COOKING ADVENTURE # 19: Sea-Creature Sugar Cookies
COOKING CO-OP #1
Sometimes, it’s not just about the actual cooking in one of these adventures. In rare circumstances with me, that part goes absolutely fine, albiet with a couple mishaps here and there. But with this special Cooking Adventure, not only was it about baking, it was also about decorating and transporting these delectable cookies to another location. And in the process of transporting them, I came across so many different obstacles. I’m not kidding. It almost sounds too ridiculous to be true. But alas, it happened. Perhaps if my cooking co-op partner and I hadn’t created one of the cookies in the likeness of H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder God, Cthulhu, we’d have been better off.
It was a week ago that I got the brilliant idea to do a Cooking Adventure Co-op with my friend, Celena. We decided that we would make sugar cookies for our boss who is leaving this week to pursue fishing fun in the sun in Florida. And, they couldn’t just be plain ole sugar cookies. They needed to have a theme, particularly a marine theme. So we decided to make fish-shaped sugar cookies which soon became sea creature cookies.
We had decided to spend Saturday evening after work doing this as well as decorating them. However, complications arose when we found out our boss’s going away party was going to happen at the same time. So we needed a new plan. Under the pretense that I would be picking up Celena in order to drive her to the party, we met at my apartment and concocted our cookies!
This was a relatively easy sugar cookie mix. It was a boxed mix which needed to be mixed with an egg and one softened stick of butter. It took very little time to mix together. Soon enough, we were ready to begin forming our fish shapes. The only problem was neither one of us had a fish-shaped cookie cutter. This meant only one thing; we’d have to shape all of the cookies by hand.
While Celena’s cookies actually came out looking rather fish-like, mine were just blobs of dough. I’m pretty sure that the reason hers turned out better than mine is because she remembered that the cookies are flat… so create them with the expectation that they are going to spread out. I wasn’t thinking. One of my creations was a shark with a fin sticking up into the air in the middle of its body. By the time this cookie was baked, it was a blob with a brown tinged dollop in the center just barely sticking up.
Eventually, as we made these we got bored of making just fish shapes and resorted to other marine life. Among these was a sea turtle, which when baked, resembled more of a manta ray, a sea cucumber, and a sea urchin. We filled one baking sheet and realized we still had a ton of dough left. I yanked the giant stoneware baking pan out of the cupboard and we made a few more sea urchins. Then, I got a brilliant idea. We would make one giant cookie in the shape of a jellyfish. So with a large hunk of dough in my hand, I pressed out the head of the jellyfish and we both made tentacles to accompany it. Then the two pans went in the oven at 375 for 10 minutes.
Boy, how heat changes things. The cookies flattened out until they barely resembled their earlier shapes. The jellyfish, most of all, expanded to become something much closer to an octopus. Or, if you’re a fan of horror novels, it looked like this.
At this point, we were nearly an hour late for the party, so we left it that I would decorate the cookies, and then deliver them to our work the next day.
The next day, I happened to wake up with a massive headache. At around eleven, I pulled the cookies out of the oven (I’d left them inside so that my cat wouldn’t try to eat them during the night). I’d left the red and blue frosting tubes on the counter the night before and was unsurprised to find that the red one was now missing. I glanced at my cat and he pretended to ignore me. I searched under the stove, the chairs, the tables, and my desk. You want to know where I found it? Under the cat’s bed. Nice job not incriminating yourself, Lemon Jelly.
I took the cookies and the icing in the living room along with a container of vanilla frosting and proceeded to decorate the cookies while watching a program about the first road trip across America. (Thank you, Ken Burns!) I twisted off the top to the blue icing and realized I had to break the seal. I took a tack and poked a practically microscopic hole in it. Then, after smothering the vanilla frosting across all of the cookies, I proceeded to try and squeeze the living daylights out of the blue icing tube. Well, I got sick of this very quickly. I took a pair of scissors and snipped the tip. I ended up using the majority of the icing on the Cthulhu cookie and still had three that were colorless when the icing was gone. I resorted to the green food coloring that I’ve had absolutely no use for since I bought it. I let a few drops fall on each cookie and took a toothpick through them to create different shapes.
Finally, the cookies were ready for transport. I put four in a cookie tin and left the others on a baking sheet. But what of the Great Cthulhu? That one wouldn’t fit on the pan or in a cookie tin. I had to transport it on its own plate. This proved to be the stupidest idea in the history of food transportation ideas. I placed the plate on the floor of the passenger side of the car, considering that to be the flattest place for it. I laid out some tissues under it, just in case and then, took off.
I’d barely made it a minute from my house when I encountered the first obstacle. The route to my work is fraught with left hand turns. It was on the first of these that Cthulhu decided to slide off the plate, two of his tentacles cracked in the process. I pulled off the road and tried to reach down to put them back on the plate. This was when my shoulder went out. It felt as though dozens of matches were being pressed into the muscle at the base of my neck. I finished getting the cookie back on the plate and pulled back on the road, with a new ache to accompany my already prevalent headache.
I drove down the road in a straight line for some time with no issues. Then I came to the only right hand turn, expecting it to be the easiest point of the trip. It would have been… if some lady hadn’t pulled to a stop directly in the middle of the intersection to block my way. She was rearranging her potted plants in her trunk. I swerved out and around her in an attempt to clear her. Cthulhu slid again and the two cracked tentacles broke off fully. Amidst a host of colorful insults, I reached down and picked up the plate. I set it in the passenger seat. I stuffed a hat under one side and this weird seal stuffed toy that has been in my car for the last year under the other to even it out. Then I took the tissues and tried to line the edges of the plate on the right and left to prevent any more sliding.
I resumed my way, now going approximately 30 mph. Good thing I had no one behind me. However, the cookie still slid, not right or left, but toward me, the tentacles yet again sliding from the plate. I accidentally flipped one upside down and it smeared the frosting.
Let’s just say that by the time I finally made it to my work, I was ready for a beer, some ice on my shoulder, and a nap. But the Cthulhu cookie was met with much joy and appreciation. And in special occasions like this, the work and the crazy transportation that went into this adventure was well worth it.
Next week on Cooking Adventures, I’ll be making the Japanese dish, Gyoza! Stay tuned!