As I sauntered into the kitchen, with the idea of making a batch of Christmas cookies, I heard a humungous crash from the direction of the living room. I thought I also heard some soft scampering.
Hurrying into the living room, if you can call what I do these days hurrying, I noticed a couple of (luckily unbreakable) tree ornaments rolling across the floor. Oh, my…the partially-trimmed Christmas tree was lying on the floor in front of the window, along with the now-collapsed what-I-thought-was-a-sturdy tray table that it had been sitting on. No furries were in sight.
A little later, with some help from Mr. Petecat, the tree was back in its place, looking what I thought was a little bit lopsided, and waiting for me to put on the rest of the ornaments. I was glad for the decision made a few years ago when we had a little kitten in the house, to no longer use those lovely, shiny, very fragile glass balls.
Back in the kitchen, I gather what I will need to make some Easy-Peasy Christmas Cookies, and pre-heat the oven to 350⁰ in preparation for baking them.
Allen and Kiki have now followed me into the kitchen, where they are hoping for some treats. I don’t disappoint them. “I’m so glad you’re going to help me here,” I told them.
“You’re going to let us help stir things? Are we going to make some more of those treats with the toona?”
“I think you can help me best by just hanging around, maybe watching from your perch on the chair near the counter, and offering me suggestions. And no, today’s cookies are going to be for humans. After all, we still have some of the treats we made for you, and the poor humans in this house have no cookies at all.”
“But you could have some of ours,” they said.
“Yeah, I know that, but I think I would prefer to try a different flavor. Somehow, cookies made with fish don’t appeal to me so much.”
They were quiet for a few minutes. Then, from Allen, “Uh, Mom, something terrible just happened to Kiki and me.”
“Oh, my, what awful thing could have happened to you?” I asked (almost) innocently.
“Well, you know that big green monster that is sitting on that little table in the living room?”
“You mean the Christmas tree?”
“I guess. It has spiky things sticking out on it, probably to protect it from us getting to its parts.”
“Yeah, you know, those things that are all different colors that hang on it?”
“Those are called ornaments, Allen.”
“OK, Well, Kiki and I were checking out those ornaments, to make sure they wouldn’t jump out and hurt you or anything.”
“That was so nice of you.”
“Yes, of course, well while we were doing that, the big green thing attacked us!”
“Really! And then what happened?”
Kiki chimed in. “One of those spiky parts just missed getting my beautiful fur! And it threw the ornaments at us.”
“But we escaped and ran upstairs, but only after I almost slipped on one of those things that were rolling around on the floor. It was pretty scary!” Allen was looking earnestly at me.
“When we came back down here, we sneaked past it very quietly,” Kiki added, “and I batted at some of those things on the floor and chased them away!”
“I guess I am pretty lucky to have you two here to protect me,” I told them. “Why don’t you climb up on that chair beside the counter and keep protecting me while I am baking, just to make sure the monster doesn’t come in here after me.”
Allen’s eyes got big and round. “Do you think it might come in here? Really?”
“Well, you never know for sure. But I’m sure I’ll be safe with you and Kiki around.”
As I watched them settle down on the chair, and convinced myself they weren’t going to move on up onto the counter, I turned to the task at hand.
“Today we’re going to make Easy-Peasy Cake-Mix Cookies. I just set the oven to 350⁰ for these, and I’ve gathered up a big bowl, a mixing spoon, and a cookie sheet.
“There are only three main ingredients for these cookies – a box of cake mix, any flavor, 2 eggs, and ½ cup of oil. (The oil can be replaced by melted butter or margarine if you prefer.)
Kiki’s little mew pipes up. “Are you sure you don’t want me to get up there and help you? I could look in the bowl and make sure everything is going the way it is supposed to.”
“Well, thank you for the offer, but I think you need to just rest over there after your hard work protecting me from the green monster.” I reach into the round shelf unit for my sifter.
“I usually like to add a few extra ingredients, and there are many choices here. Today, I have chosen to use Spice Cake Mix, and add 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg. I find the mix easier to blend with the liquids if it is sifted first, so I have dug out my sifter. Dumping the cake mix into the sifter, I then add the spices, then sift it into that large bowl. (I have also used Lemon cake mix and added the spices and some fresh lemon zest. Since the zest will most likely clog up a sifter, I add it after the dry ingredients are already sifted into the bowl.)
I glance over and see that Allen is resting his head on his paws, looking very sleepy. Kiki sits beside him, still alert for a chance to jump over onto the counter. I reach over and pet their sweet little selves, then remind myself to wash my hands again before messing with the cookies.
“I’m going to add the eggs to the dry ingredients in the bowl,” I explain to the not-really-interested kitties. (If you make these, you might want to mix the eggs up a little in a small bowl first, although that is not necessary.) Add the oil, mix the wet things together a bit, and then stir it all together until everything is well mixed.”
Kiki has moved over to the cat tree and I can hear her playing with the little fur mousie that hangs from an elastic string. I smile at them both and continue with the cookie preparation.
“At this point, there are all kinds of choices of things to add to the dough if you choose to.”
“Like toona or chicken?” Allen, who has jumped down and is rubbing his head against my leg, looking up to offer his advice.
“I think that humans might prefer to eat their tuna or chicken in other kinds of ways. I am going to add a cup of dried cranberries and a cup of pecans to the cookie dough. Other possibilities are other kinds of nuts, coconut, chocolate or other-flavored candy chips, M&M’s, chopped peanut butter cups, dried fruits, or other things that I haven’t even thought of.
“Once everything is well mixed, the dough is ready to be separated into cookie balls. If you have a little scoop, it can be helpful here, but a spoon works, too. The size I use is about a tablespoonful, but you can also make them larger or a bit smaller. They will give more uniform results if you try to make them all around the same size. Some people like to roll them in sugar before placing them on the cookie pan. I decide not to do that this time.
“I’m going to place those balls of dough onto the cookie sheet, keeping them about 2 inches apart. Then I use a fork to flatten them just a bit. They will flatten more and spread while baking.”
Kiki is back, stretching up from the chair onto the counter. “I think Allen and I could help do that part.”
“Well, I certainly appreciate your offer,” I said, not wanting to hurt their feelings. “But since the recipe doesn’t call for fur from kitty paws, I think I should probably do it myself.”
I slide the pan of unbaked cookies onto the middle rack of the pre-heated oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. Different-sized cookies will take slightly different times to completely bake. I always check on the baking cookies after about 8 minutes and see if the edges are getting brown. If not, I add a couple more minutes to the time.”
The cookies look like they are done, and they smell yummy, reminding me of Christmas times in my childhood, when my mom spent many hours in our kitchen baking cookies for the holidays. I slide on my nice thick oven mitts, and remove the pan from the oven. I set it on the top of the stove, letting the baked cookies remain in the pan for a few minutes to cool, remembering that if I attempt to remove them from the pan too soon, they will be too tender and break up into pieces.
After a few minutes, using a thin pancake turner to slide under each cookie, I remove them all from the pan onto a cooling rack.
Since the dough makes too much for one cookie sheet to hold, I fill the pan again, pop it into the oven, and continue the process.
Kiki is wandering around on the counter. Luckily, I have just put the last pan of cookies into the oven and moved the bowl into the sink. “When are you going to be done making those boring cookies?” she asks.
Allen has disappeared. Hmmm…
“I’ll be done as soon as all the cookies are baked. Once each set of them has had a chance to cool, I am moving them into an air-tight container so there is space for the next ones on the cooling rack. I have a big cookie jar here, but they could also be put into a plastic zipper bag.”
Allen calls from the living room. “You mean you’re not going to pop one or two into your mouth to see if they are OK?”
I smile. Of course, I should do that. “Actually, that’s an excellent idea, Allen. I never would have thought of it.” I reach over and grab one of the still-warm goodies. “Yum. I think I need a glass of cold milk to have with some of these.”
I idly wonder if Allen is messing with the Christmas tree again. I will have to go and check in a few minutes. Hopefully I won’t hear any more crashes before I get in there.
“Before you leave the kitchen,” Kiki says, “Don’t you think it might be time for us to test a tuna cookie again?”
“That might be arranged.” I open the refrigerator and remove the now-almost-empty container of Toona Meringue Cookies for Cats that we made the other day. I put a couple of them in each of two dishes and Allen, who can smell the tuna from wherever he has been, and Kiki make swift moves to gobble them up.
And so we’ll end today’s part 2 of A Tale of Two Cookies. Perhaps if you’re now hungry for a few cookies to munch on, you might want to saunter into the kitchen and bake a few things for yourself and your little furry pooties. Hopefully you and your kitties will enjoy the cookies as much as we all enjoyed the ones I made for the critters in this house (both feline and human).
This is the fourth and last (at least for now) of our mouth-watering series of simple recipes. Here are the links for the first three in case you’re interested.
- Sweetness (graham cracker brownies and no-churn ice cream)
- Lunch (Bunstead sandwiches and soup)
- A Tale of Two Cookies, Part 1 (Toona Meringue Cookies for Cats)
We’ll be back next week.
Whatever you are celebrating (or not celebrating) this holiday season, we hope your days and nights are filled with joy and love, and that the new year coming will hold much peace and good will for all of us.
Thanks for being with us today, and we hope to see you soon.