Proactive Bribes

“Can I bribe you?”

This was a question often asked of me by my mother.  Usually it meant that there was something boring she needed to do and she either wanted me to help her or to keep her company.  Sometimes this meant going shopping with her and sitting on her purse while she tried on clothes.  Other times it meant she had to collate and organize papers for her classroom and she wanted someone to chat with while doing so.  I was a pretty easy kid so generally, yes, I could be bribed.  Usually the bribe was food-related- Friendly’s Ice Cream (that peanut butter sauce is my nemesis.  I’ve never been able to re-create it.), Chinese or Pizza.  Yum.

I have found that this a tradition that has carried over into my life.  I often attempt to bribe my husband with food.  He’s not as easy as I was and will often just say no.  (I have no idea how he’s able to do that.)  I also pro-actively bribe people with food.  Perfect example?  The drive home from Maine on Friday was epic.  The baby wasn’t sleeping as she had on the way up, there was traffic and we ended up leaving later than we originally had planned (y’know because we got there later than we’d planned).  As a result, it took us FOREVER to get home and my husband was late for his new job.  It was to be a question and answer kind of stint, with another employee who was off work at 10pm.

He was driving so I called his new place of employment and spoke with said employee.  I explained the situation, the baby helpfully screaming to illustrate my point, and asked her if she wouldn’t mind staying just a few minutes later than her shift to answer his questions.  I offered her coffee, snacks, whatever she’d like.  She very sweetly said she’d stay, no bribe necessary.  Right.

So I sent my husband off to work and told him to find out when she was working next and what her favorite cookie was.  I also reminded him that I was going to make her cookies either way so she really should just tell him her favorite.  He was all over it.

Luckily, as mentioned, The Hungry Hippo, one of my most favorite people in the whole world, was at my house when I got home.  She had entertained my cousin and mother by making dinner and dessert and ransacking my kitchen in order to find ingredients and implements.  She’d done it quite neatly.  So she agreed to help me make said bribe and our Saturday morning was planned.

Husband came home and informed me that the lovely young lady wanted sugar cookies.  Sugar cookies? Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good cookie, regardless of type but sugar cookies as a favorite? Here I am, offering any kind of cookie- linzer cookies? half moons? whoopie piespuddle cookies?- and she requests a simple sugar cookie?

The Hippo wisely consulted Martha Stewart because if you’re going to make a sugar cookie, why not make one by a domestic diva such as Martha.  Truth?  There are very few recipes for sugar cookies out there- all my favorite, go-to chefs don’t bother with them.  Go figure.

We did, of course, make them pretty.  We tried a few different methods- white sanding sugar, sanding sugar colored with food coloring and multi-colored sprinkles.  That part was kind of fun.  And in the end, they were pretty tasty.  Not exciting because they’re sugar cookies but a sufficient bribe, nonetheless.

Bribery Sugar Cookies (Adapted Slightly from Martha Stewart)


3 cups white flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups white granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup unsalted butter (that’s two sticks, or a half a pound), room temperature

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

Sanding Sugar or Sprinkles or Something Pretty for decorating


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Into a small to medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until they’re light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between.

Add the vanilla and mix again.  Add the sifted flour mixture gradually, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure it all mixes together.

Scoop onto baking sheets.  We used an ice cream scoop- 2 inches, I believe.  You could also use spoons or even your fingers.  Leave space between the cookies because they’ll spread.  Flatten them a little bit with your fingers.

If you’re choosing to decorate, now is the time.  Sprinkle them with sanding sugar, sprinkles, whatever.

We tried sugar as well.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.  If you like your cookies on the softer, chewier side, take them out when they’re just starting to brown.  Let them brown a bit more for slightly crisper cookies.  Let them cool on the pan for a few minutes before removing them to wire racks.

4 thoughts on “Proactive Bribes

  1. TEASPOONS of vanilla. Or they would have been teaspoons had I been measuring and not using my highly specialized pour & guess technique. – Your Hippo (who is also highly bribeable with food)

  2. Oh, Hippo, I should’ve called you before typing it all up! I’ll make the edit now. Miss you!

    Holly, but of course- but are you SURE you don’t want to request something a little more complicated?!?! C’mon, you don’t want to be THAT girl, the one who eats sugar cookies!!!!

  3. Holly, I don’t even know you, and yet I will judge you if you request sugar cookies. If you go against our warnings and do request sugar cookies, at least specify a certain shape and perhaps icing in order to give the whole thing a bit of legitimacy. Much better to be the girl who will only eat cookies shaped like an octopus than to just be the sugar cookie girl.

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