Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every fall I need to bake cookies as soon as the weather cools. It has become part of how I celebrate the changing of the seasons. What is better than warming your house with sugary, chocolately smells?

I remember when they came out with tubed cookie dough and people thought it was the best. Fresh, homemade cookies without any of the work. Just heat the oven, plop on the pan, and you're good to go. I abhor this culinary rennovation because it takes away something pure and beautiful about the whole process: beating butter and sugar, adding eggs, flour, and finally the morsels. Every time I make a batch, I get flour on my shirt and sugar under my nails and end up eating enough raw dough to constitute at least a cookie or five. It's all part of the joy: refrigerator dough takes all that away.

This love goes back to childhood. My mother would allow my brothers and I to "help" when she baked cookies. Since I am the oldest, breaking eggs was my priviledge, where my brothers were confined to scooping sugar and helping Mom count how many cups of flour had been measured. Sometimes we got to help stir things, but most clearly I remember watching Mom stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, and how by that point the dough had become so thick none of us kids were strong enough to pass a spoon through it, much less mix in more ingredients. As we licked our beaters, I would think to myself that Mom must be the strongest woman in the world to peform this feat and I wondered if I would ever able to do that too.

As I got older and met other families, I soon learned this was special. Other families stocked their shelves with Oreos and Nilla Wafers, or something the Keebler Elves made. Cookies came out of packages, stacked neatly in plastic sleeves. One day, I asked Mom why we didn't have Oreos and why did she always made our cookies.
"Because," she said simply, "I have a secret ingredient: love. The Oreo people don't put love in theirs."

At the time, this answer felt like a cop-out for not getting store bought cookies. Now I know different, because I put love in my cookies too! Thoughout the entire process, I feel happy and joyful. I don't necessarily think of anyone in particular, but my energy is positive and light and maybe some of that gets transferred into the treats. And they always manage to turn out, and anyone who ever eats one always has a smile on their face. To me, that is worth all the time and effort it takes.


  1. Which one of us got to lick the beaters a which got the bowl was always a significant thing for my sister and me. I agree that energy goes into home made food. Cooking connects our present to our pasts, bringing up memories and then sharing those memories. I also think of it as a subversive act. By baking our own cookies we ignore the large corporations that sacrifice flavor for cost effectiveness. Baking gives us so much more freedom and it tastes good too!

  2. What beautiful memories and sentiments. Baking can be a great relaxing time together.