Monday, January 27, 2014

Interlude: Flight of the Gingersnaps

Every so often, while New York trudges through its yearly January deep freeze, I end up in San Francisco for a few days. Michele's best friend, with the judicious use of copious frequent flier miles, flies her out to S.F. for a few days of relative balmy Bay area weather. I get to tag along because this arrangement makes it affordable.

I always bake this friend something as a little thank you for her generosity. We've already established that she enjoys my baking, so I know I'm on safe ground with whatever I decide to bring. During this trip, though, we were going to be gathering with a big group of friends and I wanted to bring something to share with everyone. My time was at a premium so whatever it was going to be needed to be quick and easy to prepare and travel well. Gingersnaps, of course!

A Quick Note: I know this is beginning to look like the "All Gingersnaps All The Time Blog" but there are some situations that only my favorite cookie can address. And it just so happened that since I was baking a batch to send to Honolulu (a story for another time), I'd have enough for this trip.

A Quick Note Ends

I'm really getting better at making my version of this cookie. One of my friends, who was at my Birthday Tea, asked how I got them all so uniform in shape and thickness. "I use a rolling pin and a cookie cutter," was my answer. It was a revelation to her because she'd only ever seen the regular "roll into a ball and lightly press" version, which was how I used to make my gingersnaps. Granted, my current process limits the development of the characteristic cracks but I still get them and I end up with a cookie that is, to me, the perfect thickness. Remember, part of my desire is to recreate snack foods that Iove, and Nabisco gingersnaps were some of my favorites. This is a pretty good approximation of that. And much better tasting to boot!

I made enough cookies to: leave a batch for our cat sitter, have a batch to give to a friend in S.F. who did another Neil Gaiman favor for me (yet another story for another time), slip a batch to our flight benefactress, and still have plenty to share at our coffee shop gathering. I never go small when I bake these.

The problem of how to travel with them wasn't a difficult one to solve. I did, after all, take a box of twenty-three hand pies with me to Texas last August. I just bagged up the batches (eight cookies to a bag) and put them all in a cake box to carry on the plane with me. No sweat. The sweat came later, as I was boarding the plane and the eyes of our Virgin America flight attendant crew fell upon the cake box. There's no disguising that there's some kind of treat contained in a cake box. When I told them (they all asked) that it was gingersnaps, they smiled and sighed happily, and a little covetously. In the back of my overly-imaginative brain I thought "I'm not going to get jacked by these folks for my cookies, am I?" Of course not. But those side-eyes as I passed each crew member made me a little nervous.

The flight attendant who smiled the biggest and told me that gingersnaps were her all-time favorite cookies was the one who would be working our part of the plane. "You should give her a bag!" Michele encouraged. I'm not a cruel sort, and I had more than enough cookies to share – and Michele's elbow makes my ribs hurt after a while – so I did just that after she took our drink orders. "I have a little something for you but you have to promise to share with the rest of the crew," I told her as I handed her the bag. Her genuine appreciation made me happy. Less than ten minutes later, she was back at our row, one cookie in hand and an ear-to-ear grin on her face. "Thank you so much! They're delicious!" We had a little conversation about my baking and this blog, with several interjections from her about how good the cookies were. That was quite a boost for my ego.

I'm going to have to get better at this part of the my baking life, considering I'm putting it up for public consumption. (See what I did there?) I know I make tasty treats but I have some trepidation about sharing that with strangers. My self-doubt kicks in and I worry that no one's going to like it. So it takes a bit of a push, which often Michele supplies, to get me over that hump. I try to approach this with a little humility, an open mind, and a generous heart. I have to trust that those qualities, along with the skills I will never stop developing, will imbue my dishes with great taste and good memories.

As we were trundling up the aisle after landing, the flight crew thanked me and told me how much they enjoyed the cookies. In front of me, Michele chuckled, which I translated as "Told you so."

Just share.

Currently Listening to: Artful Dodger (Featuring Lifford) - Something



  1. You know, I told you so ;)

    And, I do it because I'm proud of you, and want other people to know how awesome your baking is, too!

    1. D'aww! I'm glad you think it's awesome, honey. I'm happy that I get to share it all with you. :)