Eating Crow over Grandma Burtons Cookies
If you have to eat crow, its easier while the bird is still warm.
Clara Mahala Burton.
Ill take Grandma Burtons advice on this one: Pass the crow please. And, while youre at it, dont forget the sugar, which I did in this column of last week.
My apologies to any who were interested in Grandmas Christmas ginger cookies with either smiley faces or a big hole with a half walnut or pecan in the center. I neglected to list sugar in the rundown of ingredients.
So its appropriate to admit guilt eat the proverbial crow and give disgruntled readers a bit to crow about. Among newspaper people, mistakes are occasionally made, but editors dont accept excuses. Its the way the game is played.
Last weeks column featured Grandmas cookies, the ones she made once a year at Christmas. I figured there might be some readers tired of the sweet and usually bland cookies of the supermarkets who might be interested in the old recipe, so I added it, courtesy of my New England sister Ruth who sent it along with a batch of same for my recent birthday.
But I neglected to list sugar, and whats a cookie without at least some sugar? And that wasnt all, as reader Patricia H. Bare, of Annapolis, has written [see Letters to the Editor].
I realize that one shouldnt talk when the mouth is full Grandma taught me that in her course, Manners 101 but while Im munching on that crow, allow me to explain how such things happen.
How the Devil Got in the Dough
While writing the recipe as provided by Ruth, I noted in the preparation part of the formula, she wrote add molasses and egg. I double checked her list of ingredients as I had punched them into the computer. Sure enough, she hadnt listed eggs.
I complemented myself for catching a snafu, called Ruth in New England, pointed out the omission and in the smug way brothers have with sisters reminded her the biggest sin in offering recipes is to leave out an ingredient. Picture if you will a cook with the oven hot, all the ingredients laid out, and theres something missing, I jibed. Worse still if one cooks up a batch minus an important ingredient.
So Ruth responded, one egg, thats all, one egg, Merry Christmas, happy birthday, and eat your cookies. I went back to the computer, punched in 1 egg. Now those who are as inept as I am on a computer can appreciate what happened.
As I added, 1 egg, I inadvertently erased part of the two following lines, leaving out sugar. Worse, I moved the amount of sugar, 3/4 cup, to the flour line.
I didnt catch either change when editing my own copy before sending it to Bay Weekly editor Sandra Martin. And I should have (some readers promptly did), seeing that for 20 years I also wrote a cooking column on fish, game, country and old-time recipes for the Evening Sun.
Crying over Spoiled Cookies
Recipes were always double checked to assure no cooks would barge into the newsroom with a spoiled dish because something was missing and demand compensation for the wasted ingredients. Worse still, one might physically force the writer to eat the dish gone awry.
Somehow, in the two decades my cooking columns ran in the Evening Sun, I managed to escape a catastrophic error. Except once.
And it was a dilly.
And it also involved sister Ruth.
And it also involved Christmas cookies.
And it was also my fault, not Ruths.
While visiting her home at Christmastime, I sampled different cookies she had made. I liked two in particular and jotted down the recipes in the notebook always with me.
Shortly thereafter we were talking about Grandmas smiley face cookies, and she mentioned they were baked 10 minutes in a 350-degree preheated oven. I entered these facts in the notebook, but alas not on the same page.
Back at the office in Baltimore the next day, I thought readers might like to try Ruths easy-to-prepare cookies in their New Years spread. So I wrote about their flavor and the simplicity in preparation.
And, seeing the 350-degree pre-heated oven for 10 minutes at the bottom of the page, I added it to the recipe that ran on the Food Pages two days later.
Guess what? The cookies werent supposed to be baked. That was the easiest part of Ruths easy-to-make recipe. No cooking involved.
Guess what, also? Just as Bay Weekly readers did this week, some Sun readers followed the recipe as printed, which to my dismay I learned via the phone the following day. They described cookies that in batter form had great taste. But when they came out of the oven, a sledge hammer was required to reduce them to an edible state.
Editors dont take such errors lightly, but I survived that and wrote a correction and an eating crow apology for the following week. But that wasnt the end of it.
Two disgruntled readers mailed me cookies hard as bricks and dared me to eat them. One of the two who had cooked her batch shortly before guests arrived so they would still be warm informed me she had hustled out to find store bought cookies for her buffet. Her supermarket was closed.
There were no cookies on her spread, and she was embarrassed, though, she added, I was a topic of discussion at the party. To ease my guilt, I considered eating the cookies she sent, but after an attempted bite, I decided I didnt want to endure a lecture from my dentist.
Apologies & Addenda
So, in addition to an apology, the only comment I have to make about last weeks goof here, is something Grandma Burton also taught me: To err is human, but when the eraser wears out before the pencil, somethings wrong.
Maybe something good can come out of all of this. When I called Aunt MiMi (a former home economics teacher) in Vermont to relate the disaster, she advised me I should have mentioned that the less refined molasses one uses black strap preferred the better the cookies. Dark molasses brings out just enough of the molasses flavor, combined with the ginger, to make the perfect cookie. And dont forget the sugar.
Editors note: Editor Sandra Martin, who should have caught the omitted sugar when she read the preparation, is also munching some crow.
Grandma Burtons Improved Ginger Cookie Ingredients