Cookies are Health Food
Aug. 17, 2012 7:23 pm
Updated: Aug. 21, 2012 7:10 am
Recently, my husband and I decided our house needed hardscape - the new deck needed a landing, a patio for the gas grill and maybe a walkway out to the gate. After drawing out our ideas and calculating our supplies we realized we'd need 150 large paving
blocks. More daunting, we realized we'd need to pick the blocks up one at a time and put them down again. Our brutally honest self-assessment was that we could do it, but we'd probably not be able to walk for the rest of the summer.
We considered hiring someone, until Husband had a scathingly brilliant idea! Call our nephews in Ohio, invite them to come stay for a week, and ask them to pick things up and put them down for us. Several phone calls and text messages later, the nephews,
B1, 17, and B2, 15, were on their way to New Hampshire. Despite my girlfriend's caution ("You're inviting two teenage boys to live in your house? On purpose?") we were excited to see them and put them to work.
The nephews are tall, healthy, blond and muscular. Remembering our own sons at that age, we stocked the refrigerator with veggies, orange juice, eggs and milk, and the cupboards with peanut butter, cereal and bread. We interrogated their mother about likes
and dislikes. She assured us that "they eat everything," which we fully believed and "they don't eat much junk food," which we thought might be wishful thinking combined with respect for our finances. Having raised two sons, I was pretty sure I should stock
up on cookies.
The night before they arrived I baked double batches of snickerdoodles (Husband's favorite) and chocolate chip cookies (mine). Sitting at the kitchen island, surrounded by unpacked luggage and glasses of milk, B1 and B2 devoured several cookies as they told
us about their flight. Work on the patio began the next day, and a hearty lunch and dinner were followed by more cookies. Twenty-four hours after their arrival, the boys that didn't eat much junk food had put a sizable dent in both the pile of pavers and
the Tupperware full of cookies.
By this time we knew a little more about them. They did, indeed, eat everything put in front of them, although B1 was apt to eat lightly when the food wasn't a favorite, and then make himself peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches as a snack. B2 was fond of
putting ranch salad dressing on everything he ate. Knowing that teenaged boys can burn thousands of calories a day even when they aren't working hard, we didn't worry too much about nutrition and fed them dishes our boys (and the nephew's father when he was
younger) loved. Chicken fricassee with dumplings, beef burritos, fried fish and American chop suey all disappeared, along with many more cookies.
Admitting that their favorite cookie was peanut butter, I baked seven dozen the second day they were here, using Peter Pan because Mom said it made the best cookies. The nephews seemed to agree. The peanut butter cookies vanished faster than the snickerdoodles,
if that's possible. Realizing that twenty dozen cookies weren't going to last until the job was completed, I cast around for other delights. Husband and I cheerfully abandoned our high-fiber, low-carb diet for the duration of their visit.
One night the boys admitted that they didn't know who Barney Fife was. Husband immediately fired up the DVD player and the men laughed through episodes of the Andy Griffith Show while I made whoopie pies. The boys insisted that they had never had whoopie
pies before, and were delighted when Husband declared, "That's it. Next time I see your father I'm going to kick his butt!"
As the food disappeared, the walkway and patio appeared, transforming our yard. While Husband and I occasionally lugged a single paver from driveway to patio, B1 held a pair over his head and did a few quick triceps extensions. B2 swept, raked, shoveled and
carefully placed pavers one after the other, only briefly stopping to laugh at one of Husband's family stories or to harass his brother.
Five days after they arrived, they boarded a plane back to Ohio, and our kitchen returned to normal. Yogurt replaced bacon, and Marshmallow Fluf gave way to almond butter. The house grew quiet again as we resumed our daily routine. And every time I set foot
on our new walkway, I think of my two nephews and smile. I'm really not sure if it's because our yard is so much improved or because they helped me remember how much fun it is to cook for boys who eat everything.