I owe quite a debt to a certain type of cookie. Ginger cookies are what sparked the love affair between the farmer and the baker. Who could have guessed that a little pack of ginger cookies baked and sold in the heat of summer would bring two people from such different backgrounds together? And to think that so many little decisions could have changed the course of that day. I remember not wanting to work at the farmers' market because I wanted to spend more time in bread production at the bakery. I remember thinking my boss was nuts when he insisted I make ginger cookies for the market. Ginger cookies in summer? Who would possible want ginger cookies in summer?!
Let me back up. I can't remember the precise order of events, but there were three key interactions that lead to our first date. The first was the purchase of strawberries, which I addressed in the previous post. The second was a conversation sparked by strawberries. I asked Mark if I could pick strawberries on his farm, which lead to the discovery that we lived a mere two miles from each other. I had driven by his farm so many times and never known it. The third event was a few weeks later when I wanted some cucumbers. He insisted I just take a few; he would not accept my money. So I dropped off a little package of ginger cookies to thank him. Little did I know that he was slowly building up the courage to ask me on a date.
The question hit me over the head - a testament to how blind I am sometimes. We casually fell into conversation at market and he asked me if I knew about the Clinton County Fair. "Where is that?" I asked stupidly. "In Clinton County," he said with a smirk. After a laugh, he explained where it was (which of course, I had no idea but nodded in agreement). I asked if he was going and he said, "I was thinking about it. Actually I was wondering if you would like to go with me." Smooth.
I remember wanting, or thinking I wanted, to stay single for a while and to really enjoy being on my own. But the moment he asked me, everything in the world seemed to align. There was no other answer but, "Yes." After my farmer asked me to go to the Clinton County Fair with him, I walked on a cloud for the rest of the day. I had no idea how things would unfold, but I remember feeling like a new chapter had just begun. I felt the promise of something good.
I pulled out my cell phone and called his number, both of us thinking that it would show up as a missed call on his phone and then he could save it to his contacts later. As it turned out, a square reader was plugged into the phone and it did not register the call. He returned home from market that night and my number was no where to be found.
I didn't hear from him all week, which I thought was strange. Friday night, thinking that maybe he changed his mind, I decided to call him and either solidify our plans or tell him to take a hike, I wasn't sure which. Not thinking that he was already in bed at 8:00 pm, the call went to his voicemail. I didn't leave one. I went to bed thinking I had bought a new dress for no reason. Maybe I had misread everything and nothing in the universe had aligned at all.
The next morning, I got a text. "Is this Sam?" He was at market and wondered if the missed call had been from me. He explained what happened and why he hadn't called. Not knowing where exactly I lived and having no other way of getting ahold of me, he had been very worried. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and felt very silly for assuming the worst. We made plans to meet on the farm so he could give me a tour before we made our way to the fair...
Tomorrow, the story concludes. I think you know how it ends.
Ginger Cloud Cookies
Makes 13 - 2 oz cookies
Adapted from Sally McKenney + Alice Medrich
4 cups (424 g) unbleached pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks (170 g) unsalted butter, soft
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (28 g) grated fresh ginger (optional)
1 egg, room temperature
1/3 cup (104 g) unsulfured molasses
3/4 cup (113 g) crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
Extra sugar, for sprinkling
Sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the fresh ginger and beat to incorporate.
Add the egg and beat, then the molasses and cream briefly until fully incorporated. Scrape the mixture down.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Just before completely combined, add the crystallized ginger if using. Scrape the bowl to make sure everything on the bottom incorporates into the rest of the mixture.
Using a 2 ounce cookie scoop, scoop the cookies onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Wrap in plastic and let chill for at least 2 hours, or even overnight.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat a conventional oven to 350 F. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar and bake six or seven cookies per sheet tray on the center rack for 15 minutes. The cookies will puff up quite high and then crackle and deflate slightly as they cool.