I went to Amvets the other day to decompress and I ran into my friend Lauren from church and my friend Ryan. Not necessarily in that order! In fact not in that order. The other way around.
But it was so funny, all of us meeting at Amvets, all by accident. We wandered around together from Books to Records. Picking up this, picking up that, discussing this, discussing that.
So much fun!
Lauren and I became friends because we met in Amvets after church once. She and her boyfriend were at Mass and then we were all at the coffee hour and then an hour later we run into each other at Amvets. They were instrumental in convincing me to purchase the iconic Betty Crocker Hostess Cookbook.
"Should I really get this?" I said. "I have so many cookbooks."
And then, just when I thought things couldn't get better, they did!
The woman behind me in line noticed a Dinah Washington album I was buying and she complimented me on my good taste. Her friend chimed in. And I got to pontificate on my knowledge of Dinah Washington and of vinyl.
Now all eyes were on me. And they continued on me! Because here is what happened next.
This gentleman walked in. Good-looking guy, too. He sees me and he stops and he says:
"You're a singer."
Uh, no, I demurred, prettily. I --
"You're a piano player," he said.
"Yes, I am," I said. Then I added: "But that was a long time ago."
"You played at Nietzsche's," he said.
To tell you the truth I do not remember exactly if I played Nietzsche's. But I was with this cool girl group Ladies First and we played all over the place.
I was smiling as I left Amvets. A minute or so later I thought: He must have me confused with someone else. No one would remember me from way back when. But I quit Amvets while I was ahead.
It was in the middle of a hectic day and we made the plans that morning. She shows up at the office. Here is where you know you are dealing with family. Katie and I disagree on many, many things. But on the other hand our brains think alike.
I said, "We don't need to go out to lunch. I brought food."
She said, "So did I."
So we walk to this park by the Buffalo River. We start unpacking what we've brought. Stuff thrown together at the last second, and yet... and yet ....
She had this sandwich of Brie on whole wheat bread. Really good! We split it. I never get to eat Brie. It was a real treat.
I had a cauliflower salad from Eating Well magazine, a salad I love, plus a white bean salad with pork loin. And she brought out an orange for dessert.
And so we dined. And Katie brought out an orange and we split that for dessert. We had bowls and forks and cloth napkins.
My niece Rosie and I sometimes meet for lunch and it works the same way. My friend Lynn used to meet me downtown when she worked downtown and we did this sort of thing too. With Lynn it was really funny because we made a point to pack wine. Not a lot, just an airline bottle for the two of us, enough to fill two little plastic glasses. We would throw a tablecloth over a picnic table on Canalside and sit there dining and sipping our wine and people would stop and admire us, because nobody does this kind of thing. Once, someone took our picture.
The art of the picnic! I am afraid sometimes it is being lost. That would be a pity.
No annoying bill to pay, you know? Plus, you eat what you like.And you get to play the game of packing a picnic which is a game I love. I feel bad because some of the stuff I packed yesterday, we never got to eat. We never got to the grapes and the crackers. I am the Leonard Pennario of picnic packers. As a matter of fact I sometimes packed food for Pennario back in the day.
The recipes at AllRecipes.com are not always extremely professionally written. In this instance they listed a certain amount of peanut butter and brown sugar and forgot to say that you would not pour all of it into the batter, some of it would go into the filling. Usually you see the word "divided" in such a situation.
End result, as we say here in Buffalo, I had to double the recipe to cover for my mistakes.
End result, we had 50 cookies instead of 25. That was a good thing anyway. We had a big group and we needed them! We are trending up at church. Instead of our usual 100 or so people at mass we had 130.
All is well that ends well. However I must say, the recipe said, "Very easy!" and I rudely marked up the magazine and wrote: "No! Lots of work!" The dough has to be mixed and then chilled. The cookies must be dropped by rounded teaspoons and then flattened. They bake for 10 minutes and the trays are switched half way through. They cannot be over-baked! And when they are done you have to cool them on racks and then make them into sandwiches. It is a project that keeps you constantly in motion and occupied.
Very very good though. And they looked just like in the picture up above which came from Allrecipes.com.
What is it that makes baking so therapeutic? My sister Margie and I were discussing this on the 'phone just now. It has something to do with following a recipe and also I think with working with sugar and butter and cinnamon and chocolate and all that good stuff.
It makes me excited for all the baking I will be doing this season.