Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm going to Berlin. With Tanya.

All right. We're gonna start with some back story here, so this will be more easily understood.

Two years ago, at our school auction, one of my friends donated a plate of Christmas goodies, to be made and delivered during the holidays. Oh boy. I was all over that! Homemade Christmas goodies that I didn't have to bake? Yes, please!

They were fantastic. There were about 7 or 8 different things on this platter, but we all fell in love with a little half-pretzel almondy kind of cookie.

I asked for the recipe.

Wouldn't you know, it's a family secret. I can completely understand this. Matt has lots of those. Correction - other than the ones I've posted on the blog, Matt still has a few of those :) Anyway, much like all the times we've had discipline problems with our boys (I know more than once Verna has wished upon Matt a boy just like him), Matt's non-recipe-sharing chickens were coming home to roost.

I can find it, I thought. And that year, I made several attempts (some pretty good ones) at a copy-cat. Almond pretzels. Almond shortbread. Twisted sugar cookies. None of them were the same.

Well, the very next year, my friend again donated goodies to the auction - a WHOLE plate of the good ones - no messing around with variety :)

But, I lost. In a last-minute snipe that I couldn't out-maneuver, I was outbid. Oh, the tragedy. But, my friend Tanya comes to my rescue. She says - if you will match her bid, I'll double the donation and make two plates. Wow. I couldn't refuse.

And so, come the middle of December, we had a whole plate of the heavenly little cookies all to ourselves.

Imagine my chagrin when, this year, the auction booklet held no such donation. I had imagined, after the double-duty of the year before, that Tanya was less than enthusiastic about the project for this year. I will admit now that I seriously underestimated her. More on that later.

But, I had a plan. Whether intentional or not, Tanya had listed the precious cookies BY NAME in last year's catalog. Google, you are my friend. I searched and searched. Everything I came up with had hard-boiled egg yolks in it. No way.

So, I break down and ask Tanya. Hard boiled egg yolks? Really? She nods the affirmative, all the while telling me that she was already making me a plate of them (because she is so nice) and would I just hold my horses and stop ruining all the surprises. See, told ya I underestimated her,.

So, Sunday after church we are invited to Tanya's house on the way home. Matt, suspecting what was coming, had to stop at Safeway for some batteries first. He came out of Safeway with a candy surprise for each boy, and told them they could have the candy if they didn't ask for ANYTHING else on the way home. Colton readily agrees. Chance is skeptical. But, after being assured we were headed straight home after a quick swing-by of Tanya's house, Chance agreed too. Silly kids.

We leave Tanya's house with the cutest snowman plate filled to the brim with melt-in-your-mouth fantastic little twists. This is what we've waited all year for. The boys immediately staged a protest. And I almost just as immediately gave in. By the time everyone had one or two (ish), the plate had a significant dent.

With my internet research at my back, I am determined to begin my quest again. Tanya's cookies are dwindling quickly, and I know I'll have precious little time to make sure we can still support our cookie habit in the manner to which we've become accustomed.

I hard boiled the eggs. I mixed the butter. Added flour. Brushed with egg white. Etc. Etc. Etc.

To no avail.

I made glorified sugar cookies that fell apart when I took them off the pan. At least, the ones I didn't burn fell apart.

But, I learned something. Or thing(s) as it were.

These European bakers must really like their people. Cause these cookies are no easy task. The hard-boiling. The mixing. The chilling. The measuring. The rolling. The shaping. For a gal that's used to breaking out the scissors to cut the seal on a tub of Otis Spunkmeyers, this is serious stuff!

As I was making them, I could think of very few people I liked well enough to give these away to.

It's like when I'm at card class with Deb. And my little brain is calculating the actual cost (and time investment) of each hand-made card by the time I get all the embellishments and stuff on them. It's HARD to give them away!

So, I'm figuring Tanya must really like me a whole bunch. I can't imagine why, but she must. Either that or I'm completely underestimating her again and she's just a MUCH nicer person than I am. Yeah, you're right - probably the latter. Because I would NOT make these silly cookies for just anyone. I am so appreciative of her effort - admittedly much more today than I was a week ago. Phew!

Which brings me full circle. I'm headed to Berlin. Because the lady who posted on All falsely advertised these as an "easy Norwegian holiday treat". Me and this gal are gonna talk about what constitutes as "easy". Maybe she's never tried Otis.

Thank you, Tanya. With all my heart. I cannot imagine the work that went into two BIG plates of these last year, all because I wasn't quick enough to win the auction. I would've sent me packing down the road - and never made them again. You are a sweetheart!
PS - I'm gonna keep trying. I'll let you know when I get close :)


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

I do love your writing. Hard boiled eggs? You're sure about that? Hmmmmmm.....

I can't wait to hear more.

Anonymous said...

Those things are as similar to Tanyas cookies as I am to Tom Cruise. Two legs, two arms and a head and that's it! The shape was the same (ish) it had a sweet crust, and they were white (except the burnt ones) but that's it!

Thanks Tanya, don't worry your secret is very very safe from my kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Heather!!!! I'm in tears. That is the nicest letter I've ever read. You truly are a nice person!!!! I am blessed to know you and to be able to call you my friend. You are also an amazing writer. I am very touched. You will probably find the right recipe (but secretly I hope you don't because then I wouldn't be able to make them for you anymore). :) Consider it pure joy.


Darla said...

Well, I know how I rate.. I've never got to taste one of Tanya's
scrumptious pretzle twisty cookies...

And Heather, don't try passing off one of the replica's *lol*