Recommended wine for today’s entry: Kendall Jackson pinot noir. This is what I had at a recent holiday party, and after reading today’s entry, you will see why I am an enormous fan. Anyway, it’s a wonderful choice for these cold winter nights and it looks beautiful in a Waterford glass with Christmas tree lights reflecting. The pinot noir is described by the winemaker as “Black cherry and raspberry fruit with velvety tannins typically found in hillside grapes along the North Coast mingle with flavors of plum and spice from our benchland vineyards along the Central Coast. Oak aging adds hints of vanilla, nuances of toast and a soft, smoky finish.” – Randy Ullom
My husband says that I am high-strung. But I’m not. There are few things that unnerve me. One is baking. I hate baking and baking hates me. That is why whenever I attempt it, some Higher Baking Power steps in and substitutes baking powder for baking soda or changes the page on the cookbook, so I start the sugar cookies on page 42, but finish the oatmeal cookies on page 43. In case you are tempted to try this, I should tell you that what results is an oddly disgusting conglomeration of sugar and hunks of cereal and often some charring.
I am also unnerved by wrapping things. This relates to a larger problem of having no decorating ability and a lack of both dexterity and patience. I also always buy things that come in shapes you only heard about in Geometry class, like an obelisk. Then I forget to ask for a box.
Now I suppose you’re thinking, hmmm…she can’t bake, she can’t decorate, she can’t wrap presents … she sounds like a man. Which leads me to the third thing that unnerves me: groups of all girls.
My fear of groups of women became apparent during sorority rush in 1978. As I perched daintily in a chair in the Theta house with beautiful women — actives — sitting at my feet in their perfect Lilly Pulitzer attire, I realized (suddenly and to my own dismay) that I had no bullshit that didn’t involve beer or sports. That was also about the time that I realized I hadn’t shaved my legs well enough and little hairs were sticking through my panty hose. And I knew that if I could see it, the actives sitting at my feet could certainly see it. I did get invited back to the second round, where I was strategically seated behind a ficus tree. But that was fine because I think I had bloody single-ply toilet paper stuck to my legs in about six places.
Then I got cut by Theta.
Anyway, I did get into a sorority, and the first time that I was on the other side of rush, (now known as recruitment) my inadequacies as a member of an all-female troupe came to light again. We were supposed to perform a skit based on The Wizard of Oz, and as the rushees came in we were to sing and clap to the beat of some song and sway back and forth. But I can’t sing at all, so I mouthed the words, and I can’t clap to a beat because I don’t HEAR a beat to music and I can’t sway because, well, I think swaying is stupid and a waste of energy.
So they made me Toto and I spent a week on my hands and knees and went to class with my nose tinted black because whatever we used to make my nose and whiskers was not intended for temporary use on the face.
Anyway, the reason I bring up my whole baking, wrapping and fear of females issue is this: I went to a neighborhood cookie and ornament swap a couple days ago. But this wasn’t just in the neighborhood – it was in one of the NEW, BIG houses on THE NICE STREET. This was way out of my league. Now I should point out that there are only about 10 houses on the street, with a cul-de-sac at the end and they have awesome, large reflective numbers on the mailboxes. I could even see my house from there.
But I got lost anyway. Because I had it in my head that this woman’s house was on a certain side of the street and so I did NOT believe that the house that had the number prominently displayed on its mailbox was the correct place. So I passed it once, turned around in the cul-de-sac, passed it again, turned around at the end of the street, back to the cul-de-sac, where I pulled out the invitation to double check the number, went to turn on the light in my car but instead called the SOS button, then went to open my door to get the overhead light on so I could see to disconnect from Onstar, and then I saw someone was trying to back out of her driveway in the cul-de-sac and was waiting for me to move. So I slammed my door and just went to the house with the same number as the invitation. And so did the other car.
Well, I don’t mind admitting that I was shaking. And my cookies were still warm because … right, the whole baking thing. I had left myself an hour to bake, and the recipe only had five ingredients, so I knew I was in good shape. But tell me this: who in the hell would have EVER thought that there exists a cookie that has to be in the oven for 40-50 minutes?? Really? I seriously think there are mammals with shorter gestation periods.
40-50 minutes per batch. I needed to take five dozen cookies. So while I sweated over those dumb things, my daughter (who is a total show-off) whipped up some snickerdoodles — voila! Now I had not the requisite ONE, but TWO — count ’em baby — TWO varieties of cookies to take. And a container to take my cookies home in and the ornament that looked like a mechanic had wrapped it. And a hostess gift.
Right. I couldn’t carry it all. So I made it inside to the dining room table, pulled out my Tupperware, where I had stashed the ornament and hostess gift, noticed that BOTH of them had cat hair stuck through EVERY SINGLE piece of tape used to wrap them (and I use a LOT of tape) … tried to pull a couple of the more obvious hairs out and, of course, tumped over one of my platters of cookies. They didn’t fall to the floor; they shifted to the right and morphed from Crescent Sand Cookies that had each sucked away 50 freakin’ minutes of my life into a pile of crumbs and pecans and powdered sugar that looked like someone had just thrown up pecan pie on a white sand beach.
Then they gave me a piece of paper and a marker and told me that I had to put my name by my cookies. This is like making a kid stand next to the puddle all day when they pee on the floor in first grade.
As you can imagine, I was literally shaking by this time. I have to say that when someone asked if I’d like a glass of wine, I could have kissed her full on the mouth. Don’t worry, I didn’t.
Anyway, the party was fun and next year I might just invite my new friend from Onstar.