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The window was cracked open, letting in the cool spring breeze. I was stationed by the window, crouched on my legs. I looked out at the crisp blue sky, clouds sailing by like big white puffy platoons. Branches of tall oaks spread across the sky, like lightning striking against the radiant blue. Tree’s leaves swayed, letting fat droplets of water fall, dripping endlessly onto the ground.
The floor cried out in a creak as my mother walked over the weathered surface, pulling stuff out of a few of the many cabinets. A mixing bowl, some brown sugar and baking powder, eggs from the fridge, measuring cups, and after everything else was out, she reached above the fridge and opened the tiny cabinet behind it, grabbing a bag of chocolate chips, and a package of Hershey's chocolate candy bars.
Quickly forgetting my perch by the window, I rushed over to my mother, tugging on her pant leg, “Can I have some?” I gestured up to the chocolate.
“No Ame, I need these to make cookies,”
My face lit up, I loved cookies, they were the best thing in life to my tiny four year old mind, they were way better than chocolate, “Can I have a cookie?”
She smiled, rubbing the top of head, “I haven’t made them yet, but if you help they’ll be done faster.”
“I want to help!” I brushed my hair out my eyes.
“Go wash your hands and come back,”
I ran off through the dining room with the old table, and into the living room with the peeling couch before getting to the bathroom, stepping up the tiny step stool to wash my hands. The sink’s edge dug into my armpits, shoulders hunched to reach the faucet. Cupping water in my hands, before watching it all slip out in trickles, one squirt of the soap and back to cupping water. When my hands were clean of soap suds I drug them on the small bit of towel I could reach, soft fabric bristles brushing against them.
Rushing back to the kitchen, I pulled out the step stool, that was nearly as tall as I was, from between the fridge and counter. It clicked as the bolts allowed the bars to slide sleekly into place, making my way up the two steps I wavered slightly before steadying. Mom helped me to plop three and a half cups of packed brown sugar into the old Kitchen Aid’s bowl. The sugar looked like a tiny sand castle, the way the half cups were all stacked on each other. We added in eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter for the moat of the sugar castle.
Mom lowered the top of the mixer into the bowl, paddle slowly descending and crushing the top of the brown sugar. She let me click the little lever on the side, making the paddle slowly start to whip the castle into a crystallized brown paste.
While the mixer was working mom had me climb down the step stool and push it to the other side of the stove before climbing back up.
I watched as my mom gradually put flour into a measuring cup with a spoon, before letting me run the back of a butter knife over the top, knocking off the extra flour, making it land back into the bin with a soft puff, and a cloud of flour. After we had measured the flour she had me go sit at the table, she unwarped six bars of chocolate, instructing me to break the chocolate into all of the pieces indented into the bar, and then break those pieces in half, and put them in a bowl placed near by.
I did so as she went back into the kitchen to continue baking, sneaking a piece or two of chocolate into my mouth as I finished, “Mom! I’m done!”
“One sec and I’ll be with you okay,”
Soon mom came back in to see how I did, happy to find everything done. She carried the bowl back into the kitchen, and moved the step stool back by the mixer, helping me up. She had added in the rest of the ingredients into the bowl, making it a light creamy color, with a smooth looking texture.
“Can you pour all the chocolate in for me?” she handed me back the bowl.
“Yeah!” I started pouring the chocolate, a few pieces fell in before the rest of the bowl followed, flopping into the rest of the dough. She then handed me a bag of chocolate chips, telling me to pour until she said stop at about half the bag, it ended up with around three fourths of the bag getting poured in anyway.
The chocolate mixed around and around, and eventually working into the batter. Mom stopped the mixer and twisted the bowl, making it pop off the mixer. She moved the batter next to the oven top where she had set up a sheet tray with a cookie sheet.
Moving the step stool one more in front of the oven, I hopped up as my mom had used an ice cream scoop to create little round topped balls with flat bottoms. She showed me how to dip a plastic cup she had coated in cooking spray in a tiny bowl of sugar, and then squish the cookie batter balls to the right height.
We spent the rest of the afternoon making cookies, putting one sheet tray in and getting another ready, before switching once the one in the oven was done baking. By the time we were done my sisters had come home from school in time to eat nice warm cookies.
Soon enough, I too was old enough to go to school with my sisters. Kindergarten was a new experience, I had never gone to preschool and I was never a really social child. I made friends by sharing my chocolate chip cookies my mom would sometimes pack in my lunch, every other week on Friday everyone climbed over each other in order to try to win a piece of the cookie. I always ate half of one of the cookies, and I give another half to my best friend Grace, after that I would choose who to give the other two halves of the last cookie I would have.
I would get of the bus every day seeing my mom waiting at the bus stop to give my sisters and I a hug and ask how our day was. The year seemed like it ended in less than a week, and the summer flouw by just as fast.
With nap time out the window, and no more play time for anyone, 1st grade seemed to pass slower than anything else had in my life. In the morning we would learn to write, spell, and read, and in the afternoon we would learn have to add and subtract numbers, and simple science. We would have a snack time everyday after we emptied our brains of what we thought was all of the academic knowledge of everything known to man, about how to write and spell. I never seemed to be good at spelling, so I always readily welcomed the break.
We would all rush out to our lockers, all of them painted an identical dark blue and at least twice as tall as all of us, and swing open the lockless doors. We would reach our little hands as high as we could, into our bags, fishing around until we hit our snack, pulling it out.
I would pull out my little ziploc baggie, once again on every other friday I would find concealed in the little bag would be one chocolate chip cookie, usually not crushed. I would proudly march back into the classroom, gloating, as others would try and hide the sticks of celery, or pieces of broccoli that their moms had packed.
After 1st grade, my mom no longer waited at the bus stop for my sisters and I, my oldest sister was going to be in 5th grade, so she could walk us all home from the bus stop. I was going to be in 2nd grade that year, ready to see my friends everyday I would hope on the bus in the morning behind the kindergarteners and 1st graders, in start of the middle of the bus. In 2nd grade you had science, math in the morning, and then in the afternoon you would go to another teacher to learn about social studies, and then back to your own to do reading, spelling and writing. But in between everything else, we would go to lunch, everyone would grab their lunch boxes, ready to walk down in a line to the cafeteria.
The first time friday in the new school year I dug around in my lunch box looking for a cookie, I didn’t find one. Maybe, mom had forgot, or maybe she was going to start next week. I shrugged off the strange disappearance, and continued on my day. The next week Friday I didn’t find a cookie in my lunch either, I knew something was up.
When I got home I asked my mom why, she said that she had started to work more at home, doing college online, she didn’t have the time to make cookies anymore. I spent that year, and the year after that, cookieless.
In 4th grade my oldest sister started to go to middle school, she would get up early in the morning and get home in what seemed to me early in the afternoon. I liked only having to go to school with one sister, and next year I would get to go all by myself. My middle sister had started to learn how to bake cookies, so now, every other Friday I would get a singular cookie in my lunch. The cookies weren’t as good as my mom’s, but after not having them regularly for the past two years, I was more than grateful.
In 5th grade, my only friend Grace told me that next year she wouldn’t be going to the same school. She said that she was going to a different middle school, and that this middle school started in 6th grade. Not only was I with neither of my sisters anymore, but soon I would be without my friend too. Every other friday I would give Grace my entire cookie, knowing how she loved them, and that she wouldn’t be there next year to eat them at all. She would always insist on trying to give me a half, but I also told her that I was merely giving her the half of a cookie she would have gotten from next year if she was there.
At the end of the school year I made my first batch of cookies I had ever made. I walked into school the next day with nothing in my hands but a paper plate wrapped in plastic wrap, with a pile of cookies. The plate had a note on the top, it simply said, ‘Grace’, and next to the note was the recipe for the cookies. I give the plate to Grace as we ate lunch together for the last time.
That day was the first time I realized just how much a simple thing such as cookies can do. She give me a simile, it was the simile I had come to know as my friend’s for the last six years of my life. I associated it with laughs on the playground, notes slipped throughout class, and the simple sharing, of a cookie during lunch.
1 cup butter-flavored shortening 1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup malted milk powder
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
1 cup milk chocolate chips
In a large bowl, beat the shortening, brown sugar, malted milk powder, chocolate syrup and vanilla for 2 minutes. Add egg.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chunks and chips.
Shape into 2-in. balls; place 3 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
Yield: about 1-1/2 dozen.
Recipe Credit goes to: Chocolate Malted Cookies in Taste of Home October/November 1995, p25