In my family, when the going gets tough, the tough get chocolate. When my mother had her first heart attack, we reacted with prayer in our hearts and chocolate chip cookies on our lips. When they finally shooed us out of the hospital, we automatically regrouped in her kitchen. One sister creamed butter (the real stuff—this was an emergency), sugars, and eggs.
While the rest of us measured out the dry ingredients, we fought/argued/discussed (in my family, those are synonyms) the meeting we’d just had with the doctor. Although most of my nine brothers and sisters had crowded in to hear the test results and prognosis, we came out with ten different opinions. The only thing we could agree on was that somewhere in this kitchen were the chocolate chips.
Chocolate chip cookie dough, physical comfort in its purest form, was soon ready. For appearance’s sake, we turned on the oven, but most of that dough never made it onto a cookie sheet. My mother recovered but our hips weren’t so lucky.
We’ve never let lack of facts stop members of our family from exercising our First Amendment right to voice differing opinions on everything from politics to whether JFK, Elvis, and Marilyn are really running an Air-BnB on Cape Cod. As world events rush toward pandemic, some people remember previous epidemics. Some remember the Holocaust, biblical plagues, their religion. I remember Betty Crocker.
So as the world draws a breath before the next Covid variant hits, I would like to take International Chocolate Chip Cookie day to suggest a new approach.
Chocolate Chip Therapy.
As infection rates climb and we reach for those facemasks again, get out your largest bowl. Whatever the recipe says, double it. Cream 2/3 cup butter with 2/3 cup shortening**.
**Note to my non-American readers. “Shortening” is a frankly terrifying butter substitute. Nobody really knows what it is, and somehow I was never all that comforted by the label on the Crisco shortening which assures us, “It’s digestible!” Doesn’t that sound like the advertising agency trying to convince people to choose their white tuna instead of the more common pink variety with the slogan “Guaranteed not to turn pink in the can!”
When Covid infections and deaths rise even as restrictions are lifted, take out your frustrations by adding in one cup each of white sugar and brown sugars. As deaths worldwide top the combined populations of New York and London, angrily beat the hell out of two eggs. They probably deserve it. Take a deep breath, tell yourself not to listen to the latest news, and add a soothing tablespoon of milk and teaspoon of vanilla.
Sift together and stir in world opinion, 4 cups of flour, and 1 teaspoon each of baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat vigorously until you drown out the reports of new variants and yet another death of someone you know. Add tears. When the chips are down, make sure they are 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate ones.
Turn up the heat. Say a few prayers. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. If the news is really bad, use ice-cream scoops. An optimist will bake these at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. A pessimist will freeze them in case there are further lockdowns. A realist will eat them raw immediately.