Coming Up Shortbread

Sometimes we choose hobbies that tend to stress us out. The aspiring pianist curses his fingers for not cooperating. The gamer yells at the TV or pounds his fist when he misses a cue. The baker questions his choice of hobby when there’s a giant mess in the kitchen and no treats to show for it. Yet these very same hobbies help us release stress in healthy ways, but there’s more to our passions than releasing stress. In that moment where everything clicks, where the pianist no longer has to look at the instrument to find the keys, when the gamer progresses past that tough boss, when the baker takes the first bite of his creation, he no longer minds the mess. This trial and error approach to our hobbies is what makes them stressful, yes, but also what makes them fun and engaging. If we didn’t have to struggle to learn a song, we’d quickly become bored on the piano, or if sweet treats turned out perfectly every time without fail, everyone would be a baker. Anybody can start a hobby, but only those with passion will see it through in the rough times. This is a truth I forgot yesterday.

I had plans to watch The Last Airbender with some friends, so I had the bright idea to make shortbread cookies to resemble Aang’s arrows. The last time I made these cookies, they turned out perfect, so I expected the same thing, but I started to get impatient when mixing the dough, and it turned out too crumbly. So I started over, and on the next try, I accidentally mixed sugar in the flour because I thought there was salt measured out. Thankfully, I caught this mistake before it went into the dough. On the next try, the dough was still too crumbly to roll, and I was ready to be done with the project, which had taken up my entire morning and most of the afternoon, but then my dad reminded me about making the dough wet. We added half a stick of butter and the dough congealed. The final result was delicious and a much more satisfying end of the day than a trashcan full of flour and sink of dirty dishes. After all this, was I ready to give up baking? Never. But on that day, I was ready to give up on that particular project. That’s the thing about hobbies. Sometimes we know what we’re doing, and sometimes, we just have to wing it. We might need a little help now and then, and there’s no shame in that. Experimenting might often end in failure, but sometimes it ends in success. I could count myself lucky that, as a baker, I get to literally taste my victories, and then share them with my friends. That’s what makes the whole process worth it, not just the victories, but the problems, the solutions, and the creating something new and delicious.

The Final Product: Candy Coated Short Bread