How Food Became Therapy

I have spent many hours baking, just for the sake of baking. Nothing feels better than mixing butter, sugar, and eggs together. I’ve had my fair share of ups, downs, sideways-es, rabbit holes, and trap doors. Baking, though, has always been there for me to melt into. Methodical, somewhat precise, but always rewarding.

My go-to therapy recipe is one of the first recipes I learned. Ever. I remember making cookies with my dad, when my mom was out of town for a conference. We followed this book, which I think every family owns, I picked out chocolate chip cookies, and he chose peanut butter. We measured, or at least I think we did. Maybe I measured, and Dad did his typical “I’m helping”, which actually means he had to turn on the oven (because I’m scared of propane) and gets to taste test the first batch.

The thing about having me measure though is that I have never been good at fractions.

Confession: I didn’t learn how to add fractions until I was a senior in high school. My friend Jennifer taught me when I was learning integration in Calculus. How I got that far in life without knowing how to add fractions? Convert all fractions to decimals and add from there. It’s still easier for me to do that.

The thing about our kitchen is that we have never had a full set of measuring cups–like ever. I know we have a 1/3 and 1/2 cup measuring cups. No measuring spoons, at all. So, being the young kid with very bad fractional addition I was, I measured the best I could with the stuff we had.

The cookies baked together. It was very disappointing. We tried to spread them out more, but they baked together still. It was hopeless.

Right now, I would give anything to bake in my kitchen at home in Seattle with my dad waiting to taste test in the living room watching golf.

My dad had a mini-stroke yesterday, and all I can think is that I need to see my dad, I need to bake, and I miss my family. Thankfully I will be home for the weekend. I can make this recipe, which has provided me with more peace of mind than any therapy ever could, in the dorms I’m staying in.

At this ripe old age of 23, I have learned so much, including 3rd grade addition and the best and most reliable cookie recipe ever. I have tweaked this recipe so many times, and this is the best way I have made it. Measurements are approximated, because we all know I don’t measure when I bake. Just add an “-ish” to all of the measurements.

Ye Olde Reliable Chocolate Chip Cookies

(After many tweaks, this is the best I can come up with)

  • 3/4 cup sugar. Granulated or raw whatever, sugar in the raw makes it super amazingly crunchy
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar you can also drop the white sugar and only use 1.5 cups (6/4, 0.75+0.75) brown sugar for a mega chewy cookie
  • Molasses if you have it. I count to 3 when I pour it.
  • 1/2 cup butter. Stick form, or you could use that weird “like Butter” stuff in the tub. I’ve done that once and it was pretty good.
  • 1 egg from a chicken or a platypus, like duh.
  • Splash of vanilla, I never measure it, and it’s always Mexican.
  • 2 cups of flour literally any flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda or baking powder, whatever it’s always turned out okay for me.
  • Salt. Quantity: Some. Like, 1/2 as much as the baking soda. Add a tiny bit more salt if you’re using baking powder. #INeverMeasureBakingSodaOrSaltOrSpices
  • Nutmeg. Quantity: Also Some. ONLY NUTMEG THOUGH. Never cinnamon. Never pumpkin pie spice. Trust me. I’ve tried both, and they ruin cookies.
  • All the chocolate chips you have in the pantry. I recently tried these chocolate chunks because they were on sale at Freddie’s and they were freakin’ great.

So Directions:

  1. If you can remember, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or slap some PAM on that baby and call it good. If your cookie baking game is on par with mine you have one of these.
    STEP 1.5 Leave the butter out to soften for a few hours. Or if you are a real human being and not a mutant who plans for stress baking, microwave the butter for 15 seconds.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until mellow yellow, like hella pale yellow and fluffy AF. Then, while the beaters/paddle Kitchen-Aid attachment is on low, add the egg, molasses and the vanilla. Just mixed* is the term cook books use. Scrape down the sides and sing a little song.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix your flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together. Use a sifter if you wanna get all Barefoot Contessa-Martha Stewart on these cookies. I usually do because I love any excuse to use the sifter. Have you used one? They’re so fun. It’s like your own little snow globe. A messy fun snow globe.
  4. So, now, you take like 1/3-ish of the dry ingredients and mix them with the wet on low (the stir setting on the Kitchen Aid). So, mix until the flour is incorporated* ie. you can’t distinguish between wet stuff and flour anymore. Take another third and do the same thing. Annnnnd a final time. If you mix too quickly, your cookies will be flat and sad, like a halibut that gets called a run-of-the-mill flounder.
  5. Okay, so now we go hand powered. Put all the chocolate chips you own in batter, mix by hand, or by wooden spoon. Wooden spoons make me feel all BBC-y and like Mary Berry is going to call my cookies “Perfectly moist, with the right crumb”.
  6. Form the cookies using an ice cream scoop or roll them by hand, because cookie scooped cookies look too profesh. You can make them big or you can make them mini. It doesn’t really matter because they never ever squash together, as long as you place them like 2 fingers-width apart.
  7. 8-10 minutes in the oven, that you preheated if you really have your life together, but for the rest of us normal people preheat the oven and make a pot of coffee MAYBE do your dishes. Cookies should be golden* on the top, kind of oogy in the middle, and the chips should be hella melty #technicalterms.

–* Words/phrases that I think are pretentious when used in cook books, but are hella accurate anyway.
— Fun thing: I’ve made this without using a Kitchen Aid/ Mixer thing and they’re just fine. It’s really really hard to screw this recipe up. JUST SAYIN.


One thought on “How Food Became Therapy

  1. I know that need to bake and even cook, even when you know you aren’t going to eat it all. Hugs to you and enjoy your visit with both of them this weekend. I read he is better and now able to ‘comminicate’…know my heart is with you all.


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