Cookies need not crumble

It had been well over a year since the last time I baked chocolate chip cookies. After following a low carbohydrate diet for the past several months, I could no longer tame the voice in my head that had been pleading for homemade cookies. I dug out my treasured copy of “Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook,” featuring my favorite recipe. (King is the baker behind Tate’s Cookies, which might sound familiar as they are the crispy cookies found in many grocery stores around the country. While the library no longer carries the original cookbook, we do have a later one, “Tate’s Bake Shop: Baking for Friends,” which comes highly recommended.)

Singing along to the jazz standards channel on Pandora, I gathered the ingredients – flour, sugar, vanilla and more, and made a deal with myself that I would skip dinner for cookies. The kid in me thought this was a fantastic plan. Dropping dough onto the pans, I was filled with joy, realizing that as an official adult, I had the authority to forego a healthy dinner for the sake of my return to baking.

When I was younger, I equated baking with a means of expressing love. But, as middle age approached, calories began attaching themselves more readily to my body, and I certainly didn’t feel the need to compete for best baker prize in my family, or at work. We have had a number of incredible contributions of baked goods over the years at the library (thanks, Gayle), although, lately, they’ve been declining, probably for similar reasons.

When the timer went off, the carefree and breezy atmosphere took a dramatic turn. Instead of the thin, crispy, almost wafer-like, buttery chocolate chip cookies I was expecting, what appeared on the pan were indistinct blobs of dry-looking dough, masquerading as cookies. As I returned to thoughts of what went wrong, I realized that I let myself become distracted by the thrill of breaking some adult dinner rule. Rather than using the precise leveling technique from my more youthful days, I added flour as if I were measuring my morning coffee. “Oh, that looks about right.” I had neglected to follow the basic tenets of baking, which require a much higher attention to detail.

Baking and aging have a few things in common – patience, fortitude, and a loss of ego. In my continuing quest to make healthy choices, I’ve let go of a few important things, including the joy of singing in the kitchen with the anticipation of a decadent reward. While sugar is no prize to any body, the occasional batch of chocolate chip cookies or shortbread doesn’t have to spell complete failure. With that in mind, you might have a good guess of where to find me.

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