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.
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