Julie Weathers

Letting Your Work Age

I bake cookies. A lot of them. I try to send two boxes to Afghanistan a week. Last week I missed because we were trying to get Will moved so I’ll send extra cookies this week. That means instead of the normal 300, I may double that. I’m not sure how many guys are in the unit I’m sending to as they are special ops and my contact doesn’t tell me where they are or how many guys are there. I assume they have quite a few since his colonel sent me a certificate of appreciation.

I experiment with a lot of different recipes to find cookies that are tasty, ship well and aren’t messy in the sweltering heat. Peanut Butter Blossoms are probably a mess, but Will’s unit loved them so I sent them quite a bit. As Will said, “They are magic.”

Will didn’t normally eat my cookies because he often lived on Dr Pepper and Honey Buns when they were getting a convoy ready. In addition to that, he worked in the armory. He was responsible for the weapons, ammunition etc. They had a civilian contractor who was supposed to work on weapons, but it was usually easier for him to work on them rather than have to wait on the civilians.

He started out putting the box of cookies on the desk and just letting guys get them when they came in. Then he discovered a lot of guys looking for excuses to come in to get cookies, so he moved them to the mechanics shop.

One of his sargents was a huge man who loved the cookies. Will tried to track him down when the cookies came in to let him know before they were gone.

“Sarge, there’s some cookies at the shop if you want some.”

“Really, Weathers? You wouldn’t lie to me. I can hurt you.”

“Umm, no, Sarge. There’s cookies.”

Later it was. “Oh, Weathers. Tell your mama I love her.”

Back to my original point, I try to work with recipes so I get cookies that ship well and aren’t rock hard by the time they get there. I can pretty much tell by the feel of the dough if it’s going to do what I want.

I tried a recipe a few weeks ago that was supposed to be the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. I had to adjust it a bit to get the right texture, but it was pretty good. One thing I found interesting was a chef’s comment on why it was important to let cookie dough chill for a few hours or, preferably, overnight.

When dough “ages” the flavors blend more thoroughly. The flour absorbs the spices. So you have a complete melding of the flavors in every bite.

This makes sense to me as I know you can keep flour in the refrigerator and it absorbs flavors from around it if you aren’t careful. I now keep flour, sugar and powdered sugar in buckets I buy from a local doughnut shop for that reason.

I thought about this yesterday and how this “aging” theory also applies to writing. The flavors don’t blend as it were, but our subconscious matures it. As I said previously, FAR RIDER has been sitting for five months now. It’s time to dig it out and start going back through it.

I have hesitated to do this. Part of it is because of the word processing program. I really need to work in Word to change some things a bit easier.

Part of the hesitation is also fear. When we let a work set and clear our mind, we can look at it with fresh eyes. It’s important to give ourselves time away from the work. We have to put our mind on something else to “cleanse the palate” and then return with a fresh outlook.

So, perhaps while you’re waiting for your mind to clear, you can bake up a batch of these.

This is the Hershey Peanut Butter Blossom recipe. I usually use the mini kisses so I don’t have to unwrap them, but I also stock up on chocolates after holidays.

* 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
* 1/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Granulated sugar

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

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