Eating. chocolate chip cookies.
The day did not begin well. The sky was grey and moody and raining when I opened my bleary eyes (ten minutes after the alarm went off). When leaving for work I forgot my keys, locking myself out of my apartment, which, of course, I only realized as soon as I left the building (thank goodness for concierges with spare keys). Some four blocks from my destination, I stepped in a puddle. A deep puddle. Ordinarily, my clogs would laugh at such a thing and I would leap onwards, perhaps slightly damp but none the worse for wear. But no. An icy deluge of rainwater washed over the mesh insteps of my sneakers, instantly drenching my right foot and leaving me cold and squelchy for the remainder of my journey. It felt like forever. And that was the highlight of the day. By the time I arrived at work I was cold and wet and exasperated and entirely not yet awake, and things were about to get worse. A day like this needed something to look forward to at the end of the day. Cookies.
As a child, the first things I learned how to cook (aside from cakes from a mix) came from the back of the box - lasagnes made from the recipe on the noodle box, brownies from the tin of cocoa powder. The gold standard for chocolate chip cookies comes from the back of the Nestlé bag; it is easy and quick, and it is always the same. Sometimes I would use a different brand (and therefore a slightly different recipe); the end result was always gooey, chocolatey goodness, washed down with glasses of cold milk. And there are always modifications to be made. I have tinkered with varying amounts of sugar, different ratios of brown to white, resulting in a deeper caramel taste (which I prefer). I have played with using chopped bits of good bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips, resulting in an almost dizzyingly rich cookie. Sometimes there have been nuts; oftentimes, not. Then there are cookies made from premixed dough, bought at the supermarket from the refrigerator case. In college my roomate and I would buy premade cookie dough at the campus corner store, bake the cookies in the toaster oven, and have warm cookies with milk before bedtime, or as a study break. In other, snobbier, times, I would disdain these bought cookie doughs, but now, as an occasional shortcut, I can only think ooh! warm cookies!
There are variations on the chocolate chip cookie - chocolate chocolate cookies, with a chocolate cookie dough mixed with chocolate chips, white chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts, cookies made with M&Ms or other candies, none of which compare to the simplicity of the original, plain (but far from plain) chocolate chip cookie invented, by mistake, at the Toll House Inn in 1937. It's hard to beat the Real Thing. But tonight I have triple chocolate cookies (chocolate cookie with semi-sweet and white chocolate chips) and white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies, fresh from the oven (made, alas, with bought cookie dough), and a tall glass of milk, in the quiet peace of my living room. The day is over.