If being a homemaker were a sport, my mother would be an Olympic athlete. And instead of a gold medallion hanging from her neck, it would be the world’s most scrumptious chocolate chip cookie.
From childhood on, everything in her background prepared her to be a nurturer par excellence. Not only did she learn from the best – my late grandmother – but she was pressed into service at a very early age. When my mother was 12, multiple sclerosis confined her father to a wheelchair, forcing him to retire from his accounting job at US Steel. My grandmother reluctantly went to work as a secretary at the mill, and pretty Peggy Walsh came home from fifth grade each day to keep house and prepare dinner for her family. So she cut her teeth early, and by the time she became a wife at age 21, and a mother at 27, she was in fighting form.
And no single food item symbolizes the perfection, steadfastness, and humility of my mother’s craft more than her chocolate chip cookies.
Homemade cookies of some variety were ubiquitous in my childhood, so much so that we took them for granted, in the same way that we shamelessly undervalued my mother’s devotion to us.
Always, always, on the kitchen counter was a large tin of cookies. Chocolate chip, molasses sugar, or peanut butter were the most common varieties. Sometimes chocolate-iced brownies or honey-bars. As soon as they crossed the threshold, neighborhood kids made a beeline to my mother’s strawberry-festooned kitchen. But for me, familiarity bred contempt. There were times, I’m ashamed to admit, that I even wondered aloud why she couldn’t just stock Chips Ahoy like other people’s moms.
Only after I became a mother myself did I fully appreciate my mother’s cooking, and baking in particular, as a symbol of the steadfastness of her love. Why didn’t she just toss a box of little Debbies and a package of Hamburger Helper into the grocery cart, rather than create a home-cooked meal, complete with dessert, for us and my father every. single. night? To her mind, we deserved better, and it was her love language to deliver.
For my mother, there would never be a ladies’ night out, or a girls’ weekend, in her years of parenting us. Not one. Monthly bridge Club was a close as it got, and this occurred while we were at school. My mother was home in the evenings, with us, in case her family needed her, and even when we didn’t. This isn’t the only way to parent well, but it was hers, and she did it marvelously.
And there was never a whiff of martyrdom. When I canceled our girls’ shopping date to hang out with my high school boyfriend’s more glamorous family? “We’ll go next weekend, honey. Have fun.”
Now my mother is 82, and has 5 grandchildren raised on her chocolate chip cookies, who phone her regularly to share their good news and ask advice. A tin of cookies is delivered to my house whenever one of my children comes for the weekend or we return from vacation.
Tears well as I type that it’s taken me 54 years to appreciate the utter perfection of both her chocolate chip cookies and her mothering. Nature dictates that there will come a day when I arrive at the North Georgia farmhouse where she and my father fluff the pillows before we arrive, and there will not be a tin of the Pegster’s perfect confections on the countertop.
Until that day, I will savor every perfectly golden sweet morsel of time with my mother.
My mother’s love is a chocolate chip cookieCourse: DessertDifficulty: Moderate
Note: you will want to make the dough ahead of time and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
1/2 c. + 1/3 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. solid Crisco shortening
1 c. dark brown sugar (Dixie Crystal recommended)
1 c. white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour
1 12-oz. pkg. Ghiradelli semi-sweet chips
3/4 c. 60% Bittersweet Ghiradelli Chips
- Prepare dough in advance to allow time for chilling:
- Using electric mixer, thoroughly cream together butter, Crisco and sugars.
- With blender running, add eggs one at a time, then vanilla extract.
- Still with blender running, add baking soda, salt and flour (one cup at a time).
- Turn off blender and stir in both kids of chips.
- Refrigerate dough for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets (about 12-16 per sheet)
- Bake about 15 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove tray from oven and gently lift but do not remove cookies from tray. Allow loosened cookies to cool on tray. This assures a crispy cookie!
- When cool, store in airtight container. These cookies also freeze beautifully.