A funny thing happened on the way to my in-laws. I’d actually just come from their house, which is minutes away from ours, and I’d popped back home to grab something we’d forgotten, when I remembered I had a batch of cookies to make.
Brian’s brother and his family were in town, and so we were doing the requisite family togetherness pizza night thing, and the mood was – as they like to say in poor novels – rich with tension, so I didn’t at all mind having to ditch the party momentarily.
When I arrived home and saw “Pure Dessert” propped open on my stovetop, and magic flour dust from that morning still settled on the counters, I glanced sideways at the clock and wondered if I could put my dough together in fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes to read and carry out a recipe I hadn’t made before. Fifteen minutes to whisk together the buckwheat and all-purpose flours, to just-to-smoothness cream the butter and sugar and vanilla, to briefly knead and mound the dough and shape it into a log, wrap the accomplishment and stick it – almost toss it – in the fridge, where it had to rest overnight to prepare for slicing.
So was this an avoidance tactic or what, my temporary deferment of the inevitable, this backdoor expression of mental anxiety? I know baking provides good and proper therapy, but it seems a little much to dodge encounters with well-meaning family by holing oneself up with one’s kitchen friends. There’s got to be a psychological term for that one.
Just that morning I’d taken full advantage of the glut of ready lemons rolling around in the bin to make Alice Medrich’s suck-your-cheeks-in lemon bars for a social thing. Only the yield was too small, and my lack of eggs prompted me to set my heart on making her Nibby Buckwheat Cookies instead, a recipe I’ve had in reserve for a while (and which has been blogged to death about already, but trust me, it’s deserving).
Brian called right as I was finishing up and I fumbled tellingly with the phone buttons, snippets of dough on yet unwashed fingers. Maybe I do need a diagnosis, but somehow making that dough, even if I had to hop madly around the kitchen to do it, bolstered me for an evening of the three brothers and their parents rehashing stale childhood caper stories/bachelor party hijinks/news of long-ago neighbors. It wasn’t the delivery pizza or family fun that brought a sly smile to my face that night; it was knowing I had a confidential batch of cookie dough, waiting for baking.