Thursday, May 13, 2010

All Cookies Are the Same Cookie...

Did I ever mention I spent almost a decade in Santa Cruz, California?

That goes a long way to explain my title today, eh?

See, when I was in college (UCSC) and my brain felt too full or the drama got turned to eleven, I'd beg, borrow, or steal a kitchen, and bake...cookies. Chocolate chip cookies to be more precise.

I did not grow up baking things with my mom. I think I may have mentioned this as a comment somewhere some time ago, I didn't even know my mom could make anything other than out-of-the-box cupcakes for the school cupcake sales until the one time she brought home cookies she'd made at work...from scratch. Chocolate chip cookies.

In the Spring quarter of my freshman year at UCSC...oh so very many years ago now, I remembered that moment and the absolute surprise and joy that cookie brought that 9-(maybe 10) year-old me. (College is a very strange time for most kids, far away from home, surrounded by so many people and so totally alone...and way too young to know any better--dear lord, who said that!) So I went out and searched for a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I had a plan, you see, I'd recreate that damned cookie if it was the last thing I did.

I seriously think this little project saved me from having a nervous breakdown. I baked a lot of cookies during the five years it took me to collect a couple sets of initials after my last name, always the same kind, but never quite the same cookie. By the third year it wasn't just my friends that knew they might be able to score some chocolate chip baggies of love, I was literally rolling in dough (hee), having started a side business in selling cookies to homesick classmates (all quite secretive and under the table, mind, I did share the kitchen with the residential assistants, and bubbly-headed and obnoxiously popular they might be, but they were also the law.) These were very much virgin cookies, by the way. The stoners ate them for the munchie need, not cuz they were in any way packed with stuff I had no way of affording, had I even realized the monetary potential.

In grad school, a little north of Santa Cruz, all I had was a toaster oven (!), and I could make exactly 8 cookies at a time...but there were a number of 3AM mornings that found me creaming up butter and sugar and hoping that there was enough chocolate in the house to stem the anxiety.

I stopped the crazypants baking shortly after graduating, getting married, and moving firmly back to Santa Cruz and next door to Zachary...whose very being inspired my title tonight. When my X got into one of his uber-bitter moods, Zach was right there with his, "Positivity, man, no negativity." I wonder where you are now, mr. positivity, I really hope you found your place in this crazy world...

That was the headspace I was in tonight when I remembered I'd set out two sticks of butter when I got home so I could try an oatmeal-cookie-that-looks-like-a-chocolate-chip cookie recipe I saw on Super Eggplant's blog.

See, I may own about 7 or 8 very similar but not quite the same chocolate chip cookie recipes that I've made a million times over in that span of 5 or 6 years (it's a RARE thing for me to make cookies of the chocolate chip variety now), but I never did learn how to make any other oatmeal cookie than the one stamped on the cardboard tube top of the Quaker oatmeal box. And an oatmeal cookie that fooled the eye into thinking it was NOT an oatmeal cookie? This I had to try.

There are 3 cups of oats in there...where they are hiding? I couldn't say. On my hips? Well, yes, there is that.

What I learned:
- I am very rusty at following a new cookie recipe.
- I had to fight against myself so as to follow the recipe exactly and NOT try to turn it into my chocolate chip batter. Except maybe there should be vanilla in there, that's all. And would shaved chocolate do it any harm, really?
- I must use my experience of making cookies all by hand to realize that some sort of mix-master-flash special mixer was present to be able to actually add in and combine those aforementioned 3 cups of oatmeal AS WELL AS the cup and a half of raisins, without creating a caked up mess. I only own a small handheld mixer. I almost burnt out the motor by the time I got to the oats. (See above about following the recipe exactly.)
- Must try again, but ditch the mixer after the egg...or even maybe during the egg? And maybe watch the oven like a hawk so as to take the cookies out when they're still soft in the middle.
- Start much earlier in the evening. 10PM is not the best cookie eating time for me.


Kaye said...

Ha ha! Why yes it IS the new therapy!

Beth said...

They look great! I always substitute chocolate chips for the raisins. :)

Jen said...

That must have been one secretive business; I never knew you were selling cookies when we were at UCSC! I guess I was always lucky enough to get mine for free ;)

Tactless Wonder said...

Oh yeah baby, a dollar a baggie in my bit Lit. Theory class.

Otherwise we'd have all gained 40 lbs with the amount of baking I did at Scholar's House (or whatever that place was called.)