I’ve had exactly two pregnancy-related freak-outs in the last 16 weeks.
The first came shortly after Thanksgiving. Freshly home from work and dying for pickles, my cliched craving of choice, I plunked down next to my husband. “I really want some of my baby pickles, but there’s a crumb in the jar,” I said slowly, then promptly burst into tears.
Big, fat, rolling-down-the-cheeks tears.
“Are you okay?” Spencer looked over suddenly, clearly alarmed. “Are you crying? Over pickles?”
“YES,” I screamed, also laughing at my known ridiculousness. The laughing/crying combination is a familiar one; I’ve come to know this strange twist of double-crossed emotions quite well.
Logically, I realize that crying over a crumb in a pickle jar is beyond silly . . . but that knowledge doesn’t stop the waterworks. Just picturing my beloved pickles with an errant bread crumb floating in the jar — thereby contaminating them, of course — was enough to send me into hysterics.
I. am. a. mess.
Once Spencer stopped laughing (kindly, of course), he went into the kitchen to fish out some “clean” pickles and returned with a bowl for me. I couldn’t stop crying long enough to eat them, moved again at his willingness to eliminate the offending bread crumb for the sake of my sanity.
In the weeks since the Pickle Incident, I’ve tried to maintain a grip on decorum. I’m going to blame hormones. My emotional responses are weird — and sometimes inappropriate. Most commonly-overheard phrase at my house? “I don’t know why I’m crying.”
And usually, I don’t.
Last weekend was to be a time of desserts and revelry. It’s Christmas! A time of joy and laughter! I attend a cookie exchange at my aunt’s house every holiday — and foolishly decided to try new recipes this year. I made plans to bake at my parents’ house with my mom, who was concocting gumdrop cookie bars, and had my ingredients ready. Get the flour and let’s roll.
Because I needed to have eight dozen (!) cookies to share on Sunday night, I decided to make four dozen of two types. About halfway into making the dough for the brown butter snickerdoodles, I realized this was going to be far more time-consuming than I’d planned.
And stressful. Can’t forget stressful.
My other variety of cookie — a rocky road-type treat with marshmallows, pecans and chocolate chips — was a recipe shared by a friend, clipped from a long-ago magazine. While the dough came together faster, the results ended up being . . . well, explosive. Literally.
Where did it all go wrong, friends? Honestly, I’m not sure. I thought I’d followed the directions closely for both recipes, but we all know that cookie-baking is a science. Where we can fudge along a bit with cakes and cupcakes, pies and trifles, cookies? Unforgiving. They don’t care if you’re tired and pregnant and nervous and stressed, you know? Cookies don’t care.
Thirty seconds can be the difference between delectable and bottom-of-a-kettle burnt.
I’m always on the wrong side of that line, it seems.
Five hours after we started, I pulled the last of the cookies from the oven. While my snickerdoodles were not photogenic, I nibbled on one and found the flavors solid.
But those rocky roads? Oh, dear.
When I say they exploded, I literally mean the marshmallows self-destructed and sent a gooey, crispy mess all over the cookie sheet (and each other). They baked at the recommended temperature for the correct amount of time — in fact, I actually pulled them early when I got wise to what was happening — but, you know . . . disaster.
“Look at this. Look!” I yelled to my husband and sister, both standing nearby with naked fear in their eyes. “I mean, this one has a HOLE IN IT.”
Katie stepped closer, peered down and gave me a sympathetic look. “It does,” she conceded.
“How does that even HAPPEN? HOW?”
Spencer grimaced. “It’s okay. I’m sure . . . they taste good,” he added limply, pushing the overcooked dough with a finger.
Unwilling to be consoled, I began to cry and gnash my teeth and froth at the mouth in a way that made the Pickle Incident look like a stroll through the park on a sunny day. After hours of cookie preparation, my results were pitiful. The rocky roads looked like freshly-destroyed cookie roadkill.
If the cookies had been for us, you know, I would have been disappointed — but ultimately gotten over the horror. But these were cookies for gifts at a holiday exchange with nice women who clearly knew what they were doing . . . and me? I’m just a cookie imposter.
An angry, emotional cookie imposter.
But you know what?
They did taste good.
Next year, new tradition: we’re lobbying for a wine and cheese social. Desserts are for the birds.