It’s Raining Martha, Hallelujah!- Umbrella Sugar Cookies- 27 eggs, 25 cups of sugar, 17 3/4 sticks of Butter, and 22 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 158 recipes to go!

April 13, 2010

Martha's Umbrella Sugar Cookies

André's Umbrella/Robot Sugar Cookies

I have never had to plan a baby shower. I didn’t know what I was doing. Luckily, I had plenty of experienced shower-throwers to lean on. My friends, Michelle and Faye, are having a baby. That’s right. Two women. They’ve been a couple for quite a few years now and are now taking the plunge into parenthood. I couldn’t be more thrilled for them.

Invitations had been sent, decorations discussed, and money gathered for a group gift; a really nice crib that Michelle and Faye had picked out for their little boy. Everything was in place. The theme was to be Robots, since that was the icon they had chosen in which to deck-out the nursery. A robot cake was in the works and I had promised to provide robot cookies.

After many searches of kitchen supply stores on the internet, I only found two robot cookie cutters priced at thirty-five dollars and above. I love Michelle and Faye. I really do… but not enough to invest in a thirty-five dollar cookie cutter. Instead I used a regular gingerbread man cutter and used icing to make them look like robots. Martha’s cookie recipe called for umbrellas and since I am walking the path of Martha, I obliged with a few umbrellas sprinkled among the robots. A strange pairing, I know.

These shower cookies are delicious and delicate, and like my previous post about working with cookie cutouts, they are time consuming. Flavored with lemon zest and the seeds of one whole vanilla bean, they have a more sophisticated taste than your garden-variety sugar cookie. Royal icing is applied for decoration and dusted with sanding sugar to make them glisten with sugary goodness. Now, before anyone gets on their high-horse about feeding Royal icing to a pregnant woman, I want you to know I took precautions. You see, Royal icing is more-or-less a meringue. It’s a mixture of egg whites, sugar and water and dries into a hard cement. It is unwise to feed uncooked egg products to pregnant women, although, honestly, most pregnant women will eat just about anything they can get their hands on. There is a product called meringue powder, which is essentially dehydrated egg whites. It works beautifully and eliminates the risk of the baby being born with a beak.

I could never be a parent. Well, I could. After all, I have half the equipment needed and I’m pretty sure it’s in working order. I mean, I could NEVER be a parent. Kathy Griffin is one of my favorite comedians. She has a line about kids that I just love. “I don’t like kids.” – she says. “They’re too selfish.”

I think that pretty much sums up how I feel about children. I’m pretty sure I am essentially too selfish to rear a child. My partner, Dan, is in the same camp of thought. We’d be terrible parents. Maybe not Joan Crawford terrible, but certainly Aaron Spelling terrible.

It probably has to do with how I was raised. Everything I learned about parenting, I learned from my parents. I love them, but in all honesty, if they were giving out degrees for parenting, my Mom would have an associates in liberal arts, and my dad would have his G.E.D. or at least have taken the test .

I know this doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s true. Am I worried that they will read this? Heck no. Like I said, they struggled as parents, that doesn’t change when your kids are forty-two. Try explaining what a blog is to someone who can’t open an email attachment.

I want to be clear. I am not angry at the two people who raised me. Again, I love them, but looking back, different choices could have been made. I think if any of us reflect on our childhoods, we’d come to the same conclusion. Hindsight is 20/20, after all.

I think my parents’ biggest challenge was what to do with a child that was… “sensitive.”  “Sensitive” was Catholic code for “Gay-As-A-Picnic-Basket.” It was very difficult for my father to find kind words for my embroidery skills, even though I was quite accomplished for a third-grader.

My father was a salesman. He sold life insurance. His tactic with his clients was scare the hell out of them and then calm them down with a great, big policy. The disadvantage of growing up the son of a Life Insurance salesman is that he knew exactly what I was worth if I should drop dead at any given second. He’d say, “If you aren’t careful playing out in the street and get hit by one of those cars, that’s $150,000 in my pocket. If you lose an arm, that’s $75,000. Now go out there and play- “recklessly”. The “recklessly” was always implied. I’m not saying my father wanted me dead. I don’t think he did. I do think that he saw my possible death as a win/win situation, though. Sure, he’s be down a son, but it was a son who embroidered. How long do boys like that survive, anyhow? Don’t they eventually wither away from the vapors?- and with $150,000 he could afford two or three more. Maybe football players this time!

My dad gave me a football as a child. I decoupaged it.

I’m not saying he didn’t try to be a good father. I think he would’ve been a great dad if I were a different kid. You know, more normal.

As a teen it was worse. I was defiant and angry most of the time. My father despised me and I really didn’t like him much either. As an adult, looking back on my living situation, it makes perfect sense as to why I was so angry. With three sisters in a three bedroom, two bath house, I was confined to live in a room that was an extension of the foyer. I had one solid wall, one glass door which led to the backyard, and two walls that were nothing but lattice doors. See-through lattice doors!  The only way to move from the kitchen and den in the front of the house, to the bedrooms and the bathrooms in the back of the house, was through my room. I was a teenage boy with absolutely no privacy and no prospects of successfully masturbating until college. I was a little tense.

I eventually moved out of my home at sixteen and went to live with my grandmother for awhile, and then with my cousin.

To this day, my father’s relationship with me has been strained. In the past few years he has grown more accepting, and by accepting, I mean he no longer tells me how much I’m worth if I should drop dead. Instead he now talks of his own death. He’s collected a lot of life insurance in his lifetime and when he talks of his funeral, his face lights up. It will be a really big production. There will be music and pomp. Officials in The Knights of Columbus will stand guard over his $20,000 casket , swords at their sides. He’d want everyone to know that the casket was $20,000- we might keep the price tag on it so people can “Ooo” and “Ahh” and remark at what an expensive box my father is being buried in.

My father is an officer in our parish’s Knights of Columbus, and I am sure he will want to be buried in his full captain’s regalia. Picture it… my father, dressed in a uniform reminiscent of a seaman of yesteryear with an admiral’s cap accented in ostrich plumes… (Honestly, I embroidered my way through third grade and he’s the one being buried in ostrich plumes?) …to a stranger it would seem like we’re laying to rest Captain Crunch.

Women will weep. Not sure which women. Most of the women on dad’s side of the family are really good at smoking, complaining and arguing, but when it comes to weeping, they just don’t have game. We might need to hire some weepy women.

To hear my father describe his funeral arrangements, you’d think you were listening to a retired Junior-Leaguer describing the musical, Cats.

I don’t mean to sound irreverent, but remember, this is the same guy that put a price on my head as a child.

So, no, I don’t think I have been properly trained in rearing children.

That said, I bet I could decoupage the hell out of a $20,000 casket.


5 Responses to “It’s Raining Martha, Hallelujah!- Umbrella Sugar Cookies- 27 eggs, 25 cups of sugar, 17 3/4 sticks of Butter, and 22 1/4 cups of flour used so far- 158 recipes to go!”

  1. kate Says:

    Andre, Steve has told me many, many times to read your blog. And so, I sat down an hour and a half ago to do just that and if it weren’t closing in on midnight I would continue. You are an amazing writer and I’m having such fun reading this. I hope we can meet sometime!

    kate willaredt

  2. Tommy Salami Says:

    In Italy, old women hire out as professional mourners. Think about that.

  3. Russ Says:

    Robots and Martha seem a perfect fit. Is that decoupaged football tucked away in somebody’s attic somewhere?

  4. D Says:

    Captain Crunch. That’s rich. And spot on.

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