Hello All: It’s been a busy time of transitions with our son off to university in Montreal, our daughter entering fifth grade and all the changes that naturally come with the seasons here in New England. Additionally, I helped my mother celebrate her 89th birthday with a small family party on Long Island earlier this month. With each of these changes comes the excitement of the new along with a sadness as I reflect on the passing of the old. I see my fully grown son’s bearded face via Skype weekly, marveling at the confident man he has become while I continue to hold the little boy he once was in my heart. I watch my daughter proudly enter her last year of elementary school, gracefully ready to dance en pointe at ballet practice, while I remember the first moments she was placed in my arms some ten years ago in a far-away place called China. I saw the smile in my mother’s face as she greeted guests and blew out the candles on her 89th birthday cake, with a rich history behind her, and the winter of her life in full bloom. These changes these reflections—this is why I write.
In my last post I said some about why I write, but many of you asked for more, felt I hadn’t said enough, so I am happy to expand on that with you now. I am a naturally shy person but I love to be with people. I am introspective and somewhat of an observer, always watching and making meanings of events as I describe above. For most of my life, I lived in cities, always surrounded by people. Chicago was home for a long time, and all I had to do was look out the window or walk out the door to connect with neighbors and friends on the city’s lively streets. Here in New England, I am fortunate to have a home set all by itself on a glorious hillside, fortunate to live with an amazing family, but I miss the immediate connection with others that city-life naturally is a part of city living. So, I write to connect with each of you. I write about food because it is my craft and an endless source of creative expression. While my husband looks at the world through the lens of a novelist and story-teller, I look at the world through the lens of a cook who sees potential in every ingredient, in every meal to create tastes and textures that bring out not only the best in the food but the best in the people around me as we savour a meal together, as we create connections and nurture one another.
I hope this offers a clearer explanation to you of what I intend to express through Gathering Flavors. I would love to hear from you. Tell me about your passions, what makes the things you love to do important in your life.
And, because I love to cook as much as I love to write, here is a new recipe my daughter and I created together. These Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips are a fun interpretation of the classic chocolate chip cookie. Not overly sweet but full of crunch and texture, perfect for lunch boxes, fall picnics and after school treats.
Finally, many of you know my husband Al Bray as a passionate man of many talents. He’s been working steadily at developing his craft as a writer, with two new stories published this month. The Replica City , published on Per Contra and Close Reading published on The Citron Review are each satisfying pieces of short fiction that take you to new worlds, new experiences. I hope you will read them. They will touch you in deep and profound ways.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
CHOCOLATE COOKIES WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIPS
Yield: 42 cookies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, preferably organic, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups white chocolate chips
- Sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (If you have a convection oven, set it at convection 325 degrees F.)
2. Line 3 cookie sheets with unbleached parchment paper.
3. Either by hand in a large bowl or with a standing mixer, beat together the butter and vegetable shortening.
4. Add in the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
5.Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated.
6. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in just enough to combine.
7. Add the white chocolate chips. Stir in just enough to combine.
8. Using your hands, form the dough into 48 small balls. Place the balls on the prepared cookies sheets, spacing them evening as the cookies will spread a little while you bake them. Top each ball with a pinch of sea salt.
9. Bake until cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. (These cookies are best if slightly undercooked.They will harden during the cooling process.)
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