An easy-to-follow recipe for bakery-style chocolate chip cookies: make them large, salt the tops, and bite into the crisped edges and chewy centers.
I remember sidling up to the counter, our cream-colored KitchenAid with its head angled towards the sky, my mom pulling the ice cream buckets of sugar and flour down off the top shelf of the cupboard. I can feel her hands under my armpits as she lifted me up and plopped me directly on the counter where I could peer into the bowl.
We told stories as we added each ingredient, making our cookie dough. The stories take on their own life. Brushing my hair: story. Making the bed: story. Baking cookies: story. My childhood memories are held together at the seams by fanciful tales of princesses fighting dragons, of skinned-kneed girls with literal beehives in their hair, of rippled oceans that calm to a glassy mirrored surface.
Never mind the fingerprints smudged on the glass front of the oven as we crowded around to watch the cookies melt, puff, then turn golden brown. Forget the smears of chocolate wiped across the bathroom towels after we “washed” our faces. Pay no attention to the pile of dishes in the sink.
The magic was in the making. It floated around us unseen but held close.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about the selling and marketing of “lifestyle” by cookbook authors, design bloggers, magazines, television hosts, and whomever. I think of Kinfolk Magazine and the Kinspiracy Tumblr that pokes fun at people’s Instagrams for conforming to the lifestyle brand they are schlepping. I consider the comments made by faceless others, judging individual frames of other’s existence.
Then I wonder what type of lifestyle I promote by putting myself out there. What type of life do I show through my photos and my online presence and my words? Is it that of a harried mom trying to make it all happen and often dropping the ball? Perhaps it’s the dirty floors and the spilled milk crusting over on my kitchen table that you’re hoping to capture for your own life? Maybe it’s the way I poured oatmeal into thermal jars this morning as I called across the house, “Lene, two hair binders and the brush. Magnus, did you grab your library book? Kjell, open the door so we can hear the bus!” Or the way I scolded Kjell for not opening the door, tied his sheet-turned-mythology costume into a toga-like form, affixed a belt to hold it in place, and handed him a cardboard cutout lightning bolt. Half a second later I shoved his lunchbox and backpack into his hands while telling him to run for the bus that was now patiently waiting outside the door, wishing I had been a bit more together so I could have caught their cute costumes on camera.
Don’t get me wrong. I love quiet reflection, the beauty in simple moments. I seek out these brief bits and attempt to capture them in the midst of the chaos that is life, but do not let cultivated moments fool you. Life is chaos. It’s dirty and messy. It’s full of pulled hair and snark. It’s things you said you didn’t really mean, and it’s hugs you wish you could bottle. It’s spring mud tracked in on the rug and the squeals of laughter from the mud-tracking boy as you chase him around the yard.
Life is chocolate chip cookies made in the midst of it all, butts on the counter, and that first bite after the cookies have come out of the oven.
These are not the cookies I grew up with, but they are the cookies my children and I make together, peering into the bowl and licking the spoons. In an attempt to make them easier to make, you only need two measuring utensils: a one-cup measuring cup and a one-teaspoon measuring spoon. You do need to separate an egg for the yolk, but it’s worth it. See the recipe notes for ideas on how to utilize that leftover white. I highly recommend doubling the recipe and sharing a bit of the magic with your friends.