An introduction is in order: I'm a novice at writing a newspaper column, but a whiz in the kitchen. I am a self-taught cook, having had an irrepressible desire to learn and experience the processes of cooking and baking from the time I was a little kid. Of course, I had an Easy-Bake Oven!
Professionally, I catered for a number of years and enjoyed it; but, the real joy is in preparing food for gatherings of family and friends. The best part of learning to cook is that once you become confident in your abilities, creativity will emerge and blossom, and that is when cooking becomes a passion.
If you're wondering how I got the gig, a chocolate chip cookie recipe is to be thanked. It happened at an annual Christmas cookie exchange, where I walked in on a conversation between my nephew, Kevin, and features editor Lindsey Hollenbaugh, who manages the food page. They were discussing a "secret" chocolate chip cookie recipe I had shared with Kevin long before.
These are really good chocolate chip cookies and Lindsey had enjoyed them at previous gatherings, so, of course, she asked for the recipe. Kevin never indulged her and in his allegiance to keeping the secret, went so far as to bake Lindsey a batch of cookies when she craved them during her pregnancy rather than divulge the recipe!
Well, Kevin, I have another secret; the recipe is not really a secret. It is readily available on the Internet. Sorry for my fib!
Conversation continued about baking cookies, which led Lindsey to suggest I might consider taking on the role of food columnist. I accepted.
There you have it. A secret chocolate chip cookie recipe got me the gig; so, it is only fitting I go public with the recipe as a thanks to Lindsey — and to finally free my nephew from the burden of keeping the secret!
The Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips
Optional 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour and baking soda. In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add dry pudding mix, eggs, vanilla and blend well. Stir in flour mixture, then chocolate chips and nuts. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets leaving 2 inches between each to allow room for the cookies to spread. Baking time will vary depending on cookie size. A heaping teaspoon of dough per cookie should take 10 to 12 minutes. Allow extra time for larger cookies baking until edges are golden brown.