Once, a million years ago, I took the train from NYC to a tiny (and kinda scary) Connecticut town to visit Shannon while he was rehearsing a musical about the life of John Philip Sousa.
A few things that are sharp in my memory from that weekend include:
1. The sweet man who was playing Sousa was so committed that he shaved his hairline back a couple inches so he'd more closely resemble the actual Sousa. Shannon told me this in advance and while I was shocked someone would consider this extreme measure for a regional theatre production, I couldn't wait to lay my eyes on it. When I finally met him, I couldn't stop staring (I had a problem) and even afterward, spent WAY too much time wondering how that was gonna look growing back in. Like a headband of 5-o'clock shadow? Would he shave the rest of his head so it could grow back together as one unit? I still wonder about this and how it all turned out.
2. We were in our young 20s so we thought it'd be cute/totally normal/romantic to share his twin bed. I literally fell out of it in the middle of the night and remember lying there on the cold floor, rubbing my sore hip and thinking: What am I doing?? This is bullshit. That may have been the exact moment I became an adult.
3. One of his cast-mates used an empty Lays potato chip bag as a purse. As. A. Purse. Think about it.
4. One afternoon, we walked in on his roommate: a sad, bespectacled soprano recluse in her late 40s. She sat cross-legged on the couch with a plastic grocery-store tray in her lap that contained several pale orange, frosted cupcakes. She caught us staring and blurted, "What?! My doctor said I need to include more pumpkin in my diet."
I think everyone needs more pumpkin in their diet this time of year. And if the carrier is a cupcake (or a cookie for that matter), it's better than no pumpkin at all, right? So:
Dear Shannon's Sousa Roommate From 1996,
Wherever you are.....this one's for you:
Iced Pumpkin Cookies
adapted from All Recipes
yields about 3 dozen
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 t vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
4 1/2 T milk
1 1/2 T melted butter
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside.
Cream together the sugars and butter with an electric mixer several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Add dry ingredients a bit at a time and mix until just incorporated. Drop on parchment-lined baking sheets by tablespoonfuls; moisten your fingers with water and flatten slightly. Bake 16 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden, taking care not to over bake.
Make the icing: combine the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and melted butter. Stir with a whisk or fork until smooth. Dip the tops of completely cooled cookies into the icing and dry completely on a rack before storing.
(Alternately, you can make less icing and just drizzle instead of dip. But do you really want less icing?)