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Baking week: The start of a holly jolly season


By Janet Storm

Sunday, December 2, 2018

By this time you read this column, baking week will have begun and I will be up to my elbows in flour, sugar butter and little dogs who are desperately hoping that something tasty will fall to the floor. 

Baking week has been my tradition for close to a decade. I take the first week of December to crank out cookies, then package and give them to friends and relatives. I also do my shopping and decorating during rest periods between bouts of frantic culinary creating.

When the tradition first started, my beloved dachshund Clifford was still alive and a part of me believes that if every week was baking week he would still be stubbornly clinging to existence. Clifford loved baking week with a white hot passion otherwise reserved for sleeping, barking and consuming bacon. That is a reason he was nicknamed “the Fat Man.”

Clifford used to sit in front of the oven waiting for cookies to emerge. Sometimes, when he felt they were not baking fast enough, he would bark at the oven door. I had to step over him to retrieve the baked goodies, and more than once he tried to trip me up so a warm cookie would tumble into his waiting mouth.

My current canines, Ollie and Einstein, are not quite as aggressive but they, too, adore baking week.

For one thing, I am home almost all the time, which means they can demand to go in and out of our townhouse at regular intervals. Einstein will sit by the back door and look at me expectantly while Ollie wanders between his brother and the kitchen. Since I will get no peace until their wishes are fulfilled, I let the boys out. A few minutes later, they will be on their hind legs, looking through the door and demanding to come back in.

This goes on all day.

Of course, the actual baking has its allure for the two troublemakers. When the scent of butter is in the air, Ollie is sure to be close by. And Einstein seems to crave baked cookies almost as much as Clifford once did. He has not mastered tripping me, but he will put his paw on my foot in an imploring way.

The truth is, I love baking week as much as the boys do. Besides the opportunity to stay close to the two cutest dogs in existence, it gives me an opportunity to think of my mother, who was a wonderful baker, and to swap recipes and tips with my sister Cathy, who is a great baker in her own right.

There is no happier place for me than the kitchen when my stand mixer is whirling, a batch of cookies is baking and another batch is being frosted. Packing the holiday boxes is a labor of love and the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. Sometimes I even make the boys wear their holiday sweaters while I put on some Christmas music.

Not everyone has the luxury of a baking week, but here’s hoping that this same sort of seasonal cheer infects us all this year. This world could use a little holly jolly, and whether it comes from baking cookies, wrapping gifts, decorating a tree, spinning a dreidel, sharing times with family or any other tradition, may your days be merry and bright.

Now excuse me. I have to retrieve a tray of cookies — and let the boys outside.

Contact Janet Storm at jstorn@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.