Marolt: Gooey cookies, Donald Trump and second Christmas | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: Gooey cookies, Donald Trump and second Christmas

Roger Marolt

Don't put ricotta cheese in chocolate chip cookie dough. My sister-in-law got into my head and I did it and I ended up with goopy, cakie food discs to enter in the annual Marolt family New Year's Day chocolate chip cookie contest that has been much talked about but not held in a long time, since I shut out the competition at the turn of the century and nobody has been brave enough to challenge my secret recipe that has done to flour what the Colonel did to chicken byproduct.

Her announcement that she was mounting the unexpected challenge this year came out of the blue, so excuse me for believing she had a trick up her sleeve. I mean, she clearly knew what she was up against after begin slaughtered by my baked delicacies way back when and then, just like that, she was getting back in the game? I figured she discovered some potion or spice to mesmerize the judges with.

I reacted the stupidest way possible: I went searching for answers on the Internet. The ricotta cheese turned out to be like online dating for people with a thing for aprons; it sounded, looked and smelled better in cyberspace than it turned out to be in my kitchen. It's hard to concentrate long enough to screw up a batch of chocolate chip cookies with a house full of loud, messy college kids coming and going during holiday break, but I did it.

As it turned out, my sister-in-law had nothing up her sleeve, because that's not where you store psychological weapons. She showed up with her same old recipe that had proven no match for mine and I came in with the new spreadable cheese lockjaw- inducing amalgamation of .com cookie recipes that might have fared better in the gearbox lube of the year contest.

There is a part of me that thinks this set-up was a payback for the Christmas Eve cheer I spread via red savina peppers I grew here in Snowmass Village, which, I believe, might make them the highest habaneros ever grown and certainly the hottest ever cultivated in this village. I've been told that "red savina" literally translated in Spanish is "fuego en las manos del diablo," whatever that is.

It's amazing what you can talk people into eating after plying them with double shots in their egg nog. In the hours when Santa was circling New York City, three not-wise men at our party each downed one of my spicy little gifts. The first one cried. The second one had a panic attack and downed a quart of milk and a half-tub of Cool Whip to douse the flames. The third entered a Zen-like catatonic state from which he could neither communicate nor receive communication for the next 30 minutes. They eventually retired for the evening with visions of ice water sloshing in their guts.

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The next evening we met again, brothers, sisters, parents, in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews, kids and pets, to celebrate the solemnity of Christmas by comparing Donald Trump to Hitler. During the quiet moments when we rearranged our arguments to repeat, I learned a lot about life insurance annuity contracts and that my brother-in-law believes nobody should ever back down from a fight. Who knew?

But, don't think we left the family gatherings alone after that. My mother's birthday falls between Christmas and New Year's and she takes us out every year to celebrate. Yes, I know that we are supposed to take the birthday girl out instead of the other way around, but we figure our odd tradition takes precedent over the rest of the planet's and so she gets to treat. Besides, it's not like we don't take advantage of her over this. This year we ordered six dozen oysters as we perused the Maroon Creek Club menu, calculating combinations of appetizers, main courses and desserts that might empty their kitchen.

Then we do the weirdest thing of all on New Year's Day. We gather at my mother's house in Aspen for a second celebration of Christmas, including the exchange of more gifts. Don't ask. Traditions are ruts we celebrate because we love them without having to admit it.

All of this started over Thanksgiving when we strategized over when and where to sneak up on innocent evergreens to chop down and drag out of the woods to decorate our living rooms with for a few weeks of celebrating. The laughing and fighting and hugging and swearing and sweating that goes on that day in the forest gets everyone in the right mood.

Lots of people have said that the Aspen/Snowmass holidays this year were the craziest in memory. Huh. I didn't even notice.

Roger Marolt enjoys homegrown hustle and bustle. roger@maroltllp.com

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