journey of doing »

You know you’ve made a pretty awesome cookie when the New York Times is willing to endorse and publish your cookie recipe. Since Erin left me this week to go on a babymoon/2nd honeymoon, I’m protesting by not making her chocolate chip cookies… instead I’ve decided to try Jaques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe instead.

Just kidding.

Anyway.  I thought I would try something new… and I didn’t realize when I started that these cookies HAVE TO CHILL 24 HOURS BEFORE BEING BAKED.  So there’s YOUR warning.

Jaques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons - cake flour (I used
  • 1⅔ cups - bread flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons - baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons - baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons - coarse salt
  • 1¼ cups - unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups - light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons - granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract (I used Mexican vanilla!)
  • 1¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips... I'm not fancy.)
  • Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.
  5. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
  6. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  7. Wait in agony. Put a lock on the fridge to keep wandering hands/eyes out. (This means your own.)
  8. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  9. Scoop 6 3½-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie.
  10. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes.
  11. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.
  12. Eat warm, with a big napkin. (Really? Really dude? Hilarious.)

 NOTES ON JAQUES TORRES CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE:

  • Step 7 by me. Jaques didn’t say that. He clearly has self control.
  • This the smoothest chocolate chip cookie dough I’ve ever made. It’s like butter. (Probably because it uses lots of butter?) Either way – it goes down smooth. 😉
  • It’s also the HEAVIEST cookie dough I’ve ever made. Seriously. It’s think, heavy, and oh so smooth. Hopefully that means the cookies will be the same way! 🙂
  • Did I mention that the dough has to rest 24 hours before you can bake these cookies?
  • These are the prettiest cookies ever! They’re perfectly fluffy, brown beautifully; they really look like magazine cookies.
  • My boyfriend was totally dubious that I tried a new recipe, but he’s devouring them as I write this.
  • These would package really well for homemade gifts because they bake perfectly. Bag, ribbon, cookies, DONE!

journey of doing - Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie RecipeP I N I T journey of doing - Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie RecipeP I N I T journey of doing - Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie RecipeP I N I T

 

share on Facebook.tweet this.pin this.email to a friend

A few months ago (before starting this blog), I toyed with all sorts of ideas about school and continuing education. Ultimately, together, my [serious] boyfriend and I made a decision that me going into great debt to go back to school didn’t really make sense, given the facts… I wouldn’t be able to start law school until 2012, I want babies, I would have to work through law school, and oh yeah, in 4 years… I hope to have babies… not be paying off ridiculous amounts of debt from law school. I looked at an AWESOME program AT NYU… but it was at NYU, and again, the expense didn’t justify the means. So, continuing education got shelved while I thought about what *really* made sense for us.

As things get progressively more frustrating at work, I start trying to figure out alternatives and ways to get myself where I need to go. My latest follow-up on a position I applied for went unanswered. Seriously? I never realized how unemployable I apparently am. For someone who was devoted to her resume in college, I really suck at this job thing.

Anyway. We’re sitting up at the office on Sunday afternoon, and I said to my boyfriend, “You should train me to be a Cade.” And he was like, “To do legal work?” and I was like, “Sure. Why not?” and he was like, “I have a better idea. Why don’t we start our own non-profit?” Har. Har. Hardy. Har. Har. Har. (You have to know our life to know how crazy this is right now.) Anyway, I go back to NYU and I start looking at options…

And they offer classes for a certification in several areas I’m interested in…. ONLINE. And they offer one-week intensives in the city and things like that through the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising… SO, I think to myself, “Hrmmmm…. Maybe that would be useful…” I talked to my mom and she thought it might be useful – though admittedly, she’s pretty skeptical. I talked to my boyfriend, and he was on board as our purposes are vastly different than needing me to go get the full master’s degree.

So, I decided to sign up for one class and see how it goes. If I like it, I’ll continue. If not, maybe I’ll have learned some new things along the way. In the time being, I’m building my resume and trying to figure out how to get where I want to go.

Back to school…. back to school… back to school…

share on Facebook.tweet this.pin this.email to a friend

Kristina GradP I N I T A few months ago, I headed down to Houston to see Kristina graduation from Rice University. Words cannot explain how proud of this girl I am. Luckily, she was patient, knowing I wouldn’t be able to get to her graduation pictures until I finished up all the weddings I had on my plate this summer. This week, I sat down for an evening and went through her pictures… and I relived that special day.

Her graduation day was a lot like mine – unabashed joy, all smiles (spontaneously captured by me as seen below), and a constant battery of family and friends surrounding her all day. I loved celebrating with Kristina, and it meant so much to me to be able to do the same for her as she did for me 5 years ago. I loved catching up with her and playing witness to the beautiful woman she has become. She has an amazing heart, and it’s hard for me to believe she is the same girl I took to see West Side Story in junior high. She blew me away when we spent a weekend in 2009 in Copenhagen, but I remain inspired by the woman she is now.

Kristina Grad-2P I N I T

Other highlights included introducing her sweet family to my amazing boyfriend… catching up with her parents… seeing how much her little brother has grown… and of course, talking about any and everything with her brother Philip. I think the sweet toast from her father, complete with pictures was the crowning touch to the day. It makes my heart burst to know that Tom was able to meet the other amazing Tom who also changed my life.

Congratulations Kristina. I can’t wait to see where life takes you!!

Kristina Grad-3P I N I T

share on Facebook.tweet this.pin this.email to a friend

When I completed my observation at NDSM, the guy I worked with told me said I should plan on bringing a book, because I probably wouldn’t be too busy. So, as I got my gear together Friday morning, I tossed Half Broke Horses in my bag and planned on getting started on it.

I left work at 12:00 and I headed to NDSM, which is located in North Dallas pretty close to Tom’s office and very near where the majority of his clients live. It’s a sad area – not rough like Pleasant Grove, but not beautiful like the area we live in. NDSM is in the warehouse district, and you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it.

I walked in, walked straight back to the director’s office, introduced myself as one of the JLD volunteers, and told her I was there to be a job counselor and to fill out the volunteer form. She smiled, said I could worry about the volunteer form later, and told me to check and see if the morning shift counselor was still there. He could get me started. I was a little nervous, but she smiled easily, and I felt welcome. Little things like that help. After finding out that the morning guy was gone, I headed back to the check in desk, introduced myself, and said I would be in my office if anyone needed me. I was going to work on getting acquainted with the procedure.

Before I could head to my office, one of the men helping with vision screenings (they really do it all here – it’s amazing!) introduced me to a man who would want to see me as soon as they processed his file. I introduced myself and headed to my office.

I spent the first 45 minutes getting acquainted with a host of websites and printing out jobs that would probably be applicable to our client base, so I had something to offer them. One of the counselors interrupted my research to bring me a 65 year old woman. As she sat down across from me, I found myself wanting to help her in the best possible way I could. This woman, whatever her situation may be, has value and skills, and as I put a face with her name, I suddenly became acquainted with the face of unemployment.

She’s 65, and she wants to work. Beyond that, she has to work. She told me she has always worked as a care-taker. Now, she’s down to 1 day a week, so she needs something else to supplement her income. I started researching positions in care-taking. As I printed them out and discussed her options with her, I could read her – she liked caring for kids more than older people. She pulled out her CPR certification to show me that she was, indeed, qualified to take care of people. She was grateful for the recommendations and told me she was going to the library to print a map of how to get to one of the care-taking agencies I had recommended.

My next client was also an older woman. As I asked her about her past, she told me she had worked in dry cleaning for many, many, many years doing ironing. She now has a medical condition that prevents her from being around the chemicals, so she had to find something else. The trouble is, that’s the only thing she knew. So, we looked. She said she liked doing domestic things like that – it was just, the chemicals… so I gave her a few leads, and she told me where she would try first, because it was closer to her, and she didn’t have a car.

The third man I talked to was a younger man, not necessarily that much older than I. He had worked at Bank of America for 8 years before being laid off. He had moved to Texas to pursue his career, and now he’s faced with the possibility of having to go back home. He doesn’t want to – he likes Texas and he’s made his home here. He told me about going on interviews, but he didn’t know what he was doing wrong. We talked about interviewing techniques, thank you notes, and applying in person with a firm handshake to the manager. He took in every word and thanked me profusely for my time.

The next man I talked to was a specialty chef. His specialty is working in senior centers, preparing dietary meals for the elderly. He was laid off, but his friend was hired by another center in Frisco. He thought he could get him a job, but the man needed to come out for an interview. The retirement home isn’t on the DART line. He can get to Frisco on one line, but it’s 15 miles off, and the buses don’t run that far. Another place in Richardson had called him, but again, he couldn’t get to his interview – he didn’t have any gas in his car and he hasn’t been able to drive it because he has no money. So, despite being told during my observation that I would rarely give them out, I decided to give him a gas voucher. I told him to get to his interviews. He almost cried out of joy – he left my office, laughing, smiling and saying, “I know I can get myself a job now! I’m gonna get myself a job!” I. Was. Humbled.

My final client of the day was a woman who was probably in her early 40s. She had her very pregnant teenage daughter with her and my heart just ached. A quick scan of her file told me this woman has been through a lot. As she asked me for help, she started to cry. She told me about leaving her husband and her business behind. She told me about moving to Dallas to start over on her own with her two daughters, but not being able to find a job. She spoke English impeccably well. I watched her cry when she read that a CSR position at a large gym required a GED or high school diploma – she didn’t have either one. Life had gotten in the way, and she hadn’t finished her GED. Talking to her, I would have never believed she hadn’t finished school. She was that well spoken. She told me about finding out two days before that she was being evicted and her daughter was due in 2 weeks. And my heart hurt for her and her situation. I printed out a lot of jobs for her and I talked to her about what to do and how to get in front of people. I talked to her about some of the legalities of eviction. I tried to help her in the best way I could, knowing all the while I couldn’t fix her situation, but desperately wishing I could do more. It was hard for me to look at her teenage daughter and realize that the girl may give birth in a shelter (if she’s that lucky) – that she won’t have a home to bring her baby home to after he/she is born. That’s hard to swallow. I told her mother that I hoped I wouldn’t see her again, because it would mean she had found a job… and I told her to get her GED when the dust settled, because she shouldn’t give anyone a reason to write her off of a potential job opening – she had a lot going for her. There’s no reason anyone shouldn’t hire her.

No one I spoke to on Friday was looking for a hand-out. They were there because they wanted to do something about their situation. They didn’t come looking for answers, they came to ask questions. I was truly humbled. I think it’s easy for people to sit at home (or on Facebook or on the news) and demonize those on welfare or those on unemployment, but the truth is, there is a new face of poverty. There are everyday Americans who want to work but can’t find a job. “It’s the economy, stupid.” You can criticize people’s choices, their education (or lack thereof), or blame it on a broken system, but no matter which way you choose to look at it, it doesn’t make these people not exist. I looked in their eyes – when they would look at me – and I could feel their shame and humiliation. They. Weren’t. Looking. For. Handouts. They were looking for opportunities.

If you saw the same article I did a few weeks ago, they talked about how there is an extremely high percentage of Americans who couldn’t come up with $1000 in the event of an emergency situation, and there is an even larger percentage who couldn’t come up with $2000. That means that in one month, MANY people you know could find themselves in the same situation as the people I tried to help on Friday if they lost their job. It’s not a “poor thing”, a “minority thing”, a “dumb people thing”, an “irresponsible people thing”, or an “uneducated thing”… And by putting a label on why they got there – are we going to change anything? It’s the world in which we live… and the only way we’re going to bring ourselves out of it is by helping and educating others.

I hope that my time makes a difference as these go out into the harsh world of the USA this week.

share on Facebook.tweet this.pin this.email to a friend

journey of doing - monogrammed bridal shower cookieP I N I T

My original plan was to use rubber stamps and create adorable monogrammed cookies like these goodies. I failed. Big time. BUT, I was determined to find an alternative, so I headed to Micheal’s, and I found ONE alphabet stencil… so here we are. Erin assures me they are cute, so I’m not going to scrap them and start over – mostly because I have to be on a plane to Lubbock on Saturday morning, so this needs to work.

Lessons Learned:

  • Glace icing is not royal icing. It’s beautiful, it’s tasty, but it doesn’t dry hard enough to rubber stamp. Lesson learned.
  • Gel food coloring can be used as paint, but it’s pretty thick and takes forever to dry. I would probably play around with this some more, but I’m in a time crunch.
  • I still haven’t figured out to make a home-made stamp pad. I tried wet paper towels, but the stamp never really took the ink well. Painting the ink onto the stamp didn’t work well either.

Things I Would Do Differently:

  • Make a better “paint” using diluted food coloring and candy flavoring. Even after sitting out for a day or two, these still didn’t dry completely.
  • Use royal icing so I can rubber stamp the cookies as originally planned.
  • Find a cuter stencil if rubber stamping doesn’t work
  • Use thicker ribbon to tie the bags so they have cute bows.
  • Use outline icing, not piping gel (again with the drying thing…)

As a whole, I deem this project to mostly be a failure because it didn’t live up to the expectations in my mind (or on Martha Stewart), but I think it will make a cute favor gift with a lot more practice?

journey of doing - monogrammed bridal shower cookieP I N I T

share on Facebook.tweet this.pin this.email to a friend