We're Not In Pine Brook Anymore

new york looks prettiest from new jersey

Last week, I woke to find a white envelope slipped under my front door.

Was it a love note? A Chinese takeout menu?  No!

It was a card from my apt building. Wishing me happy holidays from all 17 people who work here on staff. That’s right -- SEVENTEEN total doormen, front desk guys, maintenance men, porters, and a partridge in a pear tree.

The first year I lived in this building, I received a similar note -- a tipping guide, if you will. And tip I did! I must’ve been rich that year because I gave everybody at least a little something.

Last year, though, was a cold winter. Downright frigid.  I’d just gotten engaged and had a whole new family to buy Christmas gifts for (on the same old salary), so I cut the building's staff off my list.

Scrooge! Grinch! Cold AND Heat Miser!

I know.  I felt kinda bad about it, really I did, but I’m not made of money! Besides, I wound up moving in March, so I wouldn’t even have been able to reap the year-long benefits of my yuletide generosity. I really had no choice, it was the only sensible thing to do.

Well… who’s the holiday jackass now? This guy!

I’m back, and though I’m still a broke-ass after my 3 moves and various other ridiculous associated expenses, I really couldn’t ignore how helpful the guys in my building have been. They brought a bunch of deliveries up to my apt for me before I even moved back in. They help me every time I come home with a rental carload of paper towels, cases of water, Nutella, and other necessities after my trips to Jersey or CT. They handle my drycleaning for me.  And they only asked me ONCE why they don’t see my “husband” around anymore.

I wanted to make them all gifts this year. Hmmm… but what to make? Scarves? Ornaments? Macaroni necklaces? Nah. I decided on cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies? But it’s insane to make over 200 cookies from scratch (my roommate and I did it once in college, but we drank a lot back then), so I had to cut some corners.

Here’s my 7-step recipe for when you’re long on time, but short on cash:

1. Visit your neighborhood grocery store and clean them out of slice'n'bakes. Mix in some variety -- I went for sugar, chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chunk, and gingerbread. And get some pretty wrappings while you're at it.  Because handing someone a fist-full of cookies in a tissue says you just passed out on the F train due to low blood sugar -- NOT happy holidays.


2. Buy disposable cookie sheets. Even if you have a dishwasher, you'll be glad you did (if you feel guilty, recycle them when you're done, you crazy treehugger).  Grab a spoon, then scoop and roll little dough balls until your fingers hurt.  13 per tray -- but who's counting?





3. Bake as many as you can at a time, and keep an eye on those suckers. Flip the trays around, top to bottom, front to back, because nobody says "yum" when eating burnt treats, execpt your mom when you were 5 years old.  The bar is set considerably higher now, particularly when the recipients would prefer a gift you cannot eat.  Like cash.



4. You’ll never have enough cooling racks for this quantity of cookies, so line the few counters you have with paper towels for a quick cool down.  Extra points for neatness.






5. Organized cookies taste better, so count out all your supplies before you start. And save some for yourself.  One for Israel, one for me.  One for Vinko, one for me.  One for Sydney, one for me.  One for Kelvis, one for me... You get the idea.





6. Make an assembly line with all your pretty wrappings -- and start stuffing. Every package must look the same -- like little toy soldiers.  Showing favoritism in ANY way could result in an unwanted admirer or worse -- an angry doorman who “accidentally” lets the elevator close in your face.




7. Don’t forget to put your apt number on the treat bags -- they may not know your name, but they DO know where you live!









In total, I spent about 6 hours on a rainy Sunday and $88.47 to make 17 dozen cookies. That’s $5.20 per guy. Even with insane NYC grocery store prices -- I can live with those economics.

And I think they ate them. Well, I hope they ate them. But if they didn’t, I hope at least they don’t smush them into my mailbox or my front door while I’m away for the holidays. After all, it's the thought that counts, right?



Hey, do you know what else “C” is for?  Christmas.

Hope yours is merry!


tags: city life, food, holidays, polls
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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

merry christmas to you too!

Kevin said...

This is actually a pretty good idea, but wow, you are anal! I mean that in a the best possible way, of course. ;)

Anonymous said...

What was your reaction when they asked for your "husband's" whereabouts? They are lucky to not get coal!

Anonymous said...

you have a really clean oven

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Anon #1: Thanks -- same to you!

Kev: Ha, is this really news??

Anon #2: Pretty sure I said, "Fuck if I know," and kept on walking. Just a guess, but that could be why they dropped the subject.

Anon #3: Thanks. Maybe I can be an oven model!