The past Saturday, I had a shift as a parking ticket seller a full nine hours before a football game kick off. In the early hours, the campus was silent, minus the whirring motors of a few cars and the patter of jogging feet. But the excitement of a wild, fun night seemed to linger in the air, like that anticipation of a sneeze you get right before a big “Ah-choo!”.
Early in my shift, people clad in purple and gold (our school colors) drove towards supermarkets with empty ice coolers in their car trunks, hurrying to stock up on meat for grilling and some extra packs of Busch Light. Then, a bigger trickle of cars came, circling like hawks, eyes keen for parking spots. And after that, the marching band students began their trek towards the stadium, already clad in their lovable uniforms and matching shoes. And the crowds became denser and denser. The rate at which I sold parking tickets upped a few notches. The purple and gold became ubiquitous. And I knew for sure that it was football time.
There is nothing that can dampen football spirit (both literally and figuratively). Even in the pouring Seattle rain, people had their tailgate parties and blasted club music from their cars/boomboxes. The rain came in waves, forcing me to don a square poncho that made me look like a transparent Dementor (one of those soul-sucking monsters from Harry Potter). Towards the end of my shift, it began raining cats and dogs and I squeezed under an umbrella with three other colleagues. We laughed at how funny we must have looked and took turns holding the umbrella.
I guess football is just classic American culture. Seriously, what would the beginning of a year be without Superbowl grocery sales and the best TV ads ever? What would college be without Saturday football games to show off our school spirit? Kids can’t just walk to class with purple and gold stripes painted on their face, beads dangling from their necks, and Washington legwarmers on their calves. That would be…weird. We need football games to channel this fervor. Even though half the remarks the commentators mark fly in one ear and out the other as gibberish, I still love the feeling of involvement I receive from my job.
The same goes for shortbread in American culinary culture. Food wouldn’t be food without Julia Child and her butter obssession. Baking wouldn’t be baking without the classy mother of the nuclear family treating her lucky children to homemade treats everyday. And treats wouldn’t be treats without shortbread, the simplest recipe in the history of simple recipes.
You take butter, sugar, and flour. Then you mix it, put it in a pan, bake it, and eat it.
The Simplest Shortbread Ever
2 cups of AP flour (or you can substitute 1/2 cup of rice flour for 1/2 cup of AP flour for a different texture)
8 ounces butter
3/4 cup sugar
Combine all ingredients in a bowl using an electric mixer until the dough clumps together. Press into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Prick with a fork to decorate (above). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned. Cut into appropriate sized pieces while it’s still warm, and let it cool before remove it from the pans.
A few people thought the shortbread was just buttery and I completely agree. I would just like to point out that plain shortbread is essentially butter-tasting. There is no vanilla extract or cocoa powder so we are going for the basic taste. So for all of you who might want to try this recipe: add a bit of your own style to it. With all the leeway this recipe leaves, this should be a very easy challenge.
A challenge? Yes. Here I am announcing my first recipe challenge to all my readers. Adapt the above shortbread recipe to your own style. Whether it’s butterscotch chips, banana extract, or vegan ingredients, make this shortbread recipe your shortbread recipe. Comment below with your adapted recipe and feel free to email it to me in private at totallynataliepower[at]gmail.com.
As for me, I took the easy way out and drizzled my shortbread with chocolate and strawberry syrups and caramel sauce. Yes, ice cream toppings, but just as delicious on crumbly shortbread. I’ll be waiting to hear about your versions so I can try them for myself.