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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Nine Day Weekend, Day 4: 8:00am. I’m awake because the church bells want me to be, but today I’m not mad about it. I’m planning an early grocery shopping trip so I can be ready for Thanksgiving.

Today is National Gingerbread Cookie Day and when I’m done shopping I’m going to bake myself some cookies. I don’t ever remember baking gingerbread cookies before, though surely I must have. I love gingerbread, so on this day of national celebration it only seems fitting that I enjoy them.

I can’t go grocery shopping yet though because we didn’t get to bed until nearly 3 in the morning and Ralph is still asleep. I don’t want to disturb him so I’ll do my yoga first.

It will help preemptively burn off the cookies I plan to eat.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 9:00am. Ralph is still sleeping and since it’s my nine day weekend I’m not in any hurry so I will dust the living room first. We’re having friends over for Thanksgiving, and they’re bringing dinner, which is the best of all the worlds. Someone else plans, someone else cooks, someone else cleans up. Food magically appears in front of me and I don’t even have to get out of my sweats. This may be the best holiday ever.

All I have to do is make the pumpkin pie.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 10:30am. I did my strength training class, dusted, washed dishes, checked my email, cleaned out the pantry and was about to see if Ralph was dead when he emerged from the bedroom looking beaten and bedraggled. Since I was hungry I offered to make breakfast.

I figure I can do that first then go grocery shopping. There are plenty of hours left in the day.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 12pm. I’m not entirely sure what just happened to the morning but I still haven’t gone grocery shopping and I suspect they will be out of everything I need by the time I get there. All I know is I’m making these cookies. In fact, why can’t I make the dough right now?

I checked the recipe and the dough has to chill for at least three hours. That should work out perfectly. Cookies are calling.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 12:02pm. I can’t make the dough because I don’t have enough butter. Nor do I have ground cloves, but I do have whole cloves and I was under some delusion that I could mash them with my mortar and pestle and come up with ground cloves. Apparently, that is not how cloves work. So I added them to my shopping list.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 12:07pm. Ralph just got in the shower. That means grocery shopping is postponed until he is done so I can shower, too. Even if I wanted to go out post-workout without showering, I can’t get to my clothes when he is in the bathroom anyway.

I think I’ll just get on the Peloton so I don’t have to do it later.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 1:11pm. Biked five miles then cleaned out the refrigerator. Ralph is done showering. This is not going to be the early shopping trip I had planned but I am not daunted. I will have cookies. And pie.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 1:27pm. The roads are madness. Who thought it was a good idea to go grocery shopping midafternoon two days before Thanksgiving? I’m playing Yanni and breathing deeply while half the population of Franklin, Tennessee, learns to use their blinkers for the first time.

It’s ok, though. I have the rest of the day and there are going to be cookies. I am a silent tree. I am a cool mountain breeze.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 1:42pm. If you took all the people I’ve ever seen in the grocery store on every trip combined, it would not be as many people as are in the store all at once today. This does not seem to faze anyone, since everyone continues to stop walking in the middle of the aisle and leave their cart there while they make philosophical choices between bleached and unbleached flour.

There are no cloves. There is every other spice imaginable, cinnamon and ginger and nutmeg and coriander and allspice, but there is a big, empty hole on the shelf where cloves used to be.

I am not daunted. Since I’m gridlocked in the baking aisle, I have time to google what can you substitute for cloves? I’ll make it work.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 2:35pm. Even with all the madness and mayhem, I still managed to get the shopping done in an hour. Or just over, but that’s only because I also stopped in two liquor stores. One for liquor, and one for eggs. I’m not making that up.

I texted Ralph to prepare him to meet me downstairs so he can carry the bags up.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 2:56pm. The butter needs to be soft. I want to make the dough but I need to let the butter sit out so I guess I’ll make the pie crust first. There are still plenty of hours left in the day but it’s getting late so I’m wondering if maybe I need to just make this dough tomorrow and have a National Gingerbread Cookie Day Retrospective.

We’ll see what happens. Now where the heck did I put the pastry blender?

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 3:40pm. Pie crust made. Dishes washed. I even called my mother so we could compare cooking tales and talk more about the things we forgot to talk about, or forgot whether we already talked about.

I started a batch of gingerbread syrup because I plan to make a gingerbread martini with my cookies tonight. It is steeping on the stove and smelling delicious.

My timer just went off but I forgot what I set it for. Nothing is in the oven so at least I know nothing is going to burn, but…

What the heck did I set the timer for?

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 3:52pm. The butter is soft!

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 4:02pm. I just put the dough in the refrigerator to chill. Since it needs three hours, that means I won’t be rolling out cookies until 7pm. That’s not entirely unreasonable but it’s still pretty late to start rolling and cutting and baking and washing more dishes.

Yes, I did lick the bowl. Raw cookie dough has no calories. It was quite delicious.

The problem with a lot of gingerbread cookies is that people go for form over function. They look cute with their little frilled clothes and smiling faces but too often they are just bland sugar cookies. Gingerbread needs to be rich and spicy and molasses-y. This dough is promising.

Which reminds me… you’re supposed to decorate gingerbread cookies, aren’t you?

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 6:57pm. Leftovers have been reheated and eaten. More dishes have been washed. Do you ever feel like the sole purpose for your existence on earth is to wash dishes, or is it just me?

Maybe I will do the cookies tomorrow. But no! What is a nine day weekend for if not rolling cookies out at 7pm on a Tuesday?

It’s been almost three hours so I am going to make myself a cocktail and roll out the dough. I even have a jar of candied ginger to use as a garnish and the cookies only need eight minutes to bake. I can do this.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 7:02pm. Oh yeah! Now I know why the timer went off. I was supposed to strain the gingerbread syrup.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 7:12pm. Gingerbread martini, partial success. The recipe was too vermouth-forward. Not enough spice. I’ll adjust it next time.

It did however, make rolling dough quite a bit more fun. I think the dough chilled enough. It only stuck a little bit. I even got out a tape measure to get the precise quarter-inch thickness.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 7:23. The cookies spread a little bit so they look kind of like me after eating gingerbread cookies. Maybe the dough needed to chill a bit longer. But I did it. And I even found a recipe for a different gingerbread martini.

The problem with martinis is that you need to chill the glass. There is nowhere to chill a glass in a freezer stuffed with bacon and chickens and extra cocktail ice cubes. So I stuck it upside down on a pork chop and hoped for the best, which wasn’t fantastic since it prevented the freezer door from closing but I didn’t notice it until ten minutes later when the floor was covered in frost.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day, 7:48pm. Cookie success! They are gooey like cookies are supposed to be and gingery and molasses-y. I may have undercooked them slightly but that’s ok because I’m not a fan of crispy cookies.

I do, however, think they could use more spice. I like the peppery bite of ginger and these are a little on the sweeter side. Still, I’m not complaining. This just gives me a baseline so I can test the next recipe. For science.

My second martini is a great success, too. It’s like I get to eat a cookie and drink one at the same time. Kevin suggested I add spice to it, which sounds like a fabulous idea. I’m sure I’ll have time for a third.

National Gingersmush Cookerflur Day, 9:19pm. Who’s driving?

Oh yeah, my timer went off. No, that already happened. Wait… what?

Chili plus gingerbread is amazing. So is three martinis. And three cookies to match. I’m allowed to have one more, right mom?

Who’s driving, anyway?

So much gingerbread, so much success! More Tuesdays should be like this. Now what should I bake next?

Photo: cookie cutting festivities. With the same type of wooden rolling pin we used – and fought over – as kids.