Often times in school we’re forced to take all sorts of surveys- about bullying, drug and alcohol abuse, learning habits, course preferences, and whatever else the American school system would like to throw at us. Now, I have no idea where the results of these surveys go (we’re never told exactly what the surveys are for, only that we have to take them very seriously, you hear?), but they’re often rather thought-provoking, like those personality quizzes that all of us have been guilty of taking “for fun,” or out of sheer boredom, perhaps at one of our less glorious moments. As if we need a computerized quiz to tell us who we are.
One question I always remember is the ubiquitous “what do you do for fun,” also found in the similar form “what do you do when you’re stressed?”
I’d write a different answer every time I came across one of those questions. As a young child enthralled by the wonder of books, I’d write “reading” (sadly, now I have little time for pleasure reading, let alone school-required reading). I went through a phase where I’d do a few loops of the neighborhood on my bike, as though I was “letting off steam” like the adults I’d hear about who go to gyms (magical adult jungle-gyms, to a child of eight), then later on convinced myself that I absolutely loved swimming and that it was my escape from stress (the rhythmic stroke-stroke-stroke-breathe is rather soothing at times). If I was feeling fanciful, I’d say I played the piano to relax, but I’m really not nearly that refined and dedicated. And when I went along with the expected teenager’s attitude, I’d write “watching TV”, because really, who doesn’t find vegetating while replacing all worries with plot lines, drama, or witty banter wonderfully therapeutic?
When I read Elissa of 17 and Baking‘s enthusiasm for baking and the wholesome peace she finds in the kitchen, I wondered if baking might do the same for me. I love baking, but I’ve always feared that part of the reason I like it is that people think it’s “cute”. The time came to test my fears the week after midyear exams, when I was simply too worn out and frazzled to do any more studying or homework. I took the afternoon “off” from schoolwork, and made these delicious and easy 2-bite (or 3-bite if you’re really savoring it) Gingersnap Cookies.
(adapted from 17 and Baking)
Makes 5 dozen 2″ cookies
I brought these in for my AP US History class, and I think everyone liked them! Always a great confidence-booster. My history teacher took a whiff and declared it “Christmas in a cookie”. They really do smell great :)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses (I used dark brown sugar with a little water)
2/3 cup canola oil (or 3/4 cup butter, creamed with the sugar first)
1 large egg
Sugar for rolling (I used raw sugar= bigger crystals)
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, molasses, canola oil, and egg until smooth. Mix the flour mixture into the brown mixture, stirring until dough comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop up bits of dough by the heaping teaspoonful (I used a melon baller) and roll into small balls between your palms, about 1 inch in diameter. Roll the balls in sugar, flattening them a little, and place on the baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake 8 minutes for soft cookies– if you like them with crispier edges but a still-soft center, go for 9 or 10 minutes.
Like most cookies, these get firmer as they cool. Leave on the baking sheet several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.