When I met Bryce, John was his wing man. Those two guys are best buds. A few months after I joined the group, it was brought to my attention that John had a "special lady friend" who was coming to visit him for a week or so. That was all the explanation I got.
So this "special lady friend" showed up and cooked dinner for any and everyone who lived or pretended to live at the boys apartment. Any hesitation one may have had about this "special lady friend" immediately went out the window when she introduced us to the most insane dessert known to man, banana boats. (Mean girl translation = I thought I wasn't going to like her at all, but I ate my words along with the banana boat and immediately developed feelings of love toward said "special lady friend"!) If you haven't experienced a banana boat make one immediately: take a banana, slice down the top lengthwise, then fill that space with peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place it on a grill, or in the oven, until melted to perfection, DEVOUR the gooey, chocolatey peanut-buttery, yummy insides with a spoon.
John's "special lady friend" is indeed Brooke, his high school sweetheart and a major foodie. She is a GREAT cook and and even better baker with a serious love for real butter and bacon. Just a few months after her visit she moved to Hawaii to be with John, but ended up with Bryce and I, too! The four of us began spending every day together and soon became a love square, you know and hate these people: two couples who spend entirely too much time together and are extremely annoying to any outsider!
John and Brooke are two of the greatest people I know and my very, very good friends, Bryce will surely say the same about them. They later got the dumb idea to leave Hawaii to go to grad school... in Wisconsin! We miss them dearly and our life hasn't been the same since they left. Although I have to admit, I did lose several pounds once Brooke stopped cooking my dinners!
Last year those crazy love birds got engaged! It was around that same time that I discovered that having a "cookie table" is NOT a universal tradition. My coworkers here in Hawaii, who are from all over the United States, had no idea what a cookie table was. Do you know what happens if you google "wedding cookie table"? You get a New York Times article about the Pittsburgh tradition. HELLOOOOOOO!
"What is a cookie table?"
If you don't know, a cookie table is one of the most important parts of a wedding reception. It is, indeed, a table covered with cookies, which overshadows the measly cake table at weddings in fire halls across Pittsburgh everyday! Your Granny, Grandma, Aunts, neighbors, Mom, cousins, friends, friend's Aunts, Granny's neighbor, boss's wife, etc... bake their most delicious cookies in mass quantities for no promise of any type of repayment, or even an invitation to the wedding.
"When do you get to eat the cookies?"
The cookie table is first to the reception and you can start eating cookies immediately. You can eat them before dinner, before the bride and groom even show up, before the bar is open. You can eat them during dinner, on the dance floor, and throughout the entire reception. You can take them home with you, in the containers provided, or in your purse, pocket, sweaty palm, or "Italian pocketbook" aka your bra. You can eat them here or there or anywhere, in a house with a mouse, in a box with a fox, in a boat or with a goat, or any other place where you wouldn't eat green eggs and ham! There are no rules when it comes to cookie tables. If you're related to the bride or groom, you'll probably get to eat them for breakfast the next day, and have to eat them the whole weekend long, then each night for dessert until the damned cookies are finally gone!
So I told Brooke about the tradition of the cookie table and that it was going to be my gift to her for the wedding! I started baking months before the wedding.
Here's the original list between Brooke and I:
Russian Tea Cakes
Shortbread with Chocolate Drizzle
Dark Chocolate Hearts
Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Clusters
Rocky Road Double Chocolate Brownies
Hawaiian Snowballs (they have mac nuts and dried pineapple in them)
Peanutbutter with Chocolate Kisses
I made cookies in Hawaii, my Mom made cookies in Pittsburgh, Brooke and her friends and family made cookies in Arizona. Some of the cookies traveled many, many miles, thanks to USPS. With a lot of hard work and plenty of love, we completed the most beautiful cookie table I have ever seen. Her table was not limited to cookies alone, it also had two amazing cupcake trees, and a small, perfect wedding cake. It turned out wonderfully!
Here are some of my cookies:
Peanut Butter Cookies
Coconut Almond Cookies:
And... drum roll please... the cookie table!!!
It was a perfect display of sweets for a couple who deserve only the best. We were so happy to share your day with you, even if that meant lots and lots of baking!
Who knows what we'll come up with when they say they're expecting a bambino!