In fact, I have baked exactly one type of cake in my entire adult life. Luckily for people on the receiving end of that vegan chocolate cake, it is really, really delicious (thanks Mom!!). And no, I am not remotely vegan, but that cake is seriously good.
I realized last night, as I was baking batch after batch of gingerbread and shortbread cookies with my friend Julia (AKA the beautiful, hippie, redheaded Martha Stewart), that I have never really baked cookies before. That is, unless you count the times I helped my mother as a kid (15+ years ago). Or, if you count those slice-and-bake package things. So, yeah. I've never made cookies before.
I wish I had a picture of the super sexy Kitchenaid mixer that Julia has - she just got married, which means that now she and her husband have some seriously top of the line kitchen appliances. So I have to give that mixer a significant amount of credit. Otherwise, I might still be trying to mash up and blend in all those sticks of butter... Julia also had the tiniest, most adorable little cookie cutters. And we all know that cute cookies taste better.
Even though Julia had already prepped half the dough before I arrived, making all those cookies took awhile. Rolling dough, I discovered, takes a surprisingly long amount of time. By the end of the night, we had made about six trays of gingerbread cookies, three trays of regular shortbread, and a tray or two of cinnamon shortbread, which were my definite favorite.
It felt important to me to be baking last night, too - today is actually the second anniversary of my grandmother's death. My grandmother was always a memorable woman, but her baking was famous. I still dream about the stacks of butter cookies that she brought with her every time she came to visit. I guarantee, you do not know how good those cookies were. Me calling them "butter cookies" does not remotely do those little, beautiful cookies any kind of justice. They looked like miniature works of art and tasted like heaven - as buttery and creamy as they were light and fragrant against your tongue. I can still smell and taste those cookies in my memories, even though I haven't eaten them in years. Memories are amazing that way... So many things fall away, but others remain so sharp that you can still feel them in all your senses decades later. My grandmother's cookies are one of those memories.
So I like to think that my grandmother was proud of me last night while I was rolling out dough. Maybe one year I will try to make one of her famous recipes.... But for now, shortbread and gingerbread are a pretty good start.