Something has changed for me and baking. Look, I'm not a baker (that's my mom) and I never will be, but I have had a bit of a shift in my baking kitchen. Before, baking felt like such a production to me. All that precision and the measuring and the flour and vanilla extract (Don't get me wrong, I love vanilla extract.). It felt like lots of moving parts and bits and pieces spread out across the kitchen island and lots of steps in the recipe and dishes to clean up after. Dishes for Neel to clean up after.
Like I said, a production.
The first batch I made were perfect. For me and Neel, at least. Just a hint of sweet, they were more spice cookies than sugar cookies. Cal noted the difference and was less impressed. Oh, he ate them, but. They could have been sweeter, I guess.
So last week, once the dishes were done and the evening was dark upon us and the only sound was the scratch of Cal's pencil on his algebra homework, I said, "Maybe I should make cookies." And then I looked at the clock, saw that it was after 8 PM, and decided I was tired. And Callum said, quietly, "Oh."
Well. These cookies might just be worth pulling out the mixing bowls and the flour and the eggs, even on a week night.
Especially on a weeknight.
And when I went to make them sweeter, I knew I still didn't want them too sweet. I'm not a fan of fruit in cookies, so that eliminated raisins or cranberries. Chocolate chips would, I thought, overwhelm the spice. Too much sweet. But toffee? Now maybe we're onto something. A little nutty, a little sweet, toffee bits might be the perfect addition to our Brown Sugar Spice Cookies.
Turns out it was.
Brown Sugar Spice Cookies, adapted from Joy the Baker
2 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1.5 sticks (6 oz.) butter (I used salted), softened
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 C or more, toffee chips, depending on taste
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl and set aside. Using a stand or hand-held mixed, blend butter and and sugar until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl, and then add the egg and vanilla extract before blending one minute more. Once blended, add the dry ingredients all at once to the butter and sugar. Blend on low speed incorporating all of the flour. Once the flour disappears, add the toffee chips and blend the rest of the way with a spoon or spatula.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This will make the dough easier to work with.
Using baking pans lined with parchment paper, drop tablespoon size balls of dough onto the sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes and transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely.
They'll keep (unless you have boys) for about 5 days in an airtight container.
One last note, we're not gluten free, so it's pretty obvious that this recipe isn't either. Because we aren't I haven't paid much attention to what goes into modifying recipies to make them gluten-free for all my dear friends who are cutting gluten out of their own diets or those of their kids (I'm looking at you, Christine!). If you have any suggestions for me, pass them along and I'll do my best to incorporate, but remember, I'm no expert!
Oh, and you guys know I baked cookies just so I could play with my new lens, right?
1. Bye-bye Papa | 2. Glitter flats | 3. Tie time | 4. In print again | 5. Friday night Chinese | 6. Warm evening, neighborhood comes out | 7. Doggie morning #1 | 8. Doggie morning #2 (the always-by-my-side version) | 9. Doggie morning #3 | 10. My river | 11. Hitting lesson | 12. Go Dogs! | 13. Cocktail clothes! | 14. Cocktail | 15. Cocktail Ring | 16. Neighbor's garden | 17. Low tide | 18. Stormy sky | 19. Brunch bound | 20. French-country brunch. | 21. Bloody | 22. Spring veggies | 23. Dinner al fresco | 24. Mother's Day floral
Well, it was a great weekend. How was yours? The first bit of news is that our Thea Turbo McFatty is mending nicely. Back at the vet Thursday for a recheck, our doc was so wonderful that Neel wants him to be his primary care physican. She's clearly perkier this weekend, and even though we have a long road ahead, I'm feeling grateful for where we are. News of Erin's mom's dog passing and my friend Jackie too lost her sweet pup Sasha last week remind me how precious and important these relationships are to us. Things went uphill from there!
How can they not when I remembered that I have glitter flats and it was warm enough to wear them!
And a stop at my favorite shop elicited the news that a product shot I did for Selma's was in print and looked pretty freaking nice?
And that it was finally nice enough for the 'hood to spend a Friday evening out and about enjoying the front yard?
These are all good things. Cal had a hitting lesson on Saturday and a bit of a breakthrough, which had to feel good. We had Supper Club Saturday night, and it was the best yet. Julie hosted and she chose Mad Men for the theme. Awesomesauce. Seriously, the most fun ever. I wore heels, and then I wore them again for brunch on Sunday. I like heels. I like the way I feel in them. Marianne, I think I need more practice. And maybe more options. Wink, wink.
Neel and I took a long walk Sunday morning before Cal was up, and it was the perfect start to my Mother's Day. We trundled off to brunch (in heels!) at one of my favorite spots, one we rarely get to. We ate in the tiny, gabled attic and for once the drama was almost better than the food. Seated next to us was a large multi-generational group of about ten, all there to celebrate the grandmother and several mothers. Late into the brunch, one of the adult granddaughters rushed in after many phone calls to help her find the way. She'd almost missed the whole meal. By this time we were nearly finished, and along with that family and another, we were the only other diners in the room.
Neel claims he heard the clink of a knife on a water glass, but all Cal and I heard was the hush, when the adult granddaughter says in a voice that carries across the whole room, "I'm getting married!"
The silence that fell was stunning. From his vantage, Neel could see our server and her face mirrored the shock that must have shown on ours. Finally, the grandmother says, in a voice even louder, "WHO TO?"
It's Dalton, apparently. He's 21. Just a couple months younger than her. They've been dating a couple months but have known each other for a few years.
Then grandma asks several pertinent questions, "WHERE'S THE RING?"
"I don't have it yet."
"It's not official till you got a ring," chimes in an uncle.
"WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US?" (Grandma again.)
"Cause I didn't want y'all to do that whole 'I'm gonna kill ya if ya hurt her' bit."
Someone tries to point out that they are, in fact, in a restaurant, but then Grandma, or someone, says, "I don't care if we're in a restaurtant. I'm gonna scream like a five year old if I want to." Meahwhile, we're all wondering: Where's the check? Where's the check? Finally our server shows up, and we beat a hasty retreat (Well, let's face it. That was Neel's idea. Cal and I could have stayed there and listened all afternoon.), but not before learning that Dalton does IT for the Navy. Callum overheard the Grandma mutter "computer nerd" under her breath. As we went down the steps, we could see them all staring at their smartphones, apparently madly trolling facebook for pictures of the poor man.
Best. Brunch. Ever.
The rest of the day, while lovely, paled in comparison. You know, we're really at the point in the year when school feels superflous, but trundle on we must. But the days are winding down and summer is on the horizon. I can feel it. Can you?
1. I think I can't believe baseball is over for the year. Part of me is certainly relieved. But the bigger part of me will miss the rhythm of baseball days. We got into a good one, dealing with practices and games, laundry and quick & easy suppers. Being on a team is such a good thing for a kid. It's really good for my son. He didn't play as much as he wanted, but this was such a great group of boys and a terrific set of coaches. It was a pretty awesome season, all things being equal. So yeah, I like getting home two hours (or more) earlier each night, but I sure do miss what this experience did for my boy.
2. I think there are many more habits I'm trying to start and break. Here are a few: I would like to spend a day in the studio once a week. I would like to sweep the kitchen every night while Neel does the dishes. I would like to stop turning on the TV as soon as I get up in the morning (I like the news.). I would like to drink my coffee outside on the weekends. These are some of the little things. There are bigger ones, of course. Duh. But it's baby step time, people. Who is with me? Who wants to hold me accountable? Wink, wink.
3. I think it's been kind of a rough week, actually. There have been some definite highs. Dinner with some girlfriends I haven't seen in literally YEARS. Now that was nice. Sometimes your lives drift apart from each other and there's no real going back. You might "like" each other's posts on facebook here and there, but for the most part the connection is gone. With these guys, it felt just normal and right to be back in each other's company. I'm grateful. Another bright spot this week has been the internet, which I love. Where else can you have friends whose videos you cry over, friends who offer (out of the blue) to make things for you and friends who really get you... and can show how much through their talent with the pen. I really, really feel blessed and grateful. Our sweet Thea was back at the vet yesterday for a recheck and she faces a long road to recovery, I'm afraid. We're very worried about the dynamic among our dogs here at the house. My friend Jackie is facing a health crisis is one of her critters and every where I turn it seems that there's some fresh new sadness. And yet. It's important to remember that I'm blessed and grateful. Because I am.
4. I think that I have fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with my new lens. Truly. Madly. Deeply. I know, it's the photographer, not the gear, blah, blah, blah. But sometimes you get a piece of equipment that helps you see things in a new way, and I think this lens might be that for me. I played around in the studio some on Thursday, and while I still have a lot to learn, it felt like every photo was a revelation. I'm excited. It feels good.
5. I think we're low-keying it again for Mother's Day. We always have brunch, and I'm still trying to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. Not cook is one thing. Take pictures is another. I'd like a nice day and to have some fun, but I just haven't landed on what I want to do. Anybody have any fun plans? Any suggestions for me? What do you think I should do?