Christmas Road Trip (with Bittersweet Orange Cookies)
On December 22nd, Scott and I loaded our car with packages, overnight bags, half the contents of our refrigerator, and Thunder. We set off on a ten-hour trip to Virginia in the pouring rain. About half an hour in, we had this conversation.
Me: ACK! I HAVE NO PRESENTS FOR PEOPLE!
Scott: Yes, you do. You have a tie for your dad. . . and a book. . . and a gift certificate for your brother, and . . . and I’m sure there’s something around here for your mom.
Me: Yeah, like a half a tub of sour cream. Or maybe she’d like an opened container of salsa.
Scott: So that’s why it smells like huevos rancheros in here.
Me: Yeah, we have eight eggs in a container under the seat. I boiled them for lunch because they were going to go bad.
Me: But maybe I should save them and give them to my mom for Christmas. What can you make out of hard-boiled eggs? An eggshell necklace, maybe? Give me your pens. I am going to draw little sayings on the eggs. Do you have any glue?
Scott: No glue. Not stopping for glue.
Me: We should stop for glue. We should stop in Scottsboro.
Scott: The only thing in Scottsboro is the unclaimed luggage center.
Me: Unclaimed WHAT?
Scott: Unclaimed luggage center. It’s where the airlines sell the stuff from lost and unclaimed baggage.
Me: Like, they’d sell it to ME?
Scott: Theoretically, if we stopped there, yes. If we were not already on a ten-hour trip that WE JUST STARTED.
Me: Oh my gosh WE COULD SAVE CHRISTMAS.
Scott: Save it from what? Christmas is fine.
Me: Christmas is not fine. Christmas is about to be a necklace made out of eggs that say I LOVE YOU written on them in red. And sometimes just “YOU” because the rest didn’t fit.
Scott: What the. . . what? What did you do to the eggs? They look . . stalkerish. And why are there egg shells in your lap?
Me: Because I ate two just now. In protest. I am protesting your refusal to save Christmas.
Scott: [rolling down the window] Oh my God.
An hour later, in the parking lot of the unclaimed luggage center:
Me: I got her a karaoke machine.
Scott: What? Why? Does it even work?
Me: It has to. I mean, who would fly with a broken karaoke machine, right? Why go to the trouble?
Scott: Um. . . right.
Me: And I think I just saw a bathing suit of mine that U.S. Airways lost in the summer of 1998.
Scott: Tell me right now that you didn’t buy a used bathing suit from a secondhand store in rural Alabama.
Me: I didn’t. But maybe I should. . . I mean, it’s my bathing suit.
Scott: GET IN THE CAR.
Me: Okay, okay. I can drive. Not far from here there’s this pla–
Scott: GET IN THE PASSENGER SIDE OF THE CAR.
And that is how Christmas was saved. And how the airline industry’s incompetence was used for good, for once.
Do you know how I got him to stop at the unclaimed luggage center?
It was a combination of (a) pointing at a weird billboard while jerking the wheel toward the exit, and (b) threatening to withhold these cookies, which were the only things in the car that smelled delicious.
They are orange cookies with bittersweet chocolate chunks. We threw coconut in some of them, and marshmallow in others. The marshmallow ones went undocumented because we ate them, and they were fabulous. The marhsmallow didn’t get hard– it stayed gooey in little pockets of air inside the cookie.
I love these cookies. They’re like the best chocolate chip cookies I based them on, but with a fancy twist. I think it’s dissolving the baking soda in water that does it.
Bittersweet Orange, Coconut & Chocolate Cookies
1 c. butter (softened)
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. orange extract
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. hot water
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. flour
2 oranges’ worth of grated orange peel
1 10-oz. package of 60% cacao chocolate chips (Ghiradelli brand)
(Optional) 1 c. shredded coconut
(Optional) mini marshmallows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grate the orange peel of the two oranges and set aside.
Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar together. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Add vanilla, orange extract and grated orange peel. Once blended, turn off mixer.
Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and add to the mixer along with the salt. Blend until combined. Beat in the flour.
Stir in the chocolate chips and, if desired, the coconut.
If not adding marshmallows: Drop the cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are browned.
If adding marshmallows: Stick 4 mini marshmallows in each cookie, poking the marshmallows in and shaping the dough into a ball so that the marshmallow is not exposed when you drop the cookie on the sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges are browned.