My Life as a Man

June 3rd, 2011 · 37 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Domestic Affairs, Posts by Andy

It was late Saturday morning, Memorial Day weekend, and we were at all home, puttering. The kids were upstairs doing their thing, and Jenny was at the kitchen table, her face buried in her MacBook. I opened the refrigerator, and then the freezer.

“We have any butter?” I asked.

Jenny looked up. “Why?”

“I think I’m gonna make some snickerdoodles with the girls,” I said.

“No, you’re not,” she said.


“You can’t make snickerdoodles,” she said. She actually looked serious about this. ”And you definitely can’t write about it.”

“What are you talking about?” I said.

“Snickerdoodles?” God, just the way she pronounced the word: chilling. “I just can’t let you do that. Too emasculating.”

I’m not going to get too deep into the subtext here, or any latent impressions Jenny may or may not have about men who bake — let alone bake snickerdoodles – but let’s just say it felt a little like the person I love very much and with whom I have had two children, was calling my sh#t out. Like, seriously? A guy wants to do something fun with the kids on a sleepy Saturday morning, and he gets hazed by his wife? The thing is, there’s a lot you do as a parent — or, okay, as a father of two daughters — that carries an unmistakable whiff of the surrender-monkey to it. Printing out and memorizing the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s new single: that would definitely be one of those things. Enduring Ryan Seacrest in silence: yup. Nursing a lifelong grudge against musical theater and yet pretending, without complaint, to be Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music when it is called for*. Getting a (small, cute) dog and naming it Iris. Applying toenail polish (no smudges!) in rainbow colors on one tiny foot, and then doing the other tiny foot in the opposite color progression. Over the past several years, I’ve done all those things and so, so much worse and — apologies in advance to all the bros out there who may be reading this — the truth is, I never really gave any of it a second thought. Don’t you kind of check your manly bona fides at the door when you have kids? I mean, isn’t that part of the point?

Given all this, was making a batch of cookies so bad?

“Yeah, I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t think I can be married to a guy who makes snickerdoodles.”

She is now married to a guy who makes snickerdoodles. (more…)

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Working Mom Redemption (aka, The Cookie Playdate)

May 5th, 2010 · 10 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Rituals

When I was an editor at Real Simple a few years ago, and then later at Cookie, I won the lottery. The working mom’s lottery. After years of fist-pounding and squeaky-wheeling, I was granted a four-day work week. Not four days in the office, then one working from home. That fifth day — Wednesday, then later Friday — was off. Mine. I could drop off and pick up the girls from school. I could go to the dry-cleaner. I could go to Trader Joe’s during off hours!

But best of all, I could host playdates.

I could’ve invited kids over on Saturdays or Sundays, of course, but since the family was together so rarely during the week, we generally tried our hardest to place a moratorium on structured weekend plans. As a result, I met their classmates at drop-off and I saw them at birthday parties, but I was rarely able to witness how my daughters interacted, one-on-one, with their pals. And it killed me. I would say on my personal working mom’s guilt-o-meter* it was one of the things that registered the highest. And so on those Fridays off, I tried to schedule playdates as often as I could. And as often as I could on those playdates, I tried my hardest to be Fun Mom. Which of course, meant homemade cookies. (Sorry, Mme. Secretary of State.)

The level of kid involvement evolved as they got older, but as early as two, the girls were mesmerized by the simple act of pushing a few M&Ms into spooned cookie dough rounds. And since the recipe for Tollhouse Cookies has been tattooed on my brain from so many years of making them with my mom, that’s usually the cookie dough of choice.

*I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…?


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Grandma Catrino’s Biscotti

February 15th, 2010 · 7 Comments · Baking and Sweets

I never knew my grandmother (she died when my mom was 14), but my mother’s beautiful nieces (and fellow soulmates-in-cooking), Kay and Maryanne were nice enough to send me a bunch of Grandma Catrino’s recipes a few years back including the biscotti one above. This story alone would have been enough for the recipe to earn a time-honored place in black paint inside my cabinet door — but the biscotti also happens to be incredibly delicious. Click to the jump for instructions.

Biscotti: A recipe from Mary Camino Catrino (1898-1950), slightly adapted

Cream together 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) and 1 cup sugar. Add 3 eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift (or whisk) together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons baking powder.

Using an electric mixer, add flour mixture to butter/sugar/egg mixture — slowly so you don’t overload the mixer. Stir in: 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1 tablespoon anise seed, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or almonds.

Flour counter and hands. Take mixture out, place on a floured surface and knead; work into 3 loaves and shape. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in at 350°F for 15 to 20 minutes until firm and light brown. Cool and cut into strips.

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Bake a Note

February 11th, 2010 · No Comments · Baking and Sweets

These alphabet cookie cutters from Fox Run Craftsmen (an awesome baking resource) were as fun a rainy-day activity as you’d think they’d be. Though Abby got slightly impatient with the methodical work of it and soon resorted to the classic gingerbread mold, my 7-year-old went to sleep dreaming of all the possibilities.

We used a favorite sugar-cookie-dough mix from Martha Stewart’s Cookie cookbook.

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