Flocked white Christmas Tree with red tartan and plaids, Cardinal Love

christmas in september

In ALL, ENTERTAINING, HOLIDAYS by Stephanie Klein31 Comments

So I was all ready to get my bake on when I realized my mini muffin silicones had gone awry.  Don’t read too much into that.  There I was, on a stool, in my hallway of a kitchen, searching for the non-stick cups when I realized, in a moment, my God!  I have a roasting pan!  I used to have a life where I’d actually come home and roast things.  Bulbs, Roots, Roasts, and Chickens.  Oh my!  Could the muffin trays be tucked behind the roasting pan lid?  They were not.

I was forced to hit the department store of wedded bliss, Bed Bath and Beyond.  You walk into that store, and you become acutely aware of your marital status.  That place might just be newlywed nirvana, but they were without the incomparable silpat baking liners or, more importantly, my much needed silicone mini muffin trays. To satiate my single needs, I settled on one metal non-stick tray and left to get my bake on… in September.  Who the hell bakes with their air conditioner on?

The TV Food Network was coming to film my annual cookie swap the next morning.  We needed to bundle in festive winter clothing and swap cookies.  I do this every year, in December, not in 90 degree weather.  It’s a chance, really, to be lazy and walk away sugared up.  You arrive with one type of cookie, say white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies, and you leave with almost as many cookies, but now you have myriad cookies in your tins.  My friends were phoned and ready to deliver the home baked goods.  The Network filmed and interviewed us for 6 hours, making us reenact awkward hellos and introductions.  During my interview, I was pressured for a catch phrase for the cookie swap hostess.  I drew worse than a blank; I drew an IM handle.  RedDiva2OOO is all I could think.  No!  What are you doing!!!  Here’s what came out: “Cookie Diva.”  No!  What the hell is that?  I meant “Cookie Monstress,”  but Diva came out.  I couldn’t think; there was too much sugar.  Now I want to toss my cookies.

Truth: I hate to bake.  They HAVE to be kidding me with the “2 cups minus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour.”  Are you kidding?  Anything that precise guarantees my failure.  I’m more of a, “in the spirit” kind of cook.  Globs, a little of this, blob of that. I don’t measure when I cook, but baking seems like an exact science.  Reactions happen in there.  Yeast, baking powder (puff), baking soda (spread).  This leveled approach to food creation is not for me.  I do the cookie swap each year so we can eat cookies, decorate tins and boxes, and watch our favorite holiday movies.  I don’t do it for the baking and precision of things.  I do it for the hot toddies, “sit on Santa’s lap” jokes, and to surround myself with my holiday “slaps.”

(I believe the show will air on Thanksgiving day… update to follow when I know for certain).


  1. a friend of mine hosts a holiday cookie exchange every year. this year I think I'll call her Cookie Monstress. maybe even get her an apron or something with that on it…

  2. Dearest Cookie Monstress,

    First off…when is the show airing? Oh how I dream of Tyler Florence coming to my tiny studio (apartment) to hose out the fires of my desire. Uh, I mean my Food 911.

    I'm a roasting and braising gal myself…but baking does offer some serious zen time. Nothing like putting on a little Dinah Washington and sifting flour. The measuring, the folding and the gorgeous smells that develop in my humble abode. You can't beat it.

    Sends some cookies to Boston, please.

  3. Why has EVERYONE asked you when the show is airing? She says: THANKSGIVING, UPDATE TO FOLLOW. Those silicone pan things MUST be carcinogenic. But they're fun. And that's all that counts.

  4. I was the rididulous person who brought no-bake brownies to an office function. People freaked on me. "NO BAKE. OH MY GOD. " I hate to bake too. But I love the smell so much that I'll bake apples with cinnamon just to get that bakey smell in my apartment… in Los Angeles… 72 degrees year round.

  5. Anyone remember FREIHOFER'S chocolate chip cookies? I used to inhale them as soon as someone I knew came back from a trip upstate New York. They still around?

  6. Friends, stories, laughing, drinking. The swap sounds like so much fun! Do calories count when you are sharing like that?

  7. Robbie Rob, I had to comment back to you, I'm from Albany, home of Freihofers. Yes they're still around and you can even get them at the Freihofer's outlet (hell yeah there's an outlet-within walking distance to my house I might add).

    Is it bad to want cookies at 9:30am?

  8. Kool about the show on Food TV. I like Tyler and Emeril. Fall is coming and I'm really getting in the kitchen mood again. I like to cook better than bake but you just have to have some breads and cookies. As far as silicone bake ware, I only have bread pans, and I don't like them. Seems the walls don't hold up to the weight of the batter and it spreads in the middle. Think I'll make an Italian pot roast this weekend!

  9. 1-Don't worry about the exactness of the recipe and ingredients. That doesn't mean you can accidently put in two cups of flour instead of one, but no one really cares that the cookie is only 98% as good as last year.

    2-Someone mentioned baking cinnamon and apples for the smell. That was actually mentioned in an article as something to do when selling your house. It makes the house feel more like a home.

    3-I like Cookie Diva(s) much more than Cookie Monstress. Not even close.

  10. I bake with my air-conditioner on as well. Even in the winter. I like cool air. And I like following instructions like that. I like knowing how much of something to put in, rather than just a "dash" or a "sprinkle"… Mostly because I have very little kitchen experience and I like my hand held when I'm there.

  11. You know, I'm so busy that the luxury of baking is relegated to nearly never. But when I get home, I put a pan of water, cinnamon stick, basil leaf, cloves and nutmeg on the back burner – and in no time, it smells like love.

  12. Now if only you could snag a private cooking lesson with Tyler Florence. I want details :)

  13. They filmed us in HD. My pores, as Phil later pointed out over the phone, were enormous. Cavernous. With any luck I, my spelunkable pores and my wiseacre mouth will end up on the cutting room floor.

  14. I've been a little concerned about the same thing, Derek. Though, genuinely. Whereas, I'm pretty sure you're just making fun. :P

  15. Hey guys,

    Stephanie: the show will air the week of December 15th. I'll send an e-mail to let you know when exactly.

    Thanks again for putting on the masquerade.

  16. I didn't know that it was hot this time of year in New York. (I'm in California and it was pretty cold.) If I did have the TV Food Network, it would be interesting to watch that cookie swap. This post offered a tiny glimpse into the "behind-the-scenes" of filming something for the Food Network… at least it did for me.

  17. Let me tell you about cookie hell. I have a wife that is has trouble digesting buttercream. What's her favorite sweet? Why of course it's buttercream. So when Christmas cookie season is upon us, I have to sleep on the couch because my bedroom is reminiscent of a WWI mustard gas attack. If it weren't so damn cute, it be really annoying.

  18. (a) bake naked when its hot – as long as no grease is involved and (b) invite men that know how to bake extraordinarily (like ME), and you and Fish can dress in Santa suits, pour the vodka and tell the jokes. That's fair.

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