Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sugar High Friday # 41: Sweet Gifts - Best Friends & Cookies

Back when I was 12, I met a girl. We met in dance class. She was a blond, skinny, aristocratic looking girl, all arms and legs, like we all were at the time. She was one of the few dancers that could compete with me in tap-dancing. She became my friend.

J and I have spent innumerable hours together. In the beginning, it was mostly during dance classes, but soon, we met up every morning, biking to school, having a chat on the latest boy/girl gossip. After school, we'd meet up again, going to dance classes, or hanging around at the sport complex, checking out the guys on the skateboard ramp. We shared stories of first kisses, and first break-ups. We laughed, we danced and we sang. We watched Clueless, and Dirty Dancing, and Pretty Woman a hundred thousand times. When the first guy I had a crush on failed to call me (and I'd been waiting by the phone all night long), J was the girl to hold me close and feed me leftover rice pudding. When I broke up with my first long-time boyfriend, she was the one who understood the choked-by-tears words that ran through the telephone lines. She was the one to take me out dancing, all through the night, and a little bit of the morning, too.

When we started in high school, we could be together all through the day. We formed a coalition with a girl from J's class and the three of us partied our way through the first six months, caring about nothing but boys, music, clothes and hair. Oh some of the pictures from those days! In the end, we all ended up with a boyfriend. And then something happened. We drifted apart.

But at the graduation party, the last party where we'd be sure to see each other, J grabbed my hand and dragged me off to one of the toilets, pointed her finger at me and said: "I will not have this. If we are supposed to be best friends, why do we never call each other? Why aren't we there for each other when we are sad, or happy? Why do we never do stuff together?" I had no answer. But somehow I knew that if I didn't make an effort, she was sure to slip out of my life.

Even though I know it was incredibly sad at the time, I still do sort of see it as a stroke of luck that shortly after that graduation party, J's boyfriend at the time "accidently" did a Monica Lewinsky on J, forcing her to break up with him. She called me first. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The both of us moving around the globe, time spent together and apart, countless bottles of champagne and nights on the dicoteque's dance floors, large wooden boards with cheese (we are cheese lovers), a lot of men (!) and a lot of fantastic nights and days. The joy never stops. She IS my favorite girl in the whole wide world. She's the kind of woman that even though we haven't sat in front of each other for months, she can have one look at me and know what's going on. She hears it in the tone of my voice and in the way my body twists in the chair, or in how I curl my hair. She's shared my life, my story. She's a part of me.

And now, she's a mom, too. Just a little over a month ago, she gave birth to a beautiful little girl. So now I have not just one amazing woman with her gene-pool in my life, but two. I wonder if little F will grow up to like oatmeal-chocolate cookies just as much as her Mom? 'Cause her Mom sure likes these...

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
The recipe here is, apart from me exchanging the ratios of sugar and translating the measurements to metric, a direct transcript of one from Moira's blog Who Want's Seconds? Shout-out to Moira for this recipe which, ever since I tried it the first time, have been somewhat of a staple around our home!

This of course isn't the recipe I used to make back in the days when J first got hooked on these cookies, but they're her favorite now. So what better gift to bring when Martin and I visited her, her husband and the little newborn girl a week ago - a couple logs of unbaked cookie-dough for the freezer, for those moments when you need them, be they moments of craving our unannounced guests. Giving cookie dough as a gift - any recipe that will freeze is good - is an idea I've only recently picked up, but I like it. It's all "it's homemade and I spend time (the most valuable gift of all these days) making it, so you better like it ;)". With a little cute ribbon and a card on how to bake 'em, you have a perfect sweet gift. And what do you know, that's exactly the theme for this months Sugar High Friday. The theme is Sweet Gifts, it's hosted by Habeas Brûlee, and if you hurry, you may just be able to join!

You need:

230 g. softened butter (I use unsalted)
240 g. sugar
205 g. soft brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
230 g. wheat flour
2 large eggs
270 g. rolled oats
300 g. milk chocolate chips

And then you:

Beat the butter with the sugars, until fluffy and white. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the butter/sugar/egg-mixture, gently folding it in. At this stage, I always think it will never, ever get incorporated, but trust me it will. The same thing happens at the next step: add the oats, fold 'em in. They WILL incorporate, oh yes. Lastly, fold in chocolate chips.

If you want, you can bake straight away (10-20 minutes, depending on your crunchy/chewy ratio preferences) in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius. Use parchment paper under the cookies.

Or, do as I do and bake a few (c'mon, you just made cookie dough, you need to taste test!), then divide the rest of the dough onto squares of clingfilm, roll them up tigthly and place in freezer. This way, you always have cookies ready for unannounced guests or hostess gifts. You don't need to defrost the dough completely before baking, but can slice and bake the cookies almost straight from the freezer. A 10 minute rest on the counter before slicing the frozen log with a serrated knife should do the trick. Bake as instructed for the unfrozen dough. I might add that I actually think the texture of the finished cookie is better after the dough has been frozen.


good food said...

A beautiful and and moving read about your soul mate. Thank you, Zarah!

YKL said...

A particularly lovely post Zarah Maria - thank you. Have been enjoying your blog for some time, but it was the cookie recipe that finally encouraged me to "de-lurk" - am always looking for new baking recipes so am very grateful for all your efforts. May I double check something - is the wheatflour just what we would call plain flour in the UK - i.e. no raising agent?

As I said, fab blog, and thanks for letting us share.

Michèle said...

Zarah, what a sweet story and a wonderful ode to your best friend. I know the overwhelming feeling of seeing someone close to you bring a new child into the world--oh it tugs at the heartstrings!

Zarah Maria said...

Trine - thank you!

YKL - thanks for delurking - it's always nice to know who's out there :) And yes, it's plain flour.

Michèle - tug-tug indeed. It's so weird (in a good way) having that little best friend clone there - crazy!:)

Newyorkerbyheart said...

Hej Zarah!

jeg har givet dig en "blogging with a purpose" award. Kig forbi min side for at se hvad det betyder :-)

Mange hilsner

ChichaJo said...

This is a wonderful post...I loved reading it :) Struck a chord with me as that is the way I feel about my best friend in the world...and the way I feel about her little girl :)

They both also love chocolate chip cookies and baking them together is kind of a tradition with us. Thank you for sharing this recipe...I'm sure they will love some frozen cookie stash! :)

The Apron Queen said...

I wish someone would have brought me cookies after my babies. Everyone just brought diapers! :D

Stop by for a visit. I'll even save a cookie for you!

Confessions of an Apron Queen:

elarael said...

Beautiful post and a great idea.

Ekvall said...

J here! Thank you! You know you mean the world to me. Just a few weeks ago my husband said; it is obvious how much you care for your best friend and how much you need each other - he sure is right! Love you bunches - and your cookies of course!

Judith said...

Oh, yum! This looks a little like what my mom used to make and can't remember the recipe for. That was great of your friend to be adamant about keeping in touch - I was just thinking the other day about how my "best friends" all last about three years and then we lose touch, and how much I really don't want that to happen with my current "best friend." She lives in England and is starting university soon; I'm 23 and finishing law school in the US. We keep saying we'll live together at some point when I'm doing human rights work in Europe, but I'm afraid in reality we'll drift apart. Hopefully I'll be able to do as you did, though, and be better about staying together!

kristine said...

what lovely things to write about your friend. i hope she enjoyed it (as much as she enjoyed the cookies?)

garbane said...

Oh.. i love oat cookies! But I missed out something.. how do you form the cookies if you want to cook them right away without freezing? Do you make logs and then slice them or what..?

Zarah Maria said...

Garbane - if you want to make them straight away, you can just "dump" tablespoon-fulls of the batter on lined baking sheets - you could also shape the dough into logs and slice them, but there's no need for it, just tablespoon-ing them out will do. They bake in the pretty much the same time as when frozen, maybe a couple minutes less.

Markus said...

Good Job! :)