The Cookies

Annie's Cookies

An assortment of some of the cookies I make, from left to right starting at the top: iced sugar cookies and gingerbread, old fashioned brown sugar, peanut butter, chewy chocolate gingerbread, chewy brown sugar, snickerdoodles, vanilla and chocolate with cherry, “cake batter” sprinkle chocolate chip, un-iced sugar cookies, and more iced sugar cookies (a crowd favorite).

One day when I was young, maybe in 4th or 5th grade, I went home with one of my girlfriends after school. This wasn’t unusual even though it was a school night; we probably had some sort of class assignment to work on. We had our notebooks and such spread out on the kitchen table when her mom came in and started baking cookies. Her neighbor, she explained, deserved a thank you of some kind (or a get well or welcome home or what have you), and my friend’s mom, who for the purposes of this blog we shall dub Helda, was going to walk them over.

These, it is important to note, were cookies from scratch. Now my mom always made cookies from scratch – she taught me all she knew and passed on a delightful level of cookie snobbery I’m not even a tad ashamed of – but most of my friends’ moms made Cheater Cookies from a roll or whatever, if even that. I secretly liked Cheater Cookies, but everyone knows homemade are way better. Helda was making homemade cookies from scratch.

As my friend and I continued our homework, Helda whipped up a top-notch batch of chocolate chip cookies. The whir of a hand-mixer cut through the kitchen like the machinery at a carnival. The scent of beaten butter fragranced the air stirring from the preheating oven. Stray chocolate chips scattered on the counter top like confetti. My nostrils flared. My mouth watered. My appetite grew. It would be the prefect, absolute perfect after school snack. I could already imagine the cold milk chaser.

Now, for whatever reason, Helda was in a hurry that day. I would say “I can’t imagine why,” but if you knew how many times I’ve made cookies in a rush you might think there was something wrong with me. (You might be right.) Anyway, she spooned out two cookie sheets’ worth and popped them in the oven.

“Do you girls want some of this batter?”

What? Surely you can imagine my eyes lighting up. Not only did my friend have a cookies-from-scratch mom like my own, she had the rare and elusive non-paranoid mom who actually let you lick the spoon! Talk about a score. A little appetizer for my upcoming snack.

Of course we both nodded and she put the bowl between us with two clean spoons. I instantly picked mine up, dipping into the soft brown dough.

“Take what you want,” she said, “because I’ll just throw the rest out.”

My hand froze, the spoon embedded. “What?” Surely I had heard her wrong. There was still at least another tray full of cookies in there. Maybe more.

“Well our neighbor lives by herself. She can’t eat that many cookies.”

But what about us? I wanted to scream. What about your family? What about the cookie jar? There were people starving in China, weren’t there? She couldn’t just “throw the rest out.”

But I was a child then, and you didn’t question your friends’ moms on such topics. I couldn’t even taste the cookie dough – not knowing the fate of the rest of it. I watched in horror as she stacked two dozen fresh cookies in a container and scooped the extra dough right into the trash can. She cheerily left to deliver her gift.

Of course I’m an adult now, so looking back I can make up many a reason for this behavior. Maybe she was on a diet and didn’t need the temptation hanging around the house. Maybe she simply didn’t have time to scoop out the last dozen or two cookies. Maybe her refrigerator was broken. Maybe… but I guess I’ll never know. The bottom line is that sometimes you can’t understand why people do what they do. You can’t control other people’s actions. You just have to accept the truth.

Sometimes your friend’s mom is the devil.

I know that was a terrifying story, so let me ease your minds a bit. It does have a happy ending, in a way. I grew up to be a from-scratch cookie maker, as my own from-scratch mom taught me to be, and the trauma I went through that day made me a better baker.

I never, ever throw away extra dough. It doesn’t matter if I have to refrigerate it and make it later. It doesn’t matter if I have to squeeze in an extra row on the baking sheet. It doesn’t matter if I have to get out an entirely new baking sheet just for three measly little cookies. I will never, ever throw away perfectly good dough. In my kitchen I bake by one simple rule:

No cookie left behind.

As it should be.

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  • Regina Richards

    No cookie left behind. Love it! Thanks for a terrific story.

  • Peggy

    OMG, I’m going to have nightmares! What kind of beast (I mean mama) would do such a
    thing to two little girls? However, as you mentioned, you soared far above the
    trauma inflicted on your innocent little self and are known far and wide as one
    of the great cookie makers:) And, I might add, a darn good writer…

    • I know!! It was an excellent primer for overcoming trauma. 😉 And thank you!

  • Melissa Crytzer Fry

    Another way in which we’re alike, Annie! You probably recall the various cookie posts I’ve written (mostly during holiday baking time). I can SO empathize with the trauma of watching that cookie dough go into the trash bin. WHAT THE???? 😉 And I also didn’t even KNOW people made (as we called it) “fake cookies” for the longest time, as a child. A friend introduced me to the plastic tube variety when I was in fourth grade, I think, and I was astounded. To this day, if any portion of a baked product that comes from my kitchen isn’t from scratch, I feel like I’m “cheating.” Ha ha. Though I confess to using pre-made Oreo pie crusts to wrap around an easy cheesecake.

    • I do remember your cookie love! It’s too bad we live so far away; we could have some awesome cookie-baking parties. That’s funny that you didn’t know about cheater cookies for so long. Probably a good thing! I occasionally use the pre-made shortcuts too, especially for pie crust (just because I don’t care about crust and often don’t even eat it). If I ever do, though, I feel absolutely compelled to tell anyone eating it that I cheated. A guilt disclaimer, haha!

  • Cynthia Robertson

    No cookie left behind. HA! (How bizarre that she threw the extra out.)
    What a fun read, Annie. 🙂

  • Liz Beaty

    Great story! I even have special scrapers so I never waste a smidgen of dough!

    • Thank you, Liz! I’ll have to look into those special scrapers; I’ve always just used spoons and/or a rubber spatula. Sounds like a great invention!

      • Peggy

        And that advice is coming from one of the legendary cake bakers and the lady who bakes the greatest apple pie I’ve EVER tasted:)

      • Peggy

        Oh, I forgot – she also bakes a mighty nice cookie:)

  • Carie Juettner

    A) This is adorable.
    B) You have the right to be traumatized by Helda’s actions. What a witch!
    C) Speaking of witches, there is an embarrassing lack of Halloween-themed cookies in your collage. You’d best remedy that.

    • Haha, thanks Carie! Of course I do Halloween sugar cookies too, but I didn’t have a very good picture of them. (I’ve only gotten into the habit of taking cookie pictures in the past year or so.) I do have this one, which was taken before they were arranged all cutely:

      • Carie Juettner

        I love it! I also have pumpkin and witch cookie cutters, but no owls or spiders. (The spiders are awesome!) I have to say that my favorite though is the little black manx cat in the front. It is really difficult to keep those tails on when baking, isn’t it? I often end up with manxes (manxi?) too.

        • Haha, it does look like he lost his tail, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure that cookie cutter is actually shaped like that, though. The spider legs are the real pain to keep on, but the cookies turn out so cute it’s worth the hassle. 🙂

          • Carie Juettner

            Oh! Well, my apologies to the manx.

          • *laughing*

      • OMG! Those are adorable! Your house must smell great during holidays. Yummm…

  • She is the cookie devil!! And obviously can’t cut a recipe to save her life otherwise she wouldn’t have had to throw out batter. Who does that? I’ve never known anyone who threw anything they made out. You find a way to squish a little more stuffing in those chicken breasts or get a bigger dish for that overflowing casserole. Inefficiency and waste should be a sin — like one of those big 7 Deadly Sins. I’m writing a letter and demanding a longer deadly sin list … just as soon as I figure out who’s in charge of sins.

    • Bahaha! That’s the spirit, Lexa! Let me know if you find them, because I’d like to have a word about this whole “gluttony” thing while we’re at it. 😉

  • That was a terrifying story! 😉 I honestly gasped when you said there was a least a full tray’s worth left. GASPED. (for real) NO COOKIE LEFT BEHIND! I bet she was on a diet. Only explanation. That or the devil theory.

    • Haha! When my mom read this she was sure “Helda” was on a diet. I don’t see how that’s an excuse, though! Cookie dough is perfectly freezable…

      • Peggy

        “Helda” was one of those women who obsess about dieting in a very unhealthy way. She talked about it all the time. That most certainly DOES NOT excuse her insensitive behavior. She actually was a very loving & involved mom, but I hope she didn’t pass that obsession on to her daughter:(

  • A. B. Davis

    Awesome. I smiled the whole way through. And dammit, now I want a cookie, Annie. I’ll take all the gingerbread, because usually no one wants those anyway (no cookie left behind and all), and maybe a few of the iced. If there are any left. I know how most people usually gravitate to the pretty colors. 😉

    • Thankya! I’m fond of the gingerbread myself, but you’re right about people going for the colorful ones. I have a secret weapon, though: iced gingerbread. I’ve never seen anyone else do that but me and my mom, but they’re delicious that way!

      • A. B. Davis

        Oh my God. Just stop! Stop! And then I got on my computer to reply to your reply and saw and even bigger picture of these cookies than on my phone lol

  • jclementwall

    I LOVE this post. I’m still laughing. This: “Sometimes your friend’s mom is the devil” killed me. I spit coffee… and it was totally worth it.

    I am a from-scratch cookie maker too. When I got married, I knew how to make two things really well. Chocolate chip cookies, and teriyaki chicken (which is unfortunate since I’m now vegetarian). Pretty sure Chad got married for the cookies.

    • Yes! Coffee-spitting was my goal. (Just kidding; I would never willingly waste coffee.) Hehe, I’m glad it got a laugh out of you, j! Lol, the chicken/vegetarian bit is unfortunate. It reminds me of Everybody Loves Raymond, when Ray falls in love with Debra because of her lemon chicken, and it turns out that’s the only thing she makes well. But at least you didn’t swear off cookies. 🙂

  • Russell Linton

    Horror at its best 🙂

  • Traci Kenworth

    I wish I could still make my from-scratch-cookies but I’m diabetic and there just a sugar high waiting to happen. Even if you use Splenda. Sigh. They never taste the same. I just satisfy myself with all the cookies I ate once upon a time. Memories are happy.

    • Aw, that’s sad. I’m sorry, Traci! At least you have fond cookie memories to look back on. =/

  • Traci Kenworth

    Yes, I have the memories. But if anything, they make things easier, because at least I never tasted cookies at all. 🙂

  • Julia Munroe Martin

    This made me laugh so hard. “Sometimes your friend’s mom is the devil.” Yes, that would have occurred to me in the circumstance — and my mom did NOT make cookies from scratch. I do however, and I would never ever throw leftovers away. No cookie left behind, as it should be. Truer words have rarely been spoken. Loved this so much!

  • Jackie Cangro

    No cookie left behind! I’ll second that. Actually I’d say, “No crumb left behind.” 🙂
    I’d have to admit that I’ve even eaten the batter straight off the spoon.

    I’m particularly fond of the snickerdoodles.

    • No crumb left behind! I love it! Snickerdoodles are one of my favorites, too, and I’m shameless about eating cookie dough! 🙂

  • Katy

    Oh my gosh, as soon as I was done reading this, my mom called from work and I answered with, “Mom, can we bake cookies?” Her immediate response was, “Are you on crack? Getting the munchies?” Haha!

    • Lol! Your mom sounds like a hoot. 🙂 I hope you got to make cookies!

      • Katy

        No, not that day! I did, however, get to bake brownies the next day! 🙂