Leslie Clements and I graduated from the same MFA program at Old Dominion University. We were both the youngest people in the program at the time, and I’ve always felt this, along with our inherent silliness and appetite for humor, bonded us. My stomach often hurts from laughing after I spend any length of time with this girl. Leslie is currently working on her first novel, which will be brilliant and wonderful. You can read her always lovely musings at her blog, The Rook and Ragbag.
Wisdom of the Season: Yoda Sugar Cookies
Post by Leslie Clements
Yoda gets pulled out this season (and on May fourth) because he stands for truth and wisdom. His turn of phrase is particularly important to this idea of wisdom. Word order and sentence structure deviations add emphasis to his speech, and our minds must make sense of how he says something in order to understand its meaning. Linguists argue that we’re bound to pay more attention to what he says because of this.
However, Yoda always says what is important in direct standard English, perhaps to be sure that he will be understood. We get the impression that this little green guy can see the big picture. We listen.
Wisdom, then, is to know not only ourselves, but where we are in the grand scheme of the universe when there is so little time to know. Yoda appeals to us as the wise mentor, one who knows. We need him, or people like him, to help us make sense of the world. Other cookie cutters need not apply at Christmastime.
As Yoda says in Star Wars,
The fear of loss is a path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.
Today I baked three batches of Christmas cookies, because I am out of my mind. I needed to be out of my mind in order to forget about what’s happening in the wider world as I mourn the loss of so many little children and their teachers, miss my family in England, or feel alone in an empty house during the season.
So I baked and let the mood follow the smells and tastes of something simple and plain and good. My thoughts lined up with the baking process and that slow chemistry of flour, sugar, butter, egg. I don’t have a mixer, so I beat ingredients together by hand with a spoon, letting the motions of combining, mixing, and stirring take over my body.
Small wisdom can be reached in this repetition, or at least an attempt at knowing concrete things such as the muffled scrape of a wooden spoon against a metal bowl, the ripe smell of fresh butter, or the taste of doughy cookie that will go perfectly with a cup of tea.
Today I know right where I am. I am in a kitchen, baking, while those left behind must piece together their lives somehow, while my family in England writes to say hello, and while I wait for my friends, who I know are coming home soon.
Yoda Sugar Cookies
(adapted from Star Wars Cookies from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
Over a small bowl, sift flour together with salt.
In a separate bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Then, slowly add the sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and blend together.
Next, add half of the flour and beat until most has been absorbed. Add the rest of the flour until it has been absorbed and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 equal balls. Shape each ball into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate disks for at least a couple of hours, no more than a couple of days.
Remove dough from the refrigerator and let stand for a few minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough approx. 1/4 inch thick.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees (F). Line baking sheets with parchment paper (you’ll thank me later).
Using the cookie cutters, cut out the desired shapes – in this case, Yoda. Be careful not to take off his ears when cutting. If the dough sticks to Yoda, sprinkle some flour on him. Put the cookies on the baking sheet about an inch or so apart.
Bake cookies until golden brown around the edges. In this case, be careful with Yoda, once the tips of his ears brown, you’re good to go. Let the cookies cool and then decorate.