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Featured community question with accompanying wacky antics

Today’s featured question from the community comes from user aslapintheface:

Which is the perfect segue into what happened over the weekend, starting on Friday afternoon when Jon announced that I would be making gingerbread cookies with Leta the following day, didn’t I know? Hadn’t I heard? Because that’s all she talked about on the ride home from school: gonna bake homemade gingerbread cookies with Mom! HUH? WHAAA? I would have been less surprised if she had said, “I cannot wait until Daddy teaches me about tampons!”

Don’t know if I have ever talked about it here, but I don’t cook or bake or whatever it is you do in the kitchen. I mean, I can boil water, and occasionally I can manage to pull a bag of popcorn out of the microwave without it being attached to three-foot flames, but other than that Jon does all the cooking. In return I do all the, well, the… I can’t really talk about what I do in return because this is a family-friendly website read every morning by my father. So let’s just say that my husband is well compensated.

So who put it in my child’s brain that I could ever bake a cookie? One that you don’t take out of a package and put directly into your mouth? Hello Oreos! The whole snack aisle at the grocery store exists so that you don’t ever have to use an oven, am I right? No? You like to cook? That’s awesome! I’ve got a huge kitchen you can use, and at least three times a day I like to eat. COME OVER.

But who’s not up for a challenge?! At least, that’s what the two cups of coffee told me Saturday morning, and after putting Marlo down for a nap I headed out to gather all the ingredients we’d need for a recipe I found online. And UUGHHHH: THE BAKING AISLE. Do you know how hard I try to avoid that Dark Corridor of Horror whenever I go grocery shopping? All those tiny bottles of spices and powder and self-rising… whatever it is that self-rises. Jesus? Didn’t he self-rise? Is that blasphemous? I’M SORRY. FORGIVE ME, THE GROUND CORIANDER MADE ME DO IT.

And oh my God, I guess I wasn’t paying attention, but do you have any idea how much a bottle of spice goes for these days? Like, TWELVE DOLLARS. TWELVE. DOLLARS. Why go through all the trouble of making meth in your basement when you could be out peddling nutmeg? Are kids snorting cinnamon these days? Because some cinnamon drug lord in Sri Lanka is making A KILLING.

So. All ingredients assembled:

Doesn’t look like that much, right? I am not even joking, it took me two hours to locate all this stuff in that aisle, and even then I almost got baking soda mixed up with baking powder, AND WHAT A FOOL I WOULD HAVE BEEN THEN.

Marlo is all, fool? THAT DOESN’T EVEN COME CLOSE.

And then the first step calls for sifting together the flour and the spices, and I was all sifting? You mean just throwing them in there all together? And Jon, The Cooker, goes, Heather, please tell me you know what sifting means. And I was all, Jon, I graduated valedictorian in high school. CUT ME SOME SLACK. But as a matter of fact, no, I have never sifted anything, that wasn’t on my final English exam.

Turns out we don’t have a sifter (THAT IS AN ACTUAL OBJECT, A SIFTER), so we improvised:

Also, I guess a tablespoon and a teaspoon are very different things. And so I had to apologize to everyone involved for sticking my hands into that mix to dig out the whole tablespoon of ground cloves I had so casually tossed into the bowl, STOP SHAKING YOUR HEAD, JON.

Or as Leta would say, IT’S NOT FUNNY!

And would you look at Leta? The saddest little helper in the world. You know she’s thinking, dude, this sucks. And I’m all, I KNOW.

Although, grinding pepper is a total fucking party:

And then BUTTER BUTTER BUTTER!

And a half a cup of molasses. Which I suggest you keep very far away from your hair. Don’t ask me how I know, ask the scissors I used to CUT IT OUT.

Also, I think I may have put an egg in there. I don’t remember, I was busy cutting molasses out of my hair.

And then the fun part, or I guess it was fun, if pouring sifted flour into a bowl is your idea of fun. My idea looks more like a huge shot of tequila on the beach, someone rubbing my feet, maybe Johnny Depp brushing my hair.

So then we mixed all that stuff for a bit, and then we got to the part in the recipe where it says “let dough chill overnight.” And I’m all WHAAAA? And Jon goes, HEATHER, did you not read the recipe first? And I was all, why would I read it all the way through? Wouldn’t that spoil the ending? Seriously, shouldn’t that have been at the top of the recipe, or couldn’t they have given me a warning? HEY STUPID! THIS RECIPE TAKES TWO DAYS.

Instead we just chilled the dough in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. And during those two hours we searched for a rolling pin that we did not own. Oops. Hello, cylindrical glass vase. God, I am good at this.

So I’ll just let the pictures tell the rest of the story…

At least until this part:

SPRINKLES! Not very different than SHINGLES! Except maybe a little less painful. And get this. GET THIS. Turns out that this whole “baking with mom” thing was just a gateway to the SPRINKLES! That’s all she wanted to do. She wanted to sprinkle some SPRINKLES! Because she did not eat the cookies, oh no. Not a bite. Why would she? They are not French fries or chicken nuggets.

Had I known about the SPRINKLES! part I would have just thrown down a bowl and gone, GO TO TOWN KID! Shake that bottle! SPRINKLE THE SHIT OUT OF IT.

So now we have a dozen uneaten gingerbread cookies sitting in a container on our countertop. I may or may not have sneaked a bite to Marlo.

  • mjameson

    Beyond fabulous. I just snorted iced tea through my nose. (Which, considering the fact that it is below zero outside, is not much fun.)

    Is Marlo eating food now? How does she like it?

  • causticwookie

    So cute! I really like the photo-essay format.

  • Shuddrbug

    OMG you are the funniest writer E V E R. I love your stuff. I love the pictures of your children. I read your posts and think I am actually there watching it happen. The cookies looked great. My daughter was ALWAYS about the sprinkles! Merry Christmas!

  • josephine

    LOL – i LOVE the pictures that go along with you stories. Cutest kids ever, and though I do love to bake, I, too, am awful at reading all the way through the recipe before I start. 🙂

  • Alexandra

    This is how often I cook – it took me TWO MONTHS to realize that the silverware drawer in my household changed after we got new roommates.

    Two months without using a single fork from my house.

  • Tricia

    Stop it. All that effort for just a dozen cookies? I won’t go near my mixer for fewer than four dozen. Too much work!

    Also, what is Leta now, sixteen? Look at that first picture of her!

  • kth201

    Ha! I remember the first time I tried to bake something and got to the “sift” line in the instructions. That was years ago, I still don’t own a sifter, and I’ve always found that “mix with fork” does just about the same thing.

    Some of us just aren’t meant to be bakers.

  • LifesBeenGood

    So I’m with you… sorta… I DO NOT BAKE. NOT ANYTHING. NOT EVER. I will cook you anything you like… but I WILL NOT BAKE. That’s what bakeries are for. If I cannot find it in a bakery, I DO NOT NEED IT!

    And I’m with Leta on not eating the ginger bread cookies… YUCKO! I’ll pick the frosting and sprinkles off though and eat them!

  • butidigress

    Someone else who reads recipes like I do!

    For what it’s worth, a wine bottle also works as a rolling pin. I may have found that out the hard way…

  • SarahHoff

    Fantastic story! I was so hoping that we would get to hear the whole story after I saw the pics on twitter (not that I’m cyber-stalking dooce or anything, I’m just sayin’!). Marlo and Leta are adorable!!! Love Marlo’s smile, it’s very contagious! Thanks for the great story, I sooo needed that today!!!

  • amberdawn07

    “Although, grinding pepper is a total fucking party”

    This sentence along w/ picture has to be the best thing I’ve seen/read all day. And please explain this sifting term you keep using. I read it in recipes, but I figure it’s some fancy schmancy word they use to weed out non-bakers like myself. I, myself, just dash/sprinkle/pour and keep on going.

  • Sarah C

    Ahhh this was a fun post. Keep up with the story-in-pictures theme! And great job on the cookies!

  • kacyd

    Kudos to you for actually baking the cookies. Tonight I am planning on making a gingerbread house with my kids (from a kit). My son, who is as picky as Leta I think, said he wants to take a bite of the gingerbread cookies included in the kit….shocking.

  • sarafem

    I’m telling myself that your “cylindrical glass vase” is really part of a bong, because that makes this even funnier.

    Also, it is EXTREMELY sweet that you baked cookies with your little munchkin despite her ambush and your loathing of all things kitchen-y.

  • Cornelia

    Thanks heather for the laugh today! I’m suffering through pregnancy fatigue at the moment, I needed a good laugh. And for the record I don’t cook either. Husband does all the cooking.

  • adrienne…

    The kids aren’t snorting the cinnamon so much as… Well, you can look at the cinnamon challenge videos on YouTube yourself. Funny stuff.

    warning, there are some swears 🙂

  • lisa_j

    i’m totally throwing a pepper grinding fucking party this weekend. thanks for the idea.

  • Gardenfreak89

    I cannot get over how much Marlo looks like Leta… what beautiful kids you have… Looks like you had a good time baking so I look forward to seeing more posts of you and your daughters making MORE things for us to drool over!

  • ehaggie

    Thats the beauty of the premade refrigerator dough. Seriously, all the kids want to do is the sprinkles and a galon of frosting…so kick ’em outside and let em sprinkle away

  • EliBailey

    SEND THE COOKIES TO ME, I will eat them! I was already hungry when I started reading this; now I’m REALLY hungry.

    I don’t cook either. Or bake, unless I have to. I did make brownies for my husband’s birthday from a mix, but I think he wished I hadn’t. He does all the cooking, thank God. If it was up to me we’d be eating frozen pizza every night.

  • WebSavyMom

    –>I told my husband recently when I asked why I don’t bake (like his Mom!).
    My reply:

    “I don’t bake; I blog.”

  • Celestia

    Gingerbread cookies are the best! I never sift stuff or chill over night either and they turn out fine. I sometimes doen’t even ice them and eat them plain.

    You’ve made a lovely memory for Leta, WTG mom!

  • Penelope

    As usual, thanks for the laugh!! I actually want to go bake with my kiddo now. Crazy enough 🙂

  • jennandrob

    Sprinkle the shit outta it..that made me laugh.

    I also baked gingerbread cookies this past weekend, casually forgetting to see how much flour was in one batch after I had already decided to double it.
    Yeah, 4 cups, one batch.
    8 cups, two batchs.
    All in one mixer…I had to keep both hands on each side of the bowl as it slowly mixed the batter and ever so often pushing the dough back into the bowl as it oozed out.
    On the bright side, when I got home last night, my cookies I so lovingly placed in a ziploc bag had magically fallen to the floor.
    Huh, I said to myself…I don’t remember placing those on the floor. So I pick up the bag and put it back on the kitchen counter when all-of-a-sudden I notice little tiny holes all over the bag and one giant hole at the bottom where the chimney and front door of my gingerbread house was GONE.

    That turd Walter ate my cookies…oh well. I’ll just slather extra icing on those and give as gifts. 🙂

  • lifewithkids

    Either you have really hairy arms or it looks like Jon did most of the baking…lol, and for curiosities sake, did the recipe really ask for ground pepper? Hehehe

  • Robyn L

    Marlo is looking more and more like Don Knotts everyday!! So cute!

    And Leta looks like such a big girl now. Time flies!

  • JetLime

    Bloody hilarious! Good job though, very pretty biscuits! I might try baking myself. I looked at a muffin baking thingybob today but then I lost courage. See, my problem is that my mum is such a great cook, especially when it comes to cakes that I never had to learn. And in the past many years living alone I made the effort to learn to cook but baking is luxury. You need to have kids for it. And since having kids is a bit of a luxury as well I might just stick to oreos….

  • anwoodward

    I’m with Leta here, who eats gingerbread men for the gingerbread? It’s all about the sprinkles and the frosting. Also, you’ll see a great many online cooks use a wine bottle in a pinch when their roller is AWOL.

    This was a lovely thing to do with her and I’m sure she’ll remember it. (ps, I was the same way about cooking, then I had my second kid and my brain was all, GET THEE TO THE KITCHEN, WOMAN, AND LEARN. Maybe if you get another dog….?)

  • William

    Yes, Sprinkles. We use sprinkles for pancakes, oatmeal and other breakfasty things just to get the kids to eat breakfast.

  • Marie_Lynn

    I buy all my spices at the dollar store because i refuse to spend that much on something i may use once a year lol. :)730

  • Persephonic

    I rarely bake, but I spent like 3-4 hours making a batch of 50 from-scratch oatmeal cookies for my new boyfriend about two months ago (I had definitely never made cookies from scratch). We were going to eat them while tailgating wit 20 friends at a UNC football game. I used something like “stone ground” instead of flakey oats, but needless to say that although the cookies were tasty, they were very FIBEROUS and could definitely act as a digestive brillo pad. Anyways, because it took FOREVER to “lovingly” craft these cookies from scratch, I got to his place late and we missed tailgating and had to go straight to the game. We ate a few each, then left the rest covered in cloth in the basket I’d brought them in on the counter in the kitchen.
    That evening, as we got home we got a text from his roomate; “What was in the baket?” We enter the kitchen to find that my boyfriend’s annoying roomate’s dog had eaten about 45 heavy-as-hell stone ground homemade oatmeal cookies, the empty basket still lying on it’s side on the floor.
    My bf mainly laughed and felt bad that the dog had eaten them because the dog isn’t allowed to eat people food… I could tell that he DEFINITELY DIDN’T APPRECIATED the time and effort that went into those damn cookies. Apparently his roomate had to CARRY his dog outside the next day to poop oatmeal rocks becaues she was so sick she couldn’t walk. I felt bad for her… but boys are so stupid.
    Oh, I also just found the from-scratch key-lime pie I made for him 2 months ago in the freezer yesterday… looking like a science experiment. Come to think of it I am never baking for that guy again.

  • caramama

    Awesome. Looks like, ahem, fun.

    I personally LOVE to bake, but it’s not always so easy with a 2 year old. This weekend I just wanted cookies, so I bought the ready-made dough in a tube, sliced it up and let my 2 year old sprinkle the shit out of them with red and green! Voila: Christmas cookies made by the 2 year old.

  • mrsbrady

    There’s not a single thing wrong with using a whisk or a fork to sift dry ingredients. I do it every time, and I bake probably 3 or 4 times a week, more if I’m in the mood to make my own bread.

    Baking with kids can be such a….challenge. Good for you for keeping your patience!

  • mandi

    Both of your children have such incredibly expressive faces … they are just TOO cute.

  • Cojo

    Leta is a beautiful girl but there’s something about Marlo that makes me melt when I see her picture. Seeing her makes me sad that my baby days are over.

  • aslapintheface

    … and a good time was had by all … whether they knew it or not … Leta will remember that you baked cookies with her and in the long run it doesn’t matter how many sprinkles you used or the fact that you didn’t let the dough sit overnight … it wouldnt have even mattered if the cookies tasted like the bottom of a coal miner’s boot … what matters is that you took the time to make cookies with your daughter … and she will remember it … and someday she will do the same for her daughter

  • KatherinetheGreat

    So I @’d you on Twitter that sifting is overrated, and I’ve never blown up my kitchen, and then I thought, I don’t know what she’s making, what if I’m wrong? And then you posted a photo on Flickr and I felt better. But in that meantime I was poised to make a batch of cookies and send them in the mail with a big I’M SORRY letter. (I still am.) Anyway, I’m glad it worked out! (Last night I switched the baking powder and soda but the cookies still highly edible. Maybe I should stop baking my the seat of pants. Or alternatively, eat more cookies…)

  • roxyjane

    Hahaha…just a word of advice, if you should ever cook again, if possible go to the farmer’s market for spices. At least in Atlanta, at Dekalb Farmer’s market you can get twice as much spices for literally like a dollar or even less sometimes.

    Thanks for always being entertaining!

  • agablack

    So KEWL! I was a total Heather until about 2 years ago. I thought pastries, ravioli, spinakopitas, etc were made in science labs by nuclear scientists precisely. Then I met Jason, my other half, and I was like YEAH, I WANNA COOK FOR YOU! HOW ABOUT A SALAD? And it went from there. Now I started my own business as a Personal Chef, plus I have a food blog. Go figure. 🙂

  • XOXO

    Good Lord, woman!
    I hate gingerbread cookies.
    I mean, I LOVE them, but making them is… less than pleasant.

    Here’s to you being a better mother than I.

    My child gets the Nestle pre-cut crap from the refrigerated section.

    Cheers!

  • thatswhatisaid

    Apparently you can get stoned on nutmeg!! My friend’s son was doing nutmeg (a tablespoon at a time is like smoking a joint… so I’ve heard), and so she had to lock her spice cabinet!!

    Congrats on the baking! I have no patience for baking, and that’s why God gave me the grocery store.

    Cheers!

  • kcbelles

    What a fun post! You are hilarious, which is why I keep coming back. I personally just got into baking the past year, but I find I have a knack for it and it’s been a lot of fun. My mother didn’t bake; therefore, I didn’t bake (until I was 49; never too late, eh?) You’re making some wonderful memories for Leta, even if all she’ll remember is the sprinkling part :o)

  • i8cupcakes

    You don’t need to own a sifter. A whisk will always work just fine.

  • My Baby Sweetness

    Definitely go for the pre-made cookie dough! She hadn’t told Jon she was going to make cookies “from scratch” with you, had she?

    Sounds like you actually produced usable cookies, which is better than my friend did last year. They bought a box of cookie dough rather than ‘break and bake’ (for when even spooning the dough out is too much) and managed to mangle the recipe enough that they threw the cookies out by attempting to melt the butter AFTER they mixed it in…

  • laurencrider

    I myself am a baker…but am also a blonde, which creates problems. I’ve been known to add 4 cups of flour instead of 3, because I loose count when Oprah comes back on. I can relate.

    But, I’ve learned that a bottle of Chardonnay wrapped in saran wrap or a 40 oz. of Mad Dog 20/20 (I’ve heard) also work exceeding well as stand-ins for a rolling pin. For future reference, of course. Because Marlo will want to do the same thing in about 4.5 years, and you’ll need to work with what you have on hand.

  • Failjolesfail

    The good news is that those are approximately the right substitutions when you don’t have the right equipment. I, for example, don’t have a sifter or cookie cutters because my kitchen is smaller than the bathroom on the space shuttle. And I only got a rolling pin last year…it lives tucked inside my bundt pan.

    Might want to try sugar cookies next time…fewer ingredients, harder to screw up, more taste friendly to kids, and you get to the sprinkles faster!

  • simpliSAHM

    Yeah, I’m not Betty Crocker either, but I will say I’m getting slightly better! I had a fun little kitchen experiment otherwise known as: Adventures in Natural Cupcakes that tells a similar story.

  • kristanhoffman

    Oh Heather…

    I was SO with you. SO SO SO with you. I thought, OMG YAY Heather is like me! I can’t cook to save my life — no, literally — so my boyfriend does it instead. We are kindred spirits, yaaaaaaaay!

    But then you said: “I almost got baking soda mixed up with baking powder.”

    And I started to cry.

    Because once upon a time, I DID NOT KNOW BAKING SODA AND BAKING POWDER WERE DIFFERENT. Who the heck would name two such similar seeming substances, such similar sounding things? WHO!? Someone who wants me to make the shittiest cookies ever, that’s who. Because that’s exactly what happened. My cookies sucked. And my friends still make fun of me for it to this day.

    :'(

  • Ralemap

    This is freaking awesome! Heather, you rock the (gingerbread) house!!

  • Nhiro

    I’ll cook you anything you want if you let me play around with your Kitchenaid stand mixer. Seriously, I’ve wanted one for forever.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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