I went to bed at 6:30 am. I don’t have a particularly good reason for this as I mostly rebeat the video game Bastion. My day then started around 1:00pm which was equally idiotic as that was late enough to guarantee I’d waste the day but early enough that I wouldn’t be too awake for my day wasting. My frustration led me to start cleaning out my gmail inbox. So I started replying to outstanding requests, caught up with replies to long-standing email threads and formally recognized the failures and oversights that come with ignoring a message for a few months.
The last message I addressed was regarding a recipe exchange I had signed up for in September that I couldn’t bring myself to opt out of. My reply became oddly personal, and I’ve included it below. It started out as an apology and morphed into a meditation on my current life.
I’m a terrible person. Where a normal person would probably have just dropped it or maybe apologized or phoned it in, I’m trying to fix something I’ve left broken for months. I hope it proves to be more akin a broken piece of furniture where time doesn’t exacerbate the failure as opposed to say dropping an egg where failure to attend to it tends to be more problematic the longer it’s left to sit. I fully recognize I’ve fundamentally mis-understood this recipe exchange.
In 5th grade I opted out of a Pollyanna at Christmas but the teacher assumed I had just failed to sign up so I was assigned to give someone a gift. Everyone got something but that person and I felt absolutely mortified by the injustice of it. The teacher swooped in and gave the person a gift on my behalf saying something about it being lost in the closet. Normally adults aren’t so naked in their willingness to save face for children but Mrs. Newton was. I miss her.
I bake. It rewards repetition in a way that other types of cooking doesn’t seem to and this recipe is up near the top in terms of total batches done. I made the mistake of tripling the batch size once thinking a six quart stand mixer would take it. All was going well until, like Icarus I realized I had reached too far and my dreams melted away at 2am in a darkened kitchen as I scraped bits of cookie dough from a thousand kitchen surfaces. Such hubris.
Recipes have a provenance to them, or at least can. My mother would punish my brother and I with authentic Irish cooking so I had little to start from. After she and my father split up, we took on boarders at the house and this cookie recipe was my housemate’s girlfriend’s mother’s, or so she told me (the girlfriend). She was Mormon and I was tickled to be added to a lineage of some sort but the ingredients suggest either substitutions of a much more recent vintage (although the idea of an octogenarian homemaker seizing up pudding as the silver bullet for chocolate chip cookies would be a lovely master stroke). I was later looking up cookie recipes and I found that the recipe below was actually first published by Good Housekeeping in the late 90s. A shorter lineage than I even suspected.
The usage of vanilla pudding adds a toothsomeness to the crumb that lets the cookie coat the mouth and it does so without being cloyingly sweet.
Cream these together
2 sticks butter
227g brown sugar
2 3.4 oz packages of instant vanilla pudding
Then mix this in until the mix has lightened a bit
Then slowly mix these in
6g baking soda
Then fold in these
285g chocolate chips
Preheat to 375 degrees F (this should have come up first)
The pudding makes so these cookies don’t spread too much. I tend to also chill the dough before dishing onto cookie sheets. Also, I recommend a relatively small dough ball. Maybe between the side of a walnut up to maybe the size of a quail egg.
5.5 minutes on each side (if you do two sheets at once, remove tray, rotate top and bottom tray, and rotate each 180 degrees, tiny cookies can cook unevenly)
I hope you’re well and have received recipes from people who’ve proven to be less of a lackwit than myself.
Hit “send + archive” left me with an empty inbox. This feels nice.