|After swapping cookies, store the rewards properly
Most years, I attend at least one cookie swap and I'm always surprised by the lovely displays and assortments. Depending on how many people are in attendance, there might be over a dozen different cookies – rarely are there two of the same kind. That's what's so much fun about cookies; everyone has their favorites, which might be family and/or cultural traditional cookies or new varieties that have been added to the repertoire. I vary what I bring over the years, but my contributions have included Viennese Crescents, Chocolate Crinkles, Pecan Butterballs, Ginger Coins, and Eggnog Cookies. One of the recipes in my book – for Italian Wine Cookies – I first tried at a cookie swap about seven years ago. It's fun to hear the bakers describe their treats and the heritage of the recipes.
All this deliciousness…. BUT there's one problem. As everyone piles the take-home treats into large tins or boxes, I cringe knowing this breaks one of the cardinal rules of cookie storage! One container doesn't fit all. For cookies to taste as good as when they were freshly baked, they should be stored in containers based on their flavors and textures. My advice to cookie swappers is that you either bring a few containers to the party or as soon as you get home, separate the crunchies from the softies, the mild-flavored buttery rounds from the spicy and chocolaty treats, and the moist-chewy bars from the crisp wafers. Pack them in separate airtight containers. This way, the cookies will keep better and taste like they're supposed to. It makes for much better eating.
The Thanksgiving turkey is cooked, the leftovers enjoyed and gone, so you know what that means...... it's time to bake cookies!
Try to reserve a few hours here and there for baking – it's satisfying in so many ways. You get to use your hands and give your mind a rest. (I find that the concentration it takes is enough to distract me from petty concerns.) The wonderful aromas of sweet spices, chocolate, vanilla, and toasted nuts fill the kitchen. And after the work, delicious treats emerge from the oven.
If you end up baking more cookies than you and your family can (reasonably) enjoy, fill up a few tins or small gift boxes to give to neighbors, your community senior center, or workplace. Send a care package to someone far away. (See the chapter on "Giving Cookies" for packaging and mailing tips.) It's wonderful how something as simple as cookies can brighten anyone's day!
Be happy, bake cookies!