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Cookie Time

I’m a cookie slave.

I know, I know. Lots of people bake cookies at Christmas. However, not like me. I really AM a cookie slave – my daughter won’t let me stop! You see, I am helping her to make gifts for the people on her list. Well. . . “people” is not the exact word. I helping her make cookies for the ANIMALS on her list.  


We began with birdseed cookies. (Amazing what recipes you can find on the internet.) You make these with stuff like whole-wheat flour, sugar, shortening, baking soda and a cup of wild birdseed. Refrigerate for 4 hours, then you roll out the sticky mess and cut out shapes (we made stars), brush with egg whites and press more seeds to the outer cookie – then bake. You must put a hole in the cookie, of course, to hang the treat from a tree with ribbon. They came out so nice, we actually sent a few to my sister (another bird lover) as Neva’s gift. We looked for a nice Christmassy evergreen to decorate, but alas, they’ve all been cut away from around this house and Neva didn’t want to pick a tree just anywhere on our land. She wanted to watch the birds enjoy the gift from her window, so we ended up decorating a big, dead-looking, stickish tree instead. It isn’t pretty like a normal Christmas tree, but Neva believes the birds won’t mind. I certainly agree.

We garnished our Charlie Brown tree with strings of popcorn and cranberries, and bagels covered in peanut butter and rolled in birdseed (looks like little wreaths. Cute). I threw day old bread at the base of the tree too. The dogs ate the bread and even jumped up to snag a birdseed cookie (jealous fools – not like they can possibly like this stuff, and they had their own treats in the works.)


Next, we made dog cookies. Did you know they have about a zillion recipes for dog treats on the internet? I stopped browsing after I downloaded fifteen.  Neva picked the recipe she thought sounded dog-yummy and we began. Dog cookies have whole wheat flour, sugar, shortening and other normal cookie ingredients, (Some have peanut butter or cheese or garlic, which dogs love and, unlike people, it’s good for their breath) but in our recipe, you add meat flavored baby food. I threw in the drippings from last night’s pork roast – just because that sounded mutt-tasty. We rolled out this interesting concoction and Neva cut out shapes. She was making cookies for my sister-in-law’s dogs, two very fat, very spoiled, very obnoxious dashounds that are treated like surrogate children. Neva adores them. I stared at that recipe, wondering if I could possibly make it low-fat (I’m queen of adjusting recipes to cut fat and calories) but alas, it didn’t seem possible. I just don’t have dog-cooking down pat the way I do people-cooking. So, I encouraged her to cut out very small stars and teddy bear shapes for the little fatties. For our huge dogs, we went with large snowmen, Santa and Christmas tree cutters.


I never give food to a friend without testing it out first – at least, not when it’s a new recipe, so I snuck outside and gave one to our dogs. They went wild, like it was the best thing they’ve ever tasted. I gave a little treat to my daughter’s new puppy (her Christmas present from her boyfriend – uh oh) and it went crazy too. I am on to something here. For one thing, baking for the dogs is pretty easy and it will save me a fortune in store-bought treats. For another, I know these treats are filled with natural, good things and not preservatives or scary left-over meat products they wouldn’t give a human – eyeballs, or lungs and bones etc.. Yep, I’m a born-again puppy chef now, out to convert others to follow my lead to feed dogs healthfully and humanely.


Finally, I turned to Neva and insisted I make some people cookies. Not people shaped cookies for bears or anything. I mean cookies for people to eat. We had arrangements for a cookie decorating party at the house that night. Cookie decorating is a very serious business in this family. People have been known to spend an hour a cookie, hidden behind am arm – a covert operation to maintain design secrets, don’t ya know. Denver and her boyfriend, Dianne, and my mother in law were invited to this highly competitive event. Neva and I made about 5 dozen plain sugar cookies in every shape (I happen to have a laundry basket filled to the top with cookie cutters. I am not exaggerating – another gift item people like to give me. I have cutters for Halloween, Easter, in fact, every holiday, and then all kinds of non-holiday ones too.)  I pulled out my grossly massive collection of Martha Stewart cookie decorating sugars, pearls and eatable do-dads. Then I made a lasagna, nourishment for the troops, you see.


I was on keen alert all day, certain that someone would swing by the kitchen (knowing we were making Christmas cookies this day) and see a dog cookie or a birdseed cookie and think, “gee, that looks interesting” and pop one into their mouth. Not that there is anything foul in the animal treats, but I’d hate to ruin my cooking reputation because someone snagged a cookie laden with seeds or meat products. It did happen, but it was only as a joke. I was almost sorry about that. Would have given me a big laugh to see Mark munching on a horse treat, commenting that it had a funky texture for a Christmas cookie.   Ah well.


Today, I am scheduled to make horse cookies. I found about ten recipes for these as well. Horse cookies are made in huge batches. Well, that makes sense, since horses are huge. They are filled with things like whole wheat flour, bulgier wheat, bran, molasses, brown sugar, carrot shavings etc… These don’t get made into shapes, just dropped in clumps onto the cookie sheet to be baked. Since horse treats are also expensive and we have so many large animals, I am rather on-board for this project. Today, Neva and I are going riding. I am sure we will begin passing our Christmas horse treats around to our four-legged buddies. I bet the llama will like them too, he is getting so tame he trusts most of what I offer. The donkey will eat anything, although he is partial to M&M’s.


I am about to wrap up the Christmas cooking, other than five or six desserts to go with my pastry wrapped beef tenderloin and fixings I’m making for Christmas dinner. 

I’ve already completed several batches of my famous, incredible fudge. It has a hard texture, but melts in your mouth in this amazing way. Takes about three hours to make a small batch, and you must be on your toes, because one wrong move and it doesn’t set right, but it’s worth the effort. None of that gooey, easy, marshmallow cream sort of slacker-fudge for me. I got yelled at for making it (as always). It’s addictive. But when people are admonishing me for ruining their diet, I don’t listen – especially since they are nagging with their mouth full.


Now, I just have to make some snowballs, a delicate cookie covered in powered sugar that is filled with butter and pecans. Georgia is the pecan state, so I have the ingredients for this one covered. It is my favorite, so I make it last. Less time for me to ruin my own diet that way.


Perhaps I’ll make these cookies today. Then I can retire my role as cookie slave and just watch my loved ones partake. The only work left will be sweeping crumbs. That isn’t as crummy a job as it sounds. With a bit of Christmas music in the background, the most mundane tasks seem festive.


And as I write this, my cat just crawled into my lap… Cat? Oh yea. I have two. Damn. Can you make cookies with fish?

About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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