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.
Here is the recipe (also in comments)
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups flour
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.