Every once in a while, it occurs to me that it’s been a long time since I first started this here blog (July 2007, to be exact, whaaaaat). I’ve not always been the most, er, consistent of bloggers, but it’s kind of amazing to have a record of life both in and out of the kitchen nonetheless. It’s most fascinating for me to look back through the archives and see the recipes I was drawn to at certain points along the way, what I had time for or interest in learning and discovering throughout the years. And much like my life from about 1994-2000, there’s plenty of cringeworthy moments among the entries (although any regrets here don’t involve ill-fitting plaid or intentional visible bra straps).
But! Sometimes a recipe is just so completely perfect, so part of my personal fabric, that it’s worth updating and telling you about it all over again to make sure it doesn’t get lost. In fact, when I first posted about this recipe, I just realized that it was exactly on this day, nine years ago. How about that? So indulge me a little, won’t you? It’s the holidays, after all.
Photo by Leigh Beisch
Hi! Just a quick pop-in today, and I’ve got an A+ reason. With just a handful of days left to legitimately spend a whole day baking, eating, and sharing cookies, I realized that I’ve never shared one of my very favorite recipes. Last night I had the pleasure of teaching a super fun baking class at Give Me Some Sugar here in Chicago. The focus was edible gifts, and as the world solidified into a frozen tundra outside, the ovens were roaring and laughs were coming easy in the cozy shop. So good.
We had a grand old time, talking homemade marshmallows, Lemon-Vanilla Dream Bars from Pure Vanilla, and these gems: Spiced Chocolate Molasses Buttons from the pages of Real Sweet. The raves that this recipe received reminded me that I’d not shared it beyond the pages of the book, and that’s just not very Christmas-y of me, now is it? So in the spirit of not hiding our lights under bushels and all of that, here we are!
We have now officially entered High Baking Season, and can balm ourselves in butter and sugar. We can surround ourselves with our favorite cookbooks, and tune out the crazy. That’s my new personal strategy, anyway. And just in time for its implementation, I received Sarah Kieffer’s new cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. Which is perfect, because it’s packed with enough crave-worthy recipes to keep me avoiding American reality until February, at least. Excellent!
It’s that time, friends! The glorious last few days before Christmas and the end of 2015, when we can all legitimately start to unplug and eat way too many carbs and bake our faces off. Today I had my best friend in the whole wide world over for lunch with her two kids and we spent a very stressful two hours refereeing and making sure nobody lost an eye or fell down the stairs or whatever, but there was coffee and good food and a lot of laughs and she left me with a tin of the most beautifully decorated cookies. Plus no one actually broke a limb or anything, so that’s a plus. I think we might make a tradition of it–a lunch and playdate in the days before Christmas while the kids are on school breaks–now that we’re finally both living in the same city together. Although maybe next time we’ll spike our La Croix; kids during Christmas week are brutal, you guys. WAY TOO AMPED.
But luckily I had some Heirloom Sugar Cookies on hand to give us at least five lovely, uninterrupted minutes lunching and gossiping. Those cookies, of course, have made it onto this site, into this book, and all up on my Instagram for years in a row–they are simply the best I’ve ever had and will ever make. But! In the effort of branching out and being attracted to the simplest, quickest baking recipes around, especially those with a charming story from breathtakingly gorgeous cookbooks, I’ve also managed to make two batches of Finnish Sugar Cookies from Trine Hahnemann’s completely perfect book, Scandinavian Baking.
The way I see it, there are few “bleh” situations in life that can’t be remedied, or at least vastly improved, with a solid supply of snacks. Long wait at the doctor’s office? Snack. Jury duty? Snack. The kind of horrifying, red-faced toddler tantrum that has said child doing some sort of exotic backbend in the shopping cart that would impress even the most accomplished cast member of Cirque de Soleil? Snack, preferably in cookie form. Especially in cases like that, snacks are the currency of my life. (Holler if you hear me.)
And let’s not forget the most snack-necessary situation of all: the summer road trip. Yes, even the most desolate stretch of highway (or long-haul flight) can seem a little less daunting when there’s some good munchies in your chariot. I’m not even that big fan of road trips, but my enthusiasm can be bought with a box of Cheez-Its, some Twizzlers, and a diet Coke. After a few hours of that menu, though, I’m bound to want something a little more virtuous. And is it just me, or do the crazy-making effects of junk food on an airplane seem to multiply even faster?
At any rate, lately I’ve been trying to plan ahead a little better and have some healthier options in my bag for traveling, to balance out some of the inevitable treat foods (when hour three of a cross-country flight hits, you will pry these Pringles from my cold, dead hands). This could be as simple as a protein bar, some nuts or string cheese and a piece of fruit, or it could be as crafty and Pinterest Mom as making my own travel snacks. I swear, this actually does happen! In fact, it happened just the other day. I’m SERIOUS.
It’s become increasingly obvious to me that there are entire periods of my life where I couldn’t tell you exactly when certain things happened. I mean, the births of both my kids? Pretty solid on those. But the personal questions, like say, the kind that you have to answer at the doctor’s office? Lord, help me. The week of my last Lady Moment? Let me check my phone and two calendars and probably ask my husband for confirmation. When did I have that appendectomy? I remember recovering while watching a Barbara Walters interview with Angelina Jolie when she was still in her vocal bi-sexual phase, so let’s Google that. (Answer: July 2003. Thanks, internet!)
I like to blame all these brain-made-of-oatmeal lapses on two things: geography, and of course, the children. Having lived in relatively seasonless California for close to 12 years now (!), I often feel like these dozen years have been a smear of life moments with no defined edges.
As a native midwesterner, I grew up marking time by recalling the weather at the time when something occurred, or maybe even what I was wearing (Shorts and bug spray? Wool coat and hat?) to indicate a moment’s position on my life’s timeline. That obviously can’t happen when 45 degrees is considered frigid, 75 is sweltering, and I can often wear flip flops in November with no issues. Lack of metrological evidence, coupled with a mother’s brainspace (read: some of the synapses up in here will never fire again, and I accept that), it’s a miracle if I can even just pin down where I set my coffee ten minutes ago, let alone when I last had my teeth cleaned.
So let’s begin with the elephant in the room:
Does the Internet really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe?
Upon realizing that I’ve never really shared with you my go-to chocolate chip cookie formula–the base recipe from which I’m forever riffing–could I sleep another night without telling you about it (not that I’ve experienced an actual full night’s sleep since last February, butheywhateverthanksbabyboy)?
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