Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dancing with myself

For the past few days I've been avoiding my blog. You see, I almost can't bear to read it or even write it, it's so angry. My friend Angry African has been writing a series of pieces about love, without them I would have been lost. It's not easy being angry all the time, nor is it healthy, for your body or your soul. AA, thanks, I was singing "Love is in the air" for a couple of days. Released in '76, it was a cheesy, cheeky nod to the swinging sixites and the burgeoning disco era when everybody was sleeping with everybody and recreational drugs were becoming a fast fixture. But AA and his daughter have also turned into a feel good moment and that's a good thing.

So i've been trying to find myself that middle ground, to accept the things I cannot change and not have regrets that I stay involved when maybe, out of sheer self preservation, should get out. But these are things I cannot talk about and seeing that we all need to find some peace, thought I'd share some of my own happier memories too.

When we were kids, Saturdays around our house meant either cow heel soup with spilt peas(sancoche) or pelau, those were my mother's standbys. I only reluctantly eat sancoche today, but pelau sometime features. My mum had a sweet tooth, so you can bet that there was usually a cake, cookies, some kind of indian sweets or really, anything being made. We never had a lot of money so we learnt to make do as much as possible but all these years later, I still have all these skills. Many a rainy Saturday afternoon, my brothers and I were pressed into service, stirring, cutting, measuring, mixing, the most delicious smells coming from the oven or on the stove. Deep fried doughnuts with powdered sugar, biting into them still warm, the chewy dough making every mouthful a sweet little delight. Oh how we loved those doughnuts never mind how labour intensive they were!

Devils Food cake, the first made alone by me, aged 13, with white marshmallow frosting. Mom used to make chocolate cakes but her and Granny's favourite was lemon flavoured sponge so that usually took preference, mine was always the chocolate cake. The mixmaster going we'd concoct all kinds of things, hundreds of cheese puffs because my grandad liked them. The aforementioned sponge cake because my great grandad LOVED them and with his lack of teeth in later years, it could be had without too much trouble. Most occasions in our family revolved around food, usually huge amounts requiring a lot of time and effort. Honestly, cooking for five hundred people, no big deal, we can do that! We must have been nuts but say what, they were always happy complaining about all the work. Fortunately us younger folk have better sense so gone are the huge occasions, exchanged for quieter passages.

My love of food comes from this place though both granny and my mum despaired that I would ever cook, the kitchen was one place that got a wide berth from me unless I was baking something. Ironic that for three years after leaving school I cooked for a living eh. Cooking has become a discourse with my inner self, I cook to find peace sometimes. Try the chocolate chip cookies here, little nuggets of happiness and maybe, not so angry. Tomorrow is another day.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Important : Always use real butter, the cookies will taste better, store better and no trans fats. Good chocolate is important, use semi-sweet or unsweetened, milk chocolate chips are usually too sweet, try Ghirardelli or broken up chunks of Lindt or any other good chocolate. You don’t have to have a lot of these cookies but you should enjoy every bite of them!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8ozs) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt, set aside
Put butter into microwave safe dish, add sugars, melt in microwave on low temperature, stirring occasionally to break up butter.
Once butter is melted (you have to watch it carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn!)
Beat until sugar is dissolved, add vanilla extract and eggs one at a time, enough so that the eggs are incorporated.
Add dry ingredients a little at a time to the creamed mixture. Stir well between additions. Mixture should be fluffy not runny.
Stir in chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate that have been broken into bite size pieces.
Drop rounded teaspoons full onto ungreased cookie sheet, about two inches apart. Cookies will spread during baking.
Bake for approx 9-11 minutes. For a crisper cookie, drop three to four inches apart on sheet, for high round softer cookies , drop them closer together and cook until just done.
Remove trays from oven and let sit for two minutes before removing cookies to cooling racks. This will ensure that the cookies come off the tray easily without breaking.
Cool completely on wire racks, uneaten cookies can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for two months.

1 comment:

HPD said...

You forgot the most important ingredient. It's in the words but not stated. The love you have for your memories.

AA (Thanks for the compliment!)