Last year's baking spree was particularly hectic, I remember, and it was that year that I decided I wasn't going to do this again. Too much time and trouble, I told myself. Not worth it.
But as Christmas drew near, I found myself wanting to bake gifts again. I don't know why, exactly. But some part of me takes a particular satisfaction not just in giving gfts, but in making them. So yesterday, when Lut and I went to the store, I relented and bought baking materials. And spent about eight hours today baking. I forgot to buy powdered sugar (how could I forget that icing requires powdered sugar?) so I will go out tomorrow and get powdered sugar, then ice what needs icing, and package everything up for shipping.
I enjoyed it, rather. It helped that I started on Saturday; usually I start the afternoon before I plan to mail them, so that they spend as little time as possible sitting. But Lut works during the day on Saturdays currently, and he suggested that I start it while he was at work, so I wouldn't be baking all day when we could be doing something together. This did not entirely work out. But it does mean that I have ample time tomorrow for the "packing" part of the process, which takes a chunk of time by itself.
And now I am relaxed and content after a good day's work. It's fun trying to work out a process that's organized and moderately efficient. I measured out all the ingrediants for all the recipes beforehand; this has the twin advantages of ensuring that I've got all the ingrediants on hand, and of saving me from fussing with measuring spoons and whatnot once I've begun mixing.
Because I do a fair amount of baking, I buy flour and sugar in restaurant-quntities from Costco. At fifty pounds each, these are inconvenient sizes for putting on the counter to scoop cups out of. For a while, I was using a two-quart cannister to hold my working supply of flour. But two quarts of flour doesn't last long. Last year, I bought the largest glass jar I could find at Walmart. I think it holds 12 gallons. While measuring out ingrediants, I scraped the bottom of it, which meant going back to the 50 lb (now more like 15 pound) bag to refill it. I sat on the flour, with the glass jar before me, and the bag beside me, and a sifter and a scoop in either hand, scooping flour from the bag into the sifter and sifting it into the jar. Last time I refilled the jar, I only went about halfway. This time I made it two-thirds.
Twelve gallons of flour is rather a lot.
I ought to buy a larger container for the sugar, too. I ran down to the bottom of the sugar cannister today as well.
I need more large storage containers in general. After the first few batches were cooked, I was ransacking the kitchen, looking for plastic tubs to store them in. I wasn't finding any. After further hunting, I eventually discovered that three of them were in use to hold the remains of the last 50-lb bag of rice we'd bought. (Yes, we do eat a lot of rice, why do you ask?) I moved some of the rice into a smaller container to free up one of the big ones. My cookie-making process went like this: Remove cookies from oven. Place next sheet with raw cookie dough into oven. Move last batch of baked cookies from cooling rack and into storage container. Place fresh-from-oven cookies onto cooling rack. Wash cookie sheet (in cold water first, to cool it off for handling) and then place next batch of cookie dough onto it. Repeat.
The storage container was the bottleneck in this process. After the third recipe, I found myself scouring the shelves: "Agh! I've got more cookies coming off the assembly line, and I've no place to put them!" I wound up using plates and pans, and sealing them with plastic wrap.
As problems go, "too many cookies" is not such a bad one.