It’s Not All Mary Poppins

When is a cookie not a cookie?

I’ve lost my salt dough recipe! Fortunately, I have a computer and I have Mr. Google. In .0006 seconds, I have 47 gazillion salt dough recipes. They are all the same:

4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 1/4 cups hot tap water
(2 t oil, optional)

We count range around the big metal bowl on the kitchen floor. “One!……Twooooo…… threeee…. fooooour!”

“We makin’ cookies, Mary?”

“No, we’re making dough. We will make pretty things for your Christmas tree with the dough.”

Then the salt. I hold up the pyrex container and the box of salt. “We need one cup of salt, guys. I’m going to pour up to this line. You tell me to stop when it’s up to the line, okay?” I pour, and pour, and stop.

“It’s not up to the line, Mary! You needa keep goin’!”

Except I can’t. One-third a cup is all that’s in the box. Nuts.

“Why are you puttin’ the flour away?”
“Isn’t we going to make cookies?”

“Yes, we are. No, not cookies, but yes. I just don’t need so much flour any more. We need exactly one-third as much as we needed before.”

“Okay!” Their famous contrariness notwithstanding, toddlers take a lot of adult inexplicability without any hesitation whatsoever. We’re making cookies but not? Mary needs a one-third of before? Okay, then, Mary! You go!

In goes one-third the flour, one-third the salt. We take turns stirring the powders. Emily swooshes the spoon gently side to side, Timmy dabs cautiously at the bottom of the bowl, Anna stirs the wooden spoon in tiny circles, Nigel (it was inevitable) manages to flip a spoon of flour and salt skyward. Malli, contrary Malli, holds the spoon upright and completely still for 90 seconds, staring at the rest of us, daring us to argue.

We don’t. Which ticks her right off, so that when I say, “My turn, Malli!”, she attempts to hang on to the spoon. Her immovable force meets my irresistable object. “It’s my turn, Malli. You can give me the spoon, or I can take it, but it is my turn now.” I’m calm but resolute. This is not a negotiating ploy; it is fact. She considers for a second, then hands it over. If reason and fairness don’t succeed, and succeed promptly, and I must take the spoon from her, I’m perfectly willing to do so. She knows this.

I reward her with a warm smile. “Thank you, hon.” And with a little extra responsibility. “Would you like to pour the water in?” She does.

The resultant ball of dough is much smaller than normal. Two-thirds smaller, in fact. A little kneading, it’s nice and glossy. Grouped round the dining table, they watch me roll it out. Then we hand out the cookie cutters.

“We going to cut out the cookies, now?”

“We going to cut shapes from the dough. But these aren’t cookies, lovie. They are going to be for your Christmas tree.”

So we cut shapes, using cookie cutters. And we put the shapes on a cookie tray. But they are not cookies!

Then I incise a hole where the ribbon will go by pressing the end of a straw into the dough and lifting it out. The end of the straw is sealed witha plug of dough, but that’s easily remedied. Pfft! A salt-dough plug bounces on the table in front of Timmy. Anna and Timmy screech with laughter. After that, each plug is eagerly anticipated. My pea-shooting days were long behind me, but this is fun. I bounce them off each child in turn, much to their delight. Timmy carefully gathers up each tiny bit of dough.

Anna tries to eat one. “Anna, don’t eat that. It tastes yukky.”

“It’s a cookie!”

“No, love, it’s not a cookie.” It’s dough, we rolled it out, we cut it with cookie cutters, we put it on a cookie sheet, and now we’re putting them in the over, but THEY’RE NOT COOKIES. ??? Yes, adults are truly inexplicable.

Anna looks at the tiny piece of dough in her hand, then gives me a suspicious glare. Yeah, right, lady. Another glance at the dough, and then – pop! – into her mouth it goes.

Her eyes squinch, her chin draws back, and she erupts in a spray of saliva and slimy salt dough.

“Those cookies is yukky!”

“That’s because they’re not cookies, love. I did warn you.”

She glares at me, scrubbing her tongue on her sleeve. Warned her, forsooth! Like that’s any excuse.

They are now cooling on the stove. After nap, we will paint them. Because they are not cookies. At all.

December 6, 2007 Posted by | Christmas, crafts, food, Malli, power struggle | 6 Comments