An Ode to my Mommy

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day!

When I think of chocolate chips, I automatically think of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies.  They’re gooey, not too sweet little cakes of perfection.  They’re the best – I’ll fight you on that one.

My mom very graciously sent me her cookie recipe so that Maggie and I could attempt to make them together.  I’ve built these cookies up to almost a mythical level in my head so I’m praying to the cookie gods that I can do them justice.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I made chocolate chip cookies… or cookies in general.  We’re a brownie household, but exclusively the Betty Crocker box kind.  *Insert more prayers*

Before I tell you about the baking, I need to tell you about my mom.  Like her cookies, she’s the best.  If you were to look up the definition of a Midwestern mom you would find a picture of my mom in her garden or in her kitchen or at the local Lutheran church.  She’s giving and thoughtful – unconditionally loving of her children even when we are at our worst.  She is the loudest person in the audience at all of my aerial shows and is the first person to tell me how proud she is of me anytime I do anything.  When I texted her asking for the recipe she told me how proud she is of me for cooking and baking – even when I’m just doing the minimum in life she is cheering me on.  She’s a hugger, she makes friends with strangers everywhere we go, and she is the queen of accidentally funny comments.

I have a learned a lot of lessons from my mom over the years – like what it means to love and what it means to forgive; how to work hard and how to persevere.  I learned what strength means from my mom – she worked hard all day, came home and cooked, then spent her weekends baking with us or working in her garden or being heavily involved in our church.  She was at every band concert, track meet or school performance.  And she did it with so much gratitude and happiness.  That’s not to say that my mom isn’t also the master of relaxation – my childhood is as full of memories of her lounging at the lake as it is of her working.  I think of her sunbathing on the dock while I did hula-hoop tricks or went fishing with my brother.  I think of her laughing with my dad – she is the master of never taking herself too seriously.

But when I think of my mom and my childhood, what I most think of is the kitchen.  I think of her taking out her metal recipe box (an old butter container I think?) and pulling out a slightly stained card.  She made all our birthday cakes, graduation cakes, confirmation cakes, baptism cakes… if it called for a cake, cookies or bars she made it.  I think of her making angel food cake – just for the hell of it – and making cookies to pack in my dads lunch.

My mom is probably the reason that food is my love language.

So that brings us to the cookies – Grandma Jan’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.

(She doesn’t call them that, she’s far too modest.)

Like all the recipes my mom has shared with me, there’s that perfect amount of vagueness and specificity to her cookie recipe. It calls for shortening but she uses butter. Should the butter be salted or unsalted?  Cold or room temperature?  No idea.  At the same time, it calls for exactly 2 cups and 2 Tbsp flour that *must* be sifted.  No explanations, just do what Jan says.

We started by agreeing that she probably means unsalted butter since there’s added salt later on in the recipe, but went ahead and used the cold butter instead of softening it.  In hindsight, the fact that the original recipe calls for shortening should have been a giveaway to soften the butter but I despise softening butter.  We don’t own a microwave (*see dirty hippie comment from previous posts*) so I soften it by either letting it sit out for a day or heating it on the stove.  It never turns out quite right.  Despite this fact, we are going to keep living the microwave-free lifestyle.

We also realized that I don’t know what most baking terms mean, and that in this case Nailed It wasn’t helpful.  The recipe says to ‘cream’ ingredients then ‘fold’ in eggs… but what does that mean!?  What number setting on the side of Peggy should I set it to?!  I need specifics mother!

 

At this point the dough looked nothing like a remember from my childhood…but I still had hope for us to pull it together.  Maggie has been begging to bake something that requires sifting flour and boy was she in luck today!  Maybe it’s just not something bakers do anymore, but every recipe of my mom’s requires sifting flour.  Maybe that’s what the secret ingredient really is…

We also sifted the baking soda and salt then threw in a few handfuls of chocolate chips because, like I said earlier, the recipe was incredibly vague.  When it had all been combined I was pleasantly surprised: it not only looked like the dough I remember from growing up, it tasted like it too!  After trying to decide whether or not to grease the pan (we decided to go with parchment paper), I popped them in the oven.. then realized that the recipe does not say how long to bake them.

Why mom!?

Now that I think about it though, I don’t remember my mom ever using a timer in the kitchen – she just used her kitchen witchcraft and knew when they were done.  Maybe I just haven’t fully come into my kitchen powers yet.

I think I baked them for about 10 minutes, maybe 12 because I was distracted by watching Bon Appetit… By some miracle, or maybe with some prayers from my mom the cookie goddess, they turned out exactly how I remember!  I know some people like their cookies thin or crispy or both, but I grew up eating slightly fluffy biscuity cookies.  They’re perfect.

Maggie gave them a 9/10… declaring that the taste was great but they were a little chunky.  The Hays in her likes thin, crispy cookies…

So here they are: Grandma Jan’s Perfect Cookies.

I love you Mommy.

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