Monday, August 31, 2009

Made with love

I recently attended dinner at a friend’s house. A group of eight of us came together, each bringing something different to the table, whether it was wine, food, or great stories. My contribution was one of my favorite foods: cookies. But not just any cookies - chocolate chip cookies.

I made my first batch of chocolate chip cookies at the age or three or four. My wonderful grandmother, Mary, took the time to lift my brother and me up onto the counter top – each sitting on one side of the mixer. She measured out the ingredients and let us dump them in the mixer while she stirred with the spatula. She cracked the eggs into a small glass and let us dump them in. We’d watch the yolks getting closer and closer to the swirling beaters and cry “Don’t eat me. Don’t eat me!” with a bit of morbid humor. When we got around to adding flour at the end we’d take turns pouring it in and watch the white clouds puff up and say “smoke!”

And the best part – when they came out of the oven, still warm and gooey, we’d all sit around the kitchen table with glasses of cold milk and big smiles on our faces – totally satisfied.

I no longer make sound effects when I make my cookies, and I’m now tall enough to stand on the floor rather than sit on the counter as I add my ingredients but I’ve never lost my love of making cookies. Each time I pull out the mixer and a bag of chocolate chips I think fondly of my grandmother.
Cookies are one thing I can make confidently for others and know that more often than not they’ll be a success. And people frequently ask for my recipe. But I’ve always been a little hesitant to give the recipe – it’s as though I might be giving away something precious.

I have noticed a pattern though. At times when I realize I’m feeling anxious or stressed and decide I need to do something for myself to help release those feelings I’m often tempted to pull out my mixer. I don’t always make cookies, but I do love to use the mixer and to bake. I have my mom’s old Sunbeam mixer and I absolutely adore it. I guess the simple act of baking connects me to two wonderful women – my grandmother through some of my earliest memories and my mother through her old mixer. Perhaps by baking I’m longing for that sense warm and fulfilling melted chocolate and cold milk love.

But what’s the hold up with sharing the recipe? Maybe my fear of sharing stems from some deeper (although deluded) belief that by sharing the recipe I’ll be giving it away, along with my precious memories and the love and connection I feel toward my family…

I recently realized that somewhere deep inside I had a fear of really allowing myself to feel and express love for others, especially romantic love (and especially at the risk that the love might not be returned – gasp!). Has this fear really overflowed into every part of my life? Even into the kitchen?

It seems like this is the case. But now that I realize it I can also see the fault in this belief. Love is best when shared. So are cookies. And sharing never diminishes a thing. It serves to strengthen and enhance it. So now I’m going to share my cookie recipe and my love (cookies should always be made with love) with all of you.

For best results be sure to use your favorite mixer and your favorite ingredients. And always do all of your cooking with lots of love.

The following recipe is merely the latest version which has come about through years of playing, experimenting, expanding upon what I learned with my grandmother, my Aunt Linda, recipe suggestions for the so-called “best” cookies, and trial and error of course. So don’t be afraid to experiment.

- ½ c. sugar
- 1 c. packed brown sugar
- 2 sticks (1/2 c.) butter (not margarine), melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 - 1 ½ Tbs real vanilla extract (I’ve used as much as 3 Tbs. It just depends on my mood and finance in the moment.)
- 1 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
- ¼ c. brown rice flour
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips. (I never measure these. I just add them until the dough looks relatively saturated with chocolate lumps.)
- Bitter sweet chocolate chips. (Same measurements as above. I like to mix Ghirardelli with another brand. This not only mixes up the types of chocolate but also mixes regular size with larger chips)
- Walnut halves. You can squeeze them by the handful to break them into slightly smaller pieces if desired, though the mixer will also break them up somewhat once you add them to the dough. I prefer to have large chunks of nuts in the cookies.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

First blend white and brown sugars together. Then add melted butter. Stir in eggs and extra egg yolk. Blend. Add salt, baking soda and vanilla. Add both types of flour gradually. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts. Place rounded balls of dough (teaspoon size) on non-stick or greased cookie sheet. Bake for nine minutes or until cookies start to brown slightly. Remove cookie sheet from oven (place second sheet in oven if you have two so the next batch can bake while the first cools). Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for several minutes. Then remove and place on wire rack to cool the rest of the way.

Share and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Yum! I love this article, love your cookies and love you!!