Friday, December 9, 2011

Cookies. No. More.

 by Liz Crowe
Once upon a time: 
I baked cookies for the holidays.  Actually I would embark upon massive, amphibious-landing-style baking projects. Shopping lists would be coordinated and cross-checked with old and new recipes, sweet and savory were carefully contrasted and coordinated. Entire days were planned around how many edibles could be produced, stored and/or readied for gifting.  Adorable receptacles for yummies were procured, set up and filled, assembly line style.  Platters were decorated and arranged.

The pinnacle and ultimately the high water mark for this massive, stress-producing endeavor occurred in Billericay, Essex, England, Christmas season 2003.  The Crowe clan was on its third country and yours truly was nearly cross-eyed with trailing-spouse syndrome. That unenviable condition wherein you start to doubt your place in the universe for anything other than keeper of crucial travel documents and ironer of school uniforms.  It is a real malady, trust me.  There is only so much one can absorb of being a foreigner 24/7.

So me mum had arrived for a couple of weeks, made the honestly innocent comment: you haven’t started your usual holiday baking projects. And I went spinning out of control in a 48-hour frenzy of production--and unhappiness.  You see, I hate cooking, and baking.  I love food, mind you and my ultimate NYT Best selling author rich bitch luxury shall be in this order:

1.  Chef
2.  Laundry man
3.  Pool boy
4.  personal trainer who can’t keep his large ... hands off me.

But that year, I was determined to go over the top.  I had something to prove.  To this day I don’t know what it was, but I remember the breathless desperation that drove me to pull an all-nighter in order to produce 27 beautiful, Martha Stewart would claw her eyes out with envy teensy gift bags of home made goodness for my spouse’s employees.

It was nauseating, and ultimately liberating when the man himself waltzed in the door from what would turn out to be his LAST trip “back to Turkey” which became a euphemism in my brain for “Local girl on the make nearly dies from stilleto in her eye as successful auto exec cowers in terror” and said to me: Gee “Honey, these bags are sort of ... small.”

He was only out for about 30 minutes from the hot cookie sheet he caught on the temple.

Once we got past that extremely tough Christmas--the one where I learned that no matter how much frigging chocolate you sling around the kitchen it can’t save a slipping marriage, I was free.  Free of the need to prove anything by being miserable standing at the stove.

Now, we hit December and my spouse starts saying things like “let’s go out to dinner” a lot.  Because he knows how I get. I get mental hives anywhere near an oven, start shaking like I’ve got the DT’s, and am compelled to throw things at his head.  So, we go out to dinner.  A lot.

Happy Christmas to You!  If you get anything edible from me, I assure you it shall be “store bought” and perfect.

I’ve got a lovely trilogy of 1NightStand heat and heart available from Decadent Publishing.  Turkish Delights, Blue Cruise and Tulip Princess tell the story of the Deniz family, their lives, loves and losses.  The prequel, The Diplomat’s Daughter, will be released in 2012.

And on December 30, be sure and catch my hot soccer star story, Caught Offside, another in the popular 1NightStand series.

Ramon Castillo, world famous soccer player and international playboy has suffered a career-ending injury.  After the humiliation of a shattered knee and shin at the World Cup final he has spent year in surgeries and painful therapies, the last three months of which are at the Castillo resort in Las Vegas under the watchful eye of his cousin, Jackson.

Gillian Winter, catering and wedding manager for the MGM Grand Hotel is nurturing her own deep wounds.  Her beloved husband has died unexpectedly, leaving her with a young son whose one dream is to meet his hero--Number 17--Ramon Castillo.  When a chance encounter in the lobby of the MGM reveals Ramon's presence in their midst, everyone's lives are changed forever.   Is healing possible for Ramon and Gillian after just one night?

**Leave a comment for a chance to win a $20 gift card to Zingerman's Family of Businesses, an Ann Arbor, Michigan based, internationally known business with a deli (been on Oprah), bake house, road house restaurant, coffee shop and mail order company**

Liz blogs at:


  1. Oh cookies. I thought I'd get away with not making any this year BUT daughter emailed me a Martha Stewart recipe for ginger palmiers with the words - We MUST make these. ie - you have to make them, mother- while I lounge around watching TV.
    They look -er - complicated and I don't do complicated. I only do put everything together in a bowl and stir. So I absolutely know where you're at, Liz!!
    Happy Holidays!

  2. Hi Liz,
    The cookie conundrum! I have not participated in the local competitions/sharings held each year by my sister and friends. I love everything Christmas except cookie competitions. I could blame Multiple Sclerosis, and my antipathy for all things hot and humid, which a cookie baking kitchen inevitably is ... but I just say no thank you, and while I used to bake the pies for the family gatherings (yes, plural, parents' and in-laws) I no longer have those to prepare for ... they are all gone.

    And while there is a sweet sadness in a shorter shopping list for Christmas, I confess my table of three for Thanksgiving Day, here at home, with just my husband and son, and regular dinner plates rather than festive holiday platters overfilled, was as sweet as well.

    Christmas ahead, and we will spend the day before with our daughter and children, who are no longer smaller than I but tower over me, and then spend the day of here at home quietly, remembering the years of lunch at my parents, dinner at his, and then evening eighty miles away at my brother's home for gift exchanges ...

    We spend our celebratory energies now by pacing ourselves through the year, at our small toy store, and we keep the trees lit there in each small room, and in our house, we keep the creche up all year long, and we see it, and we remember the real meaning of Christmas, all year long. There are no cookies involved.

    If you want to see the beautiful things that make people happy, made by Rick and accessorized by me, calmly, without rush, visit It is our happily ever after, and I wish the same for you.

  3. I love beautiful Christmas cookies and haven't had any since my mom died in 2003..What a great husband you have....

  4. Who doesn't love a cookie?

  5. yeah, made my somebody ELSE! And yeah, Abigail-Madison he's great now...but it took some training! Send any and all cookies my way Terry. I'm a foodie. Just not a cook(ie).

  6. I love the sweets for Christmas. I always over indulge.

    koonie2888 at yahoo dot com

  7. I'm with ya, feel yer pain. Used to make individual cinnamon rolls/wreaths. Heck with it, life is too short!

  8. Sign me up for BACON OF THE MONTH CLUB at Zingermans! :)


  9. Interesting post; I enjoyed reading it.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  10. This is about the only time of the year that I bake, but it's usually treats that involve a double-boiler and sticking them in the fridge to cool them down. Used to do more, but everyone liked the simple treats better.

  11. I KNOW right? Wendy Burke! You will LOVE all things Zingies...although they are on my shit list for taking my beer off tap for a while. ("until the Winter Lager comes out" they claim)

  12. I love to bake, Liz, but I totally understand the struggle to make everything perfect and then not having it be quite enough. Hubby has learned to avoid the kitchen when I am in a frenzy. He has not been clipped in the head, but he has had to dodge flying objects on occasion. Lucky for him I bake better than I throw. I actually started baking once a week for the local Bar and Grill just so I get in some baking time without eating it all myself. My family doesn't like sweets. The kids prefer fruit or natural snacks and hubby would take a beer any day.

  13. I like your hubby already Becca

  14. Ok Liz, you crack me up. LOL
    I too have flung a kitchen item at my hubby and he soon learned his lesson. I hate cooking as well. Used to love baking but over the years, grew tired of it. If it wasn't for my 16 year old daughter nagging me to bake i probably would buy everything instead of making it myself.

    Great post and great tease of your story.

  15. That is supposed to be, "Oh Liz" not ok. Sheesh stupid fingers. LOL

  16. My MIL is the cookie baker in the family and provides all our delicious treats. Great idea for a contest prize.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  17. The only time of year I bake is at Christmas.And I go crazy.i always say I'm not going to do as much.But I do and run around like a mad woman trying to get it all done.Then the day is over and I have tons left over.So far this year I haven't made anything.But I know I will.

    Caught Offside sounds really good.Looking forward to reading your other 1NS books.


  18. I agree with you, the preparations can get out of control and ruin the holidays. For 22 years I put on a big Christmas party for my friends and family. I both enjoyed it and dreaded it and finally decided to stop putting it on. We now go out to eat and I'm much less stressed. The holiday feelings are still there but I require less aspirin to cope.

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

    joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

  19. *hugs* I enjoy baking, but I don't enjoy the pressure of the season related to baking. Glad you found a way to get through the season with less stress :)

  20. December always goes by so fast. It always seems like I just put the decorations up and then I'm taking them down again.
    I'm usually the one elbow deep in flour, baking a plethora of goodies to pass around, but this year, I think I'm taking a break from baking.


  21. You made me snort, Liz. Your DH is lucky to be alive after that small comment. I will admit to being a baker. I've been known to make a dozen different cookies, but I found the most efficient way to do it, was to make one or two different kinds of dough each night & pack it unbaked in the refrigerator. Then when I had all the dough made, I would bake a sheet of each or however many I needed for an event or gift, leaving the rest to do later. That way, I could also have some fresh out of the oven treats pretty much whenever I wanted them. Seemed to keep the mess & craziness in check.

    drainbamaged.gyzmo at