Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Shortbread Moment


This weekend, I had a shortbread moment.

Let me explain: I have this incredible recipe for shortbread that worried the hell out of me the first time I made it. It seemed too simple. Flour, butter, sugar. That’s it. How could a cookie shine with so few ingredients? Then, the dough seemed a little odd. When I put everything in the mixer, I watched the paddle churn away, but the dough didn’t hold together. All I had was a crumbly mess. I was about to toss it out. But then suddenly, the ingredients melded and I had dough. Half an hour later, I had pale golden cookies that coated my tongue with the satisfying taste of butter. Since then, I’ve baked them many times.

Now to this week’s shortbread moment.

As you know, we’ve just spent a month doing our very first MySixWriMo. I’ve had mixed feelings about it. A week ago, I wanted to throw the whole batch of my stories in the trash. I was sorry I’d even suggested MySixWriMo. Only my commitment to my fellow Sixers kept me going. MySixWriMo ate up all my daily writing time. Folly went from the back burner to stone cold and congealed.

On May 1, I sat down at the PC, grateful the posting was over. I was never going to do MySixWriMo again. But I figured I should get something tangible out of it. That morning, I sent off my last micro from the month, “Hands.”

By the time I came back after lunch, “Hands” had been accepted by Boston Literary Magazine.

The dough began to meld. BLM had accepted one of fellow sixer Jane’s micros already. Two days later, BLM accepted another MySixWriMo from sixing pal Stephen. As I read Stephen’s email, I savored a warm satisfaction I’d never expected when I started this. I’d suggested MySixWriMo on a whim. Now three writing buddies would share page space in Boston Lit Mag.

Cool stuff indeed. I plan to track all our successes born from MySixWriMo, so keep me posted on how our April babies are faring. I’ll post their status in the sidebar.

My feelings have changed about MySixWriMo. That one monumental success has convinced me this is something we should consider doing again. But I’m going to make a change. Come back next April and I’ll let you know what I’ve got planned.

And for anyone interested, here's the recipe for that shortbread. Trust me, they are AMAZING.

Simple Shortbread Cookies

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 cup butter, chilled and cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (low temp + longer baking time = tender cookies). Combine flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, work the butter into the flour mixture until all the ingredients hold together, about 5 minutes. (It looks like dry paste when it’s done)

Using hands, roll generous teaspoonfuls of dough into balls. Place about 1 ½ “ apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using tines of a fork, flatten the cookies to ¼” thick by making crisscross pattern on the top.

Bake the cookies until they’re light golden in the center and a bit darker around the edges, about 30 minutes. Cool the cookies on the sheets, then store in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen.

Note: if using unsalted butter, add ½ tsp salt to this recipe. Do not use margarine or shortening in place of butter.


Stephen said...


I think MySixWriMo was a great success. It kept us writing and creating. There are a few that I'll toss, of course, but there are those pieces that cry out for more. Thanks for the idea, and I look forward to next year.

Linda said...

Congrats Greta and Stephen and jane (and everyone else).

I would LOVE to do SixMo with you guys (as I am a very confirmed Sixer), BUT... any month other than April or November? Cuz, well, I do the Novel and Poem thang, too. Think abaout it.

And I LOVE shortbread, so thanks for the recipe. I'll try it out, perhaps this weekend for Mom's Day.

Peace, Linda

Linda said...

Oh, and we'll be in the Summer BLM together - that's when my chapbook piece receives it's official airing :^) Peace, Linda

Greta said...

Awesome, Linda, on multiple fronts. 1, that we'll all appear together and 2, that you'll join us for our next Six event.

I have no problem with switching months. Anyone have a suggestion?

JohnOBX said...

Ack, my mouth is watering and it is just way too late to make cookies. I'm going to go sneak some whip cream or something ...

Enjoyed the MySixWriMo and will do it again. Looking forward to working with you on the chapbook.

How about February. Only 28 days...

;-) heh!