I’m not much for change. I thrive on a good routine, on predictability, on certainty of what’s coming next. Maybe thrive isn’t the right word, but I most certainly like those things, very much.
Of course, graduating from an all-consuming program like law school into a somewhat unfortunate job market throws a person like me for a loop. I moved to LA for school, and so I’ve never lived in this place not doing what I do now. Finals were brutal, after weeks of finding it impossible to focus on review. May 16 marked the first day in three years where I didn’t have to plan for or do anything school-related. Frustratingly enough, law school doesn’t permit clean breaks after graduation; I’m still in the library every day studying for the Bar, and am effectively un-hireable until November. November! It feels as though I broke up a long relationship with a difficult, demanding boyfriend, but was still forced to spend ten hours a day at his house doing his laundry– relieved, sad, nostalgic, regretful, longing to move on but unable to do so, and still strangely wishing for a chance to go back and do it again, but do it right this time. If I didn’t realize it before, it has become apparent to me in the past couple months how crazy-making this experience of becoming a lawyer truly is.
Naturally, I turn to the kitchen to find some control, some predictability, some reassurance that there are things that I can do right, after all.
Unsurprisingly, a person who keeps a food blog (if we can call my neglect as of late keeping anything) uses food as a pretty broad means of expression. I made sixty little stuffed cupcakes for my last criminal procedure class, a class that evoked so many strong and complicated emotions for me and was taught by my favorite professor. I made those cookies you see above as encouragement for friends similarly trapped in the library during finals. I made panna cotta… well, I made panna cotta just to escape from having to face my drifting attention span and disinterest in the differences between restitution and reliance damages.
I made a banana and chocolate cream pie to serve to my family after my graduation lunch, and, finally, I made molasses chocolate chip cookies to say thank you to some folks who were always kind and generous towards me, without hesitation.
The cookies and cupcakes and whatnots seemed to help me feel a bit of closure. Instead of my last law school experience being a particularly soul-breaking final, it was delivering cookies with bows and notes.
While making the cookies pictured above–the famous New York Times chocolate chip cookies that are pretty much magnificent–I used a mixer handed down from my grandparents not long before law school began.
As you can see, this guy isn’t exactly fresh out of the box, and while mixing up that batch of cookies, I could feel the mixer’s engine strain to keep up. It’s served me very well for the past three years, but it seemed close to giving up the ghost. I didn’t have a plan for what I’d use instead, but I knew I’d have to start coming to terms with my mustard buddy’s end.
And look what appeared just a few days later, as a very unexpected early wedding present:
I suppose I should finally give up the worrying and realize that I’ll survive all these changes, even if I can’t see exactly how yet.
The Times recipe for chocolate chip cookies is the best recipe I’ve ever used for traditional chocolate chip cookies. I’ve never had both bread flour AND cake flour in the house at the same time when I’ve wanted to make these cookies, so, like Orangette, I used AP flour, and also used Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips (which are my very very favorite chocolate chips, ones I never regret using and are extra perfect in this recipe). You’ll find the recipe at the Orangette link above. I’ve halved the recipe before with great success–the original recipe makes a tremendous amount of dough. Do take the time to chill the dough overnight, at least; it really does make a difference.
My biggest revelation from this bout of baking was the molasses chocolate chip cookie recipe on Joy the Baker. Normally, sweeteners like molasses and honey can be a bit too much for me, but I loved these cookies so so very much that I had second thoughts about giving them away when they were done (and ate quite a few myself). It’s hard to compare the two recipes for chocolate chip cookies, since they produce such texturally different cookies, but I can say that, the next time I have chocolate chips and eggs and sugar and molasses and time, I’ll be making these cookies.
The banana chocolate cream pie only really involved one recipe–the Tartine recipe for chocolate pudding (which you can find here). The rest was sort of made-up; caramelized bananas in the bottom of a gingersnap cookie crust, then the pudding, then some whipped cream. Simple. And the panna cotta wasn’t anything special, so I won’t get into it.