RECIPES: Church Ladies Critique and Chewy Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

anson aprons

Yesterday my parents came down for a visit and I made them lunch.  The menu included sauced pulled beef, Aunt Ida’s Two-Hour Buns, potato salad and cherry pie topped with vanilla ice cream.

There is just no way to serve pie and ice cream without remembering the many ice cream pie socials I attended in my youth.  I have baked a lot of pies.  The pies shared at a community events were always special.

Baked goods delivered to our church pie socials were as expertly critiqued as any work of art ever entered into a juried art show.  I have many fond memories of watching the faces of the grandmothers, mothers, aunts and neighbors as they assessed each newly delivered donated baked item.   So many of these dear ladies are now gone and live with the Lord.

These gals could convey a complete critique of  your pie baking performance with a single look or a gesture.  The silent language used by church ladies for bake good assessment had been passed down from generation to generation and mastered by each. So it paid to pay attention and learn to read faces.

However, unless you wanted to live in a state of perpetual self-disappointment, it was best, at a very young age,  to acquire the skill of recognizing people who never have anything good to say about anything or anyone.  I have always felt sorry for folks like that. It must be awful to always live in darkness and never see sunshine.

Once you have learned to “dust off your feet and move on” to people who actually have good intentions in mind, being judged by others, while not always fun, is a great opportunity for self-reflection, personal and professional growth.

Our church ladies could judge the quality of your pie and render a verdict without uttering so much as a word. I can still picture the sad shake of bent curly heads sporting raised eyebrows with a lone dimple appearing in a cheek above tightly compress lips when improvement was required.  And, remember the proud sense of mature accomplishment when you finally received the coveted in unison nod, slight grin and and saw that quick wink from behind bespectacled eyes.

As a Lutheran Swedish farmer’s child growing up in rural Minnesota, understanding nonverbal communications was a necessary skill.  To actually confront or praise someone in person was just not done. Outrageousness such as that would have been terrifying for entire congregation, sent some poor old soul into instant menopause, and probably would have lead to the cancellation of any future church activities that included the word social.

Church ladies taught life lessons. Such as, there is always room for improvement, and to get used to being judged, because its going to happen. They taught me that people are a lot like pie pastry production.  Oh, sure there are times when I want to just flatten an ornery one with my rolling pin. However, I know that only leads to a tougher crust.  So, when you are the object of judgement, fair or unfair, its best to think of the butter in pie crust. The total excellence and success of the pastry depends on the butter’s temperature which, like a person’s temperament, needs to remain a cool as possible.

choc choc cookies

Chewy, Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have become my husband’s new favorite.  The trick to getting them chewy is the baking time.  Since you cannot see if a chocolate cookie is browning, you cannot see when they are getting done.  You must rely on baking time.  These cookies do not look done when you remove them from the oven and are quite soft.  They need to remain on the hot cookie sheet for about a minute before you remove them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two cookie sheets.

1 cup butter, softened
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of flour
3 cups of chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer cream together butter, oil and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Blend in cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add flour and mix until completely combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping teaspoon-sized pieces of dough onto a cookie sheet.  Bake for 11 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand on cookie sheet for one minute.  Remove from cookie sheet.  Cookies will flatten and firm up as they cool.

These cookies are great alone, but with a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two cookies, they become a fantastic quick ice cream sandwich dessert.

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Matthew 7: 

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? …

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