Entries in cookie (15)

Sunday
Jan192014

Softest Molasses Cookies

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Wyatt has a book nook under the stairs. Lately, I've had fantasies of holing up in there. With People magazine, episodes of The Good Wife, and these cookies. Lots of them.

It's been a roller coaster beginning to 2014 in my neighborhood. A beautiful, bright, loving high schooler died in a car accident between her house and the grocery store where she worked. Last week, a single mother opened her door for a teenager in distress and was beaten within an inch of her life. I didn't know them, but lots of folks in my world did, and I can't stop being sad.

Of course I'm not going to stop driving, and I can't do anything about being home alone at night while Yancey's working. I don't feel scared, but I'm on notice--aware of mortality, alert to the very thin line between life and death, between happiness and extreme suffering. A wise teacher said to me lately, "We know we're close to the holy when we bump up against paradox--the both/and."

So this town has been been mourning and I've been praying, but still there have been moments of beauty, grace, deliciousness.

Jordan came up and we went to an Enneagram retreat together at Stillpoint. The best part was the 36 hours afterward when we consulted all our books and analyzed one another. Is that friendship or what?

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Loretta, as usual, had several make-out sessions with our dog Padré, made me lots of love notes, and reminds me every day of all the love in the world that's waiting to be shared.

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My clients asked if they could appreciate me at the end of a retreat I facilitated. They said the kind of things you might hear at a retirement party, the kind of things you might wait your whole life to hear. I soaked it up and I'm still soaking it up.

Today, MLK Day, I feel a tsunami of gratitude for MLK, Ghandi, Dorothy Day, Jesus, Oscar Romero, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and countless others who have turned the paradigm of domination on its head and paid dearly for it. I know I fail mightily some days, but I hope I can honor their prophetic voices, living in love instead of fear.

Our family went for a hike today and we were treated to brilliant sunshine and breathtaking views of Puget Sound at the summit. I'll feast off it for a long time. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the message I heard was, "The universe is good. It's supporting you, supporting life, rooting for you. Breathe it in." So I am.

Molasses Cookies
Good old Bon Appetit comes through again. My aim is to have the cookie jar full during the week since my kids have come to expect a treat in their lunch and I prefer to know what's in the treat and be able to pronounce it. I made a double batch of these (enough for some after-school snacks, too) and enjoyed Wyatt's groans of pleasure. He's fun to cook for. One big difference between the recipe and my method: REFRIGERATE YOUR DOUGH FOR A COUPLE HOURS. This means a little planning ahead, but it's worth it.

Recipe

 

Sunday
Dec082013

Advent 2013: Russian Teacakes

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Or Mexican Wedding Cookies. Or Viennese Cresecents. Whatever the international moniker, they will melt in your mouth.

They are the first Christmas cookies I make every year. My cooking magazines are full of tantalizing and novel options, but I get overwhelmed. And don't want to go to the store. And Loretta is very proficient at rolling things in powdered sugar. Like many favorite cookies of mine, they are not fragile and will not go stale quickly. Packed in a Chinese takeout container, who wouldn't want to find these on their porch or desk with a note from you?

Russian Teacakes
This recipe calls for hazelnuts, which would be delicious. I used toasted pecans. Pecans or walnuts are my favorite in these cookies. You can also use almonds. Just make sure you toast them. Makes a huge difference.

Recipe

Monday
Aug262013

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I'm checking in here tonight feeling so FULL.

My family is doing the dishes around me, and I'm enjoying seeing my new maxim of "The Cook Doesn't Do Dishes" in action. Wyatt is listening to Jack White (loudly), Loretta is swiffering, and Yancey is supervising. We had clam chowder for dinner, and you would have thought I gave Wyatt a trip to Universal Studios. After mountain biking with Yancey, he ate two huge bowls and thanked me three times. 

And I'm full of other things, too. I have a friend who's really sad and suffering. I was able to be with her over the weekend, and I'm thinking about her every second. I have clients whose jobs are demanding more of them than I could ever imagine. I'm thinking about Egypt and Syria and indeed, all the conflict and scarcity in the world and my seeming helplessness in the face of it. In much more incosnquential news, I feel overwhelmed by my inbox, things that didn't get crossed off my summer to-do list, a new car payment, finding time to be still, procuring soccer gear, and the unearthly amount of laundry that insists on torturing me.

Fall is always a time of goal-setting for me. I think there are lots of us, parents or not, who are still on the academic calendar. After I've dug myself out from summer off-the-radar-ness, I usually have a burst of energy and optimism that helps reset things a bit. Among my intentions this fall:

  • Hand off more work and responsibility to the kids. For instance, tell them what time we're leaving and expect them to be ready by that time instead of micro managing everyone to death just so I don't look like a loser mom by being late. Hello, enabling behavior!
  • View my responsibilities as opportunities for engagement, relationship, and connection. We have Soccer Mania around the corner and I find myself resenting the space it's taking up on my calendar. But they'll be outside, getting exercise and great lessons in collaboration. And I will be outside (drenched!), hopefully making new friends and seeing old ones.
  • Get up earlier than my kids to exercise and meditate. That happened this morning, and I've been drafting on it all day.
  • Hold myself accountable--in health, relationships, spirituality, work, parenting--but don't compare myself to others! I'm really noticing lately how damaging and defeating that is. Continue to cultivate the discipline of gratitude, which is the best antidote I know of for the trap of comparison.

And lastly, involve my kids more in cooking. I'm pretty bad about this, actually, because a) I'm in a hurry and b) I really like to be alone in the kitchen. It's meditative for me. That won't go away, but once or twice a week, it's good for us to do things together. Loretta helped me make these cookies, and she was in heaven. She's so stinking careful with her measurements and so eager to help with every little thing. I want to bawl when I think about all those kids in Syria, camping outside, fleeing from their homes, who'd give anything for a quiet and safe afternoon. Creator, surround them with love, goodness, and plenty even in the midst of their horror. Help us work to end that war and all wars, which only create suffering and loss. Amen.

And Happy Back-to-School. These cookies are divine, and perfect for those never-ending lunches.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies
If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you will notice that I am cheating with this "new" recipe. These are my tried and true cookies with three differences--chocolate chunks instead of chips, no oatmeal, and refrigerated overnight instead of 1-2 hours. That's a really important part. I tried them with just a couple hours in the fridge, and the difference was huge. And in favor of the overnight method.

 2 c. flour
1 c. dark or light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. (2 cubes) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. (12 oz.) dark chocolate chunks
Flaked salt for top (optional) 

Combine first five ingredients in a medium bowl. Add melted butter, egg and egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until just combined. Add chocolate chunks and refrigerate dough for 8 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Form dough into balls (the dough will be hard! Persist!) and sprinkle with salt, if using. Bake on two racks in the oven for about 9 minutes, switching them halfway through. Let cool. 

Monday
May272013

Everything an Oatmeal Cookie Should Be

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I have finally found it--the perfect, crave-it oatmeal raisin cookie. Chewy, moist, crispy around the edges. Thanks to Alice (Medrich), of course. And thanks to the continuing inspiration of my big, fat cookie jar from the antique mall. It really looks forlorn when it's empty.

For his birthday, I gave my father-in-law a jar of these and told him I'd refill the jar indefinitely with whatever he wanted. I gave him lots of choices this time around--brown butter snickerdoodles, molasses, salted chocolate. But he said he wanted oatmeal raisin again. This time, I was smart and made a double batch.

Emily was supposed to come up last weekend. We've been planning it for a long time and had characteristically assembled little collections of gifts and hand-me-downs to exchange. We'd been sending anticipation texts, and Loretta spruced up her room. (That's where Emily sleeps when she comes.) But it didn't work out. We are both sad, but it was the right thing. And the silver lining, as I told her, was that I still felt like she was here and that my regular life was on hold. I didn't check email. I played lots of card games with Wyatt. We went to the farmers market, the Ski to Sea parade, and the street fair. I made pancakes twice for the kids and am halfway through two new books. I sorted my craft supplies, slept in, made and photographed these cookies, and put off folding the laundry. Yancey and I managed a last-minute afternoon date and I exercised every day. In short, just what the doctor ordered.

I hope you're able to find some time like that soon. You might even find yourself reaching for your mixing bowls.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
As with many of Alice's recipes, you've got to think ahead with these so you can refrigerate the dough. It helps the oats soak up the butter and makes all the difference. I doubled the batch and did half dark raisins and half golden raisins. You could also add nuts, other dried fruit, or a bit of flaked salt on top. Yum.

2 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. water
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanila
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 c. raisins

Place the oats in a small bowl and sprinkle with water. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.

Cut the butter into chunks and melt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugars, vanilla, and salt. Add the egg and stir briskly. Stir in the flour mixture just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the raisins and oats. Let the dough sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

For large cookies, scoop about 2 level tablespoons of dough and place the cookies about 3" apart on the lined pans. For small cookies scoop 1 level tablespoon of dough. Bake for 12-15 minutes for large cookies and 10-12 minutes for small ones, or until the cookies are just barely golden on top and they still look a tad undone. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time.

Cool the cookies completely before storing or stacking.  

Saturday
May112013

Salted Chocolate Cookies with Ginger and Coconut

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These really are worth reading about. Stay on the line.

As you must know by now, food is the way for me to talk about everything else. And since tomorrow is Mother's Day, I've got a few things on my mind.

As I've become a mother, I have really mixed feelings a about Mother's Day. I look forward to the cards my kids make me, and if I'm lucky Wyatt will write me a poem. I look forward to lounging around in the morning and sometimes reminiscing about having babies or what life was like before half my budget went to Target.

But...

There should be a Women's Day instead of Mother's Day. A day to honor whatever thoughtful choices we have made in our lives. 

Deciding not to be a mother is full of integrity. And brave. Our culture puts so much emphasis--overtly and subtly--on motherhood as the fulfillment of womanhood. I have been blessed, over and over again, by women in my life who are not mothers. They have more energy for their work in the world. They're less distracted, and they have a lot of love left for my children!

Longing for motherhood and not experiencing it is painful. I don't know about this firstand (2 weeks from decision to fertilization in this household!), but I know from listening and being with lots of women. I've learned never to be cavalier about it or assume anything. Everyone's got a story, and some of them are full of pain and broken dreams.

The maternal spirit comes in many forms. It comes with godmothers and godfathers. It comes with anyone who lovingly takes care of children for a living or as a favor. It comes whenever there's care for a dying, sick, or disabled person. It comes in how we connect with and care for our pets. In the Buddhist way, what would happen if we saw ourselves as mother to everyone AND saw everyone in our community as mother to us? A lot of love going around. And you don't have to actually be a mother to experience that. 

My children don't owe me anything. I don't need to be thanked for bringing them into the world--that was my choice, not theirs! They didn't ask to be born. I've always said that the decision to have children can be construed as selfish, and the decision not to have children can be construed as selfish. The truth is that all of us are just caught up in the mystery of living and we are doing the best we can.

The biggest reward of motherhood is relationship. And that can come in so many ways beside motherhood! No matter how it comes, it's still something we have to choose every day. I could co-habitate with my children, feed and clothe them, AND go to all their soccer games and still not really be in relationship with them. You can be a loving aunt on the other side of the country and REALLY have relationship if you're intentional. Surprise! Intention is the key. Having needy, dependent creatures that come from your own body might be the shortcut to relationship because I don't have to coordinate anything to see them! There are so many ways to have deep, intentional relationship with children or others in our lives, but it all requires work.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone. Every one of us is a son or daughter. Every one of us came from a mother and is going back to our Mother. Maybe you've landed on work that has exposed and deepened your maternal spirit. Maybe you've sat with the dying. Maybe you've negotiated a difficult relationship with your Mother and come out the other side, more reflective and more interesting. Or maybe you're nursing a newborn as you read this, and there are absolutely no words to describe how raw and how "yourself" that feels. 

Happy Mother's Day to my mom. Thank you for all the beautiful picnics our family went on, and your love of suprises. Thank you for being there when my children were born and throwing your love and energy into grandparenthood. Thank you for your great style, your appreciation of beauty, and bringing the party with you wherever you go. I love you.

Happy Mother's Day to these cookies. How's that for a transition? I really wouldn't mind being a direct descendent of these chewy, spicy, expletive-worthy morsels. That wouldn't be a bad lineage. And, fittingly, these are my Mom's chocolate chip cookies with some variations. I made them for my physical therapist, whose care for me in the past year has made me feel more like myself. Happy Mother's Day to her, too.

Salted Chocolate Cookies with Ginger and Coconut
This dough needs to be refrigerated, so plan ahead a bit. No mixer needed here. As with most cookies, watch them very carefully in the oven and take them out before they look done.

2 c. old fashioned oats
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg plus one egg yolk
1 c. (2 cubes) melted unsalted buter, cooled
1 c. unsweetened coconut chips (large flakes)
1/2 pkg (or more) dark chocolate chips
1/3 c. chopped candied ginger
flaked salt for tops 

Combine oats, flour, salt, soda, and sugars in medium mixing bowl. Add egg, egg yolk, and  cooled melted butter and stir until almost combined. Add coconut, chocolate chips, and ginger, and stir until just mixed. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

Heat oven to 350. Form dough into balls (about 2 Tb. per ball) and set onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press a bit of flaked salt into the tops of each cookie. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until they're just baked. Remove from oven and cool.