The other day my mother said something to me that I have never heard her say in all of my 40 odd years; “Your father is busy watching the game.” Um, who is that man in front of the World Series and what have you done with my father?
Some background. I do not come from sporty kin. My parents, sister and I do not play any sports or root for any teams. Growing up there were no pre-Thanksgiving touch football games and no post-Thanksgiving Pro-football viewing. This situation left my very athletic brother in the unfortunate position of watching Wide World of Sports in the kitchen while my mother made dinner. So what’s up with Dad?
The funny thing is that when approached by his son about his new baseball viewing habit he acted like it was the most natural thing in the world. Okay, in all fairness Dad did take my siblings to about three or four Yankee games. In 1977.
Could this be a sign you can teach an old dog a new trick?
When I confess to people that I don’t understand how sports commentators can tell the difference between a good or bad play, or that I don’t know what a 'down' is, or that I wonder why a basketball player can’t run the length of the court just holding the ball they are curious about how I spent my Sunday afternoons as a child. That always seems like a strange question to me. I grew up in New York—it wasn’t exactly difficult to come up with a way to pass the time.
But to answer the question...we did tons of things on Sunday afternoons. We rode bikes in the park (somehow always on cold, windy and damp days), we went to museums and went to see old movies at the New Yorker. But, no matter what we did, the day always ended with tea.
Tea time meant that one parent brewed a pot while the other saw to it there was something good to eat. Sometimes it was homemade (scones, banana bread) or sometimes it was purchased (an Entenmann’s Pecan Danish Ring or Nabisco’s Fancy Cookie Assortment).
But there was one unfortunate Sunday when I learned a valuable lesson involving mean girls. After a day spent in the park with family friends visiting from out of town everyone came back to our apartment. With no treats in the house my father dispatched me and the daughter of the other family to the market to buy something. "You know what we like” he said as he handed me a five. We were about ten and this was before kids still had nannies at age 17. Which is ironic since the city was a lot grittier than it is now.
So, we went to Sloan’s and I remember the other girl leading the charge to the snack cake aisle. Standing in front of the array of Drakes cakes I knew Ring Dings were not what grown-ups ate and certainly not what my father meant when he sent us on this important mission. “We'll get these,” announced my compadre grabbing a bright red, white, blue and yellow box of Hostess “Suzy Q’s.” I lost the little back bone I have and said “okay,” knowing “okay” was really “okay, I’m going to get in trouble.”
And yes, the look in my father’s eyes when we pulled out the box of junk said it all. I think more because I didn’t have the guts to hold my own against the tough-y and less because he was about to ingest a ‘crème’ filled devil’s food sandwich.
Needless to say, later that evening I got quite the talking to about standing up for myself. Which frankly, didn’t take and is a life skill I could still use some extra help with. What did stick with me was the importance of serving what I learned to be the appropriate thing with a pot of tea. These cookies for example would fall under the ‘appropriate’ category--as any sane person (or at least someone raised in my family) knows.
I think I’ll make a batch and bring them over to my parents’ so Dad can sit back, watch the (football?) game and enjoy a Ginger Lemon Cookie with a cup of Darjeeling. I’ll leave the six pack to the other sports fans--you can't expect an old dog to tackle too many new tricks at a time.
Appropriate Tea Time Ginger Lemon Cookies
(Adapted Martha Stewart Living, Dec/Jan 1995)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 large egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, cut into 1/8-inch dice
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with parchment; set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl twice.
Add egg; mix on high speed to combine.
Add zest; mix to combine.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, baking soda, salt, and crystallized ginger; add to butter mixture. Mix on medium-low speed to combine, about 20 seconds.
I like to make these bite sized so I use the one teaspoon ice cream scoop-the original recipe suggests two teaspoons. You can decide on your preferred size. Just space them 2 inches apart regardless.
Bake for 7-9 minutes. They will be pale.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Yield 3 dozen medium, 6 dozen small.