The Early Morning Call

I got the call in the dark hours of the early morning. This was not a telephone call or a text message. It was not a call of alarm or concern. It was the call of 5-year-old Little Missy as she gently tapped on my arm and sweetly chirped, “Wake up Grandma. We need to bake.”Now, that coaxing early-bird greeting would beat the shrill sound of an alarm clock any morning!

This Grandma does endure slight hearing loss, and I don’t sleep with my hearing instruments in my ears. So without the sense of little fingers on my forearm, I may not have even been aware of the urgency to arise. But my auditory senses perked to attention, knowing that I was beckoned to listen intently to the gentle request of my absolutely favorite and only granddaughter.

We trotted out to the kitchen and turned on the lights. Cookie Baking 101 was about to commence!

Actually, I had arisen a couple of hours earlier to remove some wrapped cookie dough from the refrigerator to allow for easier dough manipulation just in case the call from a certain little someone would come to my attention in a couple of hours.

I can hear you already, Dear Reader. “What kind of cookie dough was this?” you might ask.

Earlier in the week, I had baked Linzer Heart Cookies–a rolled cutout cookie, two layers of which were later sandwiched together with red raspberry jam as the filling and a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top–along with dozens of other tea cookies for an event in Capital City. I hadn’t used all of the dough and thought this little bit that was left would be the absolute “cat’s meow” for an early-morning bake-off with the little miss junior baker should the occasion arise.

In preparation for this most exciting event, we started with hands washed with soap and warm water—a must do for any food preparer.

Part of my usual baking attire consists not only of a clean apron but also of a hair covering. Of course, I don’t use just any old conventional hair net or cap. Oh no! I have personalized, bright-colored bonnets made of bridal illusion. They are adorned with frou-frou and silk flowers. All the more fun for baking enjoyment! Even Little Missy claimed a pink one to cover her curly, I-just-awoke-looking locks. By her request, she suggested I layer two of them over my early-morning hairdo for that one-of-a kind millinery design. (Did my hair look that out of place?) Now, Dear Reader, don’t you wish you could make a Red Carpet fashion statement like that?

The baking fun was about to begin! Little Missy rapidly climbed up the two-step stool and perched her featherweight self on the counter. She proceeded to sprinkle flour on the large cutting mat, and with wooden rolling pin in hand, rolled the cookie dough to just the right thickness. What am I talking about, Cookie Baking 101? She was beyond that level and rolling into the Advanced Beginners’ Class!

Decision time here! Which cookie cutters to use? I had large ones, small ones, and teeny-tiny ones. Since this was Little Missy’s project, I anxiously awaited her selections. It didn’t take her long to decide on “the road less travelled.” Having not seen cookie cutters as teeny-tiny as my collection of 12 decorative jelly/aspic metal cutters, the flood gates of Heaven appeared to have been opened to her! Her eyes brightened as she selected them and diligently used them to cut out teeny-tiny cookies in heart, diamond, tear drop, and triangle shapes.

But the fun didn’t stop there! Each of those sweet teeny-tiny cookie shapes was decorated with a colorful mini baking M&M. Of course, not a vibrant colored candy was overlooked; and neither was Mr. Basic Brown. Little Missy has a kind, helpful heart. Even in baking, she wanted to include all of the colored candy decorating discs in this baking extravaganza!

As we were trying to meet a time deadline, and at the same time add to the creativity of this project, we then proceeded to put the remaining larger piece of flattened cookie dough on to the metal cookie sheet. She then could use the gamut of cutters to make little teeny-tiny cut outs of dough all over that larger piece of dough. As those miniscule cut out cookie shapes were removed from the large piece of dough, she had created one monster-size cookie with lots of little “peek-a-boo” holes. Oh, what a cookie artist was in our midst!

A preheated oven was awaiting our loaded cookie sheet, and with timer set for 10 minutes, we proceeded to cook breakfast and await the results of our early-morning baking venture.

Oh, yes, 2-1/2-year-old Little Sir was visiting, too, and with sleepy eyes, he arrived in the kitchen in his favorite, won’t-take-them-off tractor jammies just in time to begin the taste testing. He’s extremely gifted at that task, don’t you know?

Maybe, this grandma is the one who should enroll in Cookie Baking 101 because when I teach my precious grandchildren the skills of baking, they, in turn, innocently teach me creative ways to make a hand-crafted, from-the-heart yummy treat! We may have the same goal in mind, but patience and open mindedness on my part allows for a joyful heart and lots of love and learning in the kitchen.

Dear Reader, the next time you have an opportunity to create some baking fun in the kitchen with your little one, jump at the chance! You will both learn something new and have a lasting experience for the memory book.

Oh, and don’t forget, if you’re awakened by a gentle touch on your forearm by a wee one, listen intently to that tiny voice…just in case you don’t have your hearing aids turned on!

Miss NiNi