09, 2007

Newman!

Some of you may remember Annika, my son's former preschool teacher. Her daughters attend the same school as my kids, and her youngest is in the same room as Jacob. They are good friends, so I am lucky to get to see Annika somewhat regularly.

Of course, I can't do this without giving her a hard time. Annika is one of those women who, were she not so genuine and understated, would incite jealousy and competition. I feel like I am close enough with Annika that I can openly tell her that I'm way jealous of her (in a good way, people). But competitive? Nah.

That is, until the star cookie incident.

Every year, the kindergartners at the kids' school plan a magical lantern walk around a local lake. There are lanterns set around the entire lake, the children spend weeks learning songs, and they all carry lanterns they made themselves. It reminds us how special a Waldorf education can be. A few weeks ago, there was a sign-up for parents who wanted to help with the lantern walk.

I wrote my name on the one of two slots for star cookies and walked away. Then I stopped and walked back and looked at the list again: Annika had taken the other slot.

For those of you who won't click on the Annika link, or just want a little background, Annika is perfect. Well, okay she has one flaw: she doesn't like Hillary Clinton. Other than that, perfect, I tell you! The woman has poreless skin, looks about ten years younger than me (we are the same age), has no extra weight on her frame, and has two beautiful children who would slay you with their charm if you ever met them. She's educated, with a master's in biology, and is currently working on her PhD in her spare time, defined as in between bouts of homemade cider production, constructing something necessary for her home, or helping her kids decipher which species of snake shed its skin in their yard. Worst of all? She's really, really nice. She's understated in a way that kills me. If I had half her talent, I imagine I would be an obnoxious woman, bossing people around and showing off my knowledge left and right. Annika is the type of person who can basically do anything, but would never mention it. And what I love about her the most, is I can tell her she's my Newman (Seinfeld?) and she laughs. It doesn't phase her.

So. The cookies.

I gave the star cookies not another thought until about a week ago. Life is crazy this month, and I am barely keeping all the balls in the air I have going. So when I was grocery shopping, I looked at the box of gingerbread cookie mix and thought, What the hell? and threw it in the cart. It wouldn't kill the kids to have star cookies from a mix.

Then I heard from one woman at the school how she couldn't wait for the lantern walk because Annika's famous star cookies were going to be there. Then another woman, and another. Annika!

Yesterday morning, the day of the lantern walk, Annika called me to see if she could take Jacob for a playdate after school.

"Yes! Thank you! But wait, don't you have to make star cookies?"

"No, they're already made."

"What kind did you make?"

"It's a recipe I have for gingerbread."

Newman! "Thanks, Annika. Now you are forcing my hand. Now I am going to have to use actual ingredients from my cupboards and make something that isn't from a box. You're damn straight you're watching Jacob." (remember, Annika has a great sense of humor. Thank God).

So, I made the most simple but delicious cookie I could think of: Scottish shortbread. I drizzled them with chocolate and set them in a basket. It took me all day. I wasn't going to go the extra mile with the chocolate, but then I pictured Annika grinding her cloves and nutmeg with a mortar and pestle in her sun drenched kitchen. I melted the chocolate.

I am even more behind on the writing, and will have to post the promised pictures later in the day today. You could say I was sidelined.

Last night, at the lantern walk, Annika sidled up to me. "So, where are these cookies?" she said in her German accent, which was perfect for the occasion.

"Over here, Annika, over here. Give them a try. Oh, I'll have one of your famous cookies, too."

I did. Hers were divine.

But so were mine. We both had a good giggle and went on our way around the lake.

Annika!

**Edit**

Here is the recipe (also in comments)

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3 cups flour

dash salt

cream butter and sugar. Add 2.5 cups of flour slowly. Use remaining flour to roll dough out on. You will have to pat and smooth the dough as it is a "short" dough and will flake and crumble. Get it to about 1/4" thick and cut out.Bake at 275 (really!) for 40-45 minutes until almost golden brown. But still mostly cream-colored.I melted a dark chocolate bar and poured it in a bag, snipped a tiny tip of the bag and drizzled over the cookies.

24 comments:

painted maypole said...

at least you like your nemesis! :)

Just Seeking said...

Your cookies were divine!

Jen M. said...

Painted Maypole - I love her tons.
Just seeking: Thanks! It made up for my not knowing the tune to any of the songs.

Rimarama said...

All that, and a gorgeous name, too? Wow.

Hey, shortbread with drizzled chocolate on top is nothing to sneeze at! I haven't baked cookies from scratch in ages.

Kellan said...

I just loved this story - what a great post. Isn't life funny - when it comes down to a cookie war with another mother?? So funny and so well written - I truly enjoyed every word. Have a great weekend.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

so funny. congrats on making what sound like competition for next year. "Jen M, are you going to make your shortbread star cookies this year? They're so good... and not that we don't like Annika's, but, y'know, it's nice to have something different."

: )

Anna said...

We love Annika! But we love you, too.
And your cookies. Want to share the recipe?

We have our Waldorf school St. Martin's lantern walk next week and I signed up for, what else, cookies and I have NO idea what I'm going to make. Shortbread sounds great.

Jen M. said...

Anna here is the recipe - it is SO EASY it kills me. It's just time consuming.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups flour
dash salt

cream butter and sugar. Add 2.5 cups of flour slowly. Use remaining flour to roll dough out on. You will have to pat and smooth the dough as it is a "short" dough and will flake and crumble. Get it to about 1/4" thick and cut out.

Bake at 275 (really!) for 40-45 minutes until almost golden brown. But still mostly cream-colored.

I melted a dark chocolate bar and poured it in a bag, snipped a tiny tip of the bag and drizzled over the cookies.

jakelliesmom said...

They sound delicious (and so easy, too!). Please tell me you got some satisfaction from making a very competitive cookie.

Mrs. G. said...

We all need Annikas in our lives to inspire and humble us. But the cookies...let's talk about the cookies. Any recipes?

WorksForMom said...

Oh how funny. I was going to say what Rimarama did. She sounds perfect with a perfect name to match. Your cookies sound divine (Printed the recipe)!

Cathy said...

Yum. Must try this one. Although given the time of the month, it's likely I'll end up sidestepping the cookies and drizzling the chocolate straight into my mouth.

Audubon Ron said...

ARCI – NovBlow&Go

You write it, I read it!

Like, I remember seriously asking you for Annika’s phone number because from what I can determine she’s complete babe and like, I don’t remember you seriously giving it to me. I’m sure!!

Family Adventure said...

You rose to the occasion! Think of it this way: Annika brought out the best in you! That recipe sounds fantastic.

Heidi :)

PS: I have an Annika in my life, too, and she was also my children's kindergarten teacher. How weird is that?!

Nancy said...

They sound easy enough, but I don't do cut-outs very well, I am too impatient.

Annika sound like a housekeeper I had a couple years ago. Seriously, she could have been a model and there she was cleaning my toilets ... smiling!

flutter said...

What a great post, and divine recipe

AuthorMomWith Dogs said...

Brings back memories. We had Cait in Waldorf through 2nd grade. We weren't crazy about the teacher. And eight years of a teacher you're not crazy about... So we switched. But I always loved the lantern walks.

Scottish shortbread IS divine. I'm printing your recipe now!

dawn224 said...

I like gingerbread fine, but I have long been shortbread's slave.

AnotherMomCreation said...

Those cookies just sound too easy.
I will give them a try for sure.

I think its nice to have someone like Annika, I have someone like that and it makes me a better person because of it....

Beck said...

Wah! I want my kids to go to Waldorf school, too!

the dragonfly said...

The cookies sound yummy! I might just have to try them...

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

andi said...

Your Newman sounds so much nicer than mine.

Daisy said...

She sounds wonderful; she doesn't even mind your envy.
The cookies? They sound yummy.