Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Significance of Chocolate Chip Cookies

No matter what the size of your house, there is one thing you should never, ever be without: ingredients for chocolate chip cookies.

In the midst of moving and settling into a new area - ours rural and relatively quiet - baking chocolate chip cookies has been my way of making this our home. If there isn't already, there should be a scientific study of the effect of warm, homemade cookies on the brain. Warmth, comfort, peace. Yum. I said I wanted to cook more when life got smaller, so I've held to my word!

Turns out, I also crave baked goods when I'm pregnant. Yup, we're duplicating! Smaller house, bigger family. We found out 5 days before we moved! All I can say is this: thank goodness babies are born small! (And we're only having one!)

As I write my own, I've been looking for and reading up on stories of families who raise kids in small houses. A woman I know raised 5 kids in 900 square feet (what!). Remind me to ask her more about how she did it. My great aunt Nancy raised four kids in the 1950s in about the same space. If you have a story, please share in the comments or link to your own blog post below.

We have some ideas already. We don't have a ton of toys. Playing outside with nature's toys - dirt, sticks, rocks, leaves - is a highlight of our daughter's day. She's always wanted to do what we do anyway, so when we're cooking or baking, she gets a spoon and a bowl. When my husband is working on the house, she gets out her toy hammer and "helps".

We didn't invest in a ton of baby gear. A sleeping space (co-sleeper, then crib), a walker, a Bumbo seat, and lots of social interaction worked for us. A carrier for walks and hikes was a life saver - more useful than a stroller when you live in the mountains! (Though we currently have two of those and have to decide which one to keep.)

A few years ago I would have never considered sleeping in the same space as my kids. I had the mindset that we are all entitled to our own room/private space. My view is slowly changing, partially out of necessity but also because it seems that it's too easy to hide in your own space physically and emotionally, and (in general) Americans don't socially interact enough to be humanly healthy. And, there are studies showing long-term benefits to social sleeping. We've got a method down for our daughter, but two kids is going to be interesting! We'll see how it goes, or if one of us ends up on the couch now and again!

And now for the most important part of this post...

My recipe for chocolate chip cookies - modified from the Joy of Cooking revised paperback edition:
Preheat oven to 375F.
1/2 c butter

1/4 c brown sugar

Beat in
2 eggs
1/2 t vanilla

Slowly add
1 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

Mix well, Add
1 c chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli 60% cocoa)
1/2 c pecans
1 c oatmeal
1/4 c shredded coconut

Bake 10 min. on a baking stone or greased cookie sheet.

Happy baking = happy home!