Friday, January 25, 2013

Happy Cookie

Why does drinking half a mouthful of mulled apple juice move me from glum to hopeful? A speck or two of nutmeg dropped into 8 ounces of apple juice along with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, heated to boiling and allowed to cool to drinkable temperatures, lifts my mood from "oh mumble, another day" to mildly hopeful. I was just trying to make drinking juice less predictable and got a mood improver. Oh Joy, literally. 

Of course I had to research it. Imagine my delight when I encountered, buried in an article on the narcotic effects of nutmeg, this recipe:

"Cookies for Preventing Sadness
Christian Rtsch and Claudia Mller-Ebeling (2006) offer the following recipe for "Cookies for Preventing Sadness" in their book Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide.
2 Tbsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground cloves
3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
pinch salt
3/4 cup chopped almonds 

Mix ingredients and bake cookies at 350F for five to ten minutes. The cookies are sweet, spicy, and they lift the spirits. Perfect for the holidays. "

There were no instructions on how to use the cookie dough. Did you roll it into balls before pressing it onto cookie sheets? Did you mash the balls down, like peanut butter cookies? Did you roll it into logs and chill, then cut off slices? I tried all these methods. Rolled into balls and baked is my preference. The brown dough does not get noticeably darker in baking, but the texture changes.

Cookies for Preventing Sadness are fine. I doubt that eating a Happy Cookie will quell a full blown panic attack. Neither will it transport you into culinary ecstasy.  

So far, eating three cookies a day means I accomplish more of the things I think about doing, and falling asleep is easier, or at least less impossible.  I suffer from seasonal glumness. When the days are short, so is my temper, and everything is an effort. Several times I have discovered that I am halfway through a project that previously was too much trouble. A coat needed its lining repaired. It's nearly done. Why don't I paint a metal washer with nail polish and see how it looks? Fairly decent. Why don't I use up those figs in a cake? Too much trouble.

I am not at all tempted to eat more than three, my arbitrary cookie limit, in a sitting. They are not particularly sweet. The amount of cinnamon makes my throat burn slightly. The cookie is crumbly, moist, and satisfying. 

For gloom, mild anxiety and sleeplessness, "eat a cookie and call me in the morning" seems a reasonable course of action.