This blog topic/photo op was inspired while I was practicing shifts on the cello a few weeks ago. As I was psyching myself with phrases like “imagine the sound,” “visualize the fingerboard,” “feel the destination,” “think the spot,” “just be there,” it occurred to me that this was very much like a strategy I use when baking one of my family’s favorite Christmas cookies – the Chocolate-Crowned Acorns.
These cookies were first introduced into our home around 1985 after my son made a cookie-tin exchange with a friend; they’ve been a holiday favorite ever since. I’ve learned a lot over the years by baking these cookies. For instance, to stir the dough with a delicate folding motion to avoid getting a sore arm, to chill the dough a bit less than the original recipe recommends, and to add just a tiny amount of green food coloring to the dough since a little goes a long way. I’ve also learned that these cookies always end up looking and tasting good, no matter how un-acorn-like some of them may look when I place them in the oven. But one of the most interesting things I’ve learned is that if I want these cookies to look like acorns, I need to “think acorns” as I’m shaping the little spoonfuls of dough between my hands. If I tense up and try too hard it just doesn’t happen, but if I just relax and “zone out” a bit, the acorn takes shape. I find that shifting works pretty much the same way for me.
Thinking "acorn" as I roll the dough between my palms