Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cookie Monster

Yesterday I got fired up to make chocolate chip cookies for the grandchildren coming tomorrow. My interest in cooking and, especially baking, has waned over the years, so it had been a while since I’d made cookies. The recipe on the back of the Hershey’s chocolate chip bag sounded simple enough. No sifting flour, no greasing cookie sheets.
I watched in discouragement through the oven door window as the little spoonfuls of dough spread out, looking like miniature pancakes, and waited for the tell-tale brown tone that the cookies were done.
Once out of the oven, the cookies were to cool slightly before I was to remove them to wire racks. I tried to slide the spatula under the first cookie, meeting with puzzling resistance. The oddly-shaped cookies clung to the pan, like barnacles to a rock. I scraped and pushed finally loosening the first batch of misshapen, ragged-edged cookies. I nibbled at broken pieces and then began eating the smaller, more imperfect ones. Switching batch after batch from the wire racks onto plates, I weeded out and devoured the undesirables while also discovering a fine collection of crumbs under the racks. During this process, I noticed that the chocolate chips had sunk to the bottom of each cookie. No bottom layer of dough.

How could I admit to my grandchildren that their grandmother had failed at what had seemed a simple, no-fail recipe? I hope they’ll find the cookies yummy anyway. I know I did.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


The first of October. A new month means I get to turn a page on my wall calendar. What scene awaits me? Aah- a watercolor depicting Half Dome and the Merced River in Yosemite Valley in soft brushstrokes of blues, greens, grays and yellows. A soothing painting that matches this warm spring day. So warm that I decided to bring Speedy Gonzalez, our tortoise, out of his hibernation box in the shed. He looks a little stunned, head down in the grass, eyes closed. In past years, I learned he needs time to adapt and rev up his metabolic engines. At first, I must coax him to eat a ripe banana. Soon he’ll find his own snacks around the garden, munching on leaves and the grass.
One of the delights of spring is simply strolling about my small city garden, noticing which flowers are about to bloom. The snowball bush is laden with pale green, soon-to-turn-white balls. The buttery-yellow irises are flowering. Neighbors’ wisterias perfume our block. I breathe in deeply the heady, intoxicating scent.
I am grateful to have time to notice these small sparkles all around. I've learned to slow down and pay attention. Yesterday I went to a crafts village to buy a few gifts to take with me to California. In a ceramics display window I discovered this scene which made me chuckle out loud.

I sent the photo to my hubby and sons. The New Yorker son messaged me: “Is this about the guy making out with the girl on the floor or about the cat sleeping on them?”
“Take your pick,” I wrote back.