Trina Machacek: My favorite cookie sheet
Baking season has begun in earnest, as it is mid-November. From now until the end of the year there will be pies and breads and cookies laden with icing and sprinkles.
I love the baking season. It’s a time when you can just let your inner baker out and then give it all away. Well except the test pie and breads and funny shaped error cookies laden with icing and sprinkles. But! Yes a frosting covered “but.” But let’s not dwell on the goodies. I want to discuss cookie sheets. Well, my favorite cookie sheet.
I have an array of shiny aluminum flat cookie catching sheets stacked in my oh so very neatly arranged pot and pan cupboard! HAHA Yes the cupboard that produces enough decibels of kitchen music to cause ears to bleed in a 50-mile radius when I need that one soup pot clear in the back. Sometimes I go in there to just rattle them because they need to be rattled to keep them at the ready when it is time to really cook.
I use those shiny sheets when it is time to fill the larder with Zip Lock bags and Tupperware containers stuffed with goodies like cookies and little tea breads. All things that my muffin top says I should leave as just flour and butter and eggs in their raw unmixed forms. But when I need to bake some really good stuff, stuff that has been made for years and years in my kitchen?
I go to that one sheet that looks like it has seen better days. I do hope you have one like it in your kitchen. It is darkened with age and swirled with years of burnt on fairy juice from Grandma’s secret Fairy pies. That one sheet that has been crusted with layers of chocolate cake from the over stuffed cupcake pan making the crusty little cakes that nobody will admit are the best ones. Yes that cookie sheet.
Oh it’s clean don’t think I don’t clean it. I know it’s clean because I soak it and scrub it and then slap it back in the oven because that is where it lives during its off hours. It’s in the oven all the time so I know it has all the germs baked off of it each time I use the oven.
This ever-ready soldier is usually covered with foil to catch the fall out from bubbly mac-n-cheese or spits and spatters from the pork roast as they escape up and over the sides of the roaster pan. It is even put under the flimsy foil pans that have housed the stuffed 20-pound turkeys that have adorned Thanksgiving tables over the years.
It looks like something out of the Twilight Zone for sure. I used to be a bit embarrassed by it. Now I consider it part of the family and with pride I drag it out and admire the dark designs embedded on its face. Just this morning I made this wonderful cranberry sauce from a recipe from one of my nieces. It’s a wonderful mix that is baked and then cooled and then that yumminess is ready for any and all the cranberry needs of the upcoming food events.
As I set the casserole on the sheet in the oven to bake I knew I should’ve covered it with foil to save the cleanup. But I just let it go. Yep when the timer beeped I looked in the oven. There were puddles of new red cranberry bubbly caught by my ever-ready sheet with all four sides acting like dams corralling juices like it has for years and years.
So in the sink it went to be washed for the umpteenth time. As I swirled my fingers across the face dissolving the sticky sauce I gave thought to all the things this pan as come through and all the millions and millions of calories it has taken into and delivered out of my ovens over the years. From homemade French bread that has been put under the broiler to melt garlic butter charring the edges to just the right dark crunchiness and filling the kitchen with that heavenly aroma, to the full flavored molasses cookies that only Grandma Machacek could make perfectly. Now that’s a cookie sheet!
In the coming weeks my hope is that you too have just the right pan for the job you will do for your loved ones. How will you know when your best pan is your favorite pan? When it whispers in your ear, “I love everything you do to me.” Happy baking season.
Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book, They Call Me Weener is available on Amazon or purchase a signed copy by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.