SOMETHING OUT OF CLASSIC TV…

We were obsessed. We didn’t realize we were doing it, but we started to fetishize all men that weren’t white. They didn’t need to be on TV, it was ALL with a capital A-L-L men that weren’t white. The idea of dating someone who wasn’t white was exciting.
___________________________________________________

The town I grew up in was small. One of the biggest crimes of my childhood was a burglary committed by the local bad boy. (He dyed his bangs with hydrogen peroxide.) Too young to have a driver’s license, he used a lawn tractor as his getaway vehicle. Everyone knew he did it because like any small town, there was gossip. After the break-in most people still didn’t lock their homes. Despite the gossip, the town was a lot like Pleasantville (prior to receiving color). Part of me enjoyed the closeness. I could count on things like knowing that the family of my elementary school librarian would have my back if I ever needed them. But, being a small town, people would always see you as who you were in elementary school.

i-am-me-i-am-okayKnowing nearly all your classmates from an early age, reinvention at any age was prohibitive. Unlike many, who can reinvent themselves in high school, a third of the class you knew since you were six and the other two thirds you knew since 6th grade. These other two thirds were experiencing the same problem because we were all attending the same regional middle school high/high school.  Regional schools are common for Middle-of-Nowhere, Connecticut, where towns are so small there aren’t enough students to fill one school. Two or more towns join together to send their students to one location. My school had three towns, grades 6-12. This meant that middle school and high school shared common areas like cafeteria, computer lab and library. We’d see each other in passing, but didn’t r mix.

When I graduated eighth grade, life inside the regional middle school/high school didn’t change much. Classes moved to the other side of the building and I went from being the quintessential nerd in middle school to the awkward nerd-hippy in high school. Those qualities rendered me updateable… that and I had paralyzing shyness.

I was like those girls in the makeover movies (pre-makeover). I paraded through the halls with my over-stuffed L.L. Bean backpack and flute. I yearned for the romance the Christian Slater films (sans Heathers) promised. Hell, while learning how to write a children’s play my senior project (a requirement to independently study something you know nothing about, write a paper and give a presentation), I wrote a draft-outline and act one for a romantic film. The lead male was named Chris (as in Christian Slater) and the protagonist was a shy mousy girl from a small town. This kind of voyeuristic dating, dating on paper, was easier for me to wrap my dopey brain around than “hey, I like you” dating. Dating in the real world was as improbable as me being able to hit a three point shot from mid-court. Still, my mom thought she should tell me who and what I should date.

Don’t date a jerk.

Date someone who respects you.

Date someone like you.

When she said, “date someone like you,” she meant, “date someone with your same

fullsizerender

Suzanne

values.” Dating someone who was middle class and white was not part of the equation. Race never came up. My family didn’t discussed race in a let’s have a dialogue kind of way. We only discussed people. Race only came up when they told my sister and me how they we
nt to hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak and listen to “good music.” One of my takeaways from this repeated story was their incredulity of how they were one of the only white couples there. Another favorite repeated story was when they visited St. Kits with my grandparents the waiter offered to take me outside (when I was having a baby melt-down) and comfort me so they could eat their lunch in peace. Every time I visited my grandma, I saw the portrait of Suzanne that my mom painted when she was a college sophomore. Every now and then they would reminisce at the art professor’s comments, “You’re the first white girl I’ve met that can paint a Black person.” Beyond these glossed-over differences, we didn’t talk about racial differences.

christian-slater-autograph

It was my friends and TV that had a larger influence on my understanding of people who
were desirous. Sure, there was Christian Slater, but he was always a little too damaged. Baboon heart, way too in to roses, suicidal introvert… While I tried to figure out dating, I tried to find friends with whom I fit. I had two distinct groups: in junior high, I hung with the mall group of “we don’t have a group city-type.” (By small, I mean 3.) In high school, I migrated to the “studious hodgepodge” of athletes, band geeks, and all-around smarty pants-wise-asses. One of the city-types left, leaving our group at two, the city-type and me. Even though her family lived in town for years and was active in the founding of it, she had the worldly influence that cable and four older siblings brought her.

Since she worked in the cafeteria during lunch, I tried to navigate hanging out with my more-studious-hodgepodge group. The hodgepodge always ate lunch together and I sometimes joined them. Remember that paralyzing shyness? Even though they were friends, I had a deep fear of being rejected if I asked to sit with them and they said no. Most days I’d take lunch and sit outside the band room and do homework… or just sit outside the band room and be sad. On days where I felt slightly braver, I would force myself to sit in the cafeteria. I’d find an empty table where I didn’t have to worry about rejection and sit alone. On some days, other lonely people joined me. Lacking strong social skills, I didn’t always feel welcome to join my friends because I wasn’t expressly invited to join. From 9th to 12th grade, I slowly got over this.

Very slowly.

While my understanding of navigating these seemingly complex social interactions grew, the student body grew too. When I entered the ninth grade there were 300 students in the whole high school. By the time I graduated, we had 500. And with this growth, we went from counting the number of non-white students on one hand to needing two. (There were seven.)

I was a natural introvert, shy and a little (very) naïve. It’s a no wonder my teens were tough. Band was a default comfort zone. Not having enough instruments in middle school or high school to play a full score, it was the only class where middle school and high school interacted. It offered forced social interaction with my classmates, half of whom were upperclassmen. It was a little intimidating being surrounded by people with facial hair and boobs, but it was exhilarating to have a tangential friendship with them. Band also provided a uniqueness of heightened racial diversity. The principle drummer (the only drummer for five years) was an Indian-American upperclassman. Intersecting through the years we had a brother and sister of Middle East descent (trumpet and clarinet respectively); a Black guy on bass and one Asian boy, on percussion. By the time I was a senior, there were enough students to support having junior high and high school bands. For the Memorial Day parades, we joined forces and invited the sixth graders to join. That influx brought an Asian girl. She played Second Flute and was next to me. In most places, six non-white students won’t qualify as diverse. But, those 6 non-white students out of a 30-member band gave us 20% diversity.

Outside the band walls, the school’s diversity plummeted to .014%. Consequently, I only saw my school as “just white.”

There wasn’t racial tension in Band. We were just trying to stay on beat. With the lack of diversity in the school and consequent lack of interactions with people who weren’t white, I didn’t have a framework to view race. My family’s “Martin Luther King Jr. is awesome” philosophy didn’t provide a framework. The school’s curriculum didn’t provide one. Race and racial differences weren’t discussed and since race wasn’t discussed openly, understanding the different experiences, philosophies and even religions that race could bring wasn’t discussed either. Scanning the student body, the only races that were apparent were Black and Indian-American. With my naiveté, people that were different, (like the brother and sister of Middle-East descent) were categorized as, “not white” or “they have a good tan.”

I can’t say if this naïveté is good or bad. It’s how I grew up and it’s what made me. Despite the shyness, I always liked people. I knew there was an Arian Signing Society 30 minutes from my home, but I didn’t see racism as a “this is happening now” way of life. The singing society was so far out of my love everyone world, it was as unbelievable as the Tooth Fairy. I continued to compartmentalize racism to history books, movies and the Deep South.

Because of my lack of understanding of racial differences, the differences were glamorized with more city-edge friends. Music videos felt like a roadmap of how to date and become datable. The videos became escapism in those formative years when you want to fit in, but are a little too square peg/round hole. Blessed Union of Souls “I Believe” spoke to my love everyone view. I thought I could be like Lucy and just wrap my phantom boyfriend in a hug and protect him from that mean white world. And while I loved this ballad, a die-hard favorite was Salt n Peppa’s “Shoop.” Despite a lot of the innuendo going over my head, the vaguely pro-feminist lyrics appealed to me. The men featured in the lyrics and in the video were hot, particularly the one categorized as, “A body like Arnold with a Denzel face…” These were the years before YouTube, DVR and any kind of V.O.D. that allowed you to watch your favorite video ad nauseam. Since technology to pause real-time TV didn’t exist, when “Shoop” came on, we would stop everything we were doing and watch the video. If someone had gotten up to get a snack, we’d holler to the next room to make sure no one missed the video. Denzel

We were obsessed. We didn’t realize we were doing it, but we started to fetishize all men that weren’t white. They didn’t need to be on TV, it was ALL with a capital A-L-L men that weren’t white. The idea of dating someone who wasn’t white was exciting. These men became trophies. If I dated one, I wouldn’t be merely dating a non-jerk, like my mom had asked for, I would be dating a man like those music vides. I would have made it to the dating zenith.

This more confident future self, would tell people, “Not only did I have a man on my arm, I’m dating outside my race. Take that you racist jerk; I’m open-minded.”

Wow.

I was an ass.

For years theories among friends and family of why I preferred men who weren’t white to white persisted. They ranged in everything from the visit to St. Kits when I was an inconsolable infant and a waiter had to hold and comfort me to my theory of my own insecurities around my genetic condition that causes brown spots and purple tumors to grow on and in my skin. By dating someone who isn’t white, theoretically, they would look past these imperfections and judge me by the content of my character. Whatever experience made me have my dating preferences and choices, I didn’t see my actions as racist. But truly, judging someone’s different and often darker skin as meritorious and a reason to date is just as wrong as condemning them because their skin is different. Age and life experience bring clarity. I was young and naïve. I thought I was being idealistic. It took me awhile to see what I was doing and that what I was doing was wrong.

Recipe: Black and White Cookies.
black and white cookie

Step by step directions:

  1. Go to the local bakery and and purchase.
  2. If your bakery doesn’t bake these scrumptious sugar cookies with two types of frosting, Call Zaro’s Bagels in New York City and have them shipped. Nobody does Black and White cookies like Zaro’s.

 

 

SPIRIT GUIDE, A NEW FRIEND, A NEW ADVENTURE

The clicks and dings of the free AOL Dialup Fax crawled through the air as my resume traveled from my PC to Paramount Pictures. It felt like this fax was taking longer than normal. I couldn’t be late for my LNT job, but I was convinced if I didn’t get my resume in right then, I’d lose the opportunity to interview. I couldn’t stand the idea of someone else taking my potential job.

________________________________________________________________

I was on my way to becoming an adult. After finishing my semester “abroad” I had secured an apartment on my own. From the suggestion of TV Trenches, I was working at Linen N Things (LNT) and was able to make rent and pay bills. I was happy to be working, but when you move across the country to work in entertainment, there’s a difference between working and working in Hollywood.Looking for a Job - Cardboard Box

Before bed, I sent an email to an alumni group, explaining I wanted to get my foot in the door at an entertainment company. When I woke up I had an email from Spirit Guide. She was a Paramount Page; they were hiring. Not knowing who I was, she told me to fax my resume in and she’d vouch for me. I would never put my name on the line for a complete stranger, but here Spirt Guide was doing just that.

I thought I was going to cry.

The clicks and dings of the free AOL Dialup Fax crawled through the air as my resume traveled from my PC to Paramount Pictures. It felt like this fax was taking longer than normal. I couldn’t be late for my LNT job, but I was convinced if I didn’t get my resume in right then, I’d lose the opportunity to interview. I couldn’t stand the idea of someone else taking my potential job.

Shortly after that morning, LNT had a fourth round of  layoffs, which I was part of. I continued to look for work. Weeks dragged on. I was stretching my severance, but I hadn’t heard from Paramount and the severance money was virtually dried up. That’s when I got an interview at a European Canadian Co-Production Company. After the interview they handed me a script and asked me to submit coverage (essentially a book report). I turned it in the following Monday and was offered a job assisting the Development Department. A couple days passed and I was informed I’d be assisting the president because the current assistant was leaving.

Swimming with SharksI was excited for the new work and the full time employment, but that position turned into one of my worst jobs.

Ever!

I gained immeasurable weight, my skin broke out and I was always on the verge of tears. One day the president would berate me if I asked a question. The next day I wouldn’t ask a clarifying question and when I screwed up, he’d berate me for not asking a question. The following day I needed to protect myself, so I asked clarifying questions. He would eviscerate me for asking questions.

On one of the particularly terrible days, the Paramount Page program called. They were setting up interviews.

Thank you Spirit Guide!

The interview would be in June. My heart sank. I couldn’t go; I’d be in CT for my sister’s wedding. I apologized and tried to reschedule. They told me not to worry; there would be another round in August.
In my August Interview, I wore the Talbot’s power suit my parents and grandparents gave me several Christmas prior. I was ready.
Power Suit
Except, I was not. This was not some one on one interview. Fifty of us were in one of the original RKO screening rooms and we had to get up in front of the people we were competing with and explain why we’d be good at the job. I was more nervous explaining my assets in front of my peers than speaking publicly. I talked about college, my love of the entertainment industry and gave examples of leadership skills from church camp (such as leading night hikes and camp fire songs), and was careful to leave off the church part.
My work to be a less shy version of my high school self paid off— I got one of the coveted jobs.

I needed to do something nice for Spirit Guide. I couldn’t afford lunch, but thought coffee would work. She told me that she didn’t drink coffee.

Who doesn’t drink coffee?

Paramount Water TowerApparently, Spirit Guide. She countered with ice cream from the on-lot convenience store. Since there were no toppings, I even threw in a Coke. We ate our ice cream underneath the Paramount Water Tower. Over our snack we talk about goals. We both were aspiring TV writers. She told me I needed a writing group and invited me to join her’s. She explained it was mainly a collection of college friends who were writing majors. She named names and despite all of us having the same writing degree from the same small college, I didn’t know any of them. Again, I was blown away by her generosity. Apparently, this is who Spirit Guide was, a genuine person who likes helping people. Despite all the new people I met at church, she was the first person I really connected with that I didn’t know before my move to Los Angeles. I was so excited to know her and grateful for her help.

 

It was a simple bowl of ice cream for a simpler (more broke) time. But, one can still make an epic sundae from a convenience store with no official sundae toppings.

At a convenience store (like the Water Tower Cafe), you have plenty of crumbled cookie options, various candies and even fresh bananas. If you prefer to drink your snack, there is always a root beer float! If I wanted a sundae, the me of today would not be stymied by no official sundae bar. I’d insist that Spirit Guide and I throw caution to the wind and create a calorie-laden treat.

*RAINBOW CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES – A GOOD WAY TO SAY THANK YOU

Her kindness astounded me. First she buys me dinner when she’s struggling herself and then she strategizes ways for me to stay in Los Angeles and continue to fight for my dream of working in entertainment industry. That one dinner changed my life.
___________________________________________________________________

I like food. I was a foodie before being a foodie was trendy. I’ve baked cookies or big meals to stuff my dates (or potential dates) in an effort to show love. But, like your Italian grandmother, stuffing friends and family with food has been a way for me to show love too.

TV Trenches and I met in college and bled for the various TV organizations we belong to. Like Multi-Cam Maven, she and I were hungry for a career in TV and these organizations satiated that hunger. While in our Los Angeles, “semester abroad,” I learned two important things. To survive Los Angeles, you need a Thomas Guide and a good friend.

TV Trenches was that friend.

Oakwood ApartmentsDuring our semester, students in the L.A. program lived at The Oakwood Apartments in Burbank. While a lot of colleges use it for their “semester abroad” housing, real people live there too. Most of these people are traveling professionals and child actors accompanied by their families. TV Trenches lived in a double with her best friend and long time roommate. I was living in a quad with girls I met the day I moved in. I was on the shy side and lacked lots of life experience. They had lifestyles of excessive drinking, drugs and sex. One roommate sold ‘shrooms and liked dropping acid or E depending on the circumstance. Another would have sex in our shared bedroom while I tried to sleep. Heck, they almost got us kicked out of the student housing for throwing a wild party and serving alcohol to child actors! We had a disciplinary hearing. I was in tears and the only reason we didn’t lose our housing is because the head of the program didn’t have the heart to punish me with the three roommates.

I was adrift.

I didn’t understand my roommates and I understood Los Angeles even less. TV Trenches recognized I was struggling. She had recently become acquainted with a local church and invited me to go with her to the college and young professionals service on Sunday evening. It was very different than the small New England church I was raised in. The room for the young professional service was cavernous and the exposed steal beams reminded me a lot of Costco. Despite lacking two things I needed, liturgy and hymns, the praise and worship band provided an element of Church Camp.Church - Pasadena

TV Trenches and I sat next to each other almost every service. Despite the differences from my New England church, Rock Band church soon felt like home. After we “graduated” the L.A. semester, we continued to go, but rarely sat together since we were commuting from different parts of the city.

One March, the minister announced a community dinner to encourage members to commune as “a body of Christ.” We could pay whatever we wanted or could afford. I was depressed with my financial and career struggle and intended to sneak out.

TV Trenches found me. With her limited funds she dropped money in the basket for me and then for herself. Over dinner she gently said, “Sarah, you’re broke. You’ve worked hard to get here. You need to do something to stay in Los Angles.” She pointed out Linens-N-Things (LNT) was opening in Pasadena and doing a massive hiring. She worked at another LNT and said I should use her as a reference.

Even though she was a friend, her kindness astounded me. First she buys me dinner when she’s struggling herself and then she strategizes ways for me to stay in Los Angeles and continue to fight for my dream of working in entertainment industry. That one dinner changed my life.

Linens-n-things-towelsWith her reference and key words to use on my application, I got the job. It took a team of eight of us over four weeks to unpack boxes to stock the Bath Department. We even learned to fold towels in the proper LNT way.

There was a lot of refolding.

I hated it less than the job I had for a day selling cheap merchandise at Pavilion’s under the auspices of child advocacy, but all that folding dried my hands, lint got caught in my throat and it was over eight hours a day standing on a concrete floor. Days became more difficult when the store opened and I had to wear fancy shoes with no support while being nice to rude customers who were frustrated by the largeness of the new store, abrasive when I asked the required, “What can I help you find today,” and unsympathetic when I had difficulty running a new register system.

Despite the cons, the relatively steady paycheck made the woes of retail less bad. Besides, Sonodoro and I had just met through Yahoo Personals. Our routine after-work phone calls were a reward for a difficult day. We officially started dating in late April and that’s when the inevitable layoffs began. The employees knew it was coming; when opening a new store, it’s customary to hire a big batch of people and then systematically release them. I made it through four rounds of lay-offs before I lost my job. They handed me my last paycheck and then handed me a severance check. I was blown away.

PlatedShortly after the layoffs, TV Trenches had a game night. I needed something to show my love and appreciation. She guided me through a crazy semester and guided me to get my first legitimate job in Los Angeles. During times of financial struggle, I was often regulated to the 99 Cent Store for party food, where spending a little over $2 on chips and salsa was normal. This time, I could splurge on chocolate chip cookie ingredients! I decided to make them extra special by adding M&Ms.

Whenever I make chocolate chip cookies with M&Ms, I think about that batch of cookies and their significance. Often you hear creatives reminisce about struggles during their early Hollywood days. While I use food to show love, the night of TV Trenches brainstormed ways for me to stay in Los Angeles and fed me dinner stands out in my mind. She gave me a big push to continue to fight for the dream.

UPGRADED CHOCLATE CHIP COOKIES
Ingredients
*Inspired by the Original Toll House cookie recipe from Nestle.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup (2 sticks) margarin, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 16 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 16 oz bag plain (FROZEN) M&Ms

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

  1. CREAM TOGETHER margarine and sugars. Add eggs and mix again.
    Cream
  2. Gradually add flour and baking soda.
  3. When thoroughly mixed add in chocolate chips and frozen M&Ms.
  4. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  6. Cover your sheet trays with parchment paper.
  7. With your cookie scoop drop your cookie rounds.
    Sheet Tray
  8. When the oven is up to temperature, bake 10-12 minutes.
  9. Transfer baked cookies to a wire rack.
  10. Repeat.

INSIDER’S TIPS:
*Keep cookie batter in the refrigerator while you’re waiting for one round of cookies to bake.
*Wait 1-2 minutes after you take the sheet tray out of the oven before transferring cookies to the wire rack. (They will hold their shape better.)

*DORM COOKING – WASHING AWAY A NIGHT OF SKEEZY MEN

I shoved hard against his chest and kicked. When that didn’t work, I yelled at him to put me down. He did not put me down. He tried to take a kiss. I continued to push away and averted my face so my lips would be as far away from him as possible.

___________________________________________________________________________

Church camp helped rewrite my shaky inner-monologue and during senior year that inner-monologue continued to slough off. In large part this was because SuperFoods wouldn’t let me cloister myself away from irreverence. Hanging out and relaxing is natural for many people; for me it was not. But, with her constant encouragement, slowly, I was becoming comfortable with something as simple as hanging out. Bedroom Eyes started my affair with flirting and dancing, but they improved over time with SuperFoods’s continued to push to go out dancing at least one night a week. She didn’t need to push too much since I loved dancing. The problem was, I had done all of my sexy flirting dancing with a gay boy, so dancing and flirting with a straight guy was something I had to get used to.

I was excited about my growing flirting skills and wasn’t completely adept at using them. Clearly, this would take time too. Given my deep naiveté (as demonstrated with Guapo) and my diminutive size, my friends tried to look out for me. Standing at 4’ 11.5” I could easily get lost in a crowd, left behind (like they did at the Purple Shamrock) or just get into a situation.

sissy K's EXT

My friends recognized (and worried) that men gravitated towards me and acted like it was okay to do whatever they wanted because I’m small. Some men were more aggressive than others and I still needed to work on standing up for myself. One night while we were at Sissy K’s, I had the opportunity.

It didn’t work.

Sissy K’s was a bar in Faneuil Hall and our favorite place to dance. Shortly after arriving, the group splintered off and no sooner was there ten feet between us, one gargantuan man approached me with his friends and said he was going to pick me up. They were built like football players and looked like they had seen better days. He had a puffy face and bulbous nose, which I assumed was from drinking too much and his advanced age. With a bar that was predominantly college students and young professionals, he and his friends were by far the oldest there. I was scared, angry and incredulous that he thought his behavior was acceptable. I stood there and firmly told him, “DO NOT PICK ME UP.”

jack-facing-giant

He picked me up anyway.

I was horrified. I shoved hard against his chest and kicked. When that didn’t work, I yelled at him to put me down.

He did not put me down. He tried to take a kiss. I continued to push away and averted my face so my lips would be as far away from him as possible.

Where are the bouncers?

The giant’s friends laughed and continued to goad him on.

Why is this okay? Why me? I didn’t ask for this. I don’t even look that good.

SuperFoods hurried over. She looked so small below me. Copping her Brooklyn attitude, she only used  when necessary, she forced the giant to put me down. As soon he did, she yanked me away.

I was shaken up. She hugged me. We found our group of girls and she told them she was taking me home. On our way out, SuperFoods chastised the bouncers for doing a bang up job for protecting women against obtrusive drunk men. We walked home in almost complete silence and spent an evening in, cooking and eating.
I do not associate my recipe of the evening with the skeezy man; I associate with SuperFoods, our friendship and our shared passion for cooking.

DORM-STYLE CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CREAM PIE

Without dating someone, I still needed my baking & cooking for love fix. Like an addict, I kept baking/cooking supplies around because “you just never know.” As luck would have it, I had supplies for a dorm version of my Church Camp Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie.

INGREDIENTS
1 pre-baked graham cracker crust
½ cup chopped salted peanuts
16oz can Reddi-Wip
8oz cream cheese
1 cup melted dark chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter

**Hairdryer

Ingredients

STEP-BY STEP DIRECTIONS

THE CRUST
1. Take cover off pie shell.
2. Spread ¼ cup peanut butter in shell as best as possible.
3. Turn hairdryer on to high heat and melt the peanut butter into the crust. This will also help spread the peanut butter and in turn make it more spreadable.

**If you need more peanut butter to get a micro coat on the whole shell, that’s fine. Take more from your jar and spread until satisfied. This is comfort food, after all.

THE FILLING
4. 
Using a wooden spoon beat the cream cheese until smooth.
5. Add remaining ¾ cup peanut butter, ½ cup melted chocolate chips, and ¼ cup roasted peanuts, beat together.

Cream Cheese Batter
6. Create a cream cheese bowl/cavern within the mixing bowl.
7. Spray in roughly 4 cups Reddi-Wip into the cavern.
8. Fold it into the peanut butter/chocolate mixture.

9. Spoon into the prepared pan.

Pie

THE REST
10. In your secret microwave, melt more chocolate chips on 10 second increments, mixing as you go and adding a judicious amount of milk (or Reddi-wip) to keep it moist.
11. Spoon chocolate syrup onto plates.
12. The pie hasn’t had time to set up, but cut it as best you can and put it on the chocolate pool.
13. Garnish with more Reddi-Wip and chopped peanuts.

Pie Final

*BROWNIES IN A BOX

The joy I got out Cosby Sweater’s possible embarrassment of receiving a bedazzled-saccharine-laden package at his mailroom job outweighed the expense. I budgeted postage for future batches and sent fewer brownies.
————————————————————————————————————

Cosby Sweater’s musings of a future proposal helped on two levels.
1. It soothed my sadness that I lost my virginity before I was ready.
2. It assuaged my worry that he wasn’t going discard me and was actually interested in dating.

At the end of the ideal camping trip, the reality of a long distance relationship set in. I went back to Connecticut to live with my family and he went to Boston to work in the school’s mailroom for the summer. He would be sorting and delivering mail sent to campers living in the dorms attending summer camp. (I still don’t now how he managed to get a job through the college even though he graduated, and I don’t feel like tracking him down to ask.)

It was a 4-hour trip max, CT to Boston, but with no license and not being as convenient as going up 7 stories, it was long distance enough. This time apart would be tough. While I was not ready for marriage, Cosby Sweater’s earnest statement, “I knew how I wanted to propose after two weeks” made me eager to do hallmark relationship things. Even though there was a possibility of a future proposal, I wanted to do something that would guarantee a relationship.

Baked goods! It’s how women in my family have won men for generations.

3-7-14 Chocolate Chip CookiesMy mom sent my dad cookies while he was away at school, but they would usually arrive in crumbs. My dad would quip, “sometimes a whole cookie would make it.” Hearing The Broken Cookie Story my whole life, it took only a minute to abandon sending cookies and choose to send brownies. The brownies would be able to withstand whatever abuse the USPS could dish out. I had a passing thought of cutting them into hearts, but after one attempt and one mangled brownie, I decided on the classic square.

I was in my early twenties and excited to continue the family tradition. Besides, I loved baking and I wasn’t baking at camp that summer. My baking was powerful; I baked The Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookies for Red and he asked me prom. PK liked my Church Camp Chocolate Cake and English Teacher swooned over my Church Camp Pie and invited me to hang out after hours.  Now, I had a real boyfriend. I needed to get my baking fix. Was baking and sending food to my underweight boyfriend too maternal? Maybe. But, if I can get asked to prom and get good flirting based off of my baking skills, this would guarantee a commitment from Cosby Sweater (hopefully). Almost as much as the baking, I LOVED bedazzling the shipping box with stickers and overly-saccharine messages.

I was so excited I accidentally went to the post office during lunch. It was closed. (This is a well-known thing in my small hometown.) I went back and presented the package to the Mail Lady. She weighed it.

Ten dollars to ship Connecticut to Massachusetts!?

She encouraged me to purchase a USPS flat-rate box.

“Can I decorate it?”

“No.”

The joy I got out Cosby Sweater’s possible embarrassment of receiving a bedazzled-saccharine-laden package at his mailroom job outweighed the expense. I budgeted postage for future batches and sent fewer brownies.

Cosby Sweater's name is not Vlad, but he received packages like this. See. I'm not the only one that likes to send embarrassing packages.

Cosby Sweater’s name is not Vlad, but he received packages like this. See; I’m not the only one who likes sending embarrassing packages!

He did not get embarrassed. In fact, each time I shipped a package I had to ask if he received it. I was disappointed by his lack of embarrassment, that he didn’t comment on the box or even the quality of the brownies. Disheartened and broke, after the first batch, he only got two other batches.

My desire to pique Cosby Sweaters interest was earnest. I wanted to make him happy by doing these gestures. Even though I didn’t expect something back, when he didn’t return his affection with a small gesture I was hurt.

Has Cosby Sweater received brownies through the mail since me? Probably not. I have had a real long-distance relationship since Cosby Sweater, but have I mailed baked goods? Hell, no. Sending baked goods through the mail is a luxury only for dreamers or people in old movies sending their incarcerated loved one a cake with a file to break out of jail. I am no longer obsessed with being cutesy and have decided that if I ever date someone who deserves to have baked goods shipped, I’m going to use the local baker that delivers. (My long-distance relationship didn’t even deserve that.)

Small towns being what they are, every man I’ve dated since Cosby Sweater has had to go go with me on a field trip to the post office to meet my beloved Mail Lady.

The recipe below is not what I used on Cosby Sweater; I can’t find that one. An additional 15 years of baking and brownie consumption experience, I’ve finally mastered the perfect brownie. The recipe below combines the classic Fannie Farmer recipe with my Grandmother’s fudge recipe.

BROWNIES (THAT ONE CAN SEND IN A BOX)

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:
1 10 ounce package dark chocolate chips
¾ cups butter (1.5 sticks)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup mini marshmallows
1.5 cups flour
1.5 cups chopped walnuts

STEP-BY-STEP DIRECTIONS

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

  1. In a heavy pot, melt together butter and sugar over a low heat. Cook to softball stage, (takes about 5 minutes) Stir constantly.

Butter and Sugar

  1. When butter and sugar are melted together, add mini marshmallows and melt more. (You may need to reduce heat.)

IMG_4097

  1. When sugar, butter and mini marshmallows are all melted, turn heat off and add chocolate chips. Stir until blended.

(If you’re cooking on an electric stovetop, you will need to take the p0t off the heat so you don’t burn your batter.)Mix in Chocolate

  1. When butter, sugar, marshmallows and chocolate are blended, add eggs and cream together.
  1. Slowly add flour.
  1. Stir in walnuts.
  1. Butter your baking dish. (It should roughly have the dimensions of 9x13x2.)  Spread batter evenly. Bake 20-25 minutes.
  1. When done, test with a toothpick. It should come out clean. If it’s clean, take brownies out of the oven. If it’s not clean bake in 1-2 minute intervals constantly testing.
  1. Let rest for 1-2 hours. If you’re greedy like me, you may want to let cool (slightly) and test for quality control. If you intend on shipping your brownies, let the brownies rest for a couple hours before you cut them. Without doing so, they will be difficult to cut and they likely will have that mangled appearance.
Brownies

I managed to wait several hours before I cut these guys.

*CHURCH CAMP CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CREAM PIE

Gaining the Freshman 15 is easy. My weapon of choice? Cheesecake. New York is known for its cheesecake and I was living outside of Manhattan. (Truthfully, I was living in Brookville, Long Island a 30+ minute ride on the LIRR to get to Manhattan.)

Let’s try that again. I  was living in Long Island and found it necessary to sample the varieties of cheesecake I encountered. My friends and I always found appropriate rationalizations, “I haven’t tried this one yet” or “this one is my favorite; it’s been awhile.”

IMG_1437My college Freshman year started soon after camp ended.  At the close of camp PK said, “Let’s be friends.” I believed it; quite possibly, he believed it too. I tried calling and writing (real letters with doodles and stuff). It seemed PK didn’t want to be friends. He never responded. Now, having more wisdom from experience, he was either A) Busy being a high school senior or B) Didn’t want the commitment of long-distance friendship so ignoring me was easier. No matter how many times you’ve done it, rationalizing yourself out of heartbreak does not come easy. I spent the first half of freshman year mourning the breakup of my first relationship.

To my new friends, my stories would often begin, “One time at Church Camp…” (1) During camp, I was able to shake off my “awkward girl” inner monologue and be at home in my soul. I always left camp with more self-confidence than when I arrived. Naturally, I was excited to be accepted on staff for another summer.

After seeing pictures from the Winter Formal, I realized I had over-achieved and gained the Freshman 15 + 5. Oh crap! I was twisted with my weight-loss incentives: Get back together with PK or make him jealous.

Extreme measures must be taken and I did the unthinkable. I stopped eating cheesecake! I also cut my coffee consumption (a bigger sacrifice than giving up cheesecake). Coffee, which included milk and two rounded teaspoons of sugar, went from two 10 oz cups in the morning and two 10 oz cups in the afternoon and maybe more during Sociology (one 16 oz cup) to 1 cup in the morning and one in the afternoon, each with 1 level teaspoon of sugar and less milk.

3-14-14 Sugar

I was consuming 45+ calories in sugar alone for each cup of coffee, resulting in a daily tally of 225+ sugar calroies.

My second afternoon cup was replaced by an hour of aerobics.

3-14-14 AEROBICS

I did not look like this.

For campus dining, I carefully selected meals that looked less greasy, cut portion sizes and skipped dessert (most of the time). Sometimes, my evenings were capped off with more workouts. I lost 2 dress sizes!

At camp, I was a baker again. Since my co-baker spent the previous summer mostly sick, management gave me the opportunity to run the bakery on my own and be the sole baker at the age of 20. PK was the camp photographer (working Up The Hill) and there was a new batch of Camp Family.

Being a baker must have had the lovable Pillsbury Dough Boy kryptonite factor. This particular summer one boy AND one girl from Family crushed on me. (She was much a much better flirt than he; he was more like a giant puppy.)

3-14-14 Black Lab Puppy

While flattered by the advances and attention, I’m hetero and again, he was like a giant puppy. Besides, my eyes were other places.

PK did not care we were Up The Hill together. I looked better than I did when we “dated,” but it was as if the previous summer didn’t happen.

He didn’t ignore me completely, though. He’d say cute little things like, “please pass the bread.”

Despite PK’s aloofness, camp, as it always did, bolstered my confidence, anchored my faith, and with the safety of co-workers, helped me sharpen my flirting skills that were butter knife dull.

It was a friend from my Camp Family summer I took to prom after I turned Red down. The following summer I dated PK. This summer, my third summer on staff, with cheesecake weight lost, ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN!

3-14-14 Brown Bag Lunch

In addition to baking, I made brown bag lunches for campers to take on their hiking or cycling trips. English Teacher was Deaning (leading) a Cycling Conference.  He was on staff for many summers before my Family Summer; he had a camp legacy. (He couldn’t have been more than 25.) My Family summer he’d volunteer and visit his camp girlfriend. (Their relationship lasted longer than a summer.) Of course I knew who he was, but I was surprised when I found out he knew who I was.

I had dutifully prepared the brown bag lunches so English Teacher and his campers could go cycling after Monday’s breakfast. It was then he approached me to discuss provisions.

He put his hand on my shoulder and told me to keep the next lunch easy… Give him a couple loaves of bread, a vat of peanut butter and some jam. He’ll hose his pickup truck off after the kids use it as a table to make their sandwiches. I looked at his beautiful blue eyes, “Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

Then, he smiled at me with his gap-tooth-smile. (Wow.)

He was going to be an English teacher and I was majoring in English. He used to work at camp and I currently worked there. (And, we both breathe air!) We had so much in common!

My heart needed to talk to him more and throughout the week I made sure we did. I invited him to stay for Saturday dinner. (Saturday dinners were traditionally fancier since it was only the summer staff and the incoming Deans and counselors for the week.) I intended to use dessert as my bait.

With my love of cheesecake, I made a similar but less labor-intensive dessert and I whipped off a batch of Emeril Lagasse’s CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER PIE (a standing favorite of mine). I spooned some into Dixie Cups and gave one to English Teacher after Friday dinner. He took a bite and invited me to visit him and the campers that night. It was like being invited to sit at “the cool kids’ table.”

I was terrified. I could be marginally flirty and confident, but I couldn’t manage a visit. I stayed in the female dorm. The next day he chastised me for not visiting.

He had a lot of friends on staff, so he was often up visiting or volunteering. We kept re-connecting. No kissing. No holding hands. Just talking. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I went for that Friday night visit. Maybe something, probably nothing. I still have good memories of that summer and our small exchanges and how I felt when I was able to entice him to stay for dessert.

RECIPE
You can make your own graham cracker crumb crust for this, or if you’re pressed for time, you can purchase a store-bought pie crust. Still use the plain graham cracker crust; that way you have a flavor contrast to the chocolate in the pie filling.

INGREDIENTS

PIE CRUST:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

FILLING:
8oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts (I usually use more)
4 cups heavy cream, whipped until thick

GARNISH:
2 cups heavy cream, whipped until thick
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
4 ounces chocolate curls and shavings
2 cups chocolate sauce, slightly warm (see Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookie… add more milk)

STEP-BY STEP DIRECTIONS
Set oven rack on bottom slot.

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

THE CRUST
In a bowl combine the gram cracker crumbs, butter and ¼ cup peanut butter. Mix thoroughly. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan.

BAKE until golden and crisp, (6 to 8 minutes).

REMOVE from the oven and cool completely.

THE FILLING
Using an electric mixer (if you have one), or a wooden spoon (if you don’t) beat the cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Add the remaining ¾ cup peanut butter. Beat until smooth. Add the milk and roasted peanuts and beat well.

In a separate bowl whip the heavy cream. When it has light peaks, add the confectioner’s sugar. Fold 4 cups of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture.

3-14-14 Pie Filling-the-crust

I am sick & don’t want to make a pie that is germ-loaded & will ultimately need to be thrown away. (Another baker’s pic.)

Spoon into the prepared pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, (about 2 hours).

EATING
Remove from the refrigerator just before serving.

Pool your chocolate sauce on plates. Cut and plate pie slices. Garnish with whipped cream, chopped peanuts, chocolate shaving.

3-14-14 Choc Pie Better

I am sick & don’t want to make a pie that is germ-loaded & will ultimately need to be thrown away. (Another baker’s pic.)

Serves about 8-10.

Variance:
When whipping the cream, wait until it has soft peaks add confectioner’s sugar and lightly sweeten… one to two tablespoons.

Yes, I’m nerding out and using endnotes.

1)  American Pie came out the spring of my Freshman year; it did not help my cause. At least I was no longer the only one who began stories, “One time at camp…”

*CHURCH CAMP CHOCOLATE CAKE

My first boyfriend was two years younger than me. He was a Preacher’s Kid (PK) and we met at work the summer between high school and college— He was my camp boyfriend.

 

I had just turned Red down for prom, graduated high school, and ran away to work at a sleep-away church camp for the summer. The year I met PK, I was on second-year staff, working as one of two bakers. He was first-year staff, also known as Camp Family. Family is generalized help that lives “down the hill,” away from the main camp campus. This means that whenever Family helped other divisions of staff, we were their supervisors.

This particular summer, my co-baker spent the better part of the camp season sick, so most of the time, I was baking alone… At the age of 19, doing the work of two to ensure all 300+ campers and staff would have their freshly baked cookies, cakes, and treats.3-7-14 Chocolate Chip Cookies

Working on Family is like being in an apprentice program; you to learn a new skill so you can graduate to work on Up The Hill staff the following year.  Working on Family also means, you’re a bit like a super hero and go wherever help is needed.

3-7-14 Super heroes

One afternoon, early in the camp season, my co-baker got sick; PK was assigned to help me. Before I could trust him to measure 20 pounds of flour for dessert, he had to face a test. While he scrubbed my pots, I got to know him, (in the clothes-on mundane-type question “where are you from” sense). I got to know him better in the dry goods closet (in the clothes-on kissing sense).

The whole thing was surprising. I had to climb a stepladder to get supplies from the top shelf and I brought him in so he could take the supplies from me.  He took a kiss instead. He tasted sweet like the fruit punch he had been drinking. Catching my balance, I took a step down.  We were eye-to-eye, “kissable height.”

(One friend defined this as, “the optimum height difference between two people to have a comfortable kiss… No one has to stoop over too much or strain their neck to give/receive a kiss.”)

Being short, I was never “kissable height,” and therefore doomed to feel inadequate. In this brief moment of being “kissable height” I felt attractive. Generosity outweighing shyness, I returned PK’s  kiss.  Despite being two years younger than me, it was clear he had more experience. When I saw him at dinner that night it was awkward. I felt like I had done something wrong; I was his supervisor after all. Besides, having your first real kiss outside the confines of Truth or Dare in the dry goods closet at church camp is a real mind-fuck.

3-7-14 Dry Goods Closet

Later that week, when the evening was winding down, (and Family was almost done with their responsibilities) I went to visit him in the Dining Hall. I had that giddy feeling in the pit of my stomach with nervous anticipation/hope/fear that he might kiss me again. I knew I could expect a hug. This was church camp and staff liked hugging in the name of spreading Christ’s love. He was a foot taller than me, so I lead him to the hearth and stepped up so we could see eye-to-eye for a hug. We were spreading Christ’s love (hugging), when the minister for the week (his mom) walked in. PK stepped away so quickly he nearly tripped over his feet. Her only reaction was laughter and she kept walking through, but PK had already run away. When he resurfaced, I walked him to the top of the hill so he could start his 1/2 mile walk to the Family Cabin. In the shadows, he kissed me again. (Yay!)

I liked this kissing thing. The Bakery was not near the Dining Hall, and I often asked him to help me to retrieve the evening snack from the Bakery and carry it back after dinner. Family dubbed it “nookie and cookie.” There was no nookie, just kissing.  Any suggestion beyond that scared the focaccia right out of me. After all, I was supremely in-experienced and still had fears of any form of romantic intimacy.

We were a couple for the summer; when camp closed in August, it was over. But, before the break up, there was his July birthday. In addition to baking cookies, breads and treats, I made individualized birthday cakes for people celebrating their summer birthday at camp. This meant, using a box mix and decorating the cake to fit to the individual, but PK was my camp boyfriend. I needed to pull out the stops. I called my mom for the family chocolate cake recipe (which is really Fanny Farmer’s Buttermilk Chocolate Cake recipe, from her beloved cookbook).

RECIPE

3-7-14 Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

FAMILY DIFFERENCES:

1. My family leaves out the salt and vanilla.

2. If you don’t have buttermilk, use sour milk or add 1 teaspoon vinegar to regular milk to make it sour.

STEP-BY STEP DIRECTIONS
Set oven rack to the bottom rack.

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

MIXING
In a large bowl, sift together: Flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt

3-7-14 Sifting

When it’s well-blended add: Vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla

3-7-14 Sifting Stage 2

(NOTE: I like adding vegetable oil first and then using the same measuring cup for the milk to ensure I can get as much oil in the cake, plus it makes for an easier clean-up.)

Beat mixture until smooth.

3-7-14 Mix Well

THE REST
Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, ensuring that all sides are well-covered.

Alternatively, you can cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of your pan. Place on the bottom and grease the sides.

Spread batter in pan and bake in oven for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Put on cooling rack away from oven and let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

3-7-14 Parchement Paper Help

REMOVING FROM PAN
Tap cake pan on edges of counter, going around in a circle/square. Put serving dish on top of pan. Hold pan to dish firmly and flip cake onto dish. Set on counter and lift pan straight up off of dish.

In Laurie Colwin’s book, More Home Cooking: AWriter Returns to the Kitchen, she writes of Fanny Farmer’s Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, “It is hard to encapsulate the virtues of this cake. It is fast, easy, and scrumptious. It has a velvety, powdery feel – the result of all that cocoa. It is not so horribly bad for you, because you use buttermilk, which is relatively low in fat, and cocoa powder is defatted anyway. Furthermore, it keeps like a dream and tastes even better after a few days.”

FROSTING
Wait until the cake is completely cool before frosting, otherwise you’ll have a giant mess. Frost with your favorite flavor. I prefer a classic homemade buttercream frosting & find that it complements the cake nicely. 

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter or margarine (softened)
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered until ready to decorate the cake.

In all likelihood, you will have extra frosting, but I’ve always found it’s better to have ample frosting rather than stretching frosting too much. You can also dye the extra to create additional decorations.

3-7-14 Decorate

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
PK shook up my isolated world. If he hadn’t been bold enough to kiss me, it could have been years before my first real unforced lip-lock.  I wasn’t nearly as terrified about kissing as I was when I was 14, but kissing and dating were still not in my wheelhouse. I stumbled through a lot of common dating practices (like you don’t need to sit next to each other at every meal and spend all of your free time together). Most people don’t get it right the first time and it was clear I had a lot to learn.

*ULTIMATE PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE COOKIE TO GET SOMEONE TO FALL MADLY IN LOVE WITH YOU

I was not smooth in high school. My lack of polish was accentuated because all the girls “my age” in TV and film were far more grown up and they oozed fineness. Being exceptionally short, having a small speech impediment, and lacking coordination I felt like a caricature of the awkward teenager nobody wanted to date. This did not make me feel attractive or confident to talk with my deep crushes. I typically crushed in silence. Through junior high and high school, I crushed on all four of my closest guy friends… (Mind you these are the same friends I was virtually mute around.)

2-28-14 BH 90210
I had an on again off again crush spanning 10 years on a friend that moved to my town in the second grade. The crush grew when he urged me to take Biology with him freshman year and resurfaced when we struggled through Algebra II together junior year.

There was the friend who played sax and sat behind me in Band starting in the seventh grade. He was funny and charismatic with the right amount of snark. He helped me laugh through the muck of high school.  He stopped taking Band senior year to focus on other things, but we still saw each other at lunch.

I met another in 6th grade homeroom. At first blush, he was the most reserved of the group, but he had a killer wit. He was incredibly kind; his yearbook inscription tells me that I made him smile when he was down, but he did the same for me. He and I are still in touch and meet up when we’re in the other’s city.

Then, there’s Red. He transferred to us in 9th grade. He was brilliant and quirky. He took fancy science and math classes, which I was not smart enough for. But, we sat next to each other in our upper division Spanish and English classes. We were theatre geeks and I helped with blocking when he was cast as Schroder for “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” (Every time I hear the Book Report song, I think of him.)

2-28-14 You're a Good Man Charlie Brown Whole Cast

I was too nervous to do anything about the feelings I had for these boys, even when people tried to push us together.

The only thing I could do to express my feelings was bake.

I remember the Christmas I was crushing on Red vividly. I baked batches of Ultimate Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies (To Get Someone to Fall Madly in Love With You). The cookies were a marriage between a peanut butter cookie and a chocolate chip cookie.

 2-28-14 Cookies

Not to disclose my saccharine message, everyone in the group got the same tinfoil bedazzled package. I changed the sticker formation on Red’s so I’d be sure to give him the package that had 7 cookies instead of 6.

Several months after Christmas, Red asked me to prom. My heart was so happy, it did summersaults.

2-28-14 Happy Heart

I turned him down.

What if there was holding hands or kissing? I was not prepared for that. I took a friend I met the previous summer working at a church camp. He didn’t have a high school prom and since we were just friends it felt like the right choice.

RECIPE

I cannot stress enough when it comes to baking— Invest in parchment paper! Baking becomes infinitely easier.

INGREDIENTS
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 sticks margarine, softened (2 cups)
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup dry coarsely chopped peanuts (dry roasted, lightly salted)
2 cups of semi-sweet or dark chocolate for melting

STEP-BY STEP DIRECTIONS

Set oven racks to the top two racks.

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

MIXING

In a Medium bowl, cream together:
Margarine, brown sugar, white sugar and eggs.

Add baking soda and mix.

Slowly add flour. When well blended, add nuts.

THE REST

Cover baking sheets with parchment paper. If parchment paper is too wide, fold to fit.

2-28-14 Cookie Dough

Spoon dough on baking sheets in dollops that are slightly larger than a quarter. You should be able to fit 4 across and 3 down. When you’re done with one tray, put it on a cool surface, then do your other baking sheet. When both baking sheets are ready and up to temperature, put them in. Set timer for 12 minutes.

When they’re “ready” check them. If you press down lightly on a cookie, it should bounce back. If it does, take it out. If it doesn’t, or you want a slightly crispier cookie, put it in for a little longer. (You must keep a close eye on cookies, baking goes very quickly at this point.) Once you take the top baking sheet out, move the bottom baking sheet to the top rack.

Quickly transfer the cookies from the sheet to your cooling racks. When you’re done with that, your second baking sheet should be done. Take them out and transfer cookies to cooling racks.

Now, using the same parchment paper and baking sheets, continue the spooning and baking process until the batter is gone.

Let the cookies cool thoroughly before doing the chocolate glaze.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE
Spread out wax paper for a cooling area.

2-28-14 Chocolate

In a double boiler on a very low heat, melt the chocolate. I like using dark chocolate candy bars. It might be tempting to add milk to help keep chocolate smooth. Don’t. If you do this, the chocolate won’t set up. Be patient and keep stirring. When chocolate is melted, dunk the cookie half-way in. Then put it on the wax paper to cool. Continue doing this until cookies are all gone. You’ll need to keep stirring the chocolate so it doesn’t stick to the pot, and you may want to have extra chocolate on hand, depending on how generous you are with dunking.