Friday, June 12, 2015

Cranberry Pecan Shortbread

I think it's bullshit that we don't get to go to summer camp anymore. Sure, if you're deeply entrenched in Scientology, maybe there's something comparably disguised, but as regular adults? I would go so far as to say that "we" could use camp even more than 5th graders. Because when you think about it, 5th grade is basically already a summer camp. And you know I use the term "we" loosely because I'm not sure who would even define me as an adult.

It's not even that I had wonderful camp experiences. In fact, they were not great. I just love friendship and think it would be perfect if an actual adult could sign me up for a camp with all of my friends and we would just hang out by a lake for a week, with planned meals and organized crafting. And wine?

I endured week-long stays at Luther Park (and its redheaded stepchild, Luther Woods, which was essentially three platform tents in a Wisconsin clearing) from 5th-8th grade. Luther Woods was a personal nightmare because we weren't allowed showers or substantial shelter, and if you know me at all, you know I love bathing and hate severe weather. We were told we would be granted two dirty lake swims during the week and if we had biodegradable shampoo, we could wash our hair. I begged my mom to take me to a specialty store to acquire the necessary soap, because even at 11, I was all, "I have fine hair easily weighed down by my own oils." AKA VERY POPULAR AND FUN. I ended up verrrrry confidently bringing some kind of non-lathering shampoo exclusively formulated for HORSES, only to learn from the popular girls (of course) that fucking Herbal Essences was biodegradable and once again, Emily was a lurking weirdo with horse shampoo. We were a bunch of very smelly and... developing... fifth and sixth graders talking about the Reformation and making friendship bracelets while I quoted The Golden Girls alone.

Luther Park was your more standard church camp, for 7th and 8th graders, with cabins named after Biblical towns and a more clearly-defined social hierarchy. My week in Capernaum B was eye-opening, being randomly put in the cabin with a lot of the very cool girls. To showcase my great handwriting and earn favor, I made a poster with a cutout of a shirtless CosmoGirl hunk and wrote "God's Greatest Creation" underneath. I don't feel great about that.

Definitely part of the group!

Post-Bible study free time was rough, because that's usually when the girls in my cabin would intentionally jog back and forth past the guys' cabins, wearing only sports bras and Soffe shorts. I didn't like jogging, so, kinda SOL on that one. Feeling particularly adventurous one day (and pretty amped on God), I decided to go waterskiing. Also, no other kids were going, so it seemed like a pretty chill time to hang out with some counselors. "I've never been waterskiing before. I've tried and failed," I repeatedly told the boat driver and spotter. They didn't care. I think they wanted to explore each others' bodies in the bed of the boat and I was really ruining that opportunity for them. Anyway, I got up on my first try! This should've been thrilling but obviously, my joy did not last, as I quickly whipped out of the wake and faced waves not yet interrupted by the boat. Convinced I was going to die, I decided to just let go and sink into the water, because I'd seen that on TV. I let go and my body failed me. I bounced 3-5 times, ass-to-skis, before finally plunging into Lake Chetek. Everything below my waist was numb. I felt very...full...of water. I was slowly helped out of the water and had to make my way back to Capernaum B, limping through camp in basically the most graphic situation you can imagine. There was blood. And it DID get worse, because a counselor that I THOUGHT was my friend decided to start calling me "butt skidder," and so everyone called me "butt skidder" for the rest of the week. Reallllll Lutheran.

Camp could be fun now that I know how to confidently say no to waterskiing and yes to wine.

I made shortbread this week! My dear friend Cristi Rumpza and I successfully funded a pilot last year with the help of Kickstarter, and one of the "rewards" was homemade cookies from me. I finally, finally made and sent them. Shortbread is easy because -- spoiler alert -- it's just butter and sugar. I made these lil guys with cranberries and pecans, but this recipe accommodates really any chunks of whatever you want to throw in there.

Cranberry Pecan Shortbread

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1 small package (5 oz.) dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans

 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy.
Slowly add the flour and mix until well combined.
Fold in cranberries and pecans.

Do you want shortbread BALLS or FLAT DISCS?
This really turned into a choose-your-own-adventure novel, bet you weren't expecting that!
Either way, roll the dough into 1-inch balls.
If you're like "this shape feels right," place the balls on the cookie sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes. Cool and dust with powdered sugar.
Not on board with balls? I get it, me neither. Gently flatten the balls using a small glass dipped in sugar. This will give the cookie tops a sugary hat. It's delightful. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
Cool. Cool!

Make this shortbread. Make your grandmas proud. Shortbread feels very, "We can't have frivolous desserts until we bring the boys home from the war," but... in a fun way.

Happy baking!

1 comment:

  1. I'm super delayed at reading this, but oh my gosh, I laughed out loud at all the Luther Park/Woods stuff - bahahaha. Literal hell.

    Also, there's a camp for grownups called Camp Throwback, coordinated by Brittany Gibbons (she just wrote a book called Fat Girl Walking). It sounds fantastic, haha.