The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. And grounding yourself with the act of baking.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. And grounding yourself with the act of baking.
I'm sitting at my desk trying to write. Trying to read. Feeling the general monotony of routine. Feeling my eyes grow heavier with every single word. I think about going outside for a walk, then I glance over my shoulder and alas, even though it's only 6:30, it's already dark. I feel tired. Empty. Drained.
Maybe I should have a glass of wine. Perhaps piece of chocolate. But none of that actually sounds good. I'm
Grounding. Baking. I need to bake. I need exact science. I need to follow directions.

Grounding. Baking. I need to bake. I need exact science. I need to follow directions.

I choose to bake over cooking. Cooking to me is easy. It's an art form. It's a little of this, a little of that. Knowing what flavors blend together. Tasting. Smelling. Not having to be so exact. It's an experience for me.

I need to bake. I need exact science. I need to follow directions

But not tonight. Right now I'm craving some order. Some meticulous attention to detail. I need to measure. I need to read. I need to be careful. I need to immerse myself in the process.
My mind finalizes its selection. A simple chocolate chip cookie. I mean really...who can resist a warm fresh baked cookie. And since my man-child went back to college there has rarely been a homemade cookie in this house. He is the baker. I am the cooker. It just has worked out that way. And although my "google plus sized hips" are not suffering for lack of taste buds most certainly are.
Pull out the mixer. I'm slowly begin to unwrap the butter. There's something about the sharp crackle of the paper. I'm more attentive now. I pour the sugar. Careful not to over flow into the bowl. Careful to be exact. To measure carefully. I make a note to buy more sugar. Brown sugar. Can you smell it? I spoon it gently into the measuring cup pressing down artfully. Again, making sure to be exact.
The whirl of the mixer gains my full attention. There is something so grounding in the process of baking. It's a full experience. It's an act of love. Love towards myself since I wanted the cookies. And love for my family who will enjoy them. Exact. Careful. Deliberate. A choice to love in this simple way.
The cracking of the eggs. It's always one of my favorite parts. Mostly because I'm a master with one hand. One sharp crack, no spills, no drips the shells click together and with a simple toss land neatly in the sink. I smile.
The mixer goes into action again. It truly mesmerizes me tonight. Butter blending with sugar. Sweet confection in the making. Warm soft fur brushes against my ankle. The puppy. She is looking for something, anything to land within her grasp. I see a small chunk of butter coated with sugar fling itself out of the bowl. She dives for it. It barely touches the floor. I don't stop her. It's a small offering. And I didn't actually feed her from the counter, right?

There is something so grounding in the process of baking. It's a full experience. It's an act of love.

Opening the vanilla is truly one of my favorite parts of the process. I breathe in deeply. I see the beans in the bottom of the jar and I think about the loving hands that created this particular vanilla. And I smile. I slowly add it to the spinning blades.
Mixing. It's an art. Do not over mix or your cookies will lay flat. Do not under mix or they just won't taste right. Again. Science. Process. Exact. It's exactly what I need.
I reach for the flour and realize it's my whole-wheat white blend. It's always at this moment I remember I wish I had only white flour,, because although it may not be the best FOR me it IS the best in the cookies. This will have to do. Spooning carefully. Scraping my knife slowly across the top of the measuring cup letting excess drop back into the jar. Dry into wet. This may be one of the first instructions I ever remember learning from my mother. I think it was when I made my very first banana bread. I'm not exactly sure. But I always think it every time I bake. Dry into wet. Science.
Finally, the chocolate. One might think it's the best part, but I truly prefer my chocolate chip cookies without chips. I like a no distractions against actual flavor of a baked cookie. Not to mention I'm very particular about my chocolate.
But I do love watching the chips fold into the batter. The beaters tend to jump around. It's almost as if the batter is saying we don't really need you. But eventually as they coat each chip with their sweet batter the beating becomes smoother. See? Everyone seems to get along. It's as if they come to a general consensus...this is for the greater good. In the end this will be something everyone loves.
One of my favorite parts is the messiest part. Creating each little ball that will become a cookie. I don't mind getting messy. I don't mind having batter stuck to my fingers. I like how it feels. I like the tactile feel of being truly involved. Four neat rows of three. Feels right to be exact with this part too. I deliver them to the oven. And now I wait.
My mind is awake now. Sharp again. I have been processing the simple act of baking as I stood in the kitchen. My senses once again reminded of something I love to do. Stepping away from my desk. The endless beeps and buzzes of my phone. And just being fully emersed in the activity, in the smells, in the science. Thinking about simple pleasure my family will have in a warm baked cookie. Seems so basic. Why don't I do this more often. The step away part. In being mindfully present in something as elemental as baking.
I invite you to do the same. Be mindful. Walk away from the buzz. Touch. Feel. Smell. Follow instructions. Saturate yourself in the science. The exactness. You will not only be rewarded with the obvious sugary confection treat...but you will being to feel once again. It's the simple things.
much much love, lisa
(click the graphic for a printable version)
best chocolate chip cookies and the simple grounding of baking

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