Listen to Nancy

If you are visiting our home in the near future and someone offers you a chocolate-chocolate chip cookie, just say no. You see there was an incident at our home, an incident filled with disappointment, tragedy and loss. It had little to do with the hurricane and everything to do with my ineptitude in the kitchen.

It began with a party planned at my office. There are several individuals in my office who seem to thrive on planning social events – a proclivity which does not abandon them when they cross the threshold of our office. Well, long before it was widely known that Florida would be hosting this year’s natural disaster convention, it was decided that we should celebrate the start of football season. Being a member of the XY club in good standing since birth, I thought this was a perfectly reasonable justification for celebration. The very least we could do to appease the football gods, and bring favor upon our local team, is throw a little party. It was decided that “tailgating” would be the theme. We all signed up to bring an item that typifies the tailgating spirit. Unfortunately, the only thing I could think of was beer and cigars. Why, I have no idea. I have very little taste for beer, and the one time I tried a cigar I inhaled – and lived to regret it. Of course, there’s very little chance I would remain an employee of the state in good standing if I actually brought beer and cigars to an office party, but that’s just the icing on an already overly sweet cake. What did I eventually volunteer to bring? Cookies.

Fast forward to this afternoon. Frances was moving on to pay its respects to the good folks of north Florida, so I decided to break camp and go grocery shopping. I could have just picked up one of the many Keebler offerings on the snack isle, but I figured cooking a batch of cookies would go a long way towards cementing my place in DOR lore. No, no one had spiked my Gatorade with “X.” I just wanted to make a gesture to the folks at the office, a gesture that said, “I care enough to buy pre-mixed cookie dough and turn on an oven for you guys.” I LOVE YOU MAN! But when I got home from the store we had company – some friends that came over who were just about as entertained by three straight days indoors as we were. As I was putting away the groceries, and I was chatting with our visitors, it occurred to me that I really had no intention of going to work tomorrow (which is now today, by a cruel set of circumstances that I don’t care to get into right now). So we ate the cookies as they came out of the oven. It was the right choice to make. Baking up a set of cookies on a rainy day was just the ticket – the perfect thing to do on an imperfect day. If only I was a little more attentive.

Here’s some free advice: when you set a timer for the oven, set it for the time you actually plan to take the item out of the oven. For some as yet unknown reason, I did not follow this time honored cooking tradition. I set the timer for ten minutes, fully intending to turn the timer off and take the cookies out two minutes later. (I’m beginning to think I should send a sample of that Gatorade to the lab.) By now you can see what happened from somewhere over in the next time zone. I was busily helping a friend of mine tinker with a web site, when I noticed that I had left the oven on. So I did what any rational being would do; I walked over and turned it off. About thirty minutes later one of our friends noted that it smelled like something was burning. “Ahh! The cookies,” I exclaimed. I ran over to the oven as if my child was drowning in the deep end of the pool, as if there was any chance that the cookies might be rescued. There wasn’t. In place of the fifteen carefully rounded balls of dough sat fifteen lumps not unlike what you might find in a geology lab.

When you get right down to it, I had several chances and blew it at each step. First, when I inexplicably set the timer for ten minutes instead of twelve. Second, when I jumped into another project before the first one was done. And Third, for realizing that there was a reason why the oven was left on.

I feel so ashamed, and yet I freely share the experience with all of you. Well, I figure I owe it to Cheryl to pick on myself in this space every once in a while.