chocolate chip walnut cookies + hatching plans

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity and how a life can be architected to one’s personal design and pursuits. Over the past few months, I’ve been talking to a lot of people about what I’ve been doing for the past sixteen years, and the common thread {or refrain} has been the looks of awe when I talk about what I’ve done off-duty, or within the small space of time between jobs. I’ve published a critically-acclaimed memoir {2008}, launched a burgeoning non-profit {2009}, published a successful online + print literary journal {2002-2007}, formed an LLC + started a luxury goods dot.com before it was fashionable {1999} and on it goes. The threadline seems to be that I build when I have the time and space to think. When time is a commodity that belongs only to me, rather than being passed in pursuit of someone else’s dream.

Creativity doesn’t come when you’re ensconced in front of a computer for fourteen hours a day. Big ideas don’t emerge when you’re mainlining Seamless orders, and your only source of light comes fluorescent bulbs in an office that slowly resembles a prison with the passing of each day. Instead, we focus on the deliverable, on getting shit done. We settle for everything less than extraordinary; we don’t break ranks because, frankly, we’re tired. We play by the rules and author the playbook for others to follow. We play it safe and slouch through our days as if they’re photocopies of themselves, with only a spin class or intermittent comedy to get us through.

After sixteen years of non-stop work, I’ve learned that I loathe offices but love communities. I work best when surrounded by others who challenge me. I work best when I don’t have to feel guilty about taking a yoga class {or taking care of me}. I thrive when I exist on the fringe, the outskirts, when rules are markers that can be ceremoniously dismissed.

I want a life where the old rules don’t apply. And the more my natural inclination is to move toward the box, slowly, I’m noticing that I’m actively repelling it. All signs point to {this}. All roads are shoving me toward {that}.

Each day begins to reveal itself as another step toward the frightening and unknown. The time to be fearless and break ranks is now. Now, now, now. A subtraction of a single letter is the refrain I use for that old life: no, no, no

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from the forthcoming Gramercy Tavern Cookbook, review forthcoming in Medium
1 3/4 + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar {I used coconut palm}
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

DIRECTIONS
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until completely combined. Beat in the egg, the yolk and the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, slowly, mixing to just combined. Remove the bowl and fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, mixing until just combined. You want to be careful about over-mixing as you’ll get tough cookies.

Cover the bowl and chill for 6-24 hours. I can’t even begin to express the marked difference in taste and texture you’ll yield with refrigerated cookies. The cookies will spread less (the flour has more time to absorb the liquid), retain their shape and are soft, rich and luscious in taste.

Pre-heat the oven to 375F, with racks positioned ni the lower and upper-middle positions.

Divide the dough into 14 pieces (1/3 cup measure, each). Arrange the balls about 3 inches apart on two large ungreased cookie sheets. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown and slightly underbaked, 16-18 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheets. The cookies will keep in a covered container for up to five days.

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10 thoughts on “chocolate chip walnut cookies + hatching plans

    1. Right? One of my mentors once told me that I can either opt to pursue my own dream or be content with driving someone else’s. It’s what you can bear. I gave this a lot of thought and there are negatives {and positives} and both sides, but I’m realizing that the more and more I give of myself to someone else, the more of myself I start to lose.

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  1. Leaving a job/security to pursue your dreams is the bravest, smartest thing one can do (in my mind). And look at what you’ve done, how much you’ve written since you left! You’ve done a years’ worth of travel/work in that time too. This is a glorious time for you. Bask in it, enjoy it, toil, create, BE YOU. And when you’re done, please write a cookbook with stories/your words in it. (But only if YOU want to.) I’ve been loving watching you blossom (hate that word, but damn, you are blossoming!)

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    1. Barbara,

      I completely agree. I haven’t written as much, as thoughtfully, with so much heart as I have in these past few months; I feel as if all the lights are suddenly on after years of sitting in the dark. And while I’m frightened of the uncertain and of what’s to come, I keep reminding myself that the hard stuff is part of the journey, and that the decision I made to leave a job that was slowly killing me is the best move I’ve made of my life.

      Cross all fingers that I’ll find my way ashore, to the other side.

      Warmly, f.

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      1. Dude, you’re already on the other side! You still gotta work, but you’re there. My husband has been freelance his whole life just doing what he does, and something always comes along. Always. And in that time waiting for something, is when you get to create. It’s all good. You’re on your way and there at the same time.

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  2. Cheers to that! As I finish up my master’s degree, I’ve been questioning more and more what I want to be “when I grow up.” The thing is, I’m already an adult, I’ve already had multiple jobs, and I tend to gravitate towards very particular things. It’s far too easy to give ourselves less credit than we deserve.

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    1. Danielle,

      First off, CONGRATS on the advanced degree. That is no easy feat, and if anything, hold yourself close for that. I think we tend to always focus on what is missing rather than celebrating the things in our life that we take for granted.

      Warmly, f.

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