A moment of insanity and NYT chocolate chip cookies

You know that moment when it feels like your life collapses and you can’t breathe?  When people become irrelevant, and your surroundings appear wrapped in gauze, and the only speed you are capable of is reckless?  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re only 25, you’re not old enough to have a midlife crisis.  Well, I can honestly say I had an early life crisis yesterday.  Months of frustration cracked open a damn that left me shaky, nauseous, and tearful.  I thought I had set myself up better in life, but it turns out, the infinitely optimistic philosopher who coined the phrase: what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger, forgot a crucial part.  It should be: what doesn’t kill you, will break you first, but leave you angry and desperate enough to re-assemble yourself into (perhaps) something stronger.  But what is stronger?  More able to block yourself against hurt?  More capable?  I’d like to believe the strength referred to is a greater strength and capacity of love for yourself and the people in it, but, in retrospect of how I normally feel in a time of distress, I don’t believe this was the intended meaning.  At this particular low – I was angry.  Vengeful.  Ashamed.  I did not feel strong until I was getting a hug from someone stronger.  It’s moments like those that make you remember the most important thing in life is love – not only for others, but also yourself.   These next few months are going to test me – and, because of the support around me, I will reach the finish line.  But, as the next half of the title implies, I will have to learn to enjoy myself along the way.   And part of that enjoyment means delving deep, deep into a batch of homemade cookies.  These, according to almost every food blogger that has ever attempted, is THE BEST chocolate chip cookies in existence.  This is the 24-hour, caramel-flavored, beauty gushed about in a NYT article from 2008.  (I encourage you to read the whole article.)  Believe me, the chocolate fortifies against sadness, the sugar quickens your pulse (even if artificially), and in the aftermath, you feel fuller and more energetic than before.  Yup – this is definitely a early-life crisis cookie.  I am not saying it’s perfect, by any means, but serves as an excellent jumping off point.

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I think creaming the butter and sugar is my favorite part – no wonder these ingredients are also the base for Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie.

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I was worried at this stage, I’ve never seen cookies turn this golden after so short in the oven.

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Yup, the day’s looking brighter already!  (It could be this balmy-75 degree weather were having, but I’m staying optimistic.)

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Can it be…is it true?  Has lustrous red, green, and gold been draped over anything stationary?  Strangely, I find that Christmas has crept up on me this year.  ABC’s Christmas specials have started without me checking the line-up, the tree in Marion square has already been ceremoniously lit, and Christmas confections have already packed on an extra layer of insulation on my thighs.  Most years (in fact, every year I can remember) I start prematurely pining for Christmas sparkle and light in November, shamefully glancing at my Christmas playlist.  You might be thinking, November’s not that early, what’s so wrong about a little Carol of the Bells?  So I’ll be a bit more clear: I think of Thanksgiving as a speed bump to Santa’s sleigh.  The appearance of department store’s specials and Starbucks holiday cups make me positively giddy.  People cite Christmas as stressful.  Why? I ask.  “Shopping is so stressful!!”…What??  I LOVE holiday shopping.  If people would hire me to do their shopping, I would do it.  Baking got you down?  I’ve already made a gingerbread house, 3 batches of pizzelles, lemon drop cookies, and chocolate toffee bars.  And the music…so happy.  Apparently, my parents did a really good job on Christmas, because I still feel like a child every time I catch a glimpse of something festive.

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*Gingerbread house was based off a house in The Gingerbread Architect by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chatmann.

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**The recipe for these pizzelle was (every so slightly) adapted from Brian’s Grandmother’s recipe.

Not to mention that because I started shopping in October, I already have 7 people checked off my to-shop-for list.  What makes this year even better?  My advisors aren’t advising me, so I’m left to dream about my imminent freedom, and apply to any internship with the words “ocean” or “policy” in the tagline.  This attitude is going to fiercely bite me in the butt, but, for the moment, I am pretty content hanging out  (yes, I do that now) with my hubby or scouring Pinterest for more things to gawk at.

Oh yes, we also have a tree.

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***Antlers are from the Reindeer Run last year.  This year, the pain from the Gobble Wobble the weekend before was too fresh for me to sign up.

What’s the best part of Christmas for you?

Change is in the air

So.  I have to present for journal club tomorrow on a subject that is not my area of expertise.  I’ll be presenting an article on titantium dioxide, a nanoparticle that is an emerging contaminant, found in sunscreens, cosmetics, sporting goods, stain-resistant clothing, tires, electronics, and medicine.  Needless to say, aside from witty commentary and sparkly powerpoint animations, I’ve been trying to think of a way to distract from my obvious lack of expertise.  And then I realized: FOOD!  Food is an excellent distraction for most people, and if it’s not a distraction, at least they’ll be sugar high and too happy to point out my erroneous citations or flawed thinking.  I’ve also been pinning about 10 different pumpkin recipes a day since October started, and have already bought 6 cans of pumpkin since the official first day of fall.   I ended up picking Pumpkin Nutella Bread, because I thought it was finger-friendly and appropriate for a mid-morning snack.  I also love this blogging duo, and have found that all their recipes are foodie-tested, boyfriend-approved. 

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So they came out of the oven, and of course I had to try one to make sure it could knock their socks off and render them defenseless against my scientific brilliance.  Well, the first time could have been a fluke, so I had to try again.  Heck, I’m a scientist, so why not just try them in triplicate?

Needless to say, their power has been fully tested.  I surrendered completely, sliced a huge piece, plunked a dollop of ice cream on top, and enjoyed it properly.  Mmmm.  Heavenly.Image

I am definitely making these again.

The Beginning.

This is a blog about the lives of two women with very different lives, but share a love for adventure, laughter, and a friendship that currently spans 1,725 miles.    It’s unpredictable and unscripted…with no format and no consistency, this is our blank canvas.  And so it begins…

Tsunami in Charleston, 2010