Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies 101

I could really write a whole essay on the essence of cookies. I've gotten so into baking lately and reading cookbooks for fun and comparing and testing recipes and modifying things. So I'm posting what I consider to be the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe... with a few disclaimers.

  1. Some people differ on what they believe a chocolate chip cookie should taste like. Should it be soft or crispy? Flat or puffy? Semi-sweet chips or milk chocolate chips? In my opinion, a cookie should be primarily soft and it may have a delicate crisp edge but definitely not throughout the center.

  2. People often try to recreate cookie recipes and wonder what went wrong since they followed the recipe exactly. There are many variable in the baking process. As such I'll be as specific as possible if you want these yummies to be perfect.

  3. I can't take complete credit for this recipe... the base of it is a modification off of Steve's grandma's recipe AND the recipe found in the Fannie Farmer cookbook. I tweaked both to come up with the best.

  4. Some cookies will look prettier than these. But the flavor is incomparable.

  5. All ingredients are best to be at room temperature before beginning.

  6. Do not even think about substituting the butter for Crisco. Using shortening will give you puffier, prettier cookies, but the flavor is severely compromised even if you use "butter flavored" shortening. Using real butter also helps keep the cookies tasting great for a longer period of time.

  7. Also, try not to sub out the sugars. Most cookie recipes have a combination of white and brown for a reason. White gives a more delicate crispier taste and brown gives a depth of flavor.

  8. Regarding the chips: semi-sweets are the best. Milk chocolate is too sweet. The combination I do most frequently here is to use 1/2 semi-sweets and 1/2 peanut butter chips. This is our family favorite. (Do not buy the "swirl" of peanut butter/chocolate chips... they use milk chocolate and the ratio of flavors is off.)

  9. BAKING the cookies. This is what makes or breaks the cookie. If you love soft, delectable cookies, never bake them until they look brown and done. They should still look a bit raw in the middle and only slightly golden around the edges. When you pull them out of the oven, they'll continue to set up on the sheets. Don't take them off the sheets for 5 minutes or so. Whenever I follow a recipe, I start checking the cookies a minute or two BEFORE the low end of the times given. This batch bakes for 8 and 1/2 minutes exactly in my oven... but yours may be different.

Without further ado, (this is a relatively smallish recipe, yielding about a couple dozen or so):

  • 1/2 cup butter.
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup White sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 1/8 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (I use whole oats, but I suppose quick oats could be tolerated)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together the butter and sugars until well blended. Add in the egg and vanilla and blend well. Mix together in a seperate bowl the flour, salt, baking soda and oatmeal. Add this into the previous mix and blend well. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop onto cookie sheets and bake 8-10 minutes.

generosity gone too far

Xavier says to me (without a trace of malice... just sincere thoughtfuless): "Mom, should we give Leo away?"

Me: "Why would we do that?!"

Xavier: "Well, some poor kids don't have any brothers, they'd probably like him."

Me: "Well, Leo was a gift to OUR family... wouldn't you miss him if he was gone."

Xavier: "Yeah, I guess so."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


This was my first holiday that we've "hosted"... we always managed to get invited somewhere or be with family for previous days. So it was a nice challenge for me:

The guests:

My sister Marie, brother Nate, Kanesha and their baby Delion. Steve's brother Charley, and a buddy Steve works with on base.

The menu:

Coca-Cola Ham
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Corn Pudding
Deviled Eggs
Fresh Veggies

...and a divine Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting I made that even STEVE loves!

We did a little egg hunt in the backyard and Leo cleaned house, observant boy that he is!
Christ is Risen, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Just another day in the classroom

What better way to learn all kinds of valuable skills and lessons than grabbing some fellow 'unschooling types' and heading to Fort Ebey for the day?! We climbed into the artillery bunkers, explored the long empty hallways of the battery, walked the oceanside trails, examined bugs living in dead tree limbs, balanced on fallen beams, built an awesome fort and played "house", and had an overall great, intellectually stimulating time!