Normally I don’t do much baking after the holidays end, but if a pandemic isn’t a reason to depart from the norm, what is? We’ve taken our daily walk and want to be safe and respectful of social distancing and sheltering in place, and cookies seem like a good stay-at-home activity.
But what to bake? Unlike the holidays, I haven’t gone on a special shopping trip for unusual supplies — and an extended trip to the besieged grocery store for random baking supplies doesn’t seem wise under the circumstances. I’ve examined the cupboards with care, and figured I could make what we’ll call “Stay-At-Home cookies” in honor of our fight against the coronavirus.
Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup margarine; 1 cup regular sugar; 1 cup brown sugar; 2 eggs; 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon; 1 tsp baking soda; 1 tsp salt; 3 cups uncooked oatmeal; 1 cup chopped nuts; 1/2 cup peanut butter
Combine margarine, sugar, and brown sugar and cream until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Add in flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; beat until combined. Add in oatmeal, nuts and peanut butter and try to keep your spouse from eating the batter. Try some yourself and admit it is pretty tasty. Drop heaping spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment, then bake at 385 degrees for 12 minutes. Have some more of that tasty dough. Drink a beer or other adult beverage of your choice while baking; preferably while listening to ‘60’s music. Let cookies cool on baking sheet while you enjoy another beer and find yourself dancing to Woolly Bully.
How many cookies this generates depends on how much dough you consume during the batter/beer/Woolly Bully steps.
As I prepared to take my walk this morning, I had to make my music selection. I decided to go with my “UAHS Rock” playlist, featuring songs from my high school years. The songs on it are old, obviously, but they are still great favorites. Who doesn’t still relish the songs from their youth?
When I walked down the steps to the sidewalk, the first song on the playlist began: Paul McCartney and Wings’ Band on the Run, which was a huge hit during my high school days. For those who can’t remember them, the lyrics begin like this:
Stuck inside these four walls, Sent inside forever, Never seeing no one Nice again like you, Mama you, mama you.
If I ever get out of here, Thought of giving it all away To a registered charity. All I need is a pint a day If I ever get outta here If we ever get outta of here.
It’s safe to say that I reacted to those lyrics in a different way this morning, squinting into the bright sunshine as I carefully maintained my “social distance” from everyone else who was walking and jogging outside, than I did hanging out in the basement of the family home, with the cheap all-in-one stereo unit down there cranked up to intolerable levels, in 1975. And a few songs later Stevie Wonder’s Superstition came on, and I had a similarly different reaction to this line: “Very superstitious; wash your face and hands.”
One of the great things about music is that the listener always brings something to the experience, with songs reminding you of high school prom or hanging with your college chums or making you think about this or that. I wonder how many other songs are going to be thought of differently, forever, as a result of the Shutdown March of 2020?
Every year, I feel an urge to do some spring cleaning, and thereby officially heralding the arrival of a favorite season. This year, being cooped up and working at our kitchen island for days now really brought out the spring cleaning spirit, in steroids.
I’m not sure if it was feeling guilty about watching a lot of TV during this shut-in period and wanting to compensate by doing something that made me roll up my sleeves, or the fact that I’ve been using the kitchen as my ersatz office so much that it really did need a good cleaning, or perhaps a sense that, with all of the hand-washing and sanitizing going on in the battle against the coronavirus, a good kitchen cleaning might aid the cause, just a bit. Whatever the reason, I tackled the task of cleaning the kitchen with gusto: scrubbing the sink, the cabinets, the countertops, the stovetop, the oven, and the refrigerator, wiping down our appliances, sweeping the floor, and getting the windows, too. I tried to clean every crack and crevice, and even emptied and wiped down the crumb tray in the toaster.
When I finished I felt good about my efforts, as I always do when I do a household chore. The kitchen looked clean — for now, at least — and I could almost feel Mom’s spirit hovering in the air, nodding approvingly.
The smell of ammonia in the air — sniff! — smells like victory.